Friday, November 07, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008


white rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits


The End.


travels hopefully...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


This pen-ultimate post will be a bit of a ramble - rather like that path up the mountain I drew. Last weekend went up Table mountain for the first time. The cable car was terrifying - packed with passengers steadying themselves on a floor which revolves 360ยบ as it ascends. Up top, the rocky plateau teems with tourists brandishing cameras, standing here, there and everywhere, side-stepping along paths, some even clambering up on to rocks in tiny stilettos to pose holding up the sky. Grey-green lizards stare back from under every rock. Amazing view - when there's a quiet spot.

Been thinking about the script that I'm supposed to be re-writing and concluded that I'd better pursue it willingly and well later (when re-enthused) rather than rush and phone it in now. I rarely lose enthusiasm writing/ re-writing my own specs. (Think you're a bit like that too Pot?) So there you go.

A tangent now. Once when I was being interviewed to get into film school, the interviewers (tutors) handed me a pair of spectacles across the table and asked me to tell them about the owner. I held them in my hand, then up to my eyes - they were too small. I started talking; "Well he has a thin head. Dandruff." They smiled. "He doesn't care too much about his appearance but probably thinks he's rather stylish." They laughed. I carried on; "He wears these for driving." They grew silent. "He keeps them in his car - in fact the glasses match the inside of the car - the tortoise shell, matches the dash board." The listeners shifted uncomfortably as I continued to babble. Then I looked up at one of them and realised he was the person I was talking about. And I stopped.

Blogging is turning out a bit like that interview - which is probably the real reason I'm stopping. Words are power. At the end of the day - maybe better to channel intuition into scripts, films and art rather than unleash it untamed into the scribosphere. Oh but I'm glad I did.

One post left.


Sunday, October 26, 2008


The result of my drawing analysis is:

Your friends and associates should generally find you a dependable and trustworthy person.
You are a thoughtful and cautious person. You like to think about your method, seeking to pursue your goal in the most effective way.
You are creative, mentally active and industrious.
You have a sunny, cheerful disposition.

Wooo! Go do it here
BTW this isn't one of the 2 final posts - just got a bit sidetracked ..

Ok have just been tagged by El and because I only have 2 posts left and absolutely can not waste them., I'm having to tack in on the end of here. Plus I may as well show a bit of the pic coming along too...

My Top 5 ways of distracting myself from writing

1. Daydreaming (while swimming / walking / cooking / hoovering etc) and/or talking to evasive animals
2. Internet: this is rather massive & includes facebook, IM, email, reading all kinds of stuff online, everywhere all the time, blogging and catching up on blogs.
3. Re-reading odd documents, bits of old scripts etc or trying to find them.
4. Drawing - recent - (enhances writing rather than distracts from it)
5 Taking photographs and then tweaking them in Photoshop

Friday, October 24, 2008


I was thinking about writing a 'wrap-it-up' type of post entitled 'final' since it feels like things are drawing to a close on here plus I don't seem to be offering much writing insight lately. But no doubt I'll get withdrawal symptoms being apart from you (boo hoo) - so maybe I'll just reincarnate elsewhere as a drawing blog...

Anyhow - I kind of compiled a final message in my head but realised I can't post it because I've forgotten the damn (oops) rabbit (the one that's likely wreaking havoc). I can't really leave a loose end like that - can I? ...even though folk probably know what to say, when.

Anyway my mum came round to see my 'legs & pool' picture (ooh and I'm having such trouble drawing water - all those surface dapples) so I asked her advice and she said she'd look it up. So will just have to get back to you on that....

Enjoy the weekend. Laters.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


So what happen people? I miss scribomatic's 'recent-blog-post' scroller page as I don't have bloglines or any other of these fancy alerts and never know now when you've updated. Just to have to wing it - is anything else any good?

Producers sent me an encouraging 'keep going' email. Shame I had to quickly tell them that my word count on the redraft is still 0 and that I'm busy drawing instead. Ha! Actually I'm now thinking of converting the 10x10 re-write into a 20 x 5 - not exactly impossible is it? 20 pages per day for 5 days and just write like a blazing comet without bothering to get dressed, washed eat or anything..Hmmm, but do I really want to? Let's see.

What else? Builders in this morning - so all go right now - they just pulled down the garden fence.

Drawing is doing just fine - here's a tiny corner - washing on the line. A gentle breeze. Can you feel it?

Monday, October 20, 2008


I think I had what scriptwriters call a 'long dark night of the soul' last night (ha!) Insomnia, churning things over, wondering what's going on in the whole wide world and here on this little blog - whether we are authors of our own fate or whether destiny is predetermined and so on etc. And also thought about choices - the tough ones. Didn't really come to any real conclusion - beyond the whole scriptwriting transference 'cause and effect' thing. Perhaps for each change (we bid or undergo) in our life (large or small) there is something we forfeit or give up - which is often the reason why people are reluctant to undergo or accept change in the first place.
Is this true - what say you? What would you give up to achieve your dream?

Friday, October 17, 2008


Latest scripting update was the tense 'thrash-it-out' phone call on the script beats. But no flies on Far Away. We've now gone past the point of 'no return'. I can't step off the script even if I wanted to (and *sigh* I do in a way. I'm finding it hard to put my heart in it now). Even if I scream, cry, or spit - we've now crossed the bridge. There's an 'understanding'. Now it's become a test.

But I had an epiphany today and realised the deadline is theirs not mine so I'm not going to worry. Stuff that 10 x 10 plan. Ha! In the meantime I'll re-enthuse myself everywhichway whatever. Mainly by drawing...

Yes the last picture is all finished now. Paper is pasted up for the next one. Bought myself a giant box of soft, luscious pastels. Mmm. Will eat those up.
And I'll be rifling through your facebook photos again anytime soon.

Amazing how, in a blog post, you can come up with 150 words that are really about nothing at all. Innit?

Peace, love and custard

Wednesday, October 15, 2008




Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Back to the grindstone. Have received more notes on the 20% of the beats that still needed addressing (seems more like 35% now - but anyway) so will hunker down and do a 10 x 10 (pages per day) now and get the thing re-written. Going back into scripped after ages to see what's happening there. Something that came out of the extended to-ing and fro-ing were name changes (apart from the main character), so hope their technical issues (like find and replace) are sorted there now.

Elsewhere, the first drawing is coming along - nearly finished now. For those who want to take a look I re-posted the latest photo below - see progress. Am also working on a small sketch for the next one (the one with the big legs in). Think there's going to be a swimming pool too - why not?

I'm throwing that one open - so if anyone wants to be included, please email me (address in profile) a photo - preferably of you doing something dynamic (*titter*) and I'll try and accommodate it. The main problem I'm facing is space - the drawings are so huge: 3m x 2.5 m. There's one other clear wall I can work on - but after that I'll be stymied. Maybe I can do one on top of the other - with layers of tissue in between. Could be a bit lumpy... Hmmmm

What else? The jazz book moves forward. One text to edit, another one due any minute and the third still up in the air...

Lara should take note of a full moon tonight in Aries - lovely. Actually I was taking a look at the nearly full one last night and could see a rabbit in it. Rabbit again - yeah yeah, you may snigger but wait and see...


Monday, October 13, 2008

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts

Please forgive my writing as English is not my first language. I want to tell you about my wife. Am worried lately because she thinks she has magic powers and can influence the world through her blog which she started 2 years ago. She spends the whole day in front of the computer - because she is trying to write film scripts - though I keep telling her to do something more worthwhile.

Lately she is convinced that the blog can predict the future and change world events. She thinks the same thing about her status updates on facebook. There is a group of bloggers who are just as cuckoos as she is. They all join in and leave comments and encourage her. Now my wife is using up our 3 gig internet cap by mid month.

I love my wife dearly even though we have nothing in common and she talks too fast. She has a nice smile and sometimes cooks tasty chicken though I wonder at times if she is of the lesbian persuasion. I think she just misses her friends who all live in London. She finds it hard to get on with all my family and didn't want them to slaughter a goat for our 7th wedding anniversary on Saturday.

Miss Lonelyhearts, I don't understand and have no idea what to do. I try and talk but she snaps back and threatens to jump on a plane back to the UK. Lately she started covering the walls of the house with huge drawings of her facebook friends. I think she has lost the plot and has no idea what is real anymore.

Please help me Miss Lonelyhearts and tell me what to do. I posted this quick while she is in the bath.

