2016 was a great year for proud graduates of The Writing Studio.
If you want to add your name to our list of proud graduates, sign up for one of our Short Courses or Correspondence Courses and take your first step to success. If you have completed a screenplay (or a play/novel) let us read your script and give you advice on how to take the next step towards fulfilling your dream.
It always rewarding to see words turned into action after years of dedication, passion and discipline celebrating the art of storytelling and the craft of writing.
Another proud graduate of The Writing Studio, director-writer-producer Uga Carlini, changes lives in a profound way with the poignant documentary Alison, which won the Best Documentary at the Asia Pacific International Film Festival, after selling out at the Encounters International Film Festival, and wowing crowds at its international premiere at Dances with Films Festival in Los Angeles.
Writer-director John Barker, a proud graduate of The Writing Studio, is turning politics inside out and upside down with his biting independent mockumentary Wonder Boy For President.
Henk Pretorius, who kick-started his career in 2008 by writing and directing the South African box-office hit, Bakgat!, also directed Bakgat 2 and produced Bakgat 3. Henk developed and partially financed Bakgat, Hoofmeisie, and Wolwedans in die Skemer. In 2011 Henk took on the international film festival circuit and co-wrote and directed Fanie Fourie’s Lobola and most recently directed Leading Lady. Henk is the co-founder of Dark Matter Studios, a successful production company based in the United Kingdom and South Africa and and co-produced Modder en Bloed that is released on April 1. Visit Website
Sallas De Jager, who wrote the screenplays for the celebrated Afrikaans films Roepman and Verraaiers, co-wrote and produced Stuur Groete Aan Mannetjies Roux, produces and directs Free State, a forbidden love affair between a white girl and an Indian man during the Apartheid system in South Africa, due for release locally on April 29. The film has already made waves at International Film Markets and has been selected to screen at the 13th Chennai international Film Festival in India, and at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival in February 2016. It will also be presented to international buyers during the Berlin and Cannes Festivals in 2016.
Jasyn Howes wrote, directed and produced the experimental short film A, Deadman. A short film about a wounded man lost in a desert landscape. It will be screened from February 2016. Watch this space.
Daniel Dercksen’s latest play The Beauty of Incomplete Things enjoyed its world premiere in 2014 Written, produced, designed and directed by Daniel Dercksen, The Beauty of Incomplete Things went through a miraculous 15-years transformation and development process. It was 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 had a successful run at the Joburg Theatre in July 2014.
Producer, screenwriter and filmmaker Sallas de Jager , a proud graduate of The Writing Studio’s filmmaking and screenwriting workshop in 2006/2006, is born raconteur and has been telling stories through music as a member of the famous Afrikaans group, Klopjag, since 2002. He is not only a magician with lyrics and music, but he has also established himself as a competent writer, director and producer and screenwriter of more than 13 music videos, theatre productions and full feature films, including Roepman, Verraaiers, Musiek vir die agtergrond and Stuur Groete aan Mannetjies Roux.
In 2011 the NFVF appointed him as one of nine young writers to partake in the Spark workshops in Cape Town in 2010 and due to the success of his involvement, he was further selected as one of four writers to continue with the Sediba Masters program in 2011.
Sallas was also the producer and scriptwriter of the celebrated Boer War film, Verraaiers and with two films that are due for release in 2013, as well as two scripts that are currently in development, it is obvious that a bright future lies ahead for this storyteller of note.
