Thursday, December 19, 2013


The deadline for the Jameson First Shot competition, January 2nd 2014 17:00 GMT, is approaching fast. The two South Africans who have been among the winners of the past competitions are  Hanneke Schutte and Alan Shelley. You could be next. To watch their entries go to the official Jameson First Shot competition website

In a nutshell:
What's it all about?
"Do the best you can do to give audiences something that maybe they haven't seen before," Kevin Spacey.

Kevin Spacey and Trigger Street Productions are looking for more outstanding writer/directors to enter the 2014 competition, where they will be offering an incredible opportunity; giving people a ‘first shot’ in the film industry by having their short film produced by the Academy Award-winning Trigger Street Productions and giving them the chance to direct Uma Thurman in the leading role. 

In order to enter you must be from South Africa, Russia or the US (now including California!), be at least 25 years-old, and write a script of no more than seven pages based on one of three themes (‘Legendary’ OR ‘Humorous’ OR a ‘Very Tall Tale’).

An expert team, including Kevin Spacey, Dana Brunetti and Uma Thurman who will star in the films, will judge the scripts and the finalist’s shortlisted scenes. The judges are looking for freshness, originality, good structure, good shots, good sound and above all, a great story. 

From the scripts sent in by the closing date, a shortlist of candidates from each country – South Africa, Russia and the US (now including California) – will be chosen. Each shortlisted candidate will be required to further showcase their talent and capabilities. They will be asked to supply a video bio, a director’s treatment of their submitted script, and choose one of three scripts provided by Trigger Street to shoot footage based on or following on from the scene provided.

What's the prize?
Jameson First Shot comes with an incredible prize where one winner from each country will have their script made into a short film by Trigger Street Productions, starring Uma Thurman. This is an opportunity where you get to call the shots, direct a Hollywood star in your short film and have the backing of an award-winning production company. You couldn’t ask for more from a first shot. 


For more information on the Terms and Conditions and to enter, go to their website by clicking here

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Africa Movie Academy Awards Call for Entries 2014

The Africa Movie Academy Awards invites filmmakers to submit their feature, short and documentary works for consideration for the 10th edition of the prestigious 2014 AMAA Awards that honours and celebrate the best in the art of filmmaking and the professionals who make the industry the pride of Africa.

The deadline for submissions is 15 January 2014 and nominations will be announced in the first week of March. Acceptable genres include feature length films, shorts and documentary entries. Only films produced, premiered and or released between May 2012 and December 2013 are eligible. Features may not exceed 120 minutes and shorts should not be longer than 40 minutes.

The Jury of the prestigious continental motion picture reward system rising from its Annual General Meeting which took place recently in Durban, South Africa has approved the guidelines for the submission of films for the 2014 edition of the awards.

The AGM which was attended by Mr Ayo Baku, Director of Pan-African Film Festival Los Angeles, Dr. Asantewa Olatunji, Co-Director of PAFF, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of National Mirror Newspaper, Mr. Shuaib Hussein, Journalist and Film Critic, Ms June Givanni, an international film curator, Mr. Keith Shiri, an international Film curator and programme advisor to the London Film Festival, Mr. Berni Goldblat, member of the jury of the International Francophone Film Festival of Namur (FIFF Namur) in Belgium and Professor Hyginus Ekwuazi, lecturer at the department of Dramatic Art, University of Ibadan and also former Managing Director of Nigeria Film Corporation, Jos.

Speaking on some of the decisions taken by the Jurors, Ms. Givanni who presided over the AGM revealed that the Jury made some amendments of the award categories adding that the awards organization and the jury are poised to deliver a good tenth year anniversary event.

"We made some changes on the award categories. We have introduced an award that is named after former President Nelson Mandela called Madiba Africa Vision Awards which will be given at the discretion of the Jury to any film captures the essence and vision of the category. The category of Best Film by African Living Abroad has been cancelled.

We also renamed two categories after two exceptional Africans who have contributed to the growth and development of the film industry. The Best Film in African Language will now be Sembene Ousmane Awards for Best Film in African Language while the Best Short Film Award category will now be called Efere Ozako Award for Best Short Film. AMAA is immortalizing the names of these two great men with the awards," she said.

Ms Givanni also said that a new category Best Director First Feature Film has been introduced to encourage young and upcoming film directors to continue to strive for excellence and best practices.

The award in its nine years has had international music and Hollywood icons such as Danny Glover, Forest Whittaker, Morris Chesnut, Rockmond Dunbar, Angela Basset, Monique, Miriam Makeba, Mario Van Peebles,Jimmy Jean Louis, Hakeem Kae Kazim and host other others in attendance at different times.