Kind regards,

Far Away's husband

Saturday, October 11, 2008


A bit incoherent this post maybe since I'm a bit flued up and my mind is fudge after eating gummy bears, lucozade, malt and whatever palliative remedy I received via fb. Thank you all.

I'm already planning the next one in the series H of H drawings (part # whatever) and seeing what (new) photos I can plunder already. But I know there's going to be a huge pair of legs on one side.

There's a giant who works at the swimming pool who has the tallest legs in the world - that reach up to the sky - literally. I don't ever remember seeing his face - just a pair of scuffed bovver boots and expanses of sinewy calf and knees and - much higher up - in the clouds, the fringes at the end of his shorts. I think his job is skimming bugs from the pool surface or something like that. The legs stride around while everyone swims. Innocuous. And after a while everyone forgets he's even a giant

I was off to the art shop the other day to buy aquamarine, tangerine and dusty pink when the mile high legs stomped out of the sky right by me and a voice boomed "Why are you not swimming this year?" I giggled shyly and explained that it was a little bit cold just yet. He guffawed loudly and strode away. Phew.

Still I hope the temperature picks up soon.

Other than that what else? A few posts back, I mentioned doing a post about romance and stuff - but that's hard. I'm not romantic in the least, I don't think What about you? I thought rather I could rather do a post about synchronicity and romantic fate or something like that. I've met so many people in my life in the strangest of ways - people who've stayed I mean - that now I've learned to accept it.

So what do you think lovely people? Do we care? Speak to me, let's go...

Thursday, October 09, 2008


A couple of writing or filmy opportunities related to 'the city' / urban connectedness.

African Cities Reader [A creation of the African Centre for Cities & Chimurenga Magazine] seeks submissions for its launch issue.

'All African cities are the product of multiple trajectories and origins.'

The Reader is open to writing and art in multiple genres (literature, philosophy, faction, reportage, ethnographic narrative, etc) and forms of representation (text, image, sound and possibly performance) by practitioners, academics, activists and artists from diverse fields across Africa in all of her expansiveness.

All published work will be remunerated @ $500. Deadline is Friday 31st October 2008. Full details are available by clicking right here.

Call for Proposals for Cape 09

The Cape Africa Platform (CAPE) is a groundbreaking cultural project located in Cape Town, South Africa. CAPE aims to culturally connect Cape Town, South Africa, Africa and the Diaspora by creating a contemporary African art event - rooted in the local but global in impact.

The 1 minute video call out for the project can be viewed by clicking here.

CAPE 09 is about life today: the people, the connections and networks they make up. CAPE 09 seeks to explore networks that accentuate the contemporary characteristics of Africa and provide a stage for communications between communities and citizens' activities.

The narrative of the event is initiated from the city of Cape Town itself. The city as a network requires a re-imagining of how we move and engage with each other. Artists are therefore asked to propose public interactions rather than exhibitions.

Deadline for proposals: 30 October 2008

For full information email: info "at"

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Was told that my re-beated sheets are 80% 'there'. Hmm. This must be the most arduous and rigorous script re-writing process I've ever been through. First the treatment - which was re-drafted to 17 pages, and finally moved on to script, then script notes and notes back and forth then 10 pages of re-arcing, then more notes resulting in a near spat, then the new re-beats - and all before I've even moved on to 2nd draft. Maybe it's a good learning curve or summat but quite frankly - I think if the results aren't spectacular, I won't be going this route again. I reckon 90- 95% 'there' would be fine. After all you need to cut some slack to allow the magic to happen..

In the meantime, happily cracking on with drawing - down the art shop every morning for more glorious pastels. Banana, ultramarine and peach today. A box of 15 different shades of grey yesterday. (Imagine trying to put 15 different shades of grey into a script - well actually probably not that hard - ha ha ha ha) So am eating up colour right now. Relatives and neighbours keep coming through to take a look; 'Oooh can you do me one with ostriches, please?'

What else? (other than chaos in the whole wide world.) Bought a lovely pair of earrings for my mum's birthday yesterday - mmm wanted to keep them. Still eager to take the first swim of the season. The pool's been open since October 1st, but still a bit too ice, icy cool to take the plunge just yet.

Hope you're well. Stop by.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Latest update: very nearly there now...13/10

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Picture is coming on a peachy treat - maybe I'll post a photo soon (the morning light is better.) Producers are being all nicely nicely and I've delivered the re-beated sheets. So right now I'm enjoying the calm.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Well script all back on track again - after a tough thrash-it-out call. Makes me realise that 'writing logic' is something (I suspect) most writers carry in their head without even knowing it. The innate logic - of the how and why and where and what - of the story and characters - which sometimes seems to bypass others involved. So when a host of irrational and unsound 'solutions' are suddenly being put forward, logic can come in handy for rebuttal. Its not always about being stroppy for the sake of it - is it?

Anyway where were we - us?

There's not been a huge array of takers for the two new facebook groups I suggested - so I'll mention them here again. One will be 'drawing for writers' (as opposed to the brown paper one) and the other one more a fun group for daft ideas - to misquote another blogger - "a place to bitch, groan and despair" (ha!) for shelved bad ideas and such like, arising from this post ages ago - which spawned an array of blistering badger attacks across the blogosphere. Never mind. If interested leave a comment. Ta.

Which brings me nicely to the much quoted (Paul Newman RIP) steak and hamburger thing. My feeling is that, given the choice most women would rather not cook steak at all and prefer to go and eat it in a restaurant, cooked by someone else. Mind you I don't eat four legged myself - so what am I talking about?

My mind is a bit elsewhere today - flipping between dung beetles and beat sheets.

And colour. Of course.


Sunday, September 28, 2008


Slipping in a quick post about drawing - because that's mainly what I've been up to last week. Pasted up 3m x 2.5 m of thick brown paper on the wall and am now working on 'H of H part#' - filling it up with lots of people - including you. Yes indeed ha! I've been plundering everyone's fb photos for inspiration. (Ha!) So there's boats, hair, grown ups on swings, children, dung beetles, people eating..whatever. Don't be shy now, step out of the shadows on to the paper..

Drawing seems to use a completely different part of the brain to writing (the editing part - is that right brain?) Most of the time is actually spent rubbing out lines, so the mind is completely blank.
The best thing is that my daughter draws too alongside - happily occupied for hours on end - drawing and colouring in bears with matching kites and matching plates of food. Hmmm I think I might steal some of those kites and put them in my picture.


Friday, September 26, 2008


Yep the writer song meme tagged by the luminous Potdoll. I'm not digging too deep for this one: musicals, London 08 with Jimmy Cliff 'The Harder They come'

Maybe I feel it having worked on LU *snort*

Well the officers are trying to keep me down
Trying to drive me underground
And they think that they have got the battle won
I say forgive them Lord, they know not what they've done


ooh yeah oh yeah woh yeah ooooh

And I keep on fighting for the things I want
Though I know that when you're dead you can't
But I'd rather be a free man in my grave
Than living as a puppet or a slave

Plus I tag Elinor, Jennifer the occasional lurker, and WC Dixon - 'cause he has great musical taste (sometimes).

open road

Just peeking in to say 'hello pumpkins!' Nothing much to report at all - but that's the whole point of blogging sometimes isn't it? Good.
So notes on notes on notes. The rewrite is proving a real pain and I'm at the stage where I feel like stepping off completely ('No-oo' I hear some cry. 'Do it!' others murmur.)
The main problem: 'moving goal posts'. Yes that old chestnut. I take aim to find everything's now in a different place. Plus the latest strategy is to get me to incorporate elements of previous scripts into this one. Stuff that! No. Way. However I can be very reasonable if it is worth my while. Cough.

Let's see.
Friday now. Holidays here next week. Time for a glass of PG. Cheers! And what are you doing?

Monday, September 22, 2008


Ages ago, I went on a fab filmmakers lab organised by (the now liquidated) Moonstone. One of the tutors - the tiny Ms Joan Darling conducted a fascinating workshop on 'working with actors' - all about pushing emotional buttons. She started by telling us that when she was a young girl her father died and she felt pleased because when she went to school, she could now tell her friends she was a 'half-orphan'. I guffawed loudly only to see Ms Darling pointing a knotty finger at me. "You're laughing because this rings true for you too." Loss. Indeed when I was five years old my mother left my father in West Africa and we travelled all the way to Liverpool in a ship. I didn't see my father again for 20 years (and grew up thinking fathers were irrelevant or at least fairly disposable.)