Writer, facilitator and self-publisher Gary Hirson changes the world > A graduate of The Writing Studio’s workshop in 2007, Gary Hirson has just launched his 3rd developmental interactive book for the youth – The Journey that’s Ours, marking his 4th book in total. One being a photographic coffee-table book – Down The Line. “My goal is to inspire the youth into understanding and believing in themselves, and that their goals and dreams are worth pursuing. This I do by the way of my books, talks at schools and goal-setting workshops which I facilitate. I also believe that one must have the courage of their convictions which has resulted in all of my books being independently published.(After my publisher went out of business) This has been done using the self- development tools which I write about. More about my books, talks and workshops can be viewed at www.calminstorm.com
Writer-director Henk Pretorius on top of the world > Writer-director Henk Pretorius attended our first workshop for screenwriters and filmmakers in Pretoria in 1998. It marked Pretorius’ first step into filmmaking and the birth of The Writing Studio? “The workshop gave me a better understanding of how visuals are used to tell a story. I remember us talking a lot about subtext and the effect it had on the audience. I was only 15 years old back then, so I remember it also made my teachers cringe when I wrote richer, yet more controversial stories in my Afrikaans literature class. Some gave me a 1 out of 10, others seem to think I am going to be a Proffesor at an University. No one dreamed or thought I am going to be making films..” Henk Pretorius talks about Fanie Fourie’s Lobola Henk Pretorius talks about Bakgat Henk Pretorius talks about Bakgat 2
The Write Agency transforms words into action > One of the most active independent training initiative in South Africa, The Writing Studio has been presenting workshops and courses in scriptwriting and filmmaking throughout South Africa during the past 19 years with the aim of developing the craft of writers and filmmakers. The 19 years saw the birth of many new, original scripts that echo the unique voice of South African writers, with stories reflecting specific cultures, experiences and histories that embrace universal qualities. At present, The Write Agency has more than 20 fully developed screenplays. It has never been a more fruitful time to be a scriptwriter in South Africa. The production of local films and international co-productions have increased drastically during the last few years and everyone is looking for South African stories. The Write Agency has representation in Los Angeles and the UK with two former graduates of The Writing Studio. Read more
Teaming up with PANSA >A significant force of creativity and innovative opportunities celebrated the art of storytelling and the craft of writing with The Writing Studio and the Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA) teaming up to present workshops, story and play readings at the studio in Woodstock, Cape Town. The first workshop ‘The Drama of Writing a Play’, took 15 writers through the steps of writing a play and culminated in a successful performance of scenes from their work during the last session.
NFVF’s Sediba Spark course >Mary Gumsley, who is a graduate of The Writing Studio and attended several workshops, was selected as one of the participants in the NFVF’s Sediba Spark course
One-on-One with producers > Daniel Dercksen did an exclsusive workshop for Producer Alan Lawson and his writers on their screenplay for ‘Code of War’, that was pitched to producers in Dublin in May 2012 and is currently in development. “Thank you for an illuminating workshop. For the insight that I now have in the birth of a script; especially the development of a front page, log line and tag line. I am still the producer at heart but with the couple of movies that I am nudging forward with development I know what I am looking for in the scripts,.” says Producer Alan Lawson, Birdfilm (South Africa)
Playwright Neil Coppen >Writer-director Neil Coppen, who is a graduate of The Writing Studio, won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Theatre, 2011. As the creator of Tin Bucket Drum and Tree Boy, and Abnormal Loads, his latest play Little Foot was commissioned by The Market theatre and premiered at the Grahamstown festival before running in JHB. He then heads for New York with a tour of Tin Bucket Drum. And for those who missed Abnormal Loads, Neil is working on the screenplay and we will be able to see it on the big screen. Says Coppen: “Daniels workshop offers an insightful and inspiring introduction into the craft and art of storytelling. Great motivation to help one begin that rather daunting and solitary task of transferring ones story from the imagination to the page.”
Filmmaker John Barker > Writer-director Johan Barker, a graduate of The Writing Studio, released his film 31 Million Reasons. This is the fictionalised story about local detective Ronnie, who has illusions of being above the criminal class and desperately wants to clean up his act. Ronnie is given the opportunity to go legit by a security guard… but only by orchestrating the biggest cash heist in South African history.
