Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Boost

The big news of the week over here concerns the revised incentives for the film and television industries which aim to increase foreign investment, local content production and BEE.
Read more by clicking here.

And for those who'd rather dance here's Freddie Gwala.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Why I don't read scripts

I'm all for perusing the growing stash of filmed scripts that can be found all over the net nowadays - particularly recent films. Sometimes I'll rush back from the cinema to google up the script and take a look. I even scribble things down in the cinema especially when it seems that there's some kind of a message I could use. Today after watching 'Talk To Me' I scribbled down Dewey Hughes' early advice to DJ Petey Greene (N.B. this is general gist not word for word)

Know more than your audience
Whatever bullshit you talk, make sure you can back it up
Don't underestimate me

Anyhow it already looks like I've contradicted myself in the title of this post but what I mean is that as a general rule, I don't go out of my way to read other writers' scripts unless I suspect they might be good. The more I read writers' scripts, the more my admiration for script reader /writers grows. It's a great job you do.

I mentioned elsewhere on this blog that I don't have the temperament or sensitivity for script reading. I hope this doesn't sound facetious but I suppose it is because I don't think a scriptwriter's creativity is best served by imbibing too many scripts that aren't working. I prefer to be inspired. On a couple of occasions I've read scripts that happen to be magnificent (and remain unmade) but on the whole I end up grunting and groaning as I force myself through the pages. [Quite possibly there's folk out there doing the same with mine..]

If I had to choose a job tied to scriptwriting - it would be teaching rather than script reading. With teaching, at least you can try and deflect or off-set the wholesale generic borrowing that saturates scripts. But then what do I know huh? - I dont read scripts (other than favours returned) Or at least I try not to until people force me to.

This week I succumbed. So of course I first send out a disclaimer "I'm a harsh critic" just in case the recipient is likely to be of a delicate disposition (I'm a harsh critic of my own work too - saves a lot of trouble in the long run)

Anyway aside from the litany of crafting elements that can usually be improved in all scripts - (and I couldn't give a blue banana about incorrect format - so long as there's original story) ultimately with any 'competent' script - it all boils down to (reader) subjectivity / taste and familiarity. Meat or poison. Fly or flail (fail).
Ambivalence is not good. It is better that people either violently hate or passionately love a (competent) script than feel ambivalent about it. Ambivalence doesn't work and will not get anyone anywhere.

'Love' or 'hate' at least provide a coat-hanger for the script reader who can then question or explore the writer's intent or their need to tell the story.

Cor this turned into a long ramble innit? Must be the pinot grigio...

Later

Lucky strike?

Over at Rouge Wave my attention was caught by Sheldon's Bull's intriguing take on the WGA Writers Strike at this potentially pivotal time for the industry.

Read the complete article in Storylink. Here's an excerpt:

'Take a deep breath and think for a minute. Maybe you don’t need to pen that spec or genuflect to that agent. Maybe what you need to do is bypass them all and just do it yourself.
Do I mean that you should make a short movie or three-minute TV series on your own and then post it on the web for free? Yes. That’s exactly what I mean. Can you think of a more effective way to introduce yourself to the world? If you get ten thousand hits on your video, don’t you suppose that people with money to invest will come looking for you?
The ’07-’08 Writers Strike could be the seminal moment in the collective lives of every screenwriter alive. This could be the beginning of the biggest tectonic shift in the history of entertainment.'

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Quick one

Just checking in here for the few regulars. Been a strange up-and-down week worldwide it seems (and still only Wednesday.) On the script front, I now feel I'm being propelled by circumstances beyond my control towards a certain decision (updated info in the comments below) After all you only need one 'yes'.
Manana.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Africa and Hollywood

Just caught up with this interesting post over at the Leo Africanus blog. Leo Africanus recently interviewed Mahen Bonetti, Director of NY's African Film Festival about Hollywood's renewed appetite for Africa.

Here's an excerpt:

"In some ways, it is exciting to see Africa get some recognition on the Hollywood landscape. In other ways, it is important to be critical of the ways in which Africa is depicted and the stories that are told. We must ask, from whose perspectives are these stories being told, and what exactly are these stories themselves saying about the state of Africa today, and her relationship within the international arena? I’m wary of films that do exactly what you mention – use Africa as a “backdrop,” as if the continent were simply a place where western stories happen."

To find out how to get hold of Farafina magazine and read the full interview, click here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

holiday casualty

so guess who screamed the most when the frog's stretchy arm finally came off - my daughter or the frog?

Anyway back to work today. At last.

Later.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

that and this and that

Writing is still on hold here until the long summer holiday finally draws to a close at precisely 8 am on Wednesday 16th January - when my daughter and thousands of others start a new school year and I can finally get back to the desk - yippee.

'Write every day' may be the mantra, but an enforced period away from the desk is often just as productive. Time to set ideas sailing and see where they go. Lately I seem to have replaced writing with swimming (with the upshot that I'm now contemplating something set in a pool - ha!) On my writing 'to do' list for 2008 there's:


a fragmented family TV mini-series thing - pivoted round an absent father (have a title but not sure whether I completely like it yet)
a new SA story - for which I have a perfect title and pitch - and which has been percolating gently for several months now, and
WF (a UK/SA thing) which has been in the top drawer for ages but is missing some vital ingredient - probably needs more mulling over
Let's see.

