FROM THE EDITORS' DESK
The WGSA is getting more recognition by the day, and we are now more than 500 members strong. Vicki, our council member for the Membership Portfolio, elaborates on what an amazing milestone it is to reach. This also means the "Search For A Writer" (one of our member benefits) has more than 500 writers that can be found by producers and other interested parties such as commissioning editors. If you are a member, make sure you read our tips under WGSA News.
Our Purple List for members with registered scripts was launched recently. It is a place where members can list their concepts or speculative (spec) screenplays/stage plays/radio dramas/web series. See the current directory as the beta test (as gamers and programmers call it). To glean its full value, we need your input on making it better. Please have a look and email your suggestions to email@example.com before the end of April.
Time flies, and soon the current council’s term will end, and new council members need to be nominated by 21 May 2022 so that the new council can be voted for at our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 28 May 2022. Make sure you read the wisdom from our current council under WGSA News.
With said time flying so fast, we realised that a newsletter gets old before it is even published. These days, news and information come and go so quickly that it is no longer practical to have a newsletter. But your news, views and reports are still important so we decided to publish your articles as and when we receive them in our Notice Board emails, which reach the same audience of almost 7000 people. How exciting is that! The communications portfolio members will always proofread it first, so do not be shy. Continue to share your news, knowledge and insights.
The NFVF hosted a policy review recently for all their stakeholders, and the WGSA was honoured to be part of the process. Our notes were substantial, collaborating with SASFED (The South African Screen Federation).
Maybe you have heard of the POPI Act? We hope you have! Its purpose is to protect your personal information. The WGSA application form has always gathered personal information to stay in contact with you. And now, in line with the POPI Act, the WGSA needs your permission to store this information. To familiarise yourself with the conditions of the POPI ACT, you may download ACT HERE. Existing members and people on our database will receive a permissions form to fill in by 30 April to continue receiving information from the WGSA.
We hope you enjoy our final formal edition of our WGSA newsletter. We look forward to keeping the WGSA alive and informed and recognising and celebrating performance writers nationwide through our various channels.
Yolanda Lindeque-Strauss & Anil Polton
- WGSA Watershed Moment With 500 Members
- WGSA Council's Words Of Wisdom For New Council
- Welcome to New Members
- WGSA's First Ever Open Forum!
- WGSA "Search For A Writer" Credits: Tips
- Nomcebo Ngema, "From Film Maker To Author To Filmmaker"
- Neo Iman Mothae, "A Letter From A Writer To Writers"
- Tshenolo Mabale, "Growing As A Screenwriting Trainer"
- Jacques Du Randt, "Writing to Budget While Remaining Authentic
What a good feeling it is to be overseeing the WGSA Membership Portfolio right now!
2021/22 Has been a watershed year for the Guild, with our numbers increasing exponentially: in the last few weeks, we have sailed in style over the 500-member mark, and we now have 513 active members to celebrate!
Although member benefits, membership issues and longer-term plans for our members all live under my portfolio's umbrella, this success has almost nothing to do with me and the subcommittee. It has to do with the extraordinary voluntary work done over the years by WGSA members, who have envisioned a Guild that will one day have an undisputed mandate to "protect, empower and develop South African Performance Writers".
Yes, this is what the Guild and its office-bearers do all the time, but the real tipping point will come when WGSA becomes the natural home for all those in SA who write for performance.
So, in celebration of our robust numbers, let's acknowledge just some of what's on offer for our Members:
Membership of WGSA should be offering you - at the very least - a sense of community: the lively interactions on Telegram and other social media platforms suggest that it is! News, opportunities, insights, shares, and answers to our questions are the glue that holds us together daily. Our Admins and Communications Portfolio heads are doing an excellent job keeping us in the loop and alive to possibilities. So, thanks to them for their tireless work because the internet never sleeps! And if you are not using social media platforms yet, perhaps you should consider it.
As a professional organisation, WGSA has always had a mandate to provide training and Professional Development, and this portfolio is going from strength to strength. There is a plethora of information about writing practice on the internet, but not many forums where you can get the inside edge on South African performance writing. We have become
accustomed to online meetings in the last couple of years. It has become a blessing in disguise as we no longer need to travel to participate in the informative - and often unique - sessions presented by PDP. For this unique content, WGSA has few competitors.
