Friday, June 19, 2009

WGSA - Newsletter June 2009

The following newsletter and WGSA Members Application was received from the Writers' Guild of South Africa, a full SASFED member.

Writers’ Guild of South Africa Newsletter
June 2009
Dear Writers
I hope this letter provides welcome distraction from those deadlines I’m sure you are all chasing, or at least from the cold (and bizarrely wet) winter we’ve been having.
Just so you momentarily think you’re in the Twilight Zone, the first part of the Newsletter deals with the Newsletter. We would like to put together a monthly newsletter for the members – by the members. We want to create a Guild that functions as a network of writers rather than a body which rules us all... (The Lord of the Rings really had an impact on the current Council)... And to achieve that, we need submissions of news and articles from our members. This is an opportunity to actively participate in the Guild as well as draw attention to different projects we are all working on. We encourage all contributions relative to screenwriting, the local industry and writer’s issues. The following ideas have been forwarded by the council, but feel free to add to it or even air your opinion.
1. Achievements: If the writing team you work on won an International Emmy or SAFTA, let us know. We’d like to know about the personal writing awards by writers... we all want to know who you are. You can even include the acceptance speech you were going to make before your producer received the award on your behalf and kept it…J
2. Movers and Shakers: New additions to writing teams. Who got a second season for their show, who joined the other side and got published, who sold their show to Discovery channel and is now retiring… we want to know.
3. Upcoming / past Industry Events: If there is some indaba or other writers should know about, let us know. Or if you attended an event and would like to share your experience about it, write an article and let us know.
4. News from the coast: Our KZN-branch and Cape Town-branch are doing amazing things in their individual capacities and we’d like our members from the coast to share their experiences.
5. Industry related issues: If there are issues you feel writers aren’t aware of and should be, write about it and spread the word.
6. Writer’s Issues: You can even go all Cosmo on us and write us an article about “Five ways to cure Writer’s block”...
7. Interviews or features on established screenwriters… Brent, you’re first! Let’s hear it.
We are writers so let’s write!
And just to nauseate everyone, I would at this point like to add that the deadline for submissions is Monday 7 July.

Guild News

We regret to inform our members that due to the strain of their personal workload, Uzanenkhosi and Phatutshedzo Makwarela have resigned from the council. We wish them well on their endeavors and hope they have much success. Unfortunately with the goals of the current council in mind, we are short of hands. We need two more council members (to be nominated and seconded by members of course) who are hardworking, committed, efficient, energetic, organised, and unafraid as we have many beasts to still slay! (obviously a sword and a steel jockstrap will come in handy)

Our involvement in the March meant that we didn’t send out the registration form for members at the time. We include it in this newsletter. Please do take a moment to fill in all details and send it back to us. We are aware that many of our members are suffering financially due to the state of our industry at the moment, and you’ll be happy to know that we have made concessions accordingly. Membership fees for full Subscribing members are only R250 for a year’s membership and for Affiliate members R100 for a year’s membership. If you are eligible to be a member but membership fees are still out of reach, please contact us as we are willing to help with payment options.

We cannot however run a Guild, nor provide benefits to our members without funding. So to all our members who can easily afford membership fees, don’t be shy to make a donation or even sponsor a young writer with membership fees.

If you have already paid your membership fee, please complete the new registration form attached, as we’d like to update our database accordingly.

We are working towards getting the website up and running again. As we envisage a Guild that would serve the writers, we would like to ask for your input on what you would like to see on the site and how you would like it to function. We will start out simply and expand as time goes on. Below are suggestions from the council, feel free to elaborate and add your thoughts to

1. Info about the Guild - mission statements, history, code of conduct, council, contact details, registration details, minutes of meetings etc. (We want transparency throughout);
2. Guild Activities - contracts for downloading, members CV’s, working information like rates, credits etc., useful guidelines, legal info, tax info, projects the Guild will be undertaking and opportunities for members to pitch in;
3. Workbench Tips - guides, good links, etc.
4. News – Industry news related to writers.
5. Gossip / Chat - Come on we need a space where we can download. No producers allowed. Possibly for blogging by members or even Chat rooms. Kill the isolation now, I say.
6. A complaints section - where people can complain or air any grievances, or share any unacceptable conditions writers might be dealing with. This can be totally anonymous. But the Guild can only represent members and sort out issues they know of. This could also be linked to an article that writers can comment on or elaborate on.
7. Merchandising section – We have had many enquiries for our Writer’s Guild T-shirts, so we will be expanding into cool hats, caps and diaries.
8. Workshops / Master classes
9. Job section… producers will have the opportunity to search for writers for their projects from our Subscribing Members’ CV’s and place adverts for writers.

Let us know what you would like to see, this is your Guild and your website!

TV Crisis March News
What a beautiful turnout and what a beautiful march. I think we had it pegged on our (yes I’m saying it again) our beautiful banner: SOLIDARITY!! And with the disintegration of the Board I think we can safely say, we were successful.

I urge everyone who is on Facebook, to join the Writers’ Guild of South Africa page and have a look at the links relating to the march, there are also photos and video clips.(Soon these will be available on our website as well!)

The march was historic, and we believe that it marked the beginning of a new era in the TV and Film Industry in South Africa, so we would like to record the event. We therefore invite members to volunteer to work on a project to put together individual stories and impressions on the march, as well as hopefully photo and video footage to preserve this moment for future generations. You can email with your details and they will be passed on to a sub-committee who will be handling this endeavor.

The WGSA at the 30th Durban International Film Festival.
Thanks to the indefatigable Jarryn Katia of the KZN Writer’s Guild, the WGSA will be running two Workshops at the Durban International Film Festival:

Workshop 1: 'So You Wanna Be A Scriptwriter?'
(for aspirant screenwriters)

10 – 12 am Thursday 30 July
Breaking into the industry - training and internship opportunities, sourcing work etc.
Different types of career options available (script editors/head writers/storyliners etc.) with panelists to answer questions about each.
What to expect from a writing commission

Workshop 2: 'The Working Scriptwriter in South Africa' (for early career writers)

10 to 12 am, on Friday the 31st of July
- State of the Industry for working screenwriters
- Conducting oneself as a successful freelancer (contracts, professional associations and opportunities)

The WGSA will sponsor a screenplay prize for the Durban Short Film Challenge. WGSA members, on presentation of membership cards, will receive the student ticket rate at all film screenings at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre venue ONLY! This is 50% of the standard ticket rate.

Guild council members Jarryn Katia, Tracey-Lee Dearham and Thandi Brewer will be there, so if you are at DIFF, do please pop by and introduce yourselves as we’d like to get to know members face to face.

Finally I would like to add that the Guild Council is working very hard to build on the legacy of our predecessors for the future of our members. Thank you all for your hard work and especially to Thandi for her leadership and fire.

Keep tuned in and be a part of this exciting time of change in our industry.

Fluit-fluit, my storie is uit!

Natasje van Niekerk
Communications Officer