Anyhow, as I mentioned once, a father or a father figure keeps returning as a key figure in my stories - often as an emotional conduit. I daresay there's a lot could be analysed from this. I've written about a four-times-married father trying to relate to his various offspring and about two girls who refuse to accept their mother's new boyfriend as a father figure. Then also a father who has to expiate his son's violent death and a blind father who shapes his son's vision.

The current script - dealing with a fight between two women - was the first where a father doesn’t really figure - or so I thought. But ahem - the re-write is forcing me to acknowledge (yet again) that a father is pivotal to playing off the conflict.

So what about you - is there someone or a character that keeps coming back in different forms? Or does your father figure in your writing?

Friday, September 19, 2008


Hello blog! Friday at last and whew what a battle to get these 'arc' pages out. The stuff I hate the most is planning trajectories and plotting character change. But all done now. So on to beating sheets for a couple of days, then straight into the home stretch; a massive re-write.

What a difference a day makes huh? Here's what I blogged yesterday (but didn't post)

I'm keeping my head down and collar up. I'll study the greys and rain on the pavement and think about words. Don't want to see any shaky mountain, any girl skipping, any 50 green birds, any men sleeping on the stoep, any geese flying or yellow letters drawn in chalk. I'm not looking anyway so I won't see them. Grey pavement and rain. That'll do. And words.

Today I woke up wanting to draw again - stick massive pieces of brown paper up on the wall and get out the charcoal. People. I want to draw people. Folk don't argue the toss with a drawing (or worry about character arcs either) They either like it or lump it.

What else. At this time of the year, thoughts turn to 'What next?' Drawing yes. Plus need to get both script re-writes out of the way, by end of October. The jazz book - now needs a kind of 'longing, belonging, un-belonging' text comparing the experience of jazz exiles with that of those who stayed. Hmm

Plus I want to jump on a plane right now and fly away.

What about you?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

pow wow

This was really supposed to be a post called 'shift' but I don't know what happened to that one - I mislaid it - maybe it got sucked into the recycle bin or fell into a crack behind the sofa. But anyway, things shifted - so it doesn't matter now..

On to work in progress - the weekend pow wow - was basically all about them talking me into doing a massive amount of firming-up-the-story, re-writing work for the next month or so. Unpaid. I know I've blogged about this script, but really it's just been sitting in a drawer for the last while, incubating. Always good to put work aside and think about it in the abstract. And talk brings the story back to life - I can sense how much better it can be. So I'm fired up again.

Each script is different to write - and the problems have to be solved in different ways. Sometimes I draw charts, or lists, bullet points or even 'ballet points' as someone mentioned somewhere recently. I like that idea - ballet to give it 'a light lift.'
But right now I'm arc-ing characters by writing a little summary of where they're at, at the end of each act. It's going to be so good.

Sad news. One of the writers lined up to contribute to this jazz book - John Matshikiza died from a heart attack yesterday, aged just 53. He was a one-off, a perspicacious, snarky wit, tuned into the schizoid intersection of SA life. I encountered his acting in London with the RSC, years before I ever arrived on these shores and read his M&G columns. RIP.


Sunday, September 14, 2008


You blog on regardless - but sometimes real life gets in the way - like today - when it all starts to feel like a high octane episode of Jerry Springer - complete with shrieking and hollering and slamming and cowering and even audience participation (neighbours, both sides). Hell.
Well *sigh* that's about all I have to say on the subject of bi-polarity, except that sometimes intervening in the rational life of a loved, elderly family member is nigh impossible but must be faced.

So this wasn't the post I was going to do at all (that one was called 'shift' but I'll save it for now.) I've been pondering the ability to face up to the ugliness in ourselves (and others close by), to confront the stuff we like to sweep under the carpet or veil with pretence.
On the whole, writers seem to have a huge propensity for honesty - though for everyone, there is always a grey or 'no go' area. This illness somehow seems to be 'imaginatively' connected to self-image, but maybe I'm wrong. I'm outside it.

Today's plea: medicate

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Apologies to anyone who still expects posts about scriptwriting (ha!) but now is think-time until the weekend pow wow when everything gets thrashed out and I stop faffing..

Meanwhile noticed a few strange little signs from the universe - all occurring in a short space of time..

Firstly, this morning at around 5 am I looked out of the window to see a young woman (outside the house across the road) skipping or rather jumping on the spot with a skipping rope. Unusual at that time, (in the half light) but nothing too out of the ordinary. Exercise.

Then about half an hour later, my daughter came running up to tell me that she could see a man lying asleep outside our house, on the stoep. I must have missed him before - but indeed there he was - fast asleep outside. 'Moving people on' is hub's job - so he did that and the man went away. No fuss. All the while, the girl across the road continued to skip.

Then as we all left the house for the school run, my daughter pointed out a loopy 'm' (or 'w' depending where you stood or maybe it was even a number '3' on its side) drawn in yellow chalk on the ground outside, directly opposite the front door. She hadn't drawn it so I guess the man who'd been asleep outside did.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Bridging the digital divide

Google and HSBC are financing a constellation of 16 satellites that will bring high-speed, low-cost internet connectivity to emerging nations located near the equator.

Announced Tuesday, O3b (abbreviation for "the other 3 billion") Networks said the satellites are planned to orbit near the equator to deliver internet connectivity to emerging markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. The service is planned for activation by the end of 2010.

Company's founder, Greg Wyler says "Only when emerging markets achieve affordable and ubiquitous access to the rest of the world will we observe locally generated content, widespread e-learning, telemedicine and (much) more"

More info available here and here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Saturday, September 06, 2008


A banal post about butter.

I was considering a sideways move into recipe blogging and thought about ways of cooking smoked haddock. But as I never really follow recipes or read them, I thought I'd just blog about butter. Plus I've been a bit butter-fingered lately...

When I lived in Wigan and went to the corner shop to buy butter, the lady, (who referred to all the magazines as 'books') would always ask "Do you want best butter love?' You see best butter was butter, but if you didn't stress the best, she'd give you margarine which was cheaper. I've never really liked the taste of margarine, not on bread - despite the fact it is polyunsaturated. Fine to cook with though.
So all these years later, I always examine my butter carefully - especially with the array of spreadables now masquerading as butter. Have to be careful.

So what for you butter or margarine?

Thursday, September 04, 2008


As it was in the beginning, so it shall be in the end
Matt 24, 38

Ok back to the script. The end is sorted - as regular readers should know by now. All written up and written out, finito - a nail-biting heartbreaker - so no need to worry about that.

So it's the beginning I'm having to work on - work backwards - a bit like choosing the wrapping paper after you've opened the present.

So what is needed is passion and punch and power and all words beginning with 'p' really - and playfulness. And pregnancy. Yes that's it. I thought the beginning needs a pregnancy - a late-in-life, yearned-for conception. And because this is a 'hot' script (the producers tell me it has already been sold on a promise just on the tag line. Hmmmm I don't know whether I believe a word of that, without seeing further funds but it keeps me at the keyboard. [The tagline is fab though]) Anyway because of all of this and because this is drama - the unborn child is doomed. You see the drama was missing an inciting incident..

Thinking about all of this brought me to ultrasounds. I took out my daughter's from 6 + years back (see above). I must admit when I first looked at it, I wasn't that impressed - maybe the artist in me wanted picture but could only see noise. It was only after I'd glanced at it every now and again, over a few years (by which time my daughter was already five) that I started to see how it all fitted together. Anyway..

So lately have been going off on a writing thought-tangent about creating pictures from sound...

All thoughts welcome. Speak to me.

Monday, September 01, 2008


years old today - happy birthday blog! And to blog twin Pot - many happy returns!! So the blog gets its annual makeover today. Somehow I don't think it will make it to three...

Two years eh? I looked back at the very first post here when I starting chirping at the universe 'Life is not a plot!'

Oh how wrong I was...

Little did I know then, that this blog was actually remote controlled by some universal cyber-puppeteer (Thoth perhaps?) and I was merely an 'appropriate' conduit for typing up pre-determined stories, thoughts and rants, under the delusion that they were all my own. Hmmph.

But I can stop anytime I want to (I think).

In the meantime, the bar's open all day, drinks are on the house and there's even a cake with icing, that's been left out in the rain specially for Helen.


Sunday, August 31, 2008


As writers we collect moments and images - particularly ones that puzzle or which can't easily be explained; moments from our lives, memories of parents or relatives - but most often incidents which seem peripheral or irrelevant at the time. We store these away somewhere in our subconscious. Then sometimes during writing, an image, plucked from some faraway recess, re-emerges in an eureka moment of understanding within a story. The narrative enables the understanding.

