Daniel Dercksen

Pro-active and Passionate

Since he launched The Writing Studio 20 years ago Daniel Dercksen has been actively involved in the teaching of storytellers and the development of screenplays, novels and plays, working passionately with emerging writers and storymakers on their respective stories.

He has been a freelance film and theatre journalist for 30 Years, writing regular features, interviews and reviews for magazines and newspapers, as well as the website of The Writing Studio. He also received the number one spot for most popular lifestyle contributor for 2012,  2014 and 2015 on www.bizcommunity.com, and landed in 2nd place in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

He relocated to Prince Albert in the Karoo in May 2016, where he is now working as script editor, developing new screenplays, and presenting his courses online via email correspondence.

Daniel Dercksen with Jans Rautenbach during a Masterclass For Screenwriters at the Artscape Theatre Centre, 2014

Writing coach and mentor

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 –  Dercksen’s workshops focus on outcomes-based education, training and development.

Highlights during the period 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); the launching of 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, a guest speaker and Judge at the 2013 48 Hours Film Project and a workshop for animators at Blackginger TV (2013).  He held a masterclass for screenwriters at the 2016 Indie Karoo Film Festival, and will also be doing workshops at the Indie Karoo Festival in July 2017.

Courses for writers        Script Reading/ Script Editing and Evaluation

Plays and screenplays

The Beauty of Incomplete Things

Written, produced, designed and directed by Daniel Dercksen, the play The Beauty of Incomplete Things went through a miraculous transformation the past 15 years  and is inspired by Dercksen’s play Yes, Masseur that was 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 is 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.

With the cast of The Beauty of Incomplete Things: Andre Lombard, Rowan Studti and Wojtek Lipinski with the production at the Joburg Theatre’s Fringe in 2014.

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.

Screenplays that are 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.

He is in the process of writing comprehensive workshop manual, Develop the write Attitude – the first in South Africa – on the writing of a screenplay and analysing contemporary films, and has written several screenplays and plays that are currently in development.

Also in development is a personal memoir.

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 threatregroups 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.

As a young theatre-animal in training he was also a dresser to many famous stars at the original Civic Theatre in Gauteng (including Ge Korsten and Lawrence Folley in The Great Waltz), before leaving Benoni to follow a career in theatre.

From passive voyeur to active interviewer

When he is not a passive voyeur Daniel in the dark, watching films or experiencing live theatre, he is an active interviewer, sharing thoughts with producers, directors, actors, screenwriters and filmmakers.

As a published movie journalist, with more than 30 years experience, he wrote regular interviews and features for the Good Weekend Argus, the trade magazine Screen Africa, as well as the Sunday Tribune, The Sunday Independent, and other newspapers and magazines .

First steps in the write direction

Following a brief stint as aspirant actor at the University of Pretoria – under the watchful eyes of Amanda Strydom and Brumilda van Rensburg in their final years (performing a rather exhausting interpretation of the master of Ceremonies ‘Wilkommen’ from Cabaret as part of the first year concert) – Daniel followed his instinct and knew that he did not belong ‘in front of the camera’ or on stage.

After completing his military service (two years filled with thousands of stories to tell), Daniel became actively involved in freelance movie journalism, working as a publicist and in Marketing.

His first step was studying Journalism at the Pretoria Technikon, where he viewed films with the South African Censorboard and wrote reports for the Pretoria News. He also met and interviewed several celebrities who shaped his career as writer and sharpened his interest in film – Liza Minnelli, Michael Dudikoff (filming “Platoon Leader”, Eartha Kitt ,writer-director Alan Pakula (who visited South Africa on a promotional tour of “Sophie’s Choice”), and Pieter-Dirk Uys.

He worked as a publicist for Ster-Kinekor’s head-office in Gauteng; and for the Arts Council’s in Durban (as publicist for the Natal Philharmonic Orchestra and Musical Theatre/ Opera Department) and Cape Town (Musical Theatre Department).

His professional relationship with Pieter-Dirk Uys began during the mid eighties. This snowballed into his position as personal assistant to Pieter-Dirk Uys for twelve years, during which period he wrote, co-produced, directed and designed the workshop production of the play “Yes, Masseur”, and established and co-designed the supper-theatre “Evita se Perron” in Darling. He also designed the lighting for several of Mr. Uys productions during its tours locally and internationally.

His 12-year professional relationship with Pieter-Dirk Uys (and mentorship) ended when Daniel left Darling for Cape Town to establish The Writing Studio and focus on his own career.

He 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.

Daniel also worked as PA to 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 .

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.

Two Sox and JC

When he is not teaching workshops or writing he spends most of his time in the dark, watching films on the big screen, or finding comfort from his beloved feline companions Two-Sox and JC, with Little Tux, who joined the clan in December 2016.

He settled in Prince Albert in The Karoo in May 2016, where he now works as Marketing Manager of The Showroom Theatre.

His workshops for writers has been reduced to one annual workshop at the Indie Karoo Festival in Prince Albert.

All courses are now done via correspondence. 


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