WGSA is a member of SASFED - the South African Screen Federation - where fellow organisations and ourselves collaborate to ensure that our audio-visual (AV) sector is heard and allowed to participate in every aspect of our future success. Matters of legislation, intellectual property and funding are just some of the issues that we weigh in on, on behalf of our members. Our Chair and Vice-Chair take care of Advocacy, and SASFED is only one of the other preoccupations. Keeping WGSA on the international stage is another with other key players in the sector. Thank you to Advocacy for keeping us on the AV map!
How to honour all the work that is done? It's impossible. Our volunteers on Council are our hero(ine)s. Membership Portfolio owes them a massive vote of thanks for everything undertaken. It makes being a WGSA member something to be proud of.
WGSA COUNCIL'S WORDS OF WISDOM FOR NEW COUNCIL
The Annual General Meeting of the Guild is almost upon us, and the nomination of- and voting for the new council members, the editor asked council members to share a little something. No briefing was given on what to write, so this is purely what came from the request on an individual level from some of our council members.
"My role as a council member is driven by responsibilities to our community of writers, which is reflected in our WGSA constitution and our guidelines for writers. Ultimately, we are a growing industry, so skills-sharing is part of what we work on every day. Our progress is steady, and our industry is also part of a changing global industry. Our local and international benchmarks need to be reflected in how writers work and how they see themselves in our industry. Everyone on council work as committed volunteers supporting our portfolios and the work of our executive officer." - Cati Weinek
"Serving on the WGSA council as vice-chair has been a baptism by fire. A great learning experience with a lot of wading through the darkness to get to the beginning of the light I feel like I've finally reached. My dedication and respect to performance writers is even greater now, and I will continue to serve WGSA tirelessly in whichever way is required of me." – Tshenolo Mabale
"If you know a full member of WGSA, and they are: aware of-, concerned about-, and interested in the status of writing in our industry, are reliable, capable and ready to learn new things, positive and "can-do", and the busiest person you know who still gets things done … please nominate them for Council!" – Vicki Bawcombe
"Being with the Writers Guild has provided me with education, and marketplace know-how, and it is where I associate with like-minded people. I like to be part of the process that drives us and our goals forward." - Anil Polton
"This year on Council helped me grow exponentially. As a businesswoman, professional writer and my character. So, here is some advice for the council members of the future: PPPPP, in other words, Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Right from the start, work out how many hours minimum you are able to dedicate to guild affairs and always add a day because as creatives, we need to be free to be ourselves and thus need some wiggle room in case the muse distracts us. Secondly, if I may be so bold, let me quote Ayanda Halimana, "communicate, communicate, communicate"; council members need to communicate with each other and not be shy to ask for support or help. And finally hold on to the vision. When times get tough or you do not always agree on things, then the vision will pull everyone together. At the end of the day, we all share the same vision for performance writers." – Yolanda Lindeque-Strauss
"The emerging writers received training through online sessions and workshops in provinces across South Africa. WGSA also assisted in promoting indigenous languages. As a collective, they utilised the platform to connect with each other as writers working in the same challenging and changing environment that is dictated by COVID 19. Being part of the WGSA professional development provided a common experience for the writers, some of them who did not know each other. The project also created a networking opportunity for them to engage and collaborate with each other beyond this project." – Danile Mohlamme
The different portfolios and what they entail:
No person on the Council is an island and although these portfolios are very specific about who does what, everyone supports each other. Ultimately, the portfolio member, however, is the one held accountable for their duties.
Responsible for forging, nurturing and maintaining strategic relationships with national and international performance writers' institutions, which is paramount for increasing the presence and power of the Guild. S/he attends meetings, and festivals where possible, and engages with governing bodies. S/he is also the leader of the team of council members that must keep everyone together and accountable.
Assists the Chairperson with strategic relations, advocating the Guild and its mandate, and overseeing Intellectual Property (IP) and copyright matters as well as bargaining rates, contracts, and credits.
Raises funds for the Guild's events, heads capacity building, and manages the financials, human resources, and office administration.
Works on expanding and improving members' benefits (discounts, competitions, job alerts, national and international festivals and markets), heads the WGSA Muse Awards, does membership drives, interacts with learning institutions and oversees contractual advice for members.
Professional Development (PDP)
Responsible for workshops, webinars, seminars, and knowledge share sessions for emerging and professional writers with local and international presenters. The incumbent is also responsible for the roll-out of the WGSA Indigenous Language Screenwriting Programme to all nine South African Provinces.
Currently this portfolio has two incumbents. They are responsible for all WGSA communication and the distribution thereof on all platforms. They are also the custodians of the WGSA branding and are responsible for all marketing, social media, and the Guild's website.
