Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Even though I've been blogging now for nearly a year, I don't think I've mapped the entire course of a new script before. The current project was mentioned when it was a mere one pager so I may as well carry on.

This hasn't been a typical way of scriptwriting. The one page contained a word on which most of the story is pivoted - the word 'accident'. Then came the treatment - which was just a chronology of events that didn't really focus on either the character or story direction. More drastically, for some reason the treatment missed out the crucial word 'accident'.* Then a long monologue which told the entire story from the POV of the lead character and finally a flexible one page structural outline.

So now I'm finally writing the script and on page 12 so I'll keep updating on how its going.


* Hmm - so I suppose what I'm demonstrating here is that it is possible to completely forget the 'raison d'etre' for a story while getting lost in the detail.

Friday, August 24, 2007


- well finally finished the monologue which rambled on for a whopping 26 pages in the end. Don't think I've ever done so much preamble before starting scripting but it has really helped focus the story. Now I'll move on to a one pager - mapping out the acts and key turning points - then finally on to the script.

I did up Lianne's meme but I've taken it down now.

In other news, I've been chasing up my plaque and euros. The latest from the accounts department in Lagos is that the euros are on the way to them (from Italy) before they send them on to me (by which time they may well be worthless)


Monday, August 20, 2007

pastures green

Well the blog has been getting short shrift these days what with everyone decamping to greener and more voyeuristic cyber pastures. But I've started it and so I'll finish - anyway this space can now be used for more leisurely musings. Blogging is so much more sedate and it doesn't really matter whether only 4 or 5 people read a post - does it? Still I'm bemused to discover that the virtual massive is perfectly happy to parade the entire contents of a life - online.
Hmm. Who was it said 'keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer.'

What else? Well the short story or rather monologue is becoming longer and longer by the minute - rather like the type of hand-knitted scarf you'd never wear.

A synopsis for 1 of 2 scripts that I'm supposed to be engaged on very soon came though - containing the priceless phrase 'post pneumatic stress disorder'.

Anyway at last money is being spoken about so - onwards. Write, write, write.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


In an exercise designed to solve issues pointed up by recent notes and feedback, I've been working on an extended monologue that tells the film story from the main character's point of view. Thanks to a little blogchat first with Pot I didn't rush into scripting.

The monologue is providing background and family stuff which won't even make the script eventually - but paints in the social backdrop (AIDS/crime). The character is complex and needs to be very engaging, self justifying and persuasive otherwise the audience might not buy into his worldview or morality. Every now and then (in the monologue) he launches into a long rant on some aspect of society. So his emotions and everything are laid bare through a bleak humour.

Being a monologue it is fairly organic - zapping easily back and forth between disparate places, people and incidents over time in a way a script could never do. In my mind I'm already highlighting what's going 'in' and what's 'out'.

Anyway around 9 pages of prose so far and still a long way to go. Think it will end up around 18 pages. Progress has been a bit stymied with my daughter off sick from school this week.


Monday, August 13, 2007


Call for scripts
Red Pill Productions, a Johannesburg-based production company, is looking for intellectually challenging short and feature film scripts, and groundbreaking documentary concepts. 'We are particularly interested in ideas and themes that explore the darker side of (South African) life.'
Please send a one-page synopsis (not a full script) of your script/concept to
stange.natalie 'at' gmail.com.
Red Pill is currently in pre-production on “Triomf”, a feature film based on Marlene van Niekerk’s award-winning book of the same name (visit the blog by clicking
here) and “Project Turmoil”, a feature documentary about a criminal gang who unleashed a reign of terror on the Cape Flats during the 1990s.

VUKA! calls for entries
The MultiChoice VUKA! Awards, an initiative that encourages newcomer and professional filmmakers in South Africa to make PSAs (Public Service Announcements) about worthy causes, is calling for
The deadline for entries is 20 October. For more information email
vuka 'at' thebomb.co.za or visit http//vuka.multichoice.co.za.

Friday, August 10, 2007


The long awaited notes arrived today - 4 pages of feedback on an 8 page treatment - which is exceptional value for money in my book - especially since they were free (thanks to the UKFC's script development submission feedback scheme)

So while I have a good think, I'll finish grouting.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Realised last night that there's a holiday today here - Women's Day - so no school (which means no writing) and then because it falls on a Thursday, there's another holiday tomorrow too - so no school and no writing then either. Then its the weekend.
Just when I'm all ready to wade in...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Heads, bodies and legs

A good title don't you think? Must use it sometime - so if I leave it up here on the blog to stew awhile maybe the script will come too. Actually I just googled it and came across this - an internet version of the drawing game. In the 'Sky Stories' children's series I did a while back - there was one Australian story about the 'Ungambikula' who carved out the first beings from different body parts.