I was once in a small group of art students travelling out of Paris on the metro. The train stopped at a station. The carriage doors opened. No one got in and no one got out. Then, just as the doors were about to shut - a man standing on the platform darted into the carriage, picked up a minuscule piece of 'nothing' from the carriage floor and sped out again just as the doors slid shut. The train moved off. All of a sudden, passengers looked round at one another, baffled. Someone quipped; 'Aha le microdot!' and everyone laughed.

I'm throwing this one open. Any clues?


Zimbabwean novelist and poet Chenjerai Hove, and Nigerian novelist, Okey Ndibe, are co-editing a volume that explores African creative writers' experience of war.

We invite writers poets, short story writers, novelists, journalists and professors of literature to submit personal essays detailing how war or conflict has shaped their work or changed their lives. In addition, we will accept a few analytical essays looking at literary works (fiction, poetry, memoir) inspired by wars or other forms of violent conflicts. Since the projected book will be targeted at a general audience, we welcome essays that avoid overly technical language. We conceive this as an accessible collection of (mostly) essays by writers reflecting on how conflicts have impinged on their professional practice and lives. We are particularly interested in submissions that dwell on such areas as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Somalia.

Submissions should not exceed 5,000 words. Deadline is October 31, 2008. Send manuscripts as attached word documents to Okey Ndibe at okey.ndibe 'at'

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Just for the record - an informational post (and sanity check). Regular service will resume shortly (ha!).
Hub returned with a shed load of amazing photographs for the jazz book, collated from under beds and inside wardrobes of the Eastern Cape - an absolute trove. My daughter was sent home from school today with tonsillitis - so she's asleep on the sofa right now. I managed to get about 3 hours sleep last night. Now the sun is out - clear as clear. Had talks with the producers yesterday about moving the stalled script forward. All good. Onwards.

Hope all is well where you are.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Untold Stories MTV

Aspirant writers are being invited to write an ending to one of three short stories that will raise awareness about HIV/Aids and be turned into a short film for MTV.

The Untold Stories competition is part of MTV's Staying Alive Campaign, in partnership with the MySpace social network website.

"MTV has just launched a groundbreaking competition called Untold Stories, with a chance to not only get on MTV, but also win a trip to India," says Janet Feldman, founder and director of the Kenya Aids Prevention Project Group (KAIPPG), which has given its full support to the competition.

The three short stories are written by well known personalities, such as writer Gautam Malkani who wrote Londonstani, writer Emma Gold who wrote Easy and actor Jimmy Jean Louis, star of the TV series, Heroes.

Stories convey a specific message

"The stories each convey a specific awareness message and have been purposely left unfinished, leaving you to decide how they end," says Feldman.

For more info click here.


'... can't sleep at night, no peace of mind, can't close my eyes.'
Charles Burnett: Killer of Sheep

Love both the way Stan delivers that line and the film. Think it was recently brought out again - with improved soundtrack

Seem to be suffering from a rare bout of insomnia at the moment - resting but not sleeping for about 5 nights in a row, now. Taking valerian . The mind gets jumpy. Words fall out of the sky. Silvery. The blog gets weird. Need proper kip. Dark new moon looms. Have to whisper. Make a wish.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


So quiet on the blogs now - can hear a pin drop.

Took my daughter to see the two big early Summer kids films here; Kung Fu Panda- on a promise for the last month and WALL-E.

Kung Fu was fun. I probably guffawed the loudest in the cinema, a couple of times - though I can't remember why now. Plus it did have some story in there and a nice panda. WALL-E on the other hand I was reluctant to watch - having seen the poster on buses - and not being particularly excited by the title. The positives of the film kind of passed me by. Where was the story? The WALL-E robot itself looks so awful - unappetising and just yuk - I know that's maybe supposed to be the point. Little Robots are much more pleasing to look at. I hated all the sludge and rust and garbage - the monotonous mulchy browns were relentless. Felt like staring for ages at those blodgy groups of circles that test colour blindness. I couldn't have cared less about Ev-A either - maybe my age. Do folk really have emotional attachment for shiny, white wifi i-gadgets? Maybe I'm missing something. I like my tech gizmos as much as the next writer but I practise tough love. The obese 'big-Mac' people brought the film's only touch of genius - but without real story, even they were wasted.

I think I'll catch some grownup films next week.

What else? Was going to talk about rugby. SA loves sport and rugby in particular. Massive, massive, massive here. Last weekend had to navigate the hordes arriving at Newlands (not so far down the road.) I can't say I've a clue about the game - all the scrumming and scrunching - what's all that all about? - but hey I do love a haka…

So what's on your mind then hmm?

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Eish this re-write is proving tougher than an old, narky, meatless bone. I can't even bear to look back at the last few posts to see how long I've been supposed to be tackling it. Not dropping yet. But it will. It will. There are the rangy editor's notes - which are interesting but very broad based. Then there's the predilection for flashback to accommodate - that I don't think will work. I'm still waiting for that 'zen moment'. So I've been walking and dancing a bit.

I even wondered whether taking out the script fastener and tossing the entire script up in the air (like in Alice in Wonderland) then re-assembling it in a random fashion might lend perspective..

web ref:

Tssk - you can see why I wouldn't really make a good teacher huh? Too anarchic maybe. I did some scriptwriting teaching here once and asked all the students to come up with pictograms for their current scripts, And then they each had to get up and draw them out on the board. One drew a large penis - of course.


Monday, August 18, 2008


Sunday, August 17, 2008


Maybe there are a couple of you out there who are wondering why I haven't posted my 'messages from the other side' wooooooooooooooooo video yet. Believe me I did try.

You see the cell camera (that has everything uploaded for easy xfer to PC) is in PE so I thought what the hell - I'll do it all on web cam. So I readied myself with my bundu mask on my desk. All I had to do was right click 'record' & slip the mask over my head. (It is so important to look the part as Helen probably knows…)

The eye-slits are where the cheeks are - so basically I can't see out at all. And it's hot and kind of spooky (in an ancestral way - in fact there are all these muffled echoes). So I do it, but afterwards the mask wont budge. It's stuck on my head. I'm all stuffy and thinking 'shit' and trying to yank it off.. So then I calm down, calm down. And think well hub is miles away in PE - so he can't help. I can't actually see out to try and use the telephone and call anyone useful. But then aha! I can hear the old lady next door out in the garden scolding her dogs. She's rarely unnerved. So I feel my way over to the back door - but our chow suddenly goes crazy growling at me. I think maybe I should run over quick and tell the neighbour - but the dog is so feral, I retreat. I even consider a walk to the 7-11 looking like a slithy tove..

Then I think 'if it came on, it must come off', so I lie horizontal across the bed, with head & mask hanging over the edge and pull it manically until it shifts slightly and soon - fresh air - I'm out!

Now the video can wait.. Ahem.

Next week rewrites.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Quiet here now - everyone's gone away or off somewhere or to bed or something. Just me and the glimmer. I quite like this limbo between eclipses. Not a time to start anything new - but good for mulling...

On one script they want me to re-pivot the drama via flashback. I hate flashbacks. (Well OK I may have used them sparingly in the past - but hitching the entire story on flashback is probably the most predictable script device ever. Isn't it?.) Anyway that's the tango. The real problem is the first act - those pedestrian pages - that I said needed throwing out - well I never threw them out - (ha!) I just sparked them up a bit - or tried to. So that's where the work is really needed. I know. They know. Flipping in a flashback probably won't work.
But I'll do it anyway. *grin*

Anyway blogs have gone a bit quiet lately. Apart from Helen making her cheese films. I fancy joining in and doing some of that. Can I? I could send messages from *the other side*


Monday, August 11, 2008

RIP Isaac Hayes 1942-2008

Soul music legend Isaac Hayes, who composed the award-winning theme for the film Shaft, died yesterday aged 65.

More here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts

I want to tell you about my cousin. She was pregnant and she didn't want the baby. - like lots of girls here. She could have gone to Marie Stopes - I suppose but they still cost and anyway, even outside the township everyone talks. You go to Wynberg and meet this aunty, that aunty or the sister of the neighbour next door buying Durban spices. Everyone talks. You meet this cousin, that cousin taking a taxi at night time to some faraway 24 hour chemist to get their ARVs just so no one who knows them will tell on them. She could have gone and got away with it with a bit of effort. It would have taken some lies and then maybe word would have got back to her man. People around knew she didn't want the baby. We knew - not because he didn't stick around - that's no big deal. It was the way she hit her stomach - with her hands - hard, punching her bigging belly, trying to kill it.