Success for Consuelo Roland > Consuelo Roland, a graduate of The Writing Studio, received acclaim for her Lady Limbo Novel, and was Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Award and received an Honorary mention for the Olive Schreiner Prize for her novel The Good Cemetery Guide. Visit: http://consueloroland.com
Adventure of Supermama > Producer-screenwriter-director and esteemed journalist Karen van Schalkwyk attended The Writing Studio’s writer’s workshop close on 10 years ago. She was so inspired by the workshop that she wrote her first screenplay, Ren in 2003. Karen then applied to The Binger Film Institute with the screenplay and was selected to be one of writers for a five month screenwriting course in Amsterdam in 2004. In 2006 she wrote her short film: The Adventures of Supermama which was distributed in cinemas nationwide by Ster Kinekor Distribution. In 2007 her partners, Damon Berry and Ben Tjibe under their company Googelplex Productions, further developed the screenplay with the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) on their Spark and Sediba Writer’s programmes in 2009/2010. In July 2011 the Supermama was selected as three South African projects to attend IFP-No Boarders in New York (one of the biggest independent film markets in the world) in September where she will pitch the film to a variety of investors, distributors and sales agents. The Adventures of Supermama will go into production in 2012. Ren is still a work in progress but will be produced as a film. Karen has worked on numerous projects and continues to hone her craft as a writer/director.
Script Editor and mentor> Daniel Dercksen worked as a script editor and mentor during three months of one-on-on sessions, Marc Le Plat’s script on a famous South African musical icon is now ready for development and doing the rounds in Los Angeles. Marc attended two of the workshops before writing a draft of his script. “You know the drill. Months of slaving away over the computer from midnight to dawn, placing your characters in action-inducing settings along with some scintillating dialogue when, suddenly, you can’t see the wood for the trees? The train has is running at speed but out of track. At risk of mixing so many metaphors, screen-writing can sometimes seem like swimming through a mud bath – you know where you want to go, but you often end up off course. Which is why I found the one-on-one sessions with Daniel Dercksen of the Writing Studio invaluable in helping me realize a draft of my script that not only has pace, but a defined structure, emotive expansion and fully recognizable characters. One-on-one sessions enable you to get to the heart of your story, realize and address any fundamental structural flaws and gain insight into your characters in an intelligent, step-by-step fashion. As Miles Davis put it with regards to jazz: learn all the notes then just forget about them. What he was trying to say, I guess, is if you want to really learn to play jazz, get the structure right and then get lost in the music. Which is what I learnt in one-on-one sessions at the Writing Studio to to fully manifest my script.”
Firelions > Writing Studio graduates Lisa Starr Jane and Nic Latouf have started a group in support or writers, filmmakers and performaers called Firelions…
Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre > Following three years of workshops at at the Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre in Kwa Mashu as part of their annual Kwa Mashu Film Festival resulted in the graduates to form their own writing and film club, gathering a weekly basis to continue sharpening their craft.
From Page to Screen in two action-packed days > (reviewed by Gill Gimberg, Cape Town, October 30/31. 2010) Those of us who write tend to spend our days (and nights) scribbling away busily in our cells. It can be lonely: there’s usually nobody around to bounce ideas off. And treating a dose of writer’s block without a handy ‘nurse’ is right down there below frying in hell on our lists of favourite pastimes. What we need – often – is an injection of focus, inspiration and shared creativity. And The Writing Studio’s workshop, From Page to Screen, is just the thing to get those words and images circulating again.
Writing for a visual medium such as film or theatre is an art and, if you’re like me, you tend to overwrite because you’re more familiar with writing prose. That’s when you need a couple of actors, a first class director and a cameraman at your disposal, to bring those words to life and show you how it should be done. Tall order? It seems not, with Daniel Dercksen’s passion for film and theatre, training and facilitating skills, and the boundless generosity of four experienced directors and a hot-shot cameraman.
We arrived on Saturday morning with sleeves rolled up and ready to work. And work we did. The first day was spent distilling the essence from our concepts. We went through the importance of choosing the right title, how to write a premise, how to bring characters to life, what exactly is meant by the theme of a script or screenplay and a lot more. In the evening, lightly armed with our draft top sheets, we went home to write our scenes. Big deal: a two to three-minute scene, with two characters.
Should be easy enough. Well, it wasn’t, but somehow we all pitched up on Sunday morning at 10:00 – some more bleary-eyed than others – clutching our A4s and ready for the next hurdle. This turned out to be a pitch to the directors. The names were intimidating enough: Christopher Weare, Amy Jephta, Hennie van Greunen and Tara Louise Notcutt.
I think we were all terrified, but they weren’t at all intimidating in the flesh and by 11:45 we were working with our directors and cameraman, Mark Chipps. By 12:30 the first film was being shot and by mid-afternoon the filming was finished. Now we just can’t wait to see the edited films.
