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