A unique partnership between Gauteng Film Commission (GFC), the SA Scriptwriters Institute (SASWI) and Total Eclipse Films resulted in a week-long series of scriptwriting workshops conducted in Johannesburg by top UK scriptwriter Sam Snape earlier this year.

Intended to benefit young and aspiring film makers in South Africa by giving them insight into the skills required to compete locally as well as on the international media market, the workshops were held in Johannesburg with twenty entry-level students and twenty professional writers participating. According to GFC Chief Executive, Terry Tselane the organisers received an overwhelming response from aspirant scriptwriters wishing to participate.

Snape, a respected British writer whose recent work includes projects for Amblin Productions, a company owned by well-known American director Steven Spielberg, visited the country as part of a Canadian/ French/ South African mini-drama series called The Torchbearers, a project currently under development. The Torchbearers will explore the lives of the Dumas family – renowned father and son authors of some of France’s most beloved, swashbuckling tales The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. According to Total Eclipse Films the production will be partially shot in South Africa. Backing for the project by the GFC was made on the basis of a skills transfer component being incorporated into the project, hence the scriptwriting workshops being conducted in Johannesburg.

According to Tselane the success of the project indicates that there is a great need for the ongoing support of both emergent as well as professional scriptwriters. “We are looking to further this partnership so as to ensure bi-annual master classes being offered to our writing community in Gauteng”, he said.

Snape’s visit coincided with a visit to Johannesburg by top UK actors Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry and Greg Wise who conducted workshops on comedy and film at the Market Theatre.