The workshop gave us all the opportunity to co-direct under expert guidance, act in each other’s films, watch a professional cameraman in action and learn, learn, learn. It was hard work, but the joy of seeing your own script come to life is worth every drop of sweat.
Writing a script is a tough journey, but with the right guidance, the odd reality check and some unadulterated fun, the end could be in sight.
The Write Characters > The Writing Studio introduced a new ‘The Write Characters’ workshop in Johannesburg. 10 writers were taken through the process of developing their premise, concepts and characters, and wrote a pivotal scene from their screenplay. The writers pitched their concepts to directors Bromley Cawood (Egoli, Susanna van Biljon), Henk Pretorius (Bakgat 1 & 2), Karen van Schalhwyk (Adventures of Supermama) and Christo Compion (Egoli, Susanna Van Biljon). 4 Concepts were selected and the directors put on the hat of teamleader, guiding the writers through the process of directing a scene from their screenplays (currently in development). The writers took on the role of directors and other witers in the group (and even teamleaders) doubled up as actors. The scenes were rehearsed and filmed during the afternoon.
48 Hour Film Project > The 48 Hour Film Project .. An international short film competition took place in Johannesburg at the beginning of October. From the 24 registered teams, 22 made it to kick-off, 20 made it to drop off and 12 made it on time! Three of the teams featured graduates of The Writing Studio. Produced and Directed by Bonginhlanhla Ncube (Mr. B), Written by Carl Roddam and Deon van der Merwe, Music by: Jollaine, Courtesy of Jollaine Music, Ascap. Wrong Call, received awards for Best Producing and The Most Hype and a nomination for Best Visual Effect. Others were Karen van Schalkwyk’s production company Googleplex Productions presented ‘The Goal’, Nic Latouf presented ‘There’s Something about Desmond
Writer-director John Barker strikes gold with Bunny Chow > Writer-director John Barker, who attended The Writing Studio’s first workshops in Johannesburg and received acclaim for his award-winning feature Bunny Chow, has two features going at the moment ‘The Umbrella Men’, and ‘Jack Nimble’, an improv film set in JHB. Writer-director John Barker ‘s Bunnychow is wowing audiences
Writer-director Henk Pretorius makes an impact with Bakgat! > 26-year-old filmmaker Henk Pretorius, who is the writer-and director of Bakgat!, the first Afrikaans feature film primarily produced for a youth market, attended one of The writing Studio’s first workshops in Pretoria in 1998. Pretorius’s sequel to Bakgat was released in 2010 and was a huge success. Henk Pretorius talks about Fanie Fourie’s Lobola Henk Pretorius talks about Bakgat Henk Pretorius talks about Bakgat 2
Writer Gary Hirson Gary Hirson , who attended The Writing Studio’s weekend workshop for writers in 2007, took a bold step forward and self-published his children’s book, ‘The Magic That Is Ours’, causing a sensation in bookstores. He has just released his second book The Power that’s Ours. See 2013
Director Stephen de Villers >Stephen de Villiers, who attended The Writing Studio’s Master Class for Screenwriters for the Talent Campus at the Sithengi Film and TV Market in Cape Town in November 2006, as well as a Workshop For Scriptwriters that took place in Durban in December 2007, completed his studies in directing at the AFTRS in Sydney. Three Cigarettes enjoyed its premiere at this year’s Durban International Film in 2008. In 2012 Stephen was selected to direct Durban screenwriter Janet van Eeden’s A Shot In The Dark, which starts filming in August 2012.