The position of WGSA Operations and Strategy Manager, currently filled by Thea Aboud, is to support the Council by guiding the team, initiating operations and strategy, and ensuring the implementation of the council decisions and strategies. Since the inception of the Guild, she has been the thread that keeps it all together.
WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS
We would like to formally welcome our newest members to the Guild! We are glad to have you on board and part our growing community. We hope that you experience the very best that the WGSA has to offer and that you grow immensely on your writing journey with us.
"Our membership has blossomed amazingly in the last 18 months. People are beginning to realise that this is a very tough industry for us to be in! We, the WGSA, have been around for a while, and in the past, we haven't been a very large group of consistent members. Our industry is extremely exacting and competitive, and sometimes the best way to be part of something like that is to be a team player. In our community of Writers Guild, we share information, inspiration and work diligently in our organisation to ensure that the conditions, circumstances, professional profile, and professional respect for screenwriters and writers of performance works are recognised.
We endeavour to make this a place where people feel at home. We're a powerful organisation with good friends and allies that can do significant work in our industry to up the circumstances for performance writers. A special word to guild members: we need as many of our professional, working, produced writers and all other performance writers to be members of the Guild, which will make our voice so much stronger. So please, if you know someone who is a performance writer, lean on them to become a member of the WGSA, and for our part as Council and as the volunteers who work in the subcommittees, we will do everything in our power to make it a worthwhile membership to have. " Adapted from Vicki Bawcombe's introduction to our Quarterly meeting
Power outages and a countrywide storm formed the background to robust interaction as our members had their say in the WGSA's first-ever OPEN FORUM held on 16 February 2022!
Thea Aboud, WGSA Operations and Strategy Manager, clarified our submission to parliament about the Copyright Amendment Bill. Thea also updated us on our draft Standard Contract, saying that there has been significant progress towards formulating the contract, which is being negotiated with the IPO (Independent Producer's Organisation). It has been in the works since 2010, and now we have made massive strides towards its finalisation. These two important projects are advancing thanks to the support of Christiaan Steyn from Steyn IP, and Theoline Maputha with the Copyright Act, and with the help of Evershed Sutherland and Richard Nosworthy for the Standard Contract.
Anil Polton iterated what communication is all about. It creates interaction, he said and helps with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). He described our different social media, or interaction, with our audience and stressed our need for volunteers to handle our social media accounts. Our social media accounts are: Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Telegram and Twitter.
Simangele Lekhuleni asked about our Telegram group and how non-members will be aware of our advertising. Thea clarified that Telegram is for members only while all other social media groups where our advertising is displayed reaches non-members.
Anil's response to Vicki's question on our most preferred social media network was LINKEDIN. It is a more business-like network; people look for work on LinkedIn and connect with people on the same business thread as what they are on. People are there for a purpose, which relates to the work that they do.
Vicki Bawcombe spoke about our new SEARCH FOR A WRITER website function and how a personality coming through identifies an individual in a writing community. Writers are immediately searchable through the Guild. For more information on our Search for a Writer function, please go to our website www.writersguildsa.org
"We want to start promoting this function [Search For A Writer] to the outside world. We want to go to IPO, the IBFC, the broadcasters... all over. Still, with only maybe a quarter of people who've populated their profiles, we will not look good, so we haven't started actively advertising it yet. We really need the over 500 members that we have, to populate their profiles to look impressive, so when a person searches, they get not just a few writers and incomplete information, but real WGSA value," Vicki said.
Avril Kinsey wanted to know if a member could include a sample of written work. Thea replied that it is not feasible as it could crowd the website and your work could be abused. It is for the same reason that CV's are not openly displayed. Once a prospective client is looking at your work, they can always contact you and ask for a sample.
For those who have not filled in their details, please do so. It will assist in getting this project off the ground. Who knows, you might just be contacted!
Great feedback from Harriet Meier, who asked about WGSA negotiating a cheaper rate for international pitching rooms where people can pitch their stores as it can be expensive. Vicki will revert on that. Simangele spoke about other writers-rooms that may be available should a member be interested in collaborating on writing projects.
Mboniseni Ndlovu queried the standardisation of radio scripts as competitions ask for "acceptable standards". There were suggestions of professional writing packages like Final Draft or to search the BBC Writers Room, where templates for radio scripts are available. However, if any member of the WGSA has a solution, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or on Telegram.
Mboniseni also asked about computers for our writers. We are looking at getting discounts from suppliers for computer equipment, and Thea has a contact for refurbished computers. Members may contact her at email@example.com
, and she will refer you to that person.