My cousin she came down to Cape Town from the Transkei some months back - paying a bitty bit rent in NY38 and got herself a job. Then this man, who she'd already got a young son with, came down too and what not and what not and in no time she was pregnant again - and she cursed herself but that didn't help. She didn't want another baby and then he was off again.

I spoke to her once - after seeing her. It's not normal to hit your own stomach that hard is it? She dressed like she wasn't pregnant and carried on going in to work. Then she went on leave, had the baby boy, stayed home 2 weeks and went back to work. She left the baby with a neighbour. When he was 4 months old - no one saw him any more. He disappeared. She said she sent him up to the Transkei to stay by his older brother.
Then someone found a dog going wild in the street tearing at a plastic bag. The dog had a head in its mouth - a baby's head - her baby. They found other bits of the body later all cut up and arrested her and took her to jail. All the neighbours came and shouted and screamed to say how evil she was, how twisted. She'd cut off the arms herself and left him in a gutter - her own child.

But Miss Lonelyhearts, I know my cousin never wanted that baby in the first place - and look what happened.

Will she go to hell now?

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Update: I've been letting both scripts simmer on the front burner. So it's been more about absorbing and responding to feedback and having discussions towards the next draft and thinking and drinking lots of tea. There's a great post from Danny here 'writing wrongs' which deals with the writer's role in rewriting. (Yeah I know you've all read it but maybe there's someone out there who hasn't)

There's now the possibility of an absolutely sizzling film project which I'm very excited about and definitely want to be involved in. Ok powers that be - make it happen!

On other fronts - attended a Film Finance seminar the other evening - organised by WIFT and the Cape Film Commission. This provided a case study for financing a low budget R6mil local feature film (not a co-prod) under the revised film and television production incentive.

Speakers Nadia Surjee and Karin Liebenberg from the DTI provided an overview of how they process projects of this budget and how the new tax rebate works.
Basil Ford from the IDC then gave a detailed overview of the IDC's equity funding and the instruments he is currently developing to accommodate the changes that the new incentive is bringing about with regard to cash-flowing the rebate. With the incentive likely generating a greater spread of risk and therefore more lower budget local films being financed, there will also be a requirement for 'shepherding' newer and inexperienced companies.
Kethiwe Ngcobo from SABC drama then outlined the broadcaster's plans for a new film fund which is now in the 'implementation cycle' with a potential spend of between R20-40mil by 09. She mentioned plans to accommodate films with a range of budgets. She also pointed out the challenges facing the SABC (being a government backed, commissioner of content) as it establishes ways of working with other local financiers.
Next up producer Paul Raleigh from Film Finances together with colleague attorney Guy MacLeod presented an overview of their new initiative 'PAL' established to employ their experience to shepherd young, new and HDI companies through film financing. PAL will look at projects at script stage.

Well that turned into a long one.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Call for submissions

'you don't have a self unless you have a secret, and we all have moments throughout our lives when we feel we're losing ourselves in our social group, or work or marriage, and it feels good to grab for a secret, or some subterfuge, to reassert our identity as somebody apart.' Dr Daniel M. Wegner

Encounters in partnership with the SABC and the Jan Vrijman Fund call for submissions for AFRICA SHORTS 2009

Following on the success of the first Africa Shorts workshop and productions launched at Encounters this year, Encounters, SABC and the Jan Vrijman Fund are running a 4-day storytelling and production workshop this year.

Five filmmakers from Southern and East Africa will be selected upon the basis of their proposals for a short film (of up to 12 minutes duration) on the subject of Secret Lives.

Deadline for Submission: Friday 19 September 2008

Entries should consist of no more than: i) 2-page synopsis (in English) ii) 2-page biography of the filmmaker with references iii) DVD copies of previous films iv) All contact details

All entries should be sent by email to: project "at"

Info is also available here - but still to be updated.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

SA TV drama briefs

Four briefs outlining new SABC drama requirements were launched at DIFF last month.

They include a brief for literary adaptation from South Africa, family comedy, a youth drama and a call to research new local telenovelas.

Briefs can be accessed here. See DIFF 2008 - Request for proposals.


Those horoscopes (for writers) are now available at TJ MacGregor's own site here.
See how both of August's eclipses will affect you.

Monday, August 04, 2008


A couple of people emailed to ask - so here's a brief overview on the jazz photo book.

'Ijazz' will celebrate nearly a century of South African jazz and include never-before-seen images researched and collected from across South Africa and beyond as well as essays from established photo documentarists.

Ijazz will portray distinct phases of South Africa's jazz history - from the early years and segregation - to developments in swing and township jazz under early apartheid government, on to jazz explosion - with the political catalyst of the Sharpeville massacre etc. Divergent lives and experiences of South Africa's jazz 'exiles' and jazz 'insiders' will be examined. Finally Ijazz takes a look at SA jazz since the advent of democracy. Photographs will be accompanied by three short authored texts.

Screenwriting thoughts to resume shortly. Laters

Thursday, July 31, 2008

karmic accountancy

Ok after Helen's post this morning it is clear that the phenomenon of 'karmic accountancy' needs further examination. (After all there may be 90 pence at stake.)

I just googled and found this on karmic accountancy here

'....If one acquires more than he has rightfully earned, he assumes a karmic debt. If one is cheated or robbed of that which is rightfully his, he receives a corresponding karmic credit. If a man's karmic debits and credits have not been balanced out by the time of his transition, that is, death of the physical vehicle, they are carried over until the next incarnation...'

Hmm it kind of goes off on one a bit - but maybe there's something in it? It wasn't something I'd experienced before.

Anyway as I prepared to fly out of the country last month, my passport was whipped away by immigration control and handed to an uncompromising looking official who called me over to a separate cubicle in Departures - where he proceeded to finger the expired visa and shout at me loudly. This was an hour before take off and for some reason I was giggling weakly inside (probably wrong I know) despite threats of imprisonment until the following Monday morning. In the end, the official fed a roll of paper into his rickety dot matrix printer and stabbed my details into his computer before presenting me with a notice of a fine - to be paid within 3 days. He scribbled something that looked like 'MISCREANT' and 'deposit + UK ticket' in ink on one page of my passport before handing it back, smiling. So I was 700 UK pounds out of pocket and I hadn't even left the country. I slunk on to the plane and fumed. Having a husband, daughter, house, company and even a permanently resident imported mother clearly didn't count. Plus I'd paid taxes. I calmed down as I tucked into the tiny but tasty chicken casserole and figured there are people in far worse migratory predicaments.

On the way back in I pushed the trolley through arrivals a little fearfully. I'd paid my fine, had the receipt plus a single ticket back to the UK. I joined a different queue from the rest of my family. Suddenly there was flurry of whistles from the officials at the front. They were smiling and waving, and ushering me over. They joked and bantered and barely glanced at the newly bought UK ticket. They stamped a temporary visa and I was in. Painless.
It was the next day when I ripped through the unopened letters that I came across the tax rebate notice - in rands but the exact equivalent of the cost of fine and ticket.

So maybe it's really just about payback - this karmic accountancy - when it feels wrong and stuff. What goes around etc. I don't know

So Helen that 90p. Hmm maybe there was a bus fare left off your tax return perhaps...?

Write Africa!

PEN / STUDZINSKI Literary Award

The South African Centre of International PEN (SA PEN) is pleased to announce a new literary award in Africa known as the PEN / STUDZINSKI Literary Award.

The award aims to encourage new creative writing in Africa and will offer talented writers an exciting opportunity to launch or develop a literary career.

One of the more financially rewarding literary competitions in Africa, the first, second and third prizes respectively will be £5 000, £3 000 and £2 000.

Nobel Laureate John Coetzee has agreed to be the final judge for the new award.

Full details are available here. Deadline is September 30th 2008.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

desk again

Helen tagged me with the desk meme, which I've already done some time ago. It still looks pretty much the same - a little messier maybe.

The photo is here:


Friday, July 25, 2008


Hello blog! There's nothing quite like being back, sitting down at your own desk is there? My head is still full of French phonetics after watching The Diving Bell and the Butterfly on the plane from Frankfurt. Really enjoyed it - moreso after having attended the Harwood talk at Cheltenham.

After the unexpected additional costs* (fine + another plane ticket) incurred by my trip, I returned to find the taxman has given me a rebate that precisely matches the overspend*. Karmic accountancy - what's that about then?

