The Write Journey


The entry of the South African film Jerusalema into the Oscar race emphasises that a good screenplay can make the difference between success and failure.

As Jerusalema writer / director Ralph Ziman says: “The script is everything. If it’s not on the page it’s not going to be on the screen.’ Ziman spent 18 months writing the screenplay and undertook four months of research before filming began.

Ziman’s brilliant character-driven screenplay clearly shows that if you know what you are writing about, it can only reap rewards. Most beginner screenwriters in South Africa underestimate the rigorous writing process. Gavin Hood’s screenplay for for the Oscar-winning Tsotsi went through more than 70 drafts before filming began,’ notes Dercksen.

He stresses that the writing process and the craft of writing demands respect. Dercksen will be taking aspirant scriptwriters through the paces of what it takes be a scriptwriter in South Africa and write a universal story at The Write Journey workshop, which takes place at the Artscape Theatre Centre on four Saturday afternoons, commencing 25 October.

The Write Journey explores the process of writing a script or stage play from inception, through concept to first draft, and examines the world of contemporary film, television and theatre.

Writers will learn how to conceptualise ideas, develop characters, master structure and perfect the art of plotting.

Within four days writers will grasp the fundamentals of writing for a visual medium, what it takes to be a scriptwriter in South Africa, and how to conquer the writing process.

The practical and motivational workshop is outcome-based and will be followed by The Write Draft workshop, during which the writers will complete the first draft of their dream story.

Writers are encouraged to write universal stories that will reflect the uniqueness of their respective cultures, histories and personal experiences, and turn thoughts into action that will evolve into a feature film or stage play.

Although Jerusalema and Tsotsi are specific stories that both explore the crime wave in South Africa, it is their universal qualities that allow people from all over the world to identify with its humanity.

Peter Dignan of UIP, “When we first saw Jerusalma we all agreed within UIP that this was a shining example of South African movie-making at its best from a group of very talented filmmakers. The film has gone on to be embraced by movie-goers across the country and has constantly had the best screen average in the top 10 films weekly listings since it opened five weeks ago here. It has now gone over the R3.m box office level from only 14 prints nationally.’

The film will now be judged by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Committee in Los Angeles and, if successful, will be officially nominated at the end of January 2009. The final Oscar winner will be announced at the 81st Annual Academy Awards held on 22 February 2009.

The Write Journey is aimed at writers who want to write and share their stories with the world. It’s about developing the write attitude and commanding The Write Journey.

The Write Journey workshop takes place at the Artscape Theatre Centre on Saturday, October 25 and November 1, 8 and 15 from 2pm until 5pm on each day and is hosted by the Artscape Resource Centre.

The cost of the four-Saturday workshop is only R800 with a discounted rate of R600 for students. Bursaries are also given on discretion.

For more information on The Write Journey workshop at the Artscape Theatre Centre visit the website: or send an email to


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