Monday, March 31, 2008


Time to get stuck into the world of the new script. It is the middle of the 3 week Easter holidays here and there's no holiday school - aggh! Why do deadlines happen at the most awkward time? Emails are flying - but trying to sit at the PC for more than 3 minutes is a juggle. At the moment I'm letting my daughter watch Captain Crusty Grumpy Mumble* CD on the mac here at the desk next to me - slightly distracting - but it buys me time. Hey maybe I could put it on a loop without her noticing....

*you'll never find this title on imdb

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Hello blog! Back to the grindstone now - since last week all the buses came along at once (Clapham omnibus - see that's a cultural reference - which few here are familiar with & reminds me why I blog)

Anyway I signed a contract and received funds in my account all in the same week (plus it was my birthday - yeehaa!) Remarkable - since the contract was not for the big non-film jazz thing which will now take another couple of months to come through - but for a back burner script commission which has been under protracted discussion for nearly 18 months. In fact I'd rather lost faith that negotiations would ever get anywhere. Now I have to get on with it - hammer out a treatment in a week and a (brilliant) script plus revisions in a month (plus or minus) - just in time for Cannes. So after two months of faffing (well 'gentle contemplation') and tweaking my A5 booky thing, now have to get down to some real mental graft.

What else - was reading the
Guardian tv blog to see how the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency 2 hour TV movie was received in the UK and perhaps predictably the audience was completely split - loving or hating it - with little middle ground - and most criticism levelled at the representation of Africa. Here's one comment from 'unclephaester' directed at reviewer Sam Wollaston; "when Sam says that there aren't enough black people on TV, he means "his sort" of black people. Blacks who conform to Sam's stereotypes and not those of other people." Ha.

Still I hope the series is flighted here soon. Since my daughter was born, I've tended to favour light reads - stuff that takes only a day or two and the No 1 series certainly fits. I'm finishing the 2 most recent books now. Few people point out how funny the stories are. I'm drawn to the way women bamboozle folk (mainly naive men)- maybe it is recognition. When I first came to live in Cape Town, I was probably a bit green and would stand by, uncomplaining when one or other of my hub's 3 sisters arrived, marched into the kitchen, tasted the food cooking on the stove before pronouncing disparagingly on the flavour. In the early days, in Montana, imposing neighbours invited themselves in just to comment on the shape and colour of washing on the line. Some even demanded old newspapers or bottles from the domestic worker (without my knowledge)! Now I put my foot down.

I must be grown up.

Monday, March 24, 2008

My one leg

No not another post about toes - sorry to disappoint. Rather some thoughts on language - or rather slang and grammar rolled into one - since we scriptwriters are often faced with these opposing concerns. On the one hand we (may) pride ourselves on our mastery of correct grammar - while on the other, there's a need to 'demonstrate a good ear for the cadences of whatever* patter' (as a reader once termed it) - write the way people talk.

Like many other places, Kaapstadt has spawned its own variations of familiar phrases. Recently my daughter came back from school talking about 'her one leg' - when she actually meant 'one of her legs'. Or she'll come out with something like; 'I saw this girl blinking her one eye.' Fortunately Cape Town is not populated with one legged Cyclopes. Another local particularity is the use of 'did' not for emphasis but to denote the past tense as in 'he did go to the shop then he did try on a new sock on his one leg.' The dids started to grate and fact I've now banned all use of the word from the house. So I can't even use it in scripts - ah well..

*insert locale/cultural/ethnic variation here

Friday, March 21, 2008

Fictive Days

An intriguing opportunity for those yearning to live the part of a real film character.

FICTIVE DAYS is a two-week performance studio for the collective research of fictional characters. Taking place during the NEW LIFE BERLIN Festival in June 2008, six to eight artists/researchers will be selected to live and work closely together in a large Berlin apartment. To participate in the project, you must apply to be a mainstream film character. For two full weeks you must adopt the identity of this character and always act as you believe this character would. To APPLY NOW click the link and for further info click this one

FICTIVE DAYS is a project developed by Peruvian artists Sergio Zevallos in collaboration with TEMPS – space support for nomadic projects.

SA screenplays wanted

In this week's newsletter - there's a lead from Inktip.

N.B - see update below

We are looking for completed, feature-length scripts that revolve around South Africa stories - not stories based on real events, but true stories, and South African only. Scripts are sought for a slate of three films to be produced back to back in South Africa in 2008/2009.

Budget should not exceed $2 million. WGA and Non-WGA writers may submit, as long as the script is about a true story that takes place in South Africa.