Anyway back to work. Must start rewrites and finish off stuff and read and go to the cinema and be nice to the dog. Lots going on and all tinglingly exciting. I think.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

on my way

There’s a way people have in Cape Town – when they meet someone they know and want to keep on talking (but are in a hurry) – of carrying on conversation while walking in opposite directions, until they’re both out of ear shot. Talk drifts away in the breeze. No goodbyes. I quite like that.

So after nearly a month dashing round the country and catching up with numerous friends, I‘m thinking about packing. At last I’ve experienced the weirdness of meeting up with bloggers - getting a bit hammered with the delightful Helen, Potdoll and Lara last weekend (plus had a rather more sedate chat with engaging Elinor, the week before.)

Managed to meet my fab new half brother (and wife) In a way, I wanted to just sit and have a good stare and contemplate any shared traits from our father. There is an odd resemblance. Also made a quick trip to Havant to see an uncle I’ve not seen in ten years. After 15 years in the navy in his youth, he spent a frugal life either travelling the seas in self-built yachts or cycling across various continents. Now 73 he has spent the last 8 years building and perfecting what is likely to be a final yacht, all meticulously detailed woodwork – now moored on Hayling Island.

So no writing done at all, at all. But on the plus side – numerous photos have been sourced for the jazz book. Stunning ones of the Blue Notes when they first sought exile in London – looking all stylish and slim and in clingy cardigans and even one of SA's Mokaleng with Thelonius Monk.

So I’ll be back here. Yes I will. My hub says his idea of hell is 50 years working on the London Underground. I think mine is possibly 50 years in purified Cape Town.


Monday, July 07, 2008


wooo and what a whirl is July so far. Firstly a threat of incarceration prior to flying out of Cape Town (odd circumstances which I absolutely can not go into here) but something I still have to sort out pronto...

But the Screenwriters Festival* was a delight (as everyone has blogged elsewhere) - the highlight of my 3 days in Cheltenham was the Ronald Harwood interview. Met lots of lovely peeps - although my time was topped and tailed by the commute from Smethwick meaning that I mainly missed the early sessions and, come evening, didn't get to hang around much at all..

Since then have been catching up with family in leafy counties & scratting around in boxes stowed in garages for mouldy belongings and pieces of art (found some! ). Still have to meet up with others including not-yet-met facebook half-brother and old, old friends. Yes.

Laters peeps.

*can't seem to do links (or much else) on this mac

Friday, June 27, 2008


offline soon for a while now. Even though ipass (or something) is now installed on the mac for travel - don't know whether it will work - so blogging and online activity will probably be minimal until end of July...

In the meantime - feel free to leave rude comments.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Africa First

Focus Features is pleased to announce a Call for Applications for the Focus Features Africa First Short Film Program. Applications will be open starting May 12th, 2008. The postmark deadline for applications is July 15th, 2008.
For complete details of this program, please refer to the website - click here.

Focus Features is committed to bringing moviegoers' original stories from the worlds most innovative filmmakers. With this in mind, the Focus Features Africa First Short Film Program was created to foster and develop long-term relationships with some of the most promising up-and-coming filmmakers from continental Africa. Through the financial support of the fund and the mentorship support provided by the Focus Features Africa First Advisory Board, we aim to bring filmmakers into an environment that will allow them to grow as filmmakers with an international audience.


Here's another opportunity from Botsotso - this time for African women short story writers based in Southern Africa.

Call for Short Story Submissions

Modjaji Books, the exciting new publisher for women in Southern Africa, is inviting submissions for its upcoming short story anthology. We want innovative stories that define the world from a woman’s perspective.

The topic for the anthology is “BED”. What does it mean to you? Memories of cosy bedtime stories, sterile beds in hospitals, or that sexy bed where a lover waits…

You tell us! We’re waiting to hear from you!

Send us your best, unpublished story before 31st July, 2008 to modjaj 'at'
For full details and rules visit Botsotso by clicking on this link.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Sometimes you just want to post utter carp full of typos because life's too short for spellcheck.
So then the dentist. This new one is a fan of the '45 degree reverse upturn' - where patients lie down, get tilted horizontal on the chair, then swivelled feet upwards so all the blood rushes to the head. Maybe it's good feng shui to lie like that - during consultation - but certainly doesn't feel like it. I was windmilled for a whole hour for 2 fillings. 1 miscellaneous root extraction + polish.

Was going to post something about the latest goings on with local broadcaster SABC but things seem to be such a right hayms I can't keep up. Let's hope it all settles down soon..

Current mood: say cheese. Page count: zippo

Friday, June 20, 2008

why film matters

Mark Cousins "Movies made me"

'when it sticks close to questions of self, confidence and eros, of who rather than how, when it’s about medium-sized things like aloneness and fear, when it doesn’t bite off more than it can chew—when it does these things, film matters.

Read this great article in full here.

roly poly

All go round here, all of a sudden. Jazz book is now rolling out which means funds which means research which means travel which means I'll see (some of) y'all soon yeehaa! Now I'm just trying to book into the SWF by any means necessary. So a whole load of admin things consume me. Jeepers, 7 years in Cape Town. it'll be like coming out of rehab (I imagine)...but anyway...

In script news: The producers seem (guardedly) pleased with the draft + missing page - which is now with their script editor. Reading between the lines, I can see I'll be committed to tweaking it for the next while - they do so like to get their money's worth. It is real tear-jerk stuff. Now have to re-jig the treatment before month end..

I also need to do another pass on the UK/SA (previous) script - sparkle the VO, tease out more tragic-comedy. The moral dilemma of the main character has been likened to that of POH (*of course this story is nothing like POH, but there are parallels ;-)). So I've been hunting down a POH script pdf - high and low - to actually see the VO on the page. Not the same as watching it. Need to see the layering and texture, the saccharine and the salt. So if anyone knows where to find a pdf let me know. Ta. (Can buy it from scriptfly - but takes forever to get to SA - so far only found it in Japanese)

What else? - titbits really. The letter and pencil sketch mentioned a while back is going to auction on July 10th. Might even go. You can see and read all about it here. So anyone who wants to buy a piece of living history that will only ever increase exponentially in value as time goes by, go bid. You read it here. Ha!

And now I need to go to the dentist.

BTW does anyone else have the Swiss federal government visit their blog? Give up politics & start scriptwriting, I say. Storytellers have the real power (and more fun)

edited to counteract karmic kickback ;)

Monday, June 16, 2008


Moving on now - here's a playwriting opportunity that Robin pointed up on his calendar (which is worth keeping your eye on).

I try and post script competitions open to the southern hemisphere. This is the International Playwriting Festival contest and has a deadline on 30th June.

Full info is available here.

Other stuff bubbling - maybe see you soon. Hope so.

Just now been off to the Book fair with mum, daughter and hub in tow. Something for everyone this year - talks, sushi & wine - not bad at all. There was even a giant size Miffy strolling round. I almost fell in love - I do so like a kindly, mild mannered, well turned out rabbit.


Sunday, June 15, 2008


OK so have been tagged by Lianne and Robin for 7 songs that are shaping my spring - actually its winter here now - so the vibe is probably a bit different - ha!
This week, the house is full of SA jazz mainly because of the imminent book rollout - so I'm listening to (but not necessarily playing) Abdullah Ibrahim and also The Blue Notes. That's two down.
Then Freshly Ground's 'Doo Be Doo' from last year - all light and a bit bubbly. Then there's iconic Brenda Fassie - something haunting like 'Istraight Lendaba' (or 'Yizo Yizo') Plus lately, I've been getting nostalgic - thinking of summers walking though Lewisham market with Alton Ellis' ska number 'You make me so very, very happy' pounding out of some tinny system - now there's a sound from my Leeds days. Then for some reason - there's also Jimmy Cliff's 'The Harder They Come' (ha ha ha ha!) running around my brain. And to round off - something I can't find anywhere on the net - but which I'd love to use in my film (the one written before this) Freddie Gwala's 'Ngiboshiwe' for an upbeat township vibe
Is that 7? Hope so.
So I'm an old person now innit...

Friday, June 13, 2008

SA script orgs in funding crisis

The South African Script Writers’ Union (SASWU) and its training arm; The Scriptwriting Institute have called a public meeting on 21June in Johannesburg to address their current funding crisis.

Full story read on here in Screen Africa.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The missing page..

Funny how you can knock out 24 pages all in one day and then spend a whole week toiling over just one.

This particular scene takes place against the backdrop of the referendum result broadcast here on March 17th 1992 - an historical turning point in SA. Then there wasn't any of this 360 degree media delivery, or digital frenzy. Anyway it needs to play out all kind of light and bubbly, frivolous and frothy - like a game of ping pong or even badminton would do it for visuals (except of course neither fit the circumstances of the script) So anyway that's what I'm struggling with now.