Vicki spoke on the WGSA Muse Awards that is ensuring that writers move forward. A significant part of the offering we have to members is the access to a solid national competition that gives professional feedback to entrants.
She also spoke about how we are looking at more mainstream offerings that banks and insurers have. They are happy to have clients who have payslips and salary references, but they don't currently favour freelancers, so as Council Member for WGSA Membership, Vicki is working to find a way for us as freelancers to benefit from those products and services.
WGSA is currently attempting to get SAQA qualifications for our trainers, our WGSA Indigenous Language Screenwriting Programme and for the WGSA as an accredited organisation. SAQA is the South African Qualifications Authority, and there are specific guidelines an organisation must fulfil to bestow credits onto trainees.
Thea introduced our latest offering to our members, our Purple List and took us through the process of adding our work to it. The idea behind the Purple List is that writers can list their speculative (spec) scripts and concepts. It is different from the Black List in that members do not have to pay when listing their scripts for interested parties to view. However, the principles of the listing remain the same.
Vicki noted that the presenters who talk at our WGSA Professional Development online sessions are not always writers. They can also be informed speakers in different fields but will have writing related to their product.
The quarterly member feedback showed us that this is highly necessary, and not all the answers can be found by council members. But the gaps between council members and members are closing so that the real issues that affect members are in the open.
Our members are our compass that guides council members and, ultimately, the WGSA. Members are the essence of our quarterly meeting, where WGSA members and non-members get together, questions asked, suggestions made, dialogue created, and our sights set to achieve our common goals.
Should you have any suggestions for topics or would like something discussed, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
or you can address it during our next meet.
On behalf of all council members and members, we wish to thank everyone who were present for your support and views and hope that we see more of you in the next meeting. Well done to all those who attended. Let's keep the momentum, and may there be many more!
Anil Polton - Communications Council Member
WGSA "Search For A Writer" Credits: Tip
As with all things in life, the WGSA strives to constantly improve on our benefits to our members, and so, after an in-depth discussion, this is the layout we highly recommend our members to use when adding your credits on your profiles.
Step 1: log in with your email address and password
Step 2: Click on Your Account
Step 3: Check that your account details are correct
Step 4: Click on View Profile (situated below your profile pic)
Step 5: Click on the little cogwheel (settings) under your profile's banner and select Edit Profile.
Here is a layout of credits we find the most user-friendly. For now, you can only follow the order of things. We are in discussion with our web developer to create a table online. By arranging your credits like this now, will save you time later.
Dreams are more than just something that you create in your sleep. They take a lot of hard work.
When I decided to become a filmmaker, my path was clear. I was going to create stories. But, although I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life in high school, I still studied a business course. See, convincing my parents that I wanted to be a filmmaker was a challenge on its own. It was only after I graduated that I could convince them that I wanted to tell stories but would do it in the film medium.
In 2003, when I graduated as a filmmaker from Boston Media House, I thought it would be smooth sailing. But, while I worked in the TV industry, I became too good at content. I was a filmmaker at heart, which meant that Content Producing was not quite what I wanted to do.
It was only in 2011 that I wrote and produced my first film called "Woman to Woman". I managed to make a few more films thereafter, "The Calling", "A cup of Sugar", "Mr. Right" and some others. But despite my zeal towards this dream, I always knew that I had too many stories to tell and that my medium of choice was too expensive. And while I loved every moment of it, I needed an outlet to do so.
So came my other outlet for writing, which made me a published author in 2015, with my first book "God's Unconditional Love". My second book was self-published and then with my third book, I decided that a story I wanted as a script to be written as a book. After all, raising money for the film would take too long.
Not only has the story been self-published, but it was selected by the Education Department and was recommended for libraries, together with my first and fourth book, which both won awards at the African Author's Awards.
I now hope to write the script that was meant to be with "Can you be Trusted With Pain", so that it becomes a film. While I'm excited that I've found a different outlet to express myself, I also hope that I will be able to find my way back to the original idea of what I want to do with the rest of my life - tell stories in film form.
Hi WGSA family,
My name is Neo Iman Mothae, a Durban born, Joburg based writer.
2021 was an extremely exciting year as I got to coordinate The National Film and Video Foundation's (NFVF) Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme, by Sisters Working in Film & Television (SWIFT). I embarked on a new journey academically, and I am currently completing my Master of Arts at The University of the Witwatersrand as a part-time student. I also wrote and produced a short film called 'Maverick' which was publicly distributed in cinema at Ster-Kinekor Gateway in December 2021 as part of the '48hr Film Project'. The short film won five awards at the Durban 48hr Film Project Awards; Best Director, Best Music Score, Best Actor, Best Cinematography, and second place for Best Film.
