“I wanted Dora to be different – a woman with no children, who perhaps could not even have children – put into the situation of protecting a child. This gave Dora a real sense of purpose and began to define her as a character.”
As a cameraman and soundman he shot news film for ITN and Visnews, covering stories leading up to Zimbabwean independence in 1980, and also directed commercials and documentaries.
He started working as a promo producer for SABC in 1995, which is where he met Kosta Kalarytis. Through their mutual love for movies they developed several projects together, culminating in The Company You Keep (2003), a feature film starring Corbin Bernsen and Maria Conchita Alonso.
In early 2013 he published his first novel Gabriel’s Apology, and in 2014 directed from his own original screenplay Working for Willy, a South African comedy set on the fringes of the porn industry.
Dora’s Peace is his third completed feature as a screenwriter. He has many projects in development.
Dora is a prostitute living out a precarious existence in Hillbrow. Now in her forties, she has seen it all. She has sold her body on the streets, has been locked-up and used by the cops, abused and beaten by customers. But it hasn’t been all bad – when she was younger and her asking price was a great deal higher, she was in demand. Once she had been in a relationship with Stavro, a Greek bookie who she still sees occasionally. But now the years are catching up, and even she knows that the life she has known for so long will soon come to an end.
Into this solitary life comes twelve-year old Peace, a talented artist and the son of one of her neighbours, a druggie who’s landed herself in a whole lot of trouble. Before long Dora will be forced to make a decision – protect Peace from the bad guys or let them win, effectively sentencing an innocent child to death.
What ensues will thrill and chill you, as Dora comes up against her hardest opponent yet – her own truest nature.
Kosta Kalarytis and I worked on the story together, probably beginning around 2008. From early on the general feeling was to make a film about a strong South African woman. We worked on a detailed outline, which changed as we both added input to the skeleton of the story. We were not long into the process when the central character became a Hillbrow prostitute on her last legs work-wise, forced into a situation not of her own making, and in the process discovering hidden parts of herself.
What was different about Dora as a character?
Many prostitutes have families, even children, who they support by sending money home. In some cases their families do not even know what they do in order to bring home the bacon. I wanted Dora to be different – a woman with no children, who perhaps could not even have children – put into the situation of protecting a child. This gave Dora a real sense of purpose and began to define her as a character.
How did the story change during the writing?
Only a few weeks ago I was looking at the original outline I wrote for Dora’s Peace, and it is infinitely different to the final script. The character of Dora was much the same, as was the young boy, but the characters around her were different. For instance, there was a journalist with a drinking problem who never found his way into the final version, and a woman who Dora worked for as a maid. I find that the physical process of writing a script can be extremely invigorating story-wise, and this was certainly the case with Dora. One character who appeared almost fully-formed and would not go away was Ravi, the taxi driver. Through draft after draft his character was developed further until he became Dora’s foil, the one she leant on during difficult times.
What happened to the script once you had written a version both you and Kosta were happy with?
At some point The National Film and Video Foundation came on board, and an intensive period of script editing was entered into. Very late in the process, scenes involving Dora’s backstory were added to the script by Kosta.
What is next for you?
I hope to publish another novel later on in the year, and I am in the process of writing another script that Kosta and I may work on together. Besides that I am developing other film projects I am eager to see realised in the near future.