It'll come...


Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I don't often write about psychic stuff on the blog because it's easy to dismiss as bonkers and even when you know it isn't - it's probably best to tow the line and present a fairly sane face to the world at large. But we are all writers here aren't we..?

But the other morning something strange happened.

First an aside. One time we had this cleaner and I was walking towards her when she was polishing the front stoep, and she kind of buckled forwards. In that moment everything turned monochrome - all colour just bleached away. Then she regained her composure and stood up and it was back to full colour again. I remembered this clearly because 3 weeks later she died suddenly - and only then I realised what I'd seen.

So the other morning, I was outside, walking towards the mountain when everything in the world just 'shook'. Not an earthquake or anything but a kind of psychic rumble as I walked along. So I kind of made a little bow toward the mountain to accept this piece of information and carried on walking feeling a bit panicky and thinking - 'this is about massive, unsettling change' but what the hell does it mean? No one ever wants things to stay the same all the time do they? Hell no! But change is scary too...

I once went to a fortune teller in Convent Garden and I think I was wearing a black velour sweater and so she asked if I had been to a funeral recently, and I had so I said 'Yes' and she asked 'How was it?' And I told her that actually it was the best funeral I'd ever been to - everyone thought so - a send off for a brilliant artist - whose influence continues to be felt - even now. There were daffodils in all the windowsills of the church and sunlight flooded in and he was laid out up at the front in his coffin. I didn't go up to look at him again - but you could. Black funerals are always 'in your face' kind of affairs the world over...

So - even though this ramble has brought me to death - it's not a physical death that is making its presence felt now. But an ending of sorts.

A chapter closing...

Please send page 30

Ha! Delivered the script on Friday and that's what their email said today. I kind of half hoped they might not notice that I'd left out this smallish chunk. Instead, I'd inserted a note. Now they want the missing page. Hmm - better hand it over.

Other than that, there's tightening up to be done, but they seem pleased. Result.

Mood: smiley. Page count: Finished (- 1)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The end

I'm all written out. Want to stop for a while. Pause. Breathe. Have fun.

But first I've to deliver this script by the end of the week. Still have to hack, shape and prune it ruthlessly. If a scene doesn't multi-task - it's out.

The ending packs a real emotional punch. A real heartbreaker. Sob sob. When I script, I tend not to worry about the end - I travel hopefully. Some say that if you don't know the ending, when you start, then the script won't work. This time I did, so maybe they're right…


Software may identify blockbuster scripts

Now a team at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, has developed an algorithm to keep scriptwriters ahead of the game. The algorithm assesses how good a script is as it is being bashed out on the keyboard (F. Murtagh, A. Ganz & S. McKie Pattern Recognit. ; in the press). Computer scientists Fionn Murtagh and Stewart McKie teamed up with screenwriter Adam Ganz to find an objective way to compare new scripts with successful ones in their genre. They analysed a selection of scripts from films deemed successful by critics to find common patterns.

“On the crudest level, we could distinguish action films, such as Die Hard , from a drama such as Casablanca just on the frequency of verbs compared with character names,” says Ganz. “We wanted to see if we could find a more sophisticated way to uncover deeper structural patterns.

For full article (including a fab quote from me!) read on here

Saturday, May 31, 2008

'Celebrate Life' short script contest and SAB Miller have teamed up for a world-wide short script competition. Theme is 'Because Life is what you pour into it' so they want pitches for short films that "Celebrate Life." The competition ends June 11.

They will pick 15 of the best script pitches and give them $1500 (USD) each to make their film! Then 5 of those filmmakers will win $5000!

Full details available by clicking here.


After a mammoth 24 page scripting bing* - the script romped home on friday. Finito. Well not quite.
A short breather before the snicker snack. My typing is so atrocious at that speed - I'm hoping I can work out what I wrote.

So sluurrp!
Now for a glass of pinot g...


Wednesday, May 28, 2008


You know those messages that Mystic Meg always puts in front of her horoscopes; 'Carol from Penzance - please look in the blue spectacle case under your bed' or (less likely) 'Mani en route from the DRC, your brother is happy now and wants you to return the shoes' etc - well blogging seems a little similar sometimes - sending out missives into the universe in the hope that they might be intercepted by an appropriate person or failing that - impart something useful somewhere..

Anyway - just a short catch-up post today - been a bit distracted and the writing goes slow. Well a little bit faster now because they just emailed to ask where is it? Indeed where is it?
Better crack on.

Sharp sharp

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Ok here's my take on Danny's scriptwriting revelations meme (via Kevin).

Not easy to try and pinpoint exactly 'what revelations you've had since taking up your writing career' and many of the things you learn are not to do with scriptwriting - plus Danny has covered most of the ground pretty well in his post.

I'd add that a scriptwriting career path is rarely linear. Although you may have this 5 year or 10 year goal plan mapped out in your head - life pays scant attention to it. Often opportunities come about from left of field - unexpected sources especially when you've not got much invested in them.

I spent several years making short films before I started writing scripts. Things happened easily. Then I wrote my first feature script treatment which broke all rules - it was only 6 pages long, I even drew a family tree on it (!) It came runner up in a newspaper scriptwriting contest, brought me shed loads of meetings, went on to attract in excess of 40K (UKP) in development finance and big producers on board. That script didn't get made. 4 years later I was working on the London Underground. Now I'm over here - mostly getting paid to write and making bits of TV. Still not where I want to be - until the feature(s) is/are made....but moving a bit closer each day. I don't regret any of it.

Along the way, friends, colleagues and people around grow with you and past you - so if you get on well, stay in touch. The actors you did readings with or the scripty types you hung with ten years ago - may end up award winners or Heads of funds.

As a writer - be yourself. Know yourself. If you're not really a fan of TV soaps then it's unlikely you'll ever find yourself writing for them. Find your own path.

As Phil says here you definitely need a life outside scriptwriting (unappealing as this may sound - ha!) - family and or partner support is pretty vital.

In business relationships - follow your instincts - about people. If that little voice says 'yes' - listen - it's always right.

Develop a thick skin and indefatigable self-belief. Take affirmation from your successes. Do your best. Be better. Keep going.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Industry acts against xenophobia

Members of the South African production industry are responding to the horrific xenophobia attacks that have been raging in Gauteng’s informal settlements for more than 10 days by collaborating to make an anti-xenophobia public service announcement (PSA), which they hope will be widely seen in South Africa.

More in Screen Africa here

There is now an organisation FAR (Filmmakers Against Racism) and their blog featuring details of recent activities, images and links to videos can be found here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

words and letters

excerpt from Shalimar: Salman Rushdie

So today - been thinking about words and language and its use. Most times on the blog, I tend to write the way I speak (ha!) and go off at tangents frequently and speak too fast - so I'm told - but then get back on course again - hence the numerous brackets found in one sentence. Someone once used this skiing term; 'linked recoveries' - I've never tried to ski and don't intend to - but apparently there's a way you steer yourself down - zig-zag style to keep yourself on course - well that I think is what happens with the tangental thoughts. Hub on the other hand likes to illustrate a point with a story - a parable really - but only at the end of it all do you realise that the story told has absolutely nothing to do with the topic in hand - but hey - that's communication ...

Anyway where is this all going? Letter writing was going to be my real topic here. There's a film (like Central Station) where the lead character writes letters for other people...

Letter writing for other people seems to have evolved into a sideline for me. In this country, the written word commands a lot of power. Here, firing off an email with the subject header 'notification of intended legal action' can release unpaid funds within a matter of hours. I've no problem with launching into battle via the written word (and fighting to win) - in fact I'd rather write than phone. So I get co-opted to write on various people's behalves (behalfs?); I've fired off accusatory missives, complaints, counter-claims, damning indictments, pleas, declarations of intent, job applications and even drawn up press releases to re-launch jazz musicians. At the moment I'm embroiled in a 4 year long bureaucratic battle to win back someone's house - sold for the price of 2 pints of milk. Yesterday evening, I drew up a family friend's (dream) proposal for a township music school (that is currently being built) and now find myself more deeply involved.. let's see..

So anyway - as in that film (or maybe it's a different one) love letters would make a pleasant change - to have someone come, sit down and tell their story of yearning or betrayal or forgiveness or aging or something.. I'd sit and listen calmly, then craft a simple, perfect letter to work some magic....