There are also the 2 SA scripting projects from last year still under negotiation but my feeling is that if things are going to happen - then they tend to happen quickly. Hmmm..

Plus there's one (or two) schemes I'm excited about here and there - mainly there ;)

Laters.

PS: regarding the 'script with legs' - am in less of a quandary and have made up my mind to wait...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

round up

Here's a new year round up of the latest scriptwriting and film opportunities (and deadlines) for those based on this continent.

Firstly there's the SASWU 'Script Camp' an exciting fully funded 3 month training initiative for 12 writers who want to script the ultimate South African feature film between 1st March and 1st May this year. Writers will receive a stipend/part option fee of R30,000 during training. Read the full details by
clicking here.

For queries and submissions email Nicola Rauch: nicolarauch 'at' webmail.co.za

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Maisha Film Lab is now accepting applications for 2008. Maisha seeks applications from Screenwriters, Directors, Editors, Sound Recordists and Cinematographers for the 2008 Annual Lab to be held in Kampala , Uganda. For more details visit the website by clicking here.

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Telkom Media, one of the four new South African commercial satellite and cable subscription operators licensed last year, has published its first round of briefs for the production of local content, as well as a guide to its standard Terms of Trade for acquiring local content.
The briefs can be accessed on
www.telkommedia.co.za under 'Content Proposals'

****
'Scenarios from Africa' film contest calls for submissions.
Community and Youth Development Initiatives and Imo State Action Committee on AIDS have launched the fifth edition of this contest in Nigeria which accepts entries until March 15, 2008. Young African journalists /aspiring journalists under 25 are invited to submit storylines for short films on HIV/AIDS. The grand prize winner will receive US$1,500.To learn more about the competition, visit the website by
clicking here.

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There's still time to get together an entry for the
BBC's annual African Performance playwriting competition 2008. Plays must be half an hour in length when read aloud, and feature no more than six characters. The subject matter must resonate with an African audience. Entries are sought from Africans living in Africa. Deadline is January 31st 2008. There are three prizes. The first prize is £1000, the second is £850 and the third prize is £650. Visit the website here for full details of how to apply.

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There's another radio scriptwriting competition on climate change which has a deadline of March 15th . Read the full details at the website by
clicking here.

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The Pangea Day online film competition deadline is 15th February. Still plenty of time for filmmakers to enter. Full information is available
right here.

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For those developing and packaging features, it may be worth taking a look at these two granting opportunities - the World Cinema Fund's next deadline is March 13th 2008 and application information and guidelines can be found on
their website here.
The Global Film Initiative (promoting cross cultural understanding through films) provides small amounts of funding for feature length dramas that have already attracted some backing. Further information is on their website - click on this link.

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All Roads seeds grants for filmmakers have quarterly submission rounds. Full details on
their website here.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Quandary

Had the meeting yesterday - they like the script and want to make it (a UK/SA thing) Now I have to make up my mind and sign by 16th. The offer is fine. Only trouble is they want a 'mr big' director on board - aggghhhhh. Now I'm having a Potdoll moment. Should I say yes because - who knows after this one maybe I'll be better placed to direct? Should I say no and stick my neck out for what I really, really want (and risk not getting it at all)? Or should I try a bit of gentle persuasion and say I'll be happy to step aside WHEN 'mr big' director is on board (if that is at all possible?) Is this a girl thing? I can direct it, in fact I'm best placed to do it, I know I am! Maybe I need to show them my shorts. (What if they determined my directing ability from that cell-phone puppet video underneath - that was a family co-production and I only did the camera -work (shaky I know) and the cutting out - aggggh.) Oh I should be dancing round in my flip-flops instead of tearing out my hair. Answers in comments please. Asap. Ta

Friday, January 04, 2008

move over blue cow

Here's mermaid, mrs rabbit ear-ears (and the whale) cell-phone puppet show.

video

Thursday, January 03, 2008

report

Last year was a mixed bag. Started off well with our company's first children's educational series commission broadcast here weekly from Jan - March (this after a demoralising re-edit in Jo'burg). The feedback was good. Then came a meeting about the re-commission of a storytelling series with another prodco. Things didn't turn out well and I followed my instincts and ended up stepping off.
I turned my attentions away from local production towards international markets and stories that could travel. A couple of new drama outlines received positive feedback. There were other minor writing successes, but mostly I spent my time honing and rewriting.
Later on, I successfully pitched for a large (non-film related) writing project - the contract for which should now be coming through early this year (those distant shores are still beckoning...) A hefty portion of the year was spent writing a brand new spec which I am now touting (can't say too much - but it does have legs). Towards the end of the year, I dragged my heels over other 'slow' projects - either due to the lack of funds or the protracted negotiations. Had a small boost at the end of the year with a promo commission. And that was about it..

I'm not one for making writing resolutions but I do feel very optimistic about 2008. Maybe it's all these fabulous horoscopes I keep reading.

Later

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

first post

A quick post to change the date on here. For Aries scribes - 2008 is the year we've all been waiting for. Let's see...
On the last day of 2007, my daughter learned to swim and script news arrived that seems like a yes (whether that's a big yes, a small yes, a no-yes or a no, remains to be seen...)

Last night parked in a laybay up on the side of the mountain to watch 6 minutes of fireworks over the Waterfront.
Happy New Year!