Animation script selected for Sithengi Writers’ Forum > Lynette Peckover’s script for animation that was selected for the Sithengi Writers Forum in 2005 has now been published as a book ‘The Sacred Rainbow’. Lynette Peckover, who attended one of our courses in 2004, is proud to have her book released on www.Raiderbookshop.com – It can be found in the “Adventure” genre and is also available on Amazon and Kalahari.net “I took your very good advise and spent last year searching for a publisher. After sending to 52 publishers and agents in the UK and USA I got accepted on my 53rd try! I was determined not to give up and didn’t care if I sent to a 100! This is the 1st in a trilogy and they have agreed to do all three.” Peckover’s son, L D Hinds, has also been published by the same publishers and his story can be viewed also, under the “Mystery” genre. It’s titled “The Hidden Dream” – apparently not common to have a mother and son published at the same time by the same publisher! “Am grateful for all the advise and tutorship you gave me and advise all aspiring writers to not give up. All it takes is focusing on your dream and believing in it! ”
Workshops at Kwa Mashu Film Festival > During a week of intense writing and creativity at the Kwa Mashu Film Festival in KwaZulu Natal, The Writing Studio took a group of learners through their paces of writing a screenplay for feature film and ended up with three short scripts that are now ready for development.
Screenplay optioned for Hollywood > Prolific Cape Town scriptwriter, Dennis Venter, who attended one of The Writing Studio’s first workshops for scriptwriters, and writer of Home Affairs, Interrogation Room, Stokvel, Madam & Eve, has optioned his screenplay The Fubars to Hollywood-based Original Content Productions. The Fubars will mark the directorial debut of Nick Powell, who started his career as a stunt director and later move to second unit director (Braveheart, The Bourne Identity, The Last Samurai, Cinderella Man, The Hours, Magdelene Sisters). The film title is the name of a band turned bank robbers. It stands for ‘fucked up beyond all recognition’. In this dark comedy, the band’s name becomes all too real when they decide on robbery to fund their careers. Original Content’s Jim Thompson, producer of the upcoming Diamonds in the Rough and War starring Jet Li and Jeremy Statham, describes the thriller/black-comedy script as twisted, funny and original. Venter is a published author and his career as a television writer was launched on the Penguin sitcom SOS. He has been involved as a writer on Going Up, Stokvel, Madam & Eve, Charlie Jade, Brothers in Law, Shooting Stars, Interrogation Room, Divers Down, Kululeka, Fela’s TV, Home Affairs.
Gary Hirson self-publishes children’s book > Gary Hirson , who attended The Writing Studio’s weekend workshop for writers, took a bold step forward and self-published his children’s book, ‘The Magic That Is Ours’, now causing a sensation in bookstores. “The workshop enabled me to write and read my work without feeling insecure about my abilities, says Hirson, a professional photographer, businessman and wannabe writer with a keen interest in the magic of creativity. This is his first published work. Through this book he hopes to help children understand the power of their imagination, and help them realize that they can manifest anything they set their minds to.See 2013
New play tours to London > Alistair Moulton Black, who attended one of our workshops for scriptwriters, co-wrote the play Sylvia’s Ball with Oliver Stephens. Sylvia’s Ball is a tribute to actor Alistair’s mother, Sylvia, who made a miraculous recovery from terminal bowel cancer by combining alternative and western forms of healing. The play captures her journey using mobile phones and pointed questions creating a 15 minute documentary traversing and weaving through a story connected to us all. Sylvia’s Ball previewed at The Universal Hall, Findhorn Scotland in November of 2006. It has since toured to London, performed at the Landor Theatre, Clapham North, to Buxton Opera house and the ‘paupers pit’ and then again at the 2007 Grahamstown National Arts Festival and at the Obz Café Theatre. Sylvia’s Ball is a refreshing mix of high energy physical theatre and evocative documentary. This is storytelling that will leave you questioning what it means to live on a planet suffering from environmental cancer.
Masterclass at Talent Campus at Sithengi Film and TV Market > Daniel Dercksen was invited to present a Masterclass for the Talent Campus at the Sithengi Film and TV Market in Cape Town in November 2006, and facilitated a ‘Directing Actors’ workshop with acclaimed actor Eriq Ebouaney. In December 2006 he was invited to present a second week long workshop at the Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre in Kwa Mashu as part of their annual Kwa Mashu Film Festival.
Afrikaans short film script a winner at Moondance Festival > Liezel van der Merwe’s short film ‘Vis’ is one of the winners in the Moondance 2006 Festival. Liezel attended our scriptwriting and directing workshops, and developed the script through The Write Agency.