This is really getting a bit long but who cares. There was a time when someone who I'd been in love with once, came back into my life and I asked them to leave me the message I'd always wanted to hear - the 'closure' thing and so they picked up the phone and dialled my number and left a message along the lines of 'Far Away I always thought you were a sweetie and it's a shame it never worked out but these things happen xx.' And that was it. And later I went home and played it back a couple of times and listened and smiled. Perfect. An ending.

Just like in the movies.


Adrift in Zimbabwe.

Read journalist/ scriptwriter Farai Sevenzo's fascinating blog posts here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Female directors

From the LA Times - an analysis of why film directing in Hollywood is still a man's world...

'The paucity of female directors seems rooted in a variety of hard-to-define issues, including lifestyle choices, aesthetic interests and personality differences. But one key contrast stands out. While there is a sizable number of women working in indie films (Sofia Coppola, Mira Nair, Nicole Holofcener, to name just a few), when you ask studio chiefs to name women who would be on their list to direct a mainstream summer movie, they offer up Nancy Meyers, Nora Ephron and -- well, then they start to run out of gas.'

Read full article here.

ships that pass in the night

Heartening to see (and a reminder of the need to persevere) is the tremendous critical response to Terence Davies' latest film Of Time and the City. I've long been a fan of his work. Here in another interview from 2 years back - is Davies' damning and passionate assessment of the UK film industry. Interesting to note that much of what he says chimes with what is being articulated elsewhere lately - the need for spiky, original and 'difficult' voices and narratives to be returned to British cinema and television.
Perhaps change is in the air..

In other news: I'm still making headway on the current script - (even better news they just agreed to give me more money - yee haa!) - despite the various shortcomings of the online stuff (I'm now loath to mention any scriptwriting tool by name on the blog now - since it sparks a mass of visits from developers.) Why don't they just put all the functionality of word into an online system - or better still - why not have writers just type in a few key words and let the programme write the script instead?

Locally, the state of affairs at the SABC continues to baffle with yesterday's news that the CEO has now been reinstated after his suspension was ruled unlawful. Watch this space.

And finally an opportunity: Migr@Tions International have put an international call out for short films about immigration. Full details are available by clicking here.

So there you go - bits and pieces today. And where are you by the way?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

global local

Reviving SA's reelpolitik

'Two years after Tsotsi brought home an Oscar, our film industry is still languishing in the doldrums. Ryan Fortune meets the youngsters who might just give it a boost

Earlier this week, a delegation of local film mavens flew off to Cannes to sell South Africa as a player in the international film industry. They might haul out Presley Chweneyagae or Madiba or both, but the disappointing truth is that they have very little to sell beyond our great locations, well-trained crews and cheap equipment, for not a single South African film is in competition on the Croisette this year.'

Read the full article here.


From Stewart McKie - the creator of scriptcloud comes a new ideablog for those who have ideas about improving screenwriting and want to get more involved in online idea sharing. Click here.

Click the big orange New Idea button then signup as a new user to post and track your ideas and vote/comment on the ideas of others. Although in its infancy, it may work as a forum to share opinions on scripped, zhura and other online scriptwriting tools.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Playwriting competition

'Protect the Human' Playwriting competition

“Making real and relevant the impact of human rights on our everyday lives.”

iceandfire and Amnesty International UK launched the 2008 ‘Protect the Human’ playwriting competition on May 6th 2008. By pairing up to create the competition our aim is to harness theatre's ability to make real and relevant the impact of human rights on our everyday lives. To do this we are looking for insightful and engaging plays that imaginatively interpret this aim.

Submission window: July 28th – August 1st 2008

All submissions will be read by a panel of theatre professionals including Olivier award winning actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor. The three finalists will receive rehearsed readings at the Soho Theatre in December 2008 with the winning play receiving a prize of £3000 and readings at The Birmingham Rep; Theatre Royal Plymouth; West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds and a London venue on 10th December 2008 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Full information is available by clicking on their website here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Ok my main news is scripped. I thought it was high time I dragged myself away from word (utterly prehistoric) and tried out one of these new, free online scriptwriting software thingies and yeah I'm already a fan (mmm yes I'm easily pleased) - apart from the fact that I can't magnify the page or cut and paste from other scripts (- hey there's always the possibility you might want to cut and paste whole scenes from previous scripts into your current one - I've done that before.) But I hear they're 'working on it...

So while that's going on, I alerted the producers to a potentially massive script 'issue' - you see - all this treatmenting and this and that really means nothing because when you actually sit down and hammer it all out and read it back and see whether the story 'works' - that's where it clicks. And yes while the final two thirds of the story are positively pulsating with feverish emotional excitement the first third is put to shame. In fact the first third can just be chucked out the window really. Yet probably those 30 pages had to be written just to understand why they needed to thrown out (and this is perhaps why treatments sometimes don't always work too) So yo! I feel like yo yo-ing to day. Yo!

So I've given myself another fortnight. Yo! And I did ask for more money but I don't think they heard me. Yo! Maybe I'll shout.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

development heaven

An article by Barbara Schock on 'intelligent screenplay development.'

just posted this and it is really a great read.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Today's page count: past halfway. Mood: cautious

Saturday, May 10, 2008


There are myriad things I don't blog about for various reasons - which probably creates a huge disparity between what appears here and what I (script)write about - which maybe some blog readers grasp and some don't - but who cares? I don't tend to blog about muti, black psyche/white psyche, AIDS, alcoholism, political shenanigans, bi-polarity or grimy crime - all of which however are intricately and intimately woven into the foreground of (my) life here.

Occasionally significant TV news seeps into the blog - such as the upheavals of the past week - and I start to wonder whether lurching from horoscopes and woolly sweaters to politics makes any sense at all - does it?

Anyhow last week's writing schedule became a little sidetracked (now behind by 10 pages - agh!) but other stuff cranks forward slowly.


Recent page count: catching up. Mood: buoyant

Thursday, May 08, 2008

SASFED statement on SABC crisis

Press Statement 8th May 2008.

In view of the present crisis within the SABC, the South African Screen Federation representing 17 professional bodies in the film and TV industry:

1/ Support the role of the SABC as a public broadcaster committed to quality local programming

2/ Believe political interference has undermined the original public service mandate of the SABC

3/ See the existing crisis as symptom of a long standing operational disfunctionality

4/ We independent filmmakers who make most of South Africa¹s TV programmes, experience daily the ineffective management which has undermined our capacity to produce quality and challenging programmes for the South African public.

We wish to see the SABC fully functioning for the entire public and all key stakeholders who make this possible.

Rehad Desai

growing clothes

My sister once bought a beautiful, grey wool sweater which she wore only once before casting it casually into the washing machine. When she took it out, it had shrunk to the size of a tea cosy. Thinking it might fit my daughter (who at the time was only two) she posted it here airmail - and it was exactly the right size!
The weird thing is over the years the jumper has actually grown with my daughter - so now that she is nearly six - it still fits - with room to spare.
Hmm - maybe I should send this in as a tip somewhere - how to use your children to grow shrunken clothes back to their original size..slowly....

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


The local broadcaster SABC appeared to be in meltdown today after the suspension of the CEO early this morning - following his earlier suspension of the Head of News.

The unfortunate timing coincides with Input2008 currently underway in Johannesburg and attended by a host of international TV commissioners and execs.

Today's page count: 9. Mood: distracted

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Yes these horoscopes for writers again - always good for encouragement.

Here's the link for May. Luckily mine (Aries) tells me:

Your best writing time this month falls between May 2-26, while Mercury is moving in direct motion. Between May 26 and June 19, it’s time to rewrite and revise.

Better crack on

Today's page count: 11. Mood: changeable.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Spoilers: banal post ahead

Not a post about writing or progress but about the pond in the garden getting a bit overgrown. This is what it looked like yesterday morning.

The size of a plunge pool, don't know whether it ever had koi carp in it but I doubt it - it's a bit leaky and when the rains come (anytime soon) it can fill right up to the top. In fact once when it became a little too swampy, the neighbour at the back came round and accused us of breeding mosquitoes (as though anyone actually breeds mosquitoes - although perhaps Pandora did - after she opened the box) Same neighbour called in the environmental health whose advice was to pour in some paraffin - which didn't seem very eco-friendly, but perhaps it worked and anyway a couple of days later, the water all drained away.

So there you have it - a pond or rather a big stone-lined hole in the garden - that probably has imperfect feng shui. Mountain above water is that supposed to be a good hexagram? Wonder whether there's one for mountain above grassy pond...

Yesterday's page count:9 (including title page)