Over 700 films were entered for the awards in 2013 from over 40 countries within Africa and the Diaspora and the award has been described by international media most especially CNN as the Africa's Oscars.

The awards organization also holds nominations gala night where nominees are announced for different categories across different African cities to drive home the pan-African vision of the scheme with the last 2013 nomination gala night was hosted in Lilongwe, Malawi by President Joyce Banda who has now also endowed a prize for the best film depicting positive stories about women.

"There is this great awareness of the possibilities in Africa. This has been an exciting year for African cinema as many big budget productions have been produced on the continent and distribution is becoming more accessible to African films," says AMAA founder Academy CEO Peace Anyiam-Osigwe.

The primary aim of the African Movie Academy Awards (popularly known AMAA) is to facilitate the development and showcase the social relevance of African Film and Cinema. Presented to recognize excellence in professionals in the Africa film industry, including directors, actors and writers, the Awards are aimed at honoring and promoting such excellence as well as uniting the African continent through arts and culture.

Submission must be entered online at Each completed entry form must be accompanied by all the supporting materials listed on the submission forms, including the synopsis of the film, the list of credits, 5 DVD copies of the film and proof of the right to submit.

For more information see

We look forward to seeing your film!

Sincere regards,
CEO: Ms Peace Anyian-Osigwe and the AMAA Team

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


December 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve last had the pleasure of sharing my thoughts with our membership, but with the year winding down and the loss of so many of our greats like Tata Madiba and writing guru Syd Field, it has become obvious that we have to take every opportunity to communicate.

“So, what happened to the magazine?” many of you have asked. Well, let’s say it’s gone on a sabbatical. Or rather, the people who gave their time and talent for free to produce the WGSA Magazine have found it necessary to earn a living for a change. Unless we actually charge for the mag, or find a gracious sponsor to provide at least a minimum wage for those who spend a good two weeks of every month creating the mag, for the time being it’s back to the newsletter we had two years ago. Our grateful thanks to all the people who contributed, from Kyle Stevenson to Thea Aboud, Liam J Stratton, Sean Bosse, Sam Phillips, Thinus Ferreira, Anonymous (and no, I’m still not going to tell you who it is) and all the photographers, council members and members who had their say on the WGSA Mag pages. And here’s to hoping that we will manage to resurrect it in due course.

In the meantime, the newsletter will inform members of urgent Guild news, and our regular contributors will find a new home next year on an interactive blog on our revamped and exciting new web page.

What’s happened with the Guild over the last couple of months? 

Well, we attended countless meetings on Guild and membership related matters, we had 6 meetings with broadcasters, two meetings with government's Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and are still waiting on a further meeting with both the DAC and Department of Communication (DOC,) (which controls the public broadcaster). We worked hand in hand with the South African Screen Federation (SASFED) to lobby for better funding opportunities and to streamline the controls on what is classified as a “local” movie. We attended workshops on Intellectual Property (IP) and commented – in some cases quite strongly – on proposed changes in the IP and contract laws. We assisted 23 members with legal and contractual issues, collaborated with the IPO on new standard industry contracts and had face to face meetings with producers to ensure that residuals and royalties would be paid to the writers who did the work. This is an on-going matter which is still far from resolved.

In October, Thea and I headed off to the yearly AGM of the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds, which was this time held in Toronto, Canada. We spoke about the challenges which SA writers face, and they heard us - loud and clear. In fact, WGSA will collaborate with WGA West and individual show runners in Canada and the USA to bring a show runner training course to South Africa. We have also initialised the international side of a long distance training project, where our members will be able to attend workshops with some of the biggest names in the international writing community via the Ethernet or possibly even satellite, as well as still have “real” live workshops like our upcoming one with people like Andrew S. Walsh, one of the most experienced and exciting people in computer games development in the world. The next IAWG AGM will happen in Warsaw, Poland, next year, and will form part of an international writers’ festival. We are already working on the logistics and financing to take at least 5 deserving WGSA members with us to the festival.
Further, WGSA has been in constant communication with many of the local writer training facilities, and we are looking to jointly provide a full and on-going grassroots development and mentorship programme for up and coming screenwriters – and this time not just in the major centres, but in all corners of SA via long distance training. Eventually this training will be provided in a number of ethnic languages via our Train the Trainer project.