Selected for Sithengi Writers Forum > Lynette Peckover, who attended one of our courses in 2004, was selected to attend the Sithengi Writers Forum. “As a rookie script writer, I’m very excited that my script for animation ‘The Rainbow’ has been accepted by the Writers Forum,” says Lynette. ” “I’ve always believed in my story which is unique to Southern Africa. It’s a quest by two San Bushman and their animal friends to avenge the slaughter of the Eland antelope, and during their journey they are faced with many obstacles. Only their belief in the Gods and themselves helps them achieve the outcome. I am passionate about our indigenous peoples and feel that not enough is known and appreciated about them; hence my wish to promote an awareness of their place in our new South Africa’s history.” “Many thanks to Daniel for firstly the workshop I attended; and secondly for the guidance he gave in putting my story into the correct format. We are all fortunate to have the wealth and experience you provide, and your commitment to the industry, which to a new pupil can be very daunting! As you stress in your workshops, you have to believe very firmly in your stories!”
Screenplay developed through NFVF > Lucky Ndlovu was sent by the NFVF to attend a workshop in Aucklandpark. This was followed by the Correspondence Course for writers. Lucky’s short script ‘Silent Death’ was successfully evaluated by The Write Agency and is now in development. “I was truly inspired by the workshop in a sense that I am now in a position to write, structure a proper and sellable screenplay. The way Daniel took us through out the whole session I felt like I was doing a full time script writing course. The knowledge that I now possess is greater and I will definitely make use of the tools he gave us. With people like us (script writers) he encouraged us to go and watch a lot of movies and that I found it great, because this gives us creativity to the extent that we will view the movies in another manner. In future, this will make me not to miss any of his workshops and keep up inspiring people.”
Workshops at Kwa Mashu Film Festival > Daniel Dercksen took 20 writers in rural KwaMashu in KwaZulu Natal through the paces of being a scriptwriter. At the end of the week the group completed the first drafts of nine short films that are currently being evaluated for future development.
Community Theatre Play > Marlon Parker attended one of our workshops. The Writing Studio helped him in fleshing out his community theatre based play ‘The Adventures of Henry and Charlie “Vrinne Forever” and transfer it to mainstream theatre in Cape Town. says Marlon Parker .”Many thanks to Daniel for firstly the workshop I attended; and secondly for the guidance he gave in putting my story into the correct format. We are all fortunate to have the wealth and experience you provide, and your commitment to the industry, which to a new pupil can be very daunting! As you stress in your workshops, you have to believe very firmly in your stories!”
Screenplay in competition at Sithengi Festival > Daniel Dercksen’s screenplay for the feature film ‘Tjommies’ was in competition at the Sithengi Writers Forum, and received great response from potential producers and developers, and is currently in development
Screenplay selected for Sithengi Wrires Forum > Brenda Alford’s script ‘The Mendi’ (that developed out of one of our workshops and through one-on-one sessions) , was selected as one of 14 script to be presented at the Writers Forum at the 8th International Sithengi Film and Television Market in Cape Town. ‘The Mendi’ won the award for Best Action at the Sithengi Award Ceremon and Brenda was given a Final Draft by Dr Eubulus Timothy of Eubulus Productions, who expressed interest in reading the script. “I was one of 14 script writers selected to present scripts to producers at the Sithengi Film Festival in 2003, ” says Brenda. “The Mendi won the award for Best Action. I must say a big thank you to Daniel and the Writing Studio for all the help and time spent with me to get this script into shape. Also the constant update of information to keep us writers up to date with what’s happening in the market place. I would never have known about Sithengi if it had not been for that fateful e-mail you sent… I also found the workshop motivational and at times I still refer back to the notes or when needing inspiration, flip open my notes and read an excerpt.”
Screenplay for Moondance Festival > One of the scripts that was developed through The Writing Studio with blood, sweat and tears during a period of three years, ‘Phumzile’s Beads’, was a finalist in the renowned Moondance Film Festival – the epical screenplay of , written by Marian Shinn, is now being read by producers in New York and Germany. “Without guidance from The Writing Studio on the structure of the story and the discussion of ideas it is unlikely that my script would have got as far as it did…”, says Marian Shinn.
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