wgsa masterclass

On January 26, 2023, the Writers Guild of South Africa (WGSA) will host a Novel Adaptation Masterclass for advanced South African writers in collaboration with Netflix and the University of Southern California (USC), School of Cinematic Arts (SCA).

South African novel rights have been sought by both international and South African producers. Agents for novelists are even dividing up rights for streaming, film, and even territorial regions. So, if you want the rights to a novel, you might only be able to get them for a specific region. Obtaining these rights has become a highly competitive endeavor. However, South African intellectual property, whether novels, plays, short stories, or even a hit song, is ripe for adaptation.

The film industry in South Africa has a long history of adapting novels and short stories into films. Most of us are familiar with Gavin Hood’s Oscar-winning film adaptation of Athol Fugard’s novel, Tsotsi (2005). Some South African novels have even had multiple screen adaptations. Alan Paton’s 1948 novel ” Cry Beloved Country” was adapted into a film in 1951 by Zoltan Korda, and then again in 1995 by Darrell Roodt. Daleen Matthee’s novel “Fiela Se Kind” was adapted twice as well. Once in 1988 (adapted and directed by Chris Barnard) and again in 2019 (adapted and directed by Brett Michael Innes).

Happiness is a Four-Letter Word (2016), directed by Thabang Moleya and adapted for the screen by Busisiwe Ntintili, was one of South Africa’s highest-grossing films.

However, there has recently been a recognition that novels, even on our smaller screens, can add value to our washing machine of melodrama. And many of us were drawn to the small screen by the adaptation of Dudu Busani-best-selling Dube’s novels “The Hlomu Series” (The Wife).

Celebrated filmmakers have adapted works by award-winning novelists such as Zakes Mda, Lauren Beukes, and Deon Meyer. As we continue to binge-watch streamers, let us recognize that streamers have enabled international audiences to consume content written by South African novelists.

Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes’ novel, premiered as a series on Apple TV in 2022. Before the novel’s international release, Leonard DiCaprio and his production company Appian Way Productions purchased the TV rights in 2013.

It’s time to recognize not only novelists, but also those who have the ability to adapt often complex novels for the screen.

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for South African performance writers, i.e. screenwriters, to learn the finer art of adaptation and how to access rights. After all, many books are no longer protected by rights and are in the public domain. Join the Writers Guild of South Africa if you want to hone your skills or if you’re struggling to adapt your own unpublished novel.

Camille Tucker, screenwriter of the NAACP Image Award nominated TV movie The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, which Queen Latifah executive produced, will lead the 2-hour virtual interactive Novel Adaptation Masterclass. A UCLA graduate with a screenwriting MFA from Loyola Marymount. Camille has worked with producers Robert De Niro, Marc Platt, Debra Chase, and the late John Singleton, and has sold scripts to Starz, Sony, Universal, Fox, and Disney. She is also a professor with a specialty in adapting novels for the screen.

15 WGSA members will be chosen for this Masterclass, which will include case studies and adaptation strategies, interactive exercises, and feedback on their own potential adaptation projects.

The workshop will be offered to experienced screenwriters and authors who may be working on or planning to do an adaptation of an existing novel for the screen. The workshop focuses on storytelling tools and the artistic pursuit of adaptation.

Applications for one of the 15 available spots in this Masterclass are open until January 9, 2023, 12h00.

Camille Tucker is a professor, writer, director, and producer. She co-wrote The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel for Lifetime, which was executive produced by Queen Latifah and was nominated for 5 NAACP Image Awards. Camille recently sold a Starz TV pilot to Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, is a writer and EP on the Gladys Knight limited series, and is working on a feature biopic for LeBron James’ Springhill Entertainment and Disney+.