We have also teamed up with Audio Describe SA and Access Media Inc in Toronto, Canada, to train  AD writers and roll out Audio Description for the visually impaired people of SA, enabling them to not only hear what others can see at museums and galleries, but also to bring theatre, sporting events and film and television to those who cannot see. The museum and gallery project is already underway in pilot phase in Durban, with other centres to follow soon.

Then, of course, the inaugural Muse Awards, an award specifically for writers by writers, was started by WGSA in August this year. With big name local and even international judges, this award promises to finally shine the spotlight on the so often ignored local performance writer. More on this later in the newsletter, and we hope to see you all at the awards ceremony in March next year.

And finally, our negotiations with government and the broadcasters have made it very clear that WGSA has to unionize if we want to force through legislation which is crucial to the growth of the South African performance writer. At this stage, negotiations with the Independent Producers Organisation (IPO) and the Actors Guild (SAGA) are already underway to establish a “closed shop”, where all three organisations will only work with producers, writers and actors who are members of organised industry like the IPO, WGSA and SAGA, which will guarantee quality, professionalism and recourse for all. Please make sure that your membership is up to date and get all your colleagues to join, so that we can all be part of this ground-breaking occasion. 

For now, the very best wishes for the holiday season from council and all of us here at WGSA. Be safe, be creative and be with those you love. And be there next year, which we know will be a huge one for the South African writer.

Much love and, as always, Unite to Write,



Thanks to our WGSA MUSE AWARDS, the Guild has grown over the past couple of months to a nice 200, but we’re still not where we were last year this time. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all our new members and also remind all our other members that renewals for the 2014/2015 membership cycle are now open.


Since our last magazine we had some very interesting workshops in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.  Our next series of workshops will start in mid January 2014.  As most of you know by now, we are bring Andrew S Walsh from the UK to South Africa – Cape Town and Johannesburg - in May 2014.  Get your tickets now.  More information available from

Over and above what Harriet mentioned earlier, over the last few months WGSA also attended the NFVF Film Indaba, where we lobbied for organised industry, and the DAC’s Copyright Act Review Committee, where  we focused on obtaining rights for our writers and residuals from all users (that is all broadcasters, not just SABC).

While we were at the 3 day Conference of the International Association of Writers Guilds in Toronto, we subscribed to the following resolution on behalf of WGSA:
At the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds meeting in Toronto, Canada on October 3, 2013, the member guilds unanimously passed the following resolution:
The International Affiliation of Writers Guilds condemns all practices in which screenwriters around the globe are pressured, coerced, or otherwise impelled to provide free work, whether prior to engagement, or in excess of contractual provisions.  This exploitation by producers and broadcasters undermines the writers’ right to fair payment for their creative labours.
Moved by Roger Williams, Chair, Writers Guild of Great Britain
Seconded by Lowell Peterson, Executive Director, Writers Guild of America East
Passed unanimously”.


On 1 November 2013 we had our annual year end function, mainly sponsored by our landlord, Steven White.  Thanks, Steven, for making this such a memorable evening and feeding all the starving writers. 

Our next big function is the WGSA MUSE AWARDS.  At this point, we are in the first round judging process, where the nominees in the 6 categories will be selected. Our judges are:

First Round: 
Feature Film:  Clive Morris, Helena Spring, Richard Nosworthy, Sam Shale, Thandi Brewer,  Pulane Boesak
TV Drama:  Ayanda Halimana, Larry Brody, Vanessa Jansen
TV Comedy:  Dr. Eubulus Timothy, Sir Liam J Stratton, Marvin Mathibe
Documentary:  David Forbes, Harriet Meier, Peter Michael Goldsmid
Stage Play:  Clinton Marius, Julie Hall, Sam Phillips
Afrikaans Scripts:  Harriet Meier, Leon van Nierop, Nicci Bothma
(The first round of adjudication will be concluded on 31 December 2013.)

Final round:
Janet van Eeden
Larry Brody (International – USA)
Louis Minnaar
Ramadan Suleman
Richard Nosworthy
Thinus Ferreira
Thomas McLaughlin (International – Ireland)

This round will conclude on 28 February and the winners will be announced during the WGSA MUSE AWARD 
The Ceremony will take place on 15 March 2014.  So get your fancy dresses and bow ties out, this is going to be a very “grand affair” – en soos ons in Afrikaans sê, gaan polish die skoene vir die grênd affêre!


I had some anxious enquiries about our website – why is it down?
The answer is: We are – at last - working on the development of a brand new site! Not just a little upgrade, but a full new cyberspace home for WGSA.