Anyway after clearing the decks (or desk) last week for the 'powers-that-be', I find that the 'rewrite' project that was simmering away quietly on the back burner is now boiling up on the front again. Plus I'm aiming to get a new script written (in response to notes) by mid September.

That's about it for now. Onwards.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


My trusty statcounter alerted me to my first ever visitor from Sierra Leone sometime last week - searching for 'film opportunities Africa' or something - so I hope this blog was some help.

Good to know that there's even sporadic internet access over there. Regular readers may know that I was born in Bo and lived in Sierra Leone until I was 5. My father was a Mende. Believe it or not - at that time Sierra Leone had the second highest standard of living in the whole of Africa.
Now it has the second worst in the world.


Friday, August 03, 2007


While I'm busy catching up on form-filling admin things, here's a whale jumping at Hermanus.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


all I wanted to do was pitch a film story to a new US company with studio links but I kind of ended up joining their social networking site to do it but it seems like they just want you to post pitches up on their site and who seriously is going to be up for that? and anyway I think I sort of pitched because the company is one of my new 'friends' so I sent a private comment (or two) so now new 'friends' arrive everyday and it's kind of rude to not accept isn't it? and the whole thing kind of pulls you in after a while - even though no one else seems to be too worried about trying to pitch direct but how do people keep up social networks on this scale and why ? and what do you do if you decide you just want to bail out..
or maybe you can't?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Long rambly post ahead.
What is the point of having a blog if you don't use it occasionally to blow your own trumpet - albeit anonymously (and even for minor successes)? Well my first radio play didn't win anything but was very highly commended in the BBC International Radio Playwriting Contest (reached the top 50 out of 1200 entries worldwide - the names are now up here for a short time). So a pat on the back there. I kind of knew my play was 'busking it' with way too many characters (after a massive culling from the original film script). You were supposed to have only 6 and I think I had 8 and a half.

Plus certain elements had to be completely re-worked for radio. Sex and death probably work better on film. But as a re-writing and craft exercise - turning a
film script into a radio play was fairly illuminating - particularly in regard to writing and 'preciousness' (more of which later).

So would I do another radio play? Yes probably but only for a ready opening like another contest - as it seems for Beeb radio drama you have to submit via a dedicated producer. They did re-launch radio drama over here a year or so ago but all seems to have gone quiet in the interim. Anyway there's another
half hour radio competition deadline at the end of the year (though it's for 'Africans living in Africa' and I'm unsure whether I fit the criteria - will have to confer with Barbee there - tee he)

So what did I learn from this exercise? That I prefer writing for film and I think visually rather than aurally.
But I settled on a better title for the play. That stays. Thinking about making a story work for radio as opposed to film was a good exercise to hone the story. Now I'll take all the improved story things back to the film script. The key character was originally an artist. This didn't work for radio and was changed. But now I'm going back to the artist. One big plus for radio is that you can convey thoughts. Plus radio has to pack a punch from page 1. The film script has a kind of 'slow burner' opening which I'm going to have to work on.

In the film script there was a key scene where 'a pitched battle ensued' (where did I read that line on a blog recently?). Anyway mine was kind of inspired by that scene in 'Once Were Warriors' when the Maori mentor delivers a Haka and twirls a sword (and the whole audience flinch in expectation.) I wanted to capture that strange energy and the sense of not knowing whether what is happening (on screen) is true or not. Anyway of course this 'pitched battle' - being totally visual had to be severely curtailed for radio.

The main thing I learned from the whole exercise was about 'preciousness'. One key issue for many writers (me included) is a lack of ability to dispassionately assess what you've written after you've written it. We become precious. We hold on to things that should go and are unable to see what doesn't work well which is why we need to hand it out; get it read, do PO3 or whatever.

When I was at art college in Leeds (across the road from the Merrion Centre), we used to do life drawing once a week - our easels arranged in a circle around a large, lardy, naked woman who had perfected the art of smoking without ever dropping the ash from the end of her cigarette.
One day after we'd been busy with the charcoal for about half an hour, the tutor stopped us all. He told us to each take our drawing and hand it to the person on our left. We were then supposed to carry on sketching the life model - working with someone else's drawing. Everyone was stumped. Some were horrified. One girl cried. Most thought 'what can I do with this pile of *?'

Then we just had to stop being precious and get on with it.