As the driving force behind the successful independent training initiative The Writing Studio and a published film and theatre journalist of 40 years, Daniel Dercksen has been teaching workshops in creative writing, playwriting, and screenwriting throughout South Africa for the past 22 years, and fine-tuning screenplays and stories as a story-editor.
His career kicked off in the early 80s when he studied Drama and Journalism in Pretoria. As editor of the Pretoria Technikon Newspaper and freelance journalist for the Pretoria News and Beeld, he viewed films with the South African Censor board. This secured him the position of Marketing and publicity at Ster-Kinekor’s Headoffice in Johannesburg (South Africa’s biggest movie exhibitor), initiating the first Film Finesse magazine for Art Films in 1986.
During the late 80s, he was a publicist for The Natal Playhouse in Durban, serving The Natal Philarmonic Orchestra headed by David Tidboald, and Musicals headed by Geoffrey Sutherland. After leaving the Playhouse, he managed the Blah-Blah Cafe in Durban under Greg Milling, where he wrote and directed several cabarets for the boutique supper theatre.
This was followed by a position at CAPAB (now Artscape) in Cape Town in the early 90s where he worked as a publicist for Musicals headed by David Matheson, Opera headed by Angelo Gabato, and Drama headed by Roy Sargeant, as well as productions at Maynardville Open Air Theatre.
In 1996 he created Evita Se perron in Darling and fostered the first Hello Darling Festival with Pieter-Dirk Uys.
In 1998 Daniel established The Writing Studio and created The Write Journey course for writers.
He also compiled and presented his own program on Fine Music Radio, focusing on music from film and theatre; was a feature writer for the magazine “Women At Work”; and was the Chief Writer for the first series of the television game show “Love At First Sight”, which began on e-TV in January 2000.
He also worked as PA for Barry Greyvenstein, the Executive Director of the Western Cape Chapter of the NTVA (National Television and Video Association of South Africa), and was the Administrator of the Western Cape Chapter for two years.
The Beauty Of Incomplete Things
Daniel’s personal play The Beauty of Incomplete Things , which he produced independently, directed and designed, went through a miraculous transformation during the 15 years of its development.
The Beauty Of Incomplete Things was inspired by his play Yes, Masseur, which he directed, designed and staged successfully at David and Renaye Kramer’s Dock Road Theatre at the Waterfront in 1995 (now demolished, where the food market at the Red Shed was situated).
Mutating into its final draft after countless rewrites, as well as six reading with actors throughout South Africa that helped shape its future, The Beauty of Incomplete Things enjoyed its world premiere in Cape Town on January 24, 2014 and a successful 3-week-run at the Joburg Theatre in July 2014. He has recently completed writing the novel The Beauty of Complete Things.
Finding Home In The Heart Of The Karoo
Daniel’s meeting with legendary filmmaker Jans Rautenbach was written in the stars, and he intuitively followed the stars to the Karoo and relocated to Prince Albert in 2015, where he presented a masterclass for screenwriters and filmmakers at the Indie Karoo Film Festival, headed by filmmaker Johnny Breedt.
Daniel Dercksen and Jans Rautenbach held a Masterclass For Screenwriters at the Artscape Theatre Centre, in 2014.
He took on the position of Media Liason at The Showroom Theatre in Prince Albert (2016 – 2021), working with local and international musicians and performers, curating a Movie Club and launching the first Koos Roets Film Festival (at The Koos Roets Film Festival at The Showroom Theatre: Eunice Visser, Marelize Vorster, Koos Roets)
Since Daniel launched The Writing Studio he has been actively involved in the teaching of storytellers and the development of screenplays, novels and plays, working passionately with emerging writers and story makers on their respective stories.
As a qualified ETD Practitioner (Education, Training and Development) – accredited by SAQA (The South African Qualifications Authority) and working in accordance with the principles of the Department of Education – Daniel Dercksen’s workshops/courses focus on outcomes-based education, training and development.
As an educator, he constantly probes the magic of writing in search of the hidden secrets behind the process that is The Write Journey.
As a story editor, he has the privilege of taking an intimate journey into the stories of other writers and polishing the drafts. Read more
As a freelance journalist, he launched his own website in the late 90s to find a voice for his passion for film and writing, sharing the films and writing of filmmakers and screenwriters globally. As a freelance film and theatre journalist for 40 Years, Daniel wrote regular features, interviews and reviews for magazines and newspapers, as well as the website, and received the number one spot for most popular lifestyle contributor since 2012. www.bizcommunity.com
As a playwright, he used the medium of theatre to celebrate words in action. Other plays that are in development include White Honey, Boo!, Arrows of Passion, The Lift, X-change, Extraordinary Lives, Little Horse, as well as the musical cabaret Seamen.
As a screenwriter, he celebrates his love of the film medium to tell stories through words and images. He wrote the screenplay for Dirk Fourie’s film In God’s Country which won the Jury prize for Best Newcomer at the 67th Apollo Film Festival (2003) and has completed the unproduced screenplays for Tjommies, African Violet, and Worldmind (the first drafts crafted in the mid-90s) now in development. He is currently adapting his screenplays into novels. Screenplays in development include The Beauty of Incomplete Things, African Violet, Worldmind, Intimate Rivals (based on the play), Imutate, Tjommies, The Faces of Angela, and Outcast.
Highlights during his career include:
- A Master Class for Screenwriters at the Talent Campus at the Sithengi Film and TV Market in Cape Town (November 2006)
- The facilitation of a ‘Directing Actors’ workshop with acclaimed actor Eriq Ebouaney (2006)
- Launching an evening course in scriptwriting at the City Varsity Film TV and Multimedia School in Cape Town (2001 – 2006)
- Community workshops the Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre in Kwa Mashu as part of their annual Kwa Mashu Film Festival
- A course for the Cape Film Commission at the Ikapa Youth Film Festival
- A Masterclass at the 2012 Kunjanimation Animation Festival
- Guest speaker and Judge at the 2013 48 Hours Film Project.
- A workshop for animators at Blackginger TV (2013).
- A masterclass for screenwriters at the 2016 Indie Karoo Film Festival.
- Workshops for writers in Prince Albert (2018, 2021)
- A retreat for writers in Prince Albert (2021)
The dreamer who grew up in a City Hall
Growing up in Benoni City Hall – the hometown of Charlize Theron and three members of the original Not The Midnight Mass A-capella group (Graham and Christine Weir and Jenny De Lenta) – various theatre groups became Daniel’s “family”. From a young age, he appeared in several amateur productions, co-directed, worked backstage, front-of-house, painted sets, and ushered thousands into the theatre.
Daniel has travelled extensively to London, Brighton, Berlin, Hamburg, Brussels, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Paris, Rome, Florence, Amsterdam, and New York; studying various productions in opera, musicals and theatre.
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