What you can expect from the website:
  • All membership applications will be done online – even the payment of your annual fees.  Your membership cycle will run from the date you make payment for 365 days.
  • All events will be posted on the site, and you can make your bookings and payments online.
  • An online script registry
  • An online marketing site for writers – market your services and market your spec scripts online via the WGSA site
  • Updates on all WGSA information and industry news
  • Entries to the Annual WGSA Muse AWARDS and Great Idea Competition
  • An interactive blog
  • Writing tips and articles
  • And much, much more...
When?  We hope to launch in late January, but the official launch will coincide with the WGSA Muse Awards.  We cannot party twice – so we have to do this all in one!

Please note that our offices will be closed from 13 December 2013 to 6 January 2014.

All the best for a very happy and peaceful festive season and may, 2014 bring you loads of work with loads of money!


Monday, December 9, 2013

Public Call for DIRECTORS 

(Thursday 5 December 2013)

Out In Africa (OIA), producers of the South African Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, has received funding from The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) for the purpose of making a full-length narrative Omnibus feature film.

OIA has commissioned three Writers to deliver a parallel narrative script with a gay and lesbian theme. OIA intends to engage three (3) Directors, and each will direct a strand of the Omnibus. However, this will be done in such a way that all strands interweave and the finished product is a single, integrated  feature.

This Call is an opportunity for talented, experienced DIRECTORS, professionals who have the relevant filmmaking experience, but who have not yet made a feature film.

The Omnibus is to be shot in Cape Town and completed in 2014.

OIA invites interested Directors to submit the following:
  • A 2 page CV detailing relevant experience and referees who may be contacted by OIA.
  • A show-reel of work. This should be delivered via a Vimeo link.

Deadline for submissions:       Friday 3 January 2014
Delivery address:              
                                                        Put ‘Omnibus Director’ in the subject line.

OIA is an equal opportunities employer and does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender presentation.

The NLDTF relies on funds from the proceeds of the National Lottery. The Lotteries Act and regulations guide the way in which NLDTF funding may be allocated. The NLDTF wants the grants to make a difference to the lives of all South Africans, especially those more vulnerable, and to improve the sustainability of the beneficiary organisations. Available funds are distributed to registered and qualifying non-profit organizations in the fields of charities; arts, culture and national heritage; and sport and recreation. By placing its emphasis on areas of greatest need and potential, the NLDTF contributes to South Africa’s development.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Doccie filmmakers fly SA flag at IDFA

 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Emma Bestall 
, Annalet Steenkamp, Joanna Higgs

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: A team of South African documentary filmmakers has just returned from the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in the Netherlands, following a successful two-week long event where industry players from all over the world converged. 

IDFA is one of the biggest international documentary film festivals globally and creates a meeting platform for filmmakers, broadcasters, funders and distributors. This year’s festival ran from 20 November to 1 December.

“This is an exciting time for South African documentary filmmaking industry. Last year none of our films got a screening at IDFA, but this year we had five,” says Neil Brandt, producer of The Devil’s Lair, which also screened at the festival.

Adds Joanna Higgs, producer of I, Afrikaner: “We were enormously excited and overwhelmed by the support and attention I, Afrikaner received at IDFA. From the night of the premiere to the final screening we had sold-out audiences with engaged Q&As.” 

She continues: “We had promising conversations with sales agents, broadcasters and distributors, and we met filmmakers and potential collaborators, strengthened existing relationships, and of course, watched the kind of films that inspire us to keep pushing the limits of our medium.”

One of the highlights of the festival, the IDFA Forum, is a ‘must-attend’ for every delegate. This is where filmmakers pitch their projects in front of a panel of broadcasters from across the globe. 

“Before I went to IDFA, I knew filmmaking was more than just having a good story and the ability to make it visually appealing, but what I didn’t realise was the fact that one also needs an extraordinary sharp mind and people skills to make a successful film,” says Molatelo Mainetje, who made her debut attendance at the festival with her completed project A Helping Hand.

Adds Mariza Matshaya, producer and director of Marikana: The Tale of Invisible Women: “My IDFA experience was truly crucial for my growth as an independent filmmaker. I also learnt that our perspectives and experiences of the world we live in need to be shared with the international community and IDFA is just the right place to explore that.” 

“As a filmmaker, you never attend IDFA and remain the same,” concludes Mainetje. 

The South African delegation to IDFA was made possible by the Department of Trade and Industry, the National Film and Video Foundation, the Independent Development Corporation as well as provincial film commissions, working together with industry associations.

Report by Molatelo Mainetje