For more information on gaining access to this lead, please see

Update: - this has now gone live on :
True Films (an initiative of Chris Roland's Zen HQ) is seeking polished feature film scripts revolving around true South African stories only. We are not considering books that can be adapted, short stories, concepts or anything else.

For full details of submissions, visit the website by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

non blog

Things going on but can't really post about just yet. Believe it or not - in real life - I'm not the world's most discreet person in regard to writerly goings-on but ho hmmm - deep breath.

Maybe I should go back to talking about my toes which actually have been playing up something rotten. I took to sandpapering them (had two types of sandpaper in the tool box - fine grain and a coarser version) so I started with the fine and then moved on to the rougher one. As a result I now seem to have purply-black blisters all over my toes, cracked toe knuckle-backs and peeling soles. Looks a bit like
this here.

So now I know how that lone googler felt a while back. I've tried witch hazel, arnica, athlete's foot creams, silica and (since dock leaf doesn't seem to grow round here) aloe vera from the front garden.

Now I'm leaving off all medications and going transcendental - rising above the itching through sheer will power. Easy peasy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Anthony Minghella dies at 54

Oscar-Winning Director Anthony Minghella, who turned such literary works as "The English Patient," "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Cold Mountain" into acclaimed movies, has died. He was 54.

His adaptation of McCall Smith's 'No 1 Ladies Detective Agency' is due to be screened shortly on BBC and 13 more episodes were recently ordered by HBO/BBC. (Photo: Jill Scott, Anika Noni Rose in a scene from the TV film)

More here: Daily Mail.
and Guardian

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

ICWP Mother-Daughter Monologue Project 2008

International Centre for Women Playwrights invites interested parties to submit material for an upcoming anthology of original monologues about the mother/daughter experience.

Length should be between 50-2500 words, or 1/2 to 5 pages, or 1-10 minutes estimated performance time.

Deadline is April 15th 2008. Full details and submission instructions are available here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

catch up

OK the blog has gone a bit slow. I blame scribomatic - I mean the idea that up to 300 beady-eyed scribes all over the globe might be reading your hasty prose - within seconds of posting it - is a little intimidating don't you think?

So about the script - it's starting to go out. At this stage I always like to get feedback from 'punters' - people who aren't in any way connected to the industry but who may like to go and see the film. This can be very useful.

Now I didn't set out to do this - but I seem to have written a story which men get excited about but which doesn't exactly get women dancing in the aisles. Hmmm. Women seem to want more of the 'family relationships' aspect of it - which is not really what the story is about. This is odd since, as a writer, I'm not really drawn to 'man films'. I'm not going to queue to see There Will be blood no matter how many plaudits it receives. Oil? - Sorry but no. Well not that kind of oil. Cooking oil possibly. Sun tan oil maybe. But drilled oil - agggghh .

Anyway have you ever found a particular script you've written appeals to certain folks more than others?

What else? - there isn't too much else that I can say right now about script progress* except that things continue to move forward and I've learned not to say 'no' straight away to suggestions (even when I want to - ha!) and that it is better not to have too many encumbrances too early on. Hmm.

Ok for anyone who might be in a writerly quandary right now - there's always the runes. Type in any question you need the answer to.
I was just piffing about and asked about my script and got wunjo (in the critical position). 'Wunjo is a rune of the gods and of perfection, carrying with it the elation that blazes from the creation of a perfect work - perhaps this is the true joy of the gods, that they can create perfection. That aside, this rune does not focus on the struggle for perfection or on our inevitable imperfections, but rather on a job well done and the satisfaction that comes from it.'

Yee haaa!


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Good stories don't have colour

As Kwei-Armah pointed out last week at a discussion on the future of black playwriting organised by Talawa, an assumption persists that "black writing is somehow local, while white writing is universal". "It's patronising and segregating," says playwright Trish Cooke. "A good story is something that people can share and relate to, and those stories don't have colour."

From the margins to the mainstream - diverse UK playwriting at the Theatre Royal Stratford East explored in today's Guardian. Read the full article by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Screening African Emotions

Just found this blog report on the Focus Africa event which took place at last month's Berlinale.

Read the post by clicking here.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Sithengi - the way forward

The new Board of Directors of Sithengi have announced plans for the relaunch of South Africa's annual International Film and Television Market:

The plan aims for a fresher, more streamlined and cutting edge event - ultimately smaller with fewer components - yet providing for a broader market. Key words are “Business” and “Knowledge Building”.

New market components will include a Co-Production Forum, Conference Sessions, and for the first time, a Knowledge Development Lab. The next edition will also introduce a New Media element - directed at Converging Media.

“There is an upsurge of New Media producers - who all need to discover new business and creative models of production, distribution and exhibition.”

Read more by clicking here.