By far one of the most exhilarating moments in the previous year was writing a project developed by the KZN Film Commission. I am currently still writing the film, as I am in the concluding stages of development.
I wish to work on more projects in 2022 and to ideally venture into long-form screenwriting. I was extremely fortunate to be able to work with an amazing team on this film, one of my wishes for the year is to continue to network and collaborate with other writers, editors and creatives.
I worked as a film reviewer for the Durban International Film Festival in 2019 and will definitely be attending the festival again this year. I do however want to attend more writing festivals and would love to gain more information about writing festivals the occur nationally.
I started writing in university and gradually found myself yearning to write more over the years. I started as a playwright but fell in love with screenwriting and now I write for both.
Well wishes to all the incredible writers; I hope all your goals are accomplished and your dreams are manifested into reality.
Neo Iman Mothae
Many, many years ago, when the WGSA Muse Awards was still in its infancy, people could watch excerpts of the finalists' work on the night of the awards, and script readings on stage of the un-produced work. The competition has now, however, grown to such an extent that it is not possible to do that. Watch this space. There are writing festivals for authors, usually called Word Fests. We have taken note of your desire to attend performance writers' festivals, so "watch this space" as they said in the old days.
Amidst the devastation caused by the global pandemic that deeply affected us all, I always reflect on the work that I've been privileged to do over the past year as a screenwriting trainer. Training gave me hope to keep going amidst the chaos of dilapidating sickness, job loss, and well-being breakdown.
Ever since getting a thumbs up to become an approved WGSA screenwriting trainer, which means having approval to use the Guild's well researched and well-drafted screenwriting training manual, I am proud that I managed to get independent bookings to train individuals with a passion for storytelling in screenwriting, who would otherwise not have ordinarily gotten the opportunity to do so.
The WGSA Indigenous Screenwriting training workshop is a great transformative initiative as its main aim is to transfer screenwriting skills to new writers in their native languages. It is a nationwide program that has invested in the growth of both the trainers and the trainees equally, and I have all intentions of continuing growing the seed that the WGSA has planted by opening myself up to more screenwriting opportunities and transferring the skills that were so freely given to me when I started out as a professional writer in the industry.
A big thank you to the three organisations that booked me for the screenwriting training in the different provinces. I am because you are.
After many years as a television writer, story editor and script editor, I finally got to write a screenplay for a kykNET storiefilm.
kykNET's incredible program where they give a platform for experienced and aspiring screenwriters to get a break into writing for film could not have come at a better time. I will be completing my MFA at AFDA in screenwriting this year and avail the project I wrote for this to be produced. I have been asked to pen two more features which is still in development.
I started my career in theatre, having written a few plays and then for financial reasons moved into television and started where most people do – in production. Being a scheduler taught me more about television than any other position ever could. You need to be in touch with every single element of making an episode to be able to schedule it economically and time efficiently. This gave me an incredible foundation to become a budget conscious scriptwriter.
I eventually worked as a 1st AD (first assistant director) and decided very soon that set-life is not for this introvert. Then came the big break. I was given an opportunity by Carol Shore to write for "Muvhango"! I still consider it the best moment of my life. I will forever be grateful.
Writing for television is different from writing for stage. I had to accept that though I am a good storyteller, I still had a lot to learn. Carol was a wonderful teacher. I also met Marina Bekker in the story-room. Marina became not only a craft mentor, but also a friend and a confidant.
It seems to be a long journey, but it taught me the most important skills that any writer needs to have in South Africa. To write budget conscious. It taught me exactly what goes into the machine of turning a story into a visual collaboration for the screen. My mentors taught me how to always remain true and loyal to my story and how important it is to never lose authenticity. That is not always easy when producers give you a limited number of locations, characters and setups. It becomes very easy to be tempted to write talking heads. And trust me, this is a mistake I've made more than once. Knowing the production process helped me to know how I could ease the budget burden in my script and still have that extra character or set I need.
The kykNET storiefilms is a lower budget program that allows you creative freedom. It challenges you to create a gripping story that is doable, and it also creates a platform where we can create new and interesting stories. Every turn your journey as a writer make, is for a reason.
My second storiefilm is being shot the last week of March.
KAMER 6 is available on channel 149 on DSTV and will be available on Showmax after a few months.