Saturday, 12 December 2009

Unit 1 Complete - Delta Rain

Choosing a script title is never easy for me. I can think for months and months and nothing. But I find that when one comes along, it is just right and I am happy with it.

Finding a title for this script was the same and it was only after 4 months I was able to find one which was just right.

Delta Rain

This title was symbolic in many ways relating to the location, the conflicts between characters.

Also because when a rain drop falls into water it creates the ripple, which is symbolic to the actions of each character affecting the others in the arena, having a knock on effect. Rain is quite unusual in the Delta, a conflict to what is natural in the Delta, just like the tourists who so often visit this unique location.

So there it is, the title to my 30 minute script - Delta Rain.

Monday, 23 November 2009


Editing. A process I really enjoy!

For this process every time I go over the script I focus on something in particular; dialogue, action, character development. This makes it easier to make sure nothing gets missed.

It is also useful I find to read the individual characters parts aloud, something we were also advised about in the first residential of our course.

For now, I will be spending the remaining weeks editing my draft and subsequently writing my final draft. There is a lot I want to do to it and it is amazing to see the script progress through all the stages, from initial research to final draft.

During the writing process I am continuing to listen to the sound clips of the polers singing to create ambience and help me with my creativity.

Anyway, back to work....

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Last Tutorial - Character Development and Conflict

In the tutorial this week, some important issues were higlighted in regards to character development and conflicts; these included there not being a convincing enough or proper conflict for the chaarcters and that these conflicts should be a really big issue for each character which in turn would be more difficult to overcome.

Questions that needed to be asked were whether the character development was realistic enough, what the catalyst would be and why would they overcome them now, at this point in time and place?

Sam manages to get over his conflict a bit too easily compared to what he should do.

With this in mind for the final draft I am going to go back and really explore my three main characters more, getting to know them thoroughly.

I also think it may be best not to resolved all three characters conflicts in the Delta, but to rather resolve one and have the others on the way to resolution, a step in the right direction.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Writing the First Draft - Finished!

Thank goodness for that! First script is finished and would you believe it, I put everything I wanted to in and it came out as.....exactly 30 pages! I had planned the arc of the story to pan over 30 pages but I was worried at times that I would not have enough to go in, but then at other times I thought I had too much!

Now I have my first draft I can print it out a review it and then hand it in for my tutor to review.

Getting there!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

'Wazzi Wazzi Wazzi' Sound Clip with photos

Sound clip from the Delta
'Wazzi Wazzi'

Friday, 6 November 2009

Writing the First Draft - Starting Point

Taking a deep breath and here we go. Cracking on with my first draft based on the treatment I wrote.

So far i'm on page 10, a thrid of the way there and I'm having a bit of a freak out! Forcably trying to stop myself editing already as I find it gets in the way of creativity. As I write I find that I am very visual which I like, hopefully capturing the characteristics of the arena.

At the moment I'm wondering if I'm going to have enough for my 30 minute script. I don't want to pad out the script by being over descriptive or by making my characters woffly...(I could have possibly made that word up!) but I suppose it is too early to tell. If I get to page 20 and find that my structure did not quite work out and I have nothing more for the characters or the narrative then I know I have a big problem.

For now, back to work and hoping for the best.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

24 Hours in the Delta - Personal Account

5am. Wake up to the tent being shaken, out early morning wakeup call. For a moment it takes a while for my eyes to adjust. The light of dawn floods the tent as the noise of pans knocking together and voices echo in the stillness of the morning. Opening up the zips I poke my head out of my tent.

The mokoro polers and our tour guide sit round a fire in the grey light of dawn. On the fire a large silver pot whistles – hot water for those waking early for our walk into the wilderness. Behind them the water is still, flat, the green reeds moving fractionally in a small breeze. A lily or two, floating amongst the reeds, contrasts white with green and blue, their white petals glowing like stars in a dark blue night. The air is fresh, clean. Stepping out I take it all in – I’m in Botswana, camping on a small island in the heart of the Okavango Delta.

I’ve wrapped up reasonably well – it is still winter in the Southern Hemisphere and despite midday temperate rising into their 30’s, the mornings still have an edge of a chill. As I sit to drink my tea around the amber glow of the dying out campfire the sky lightens into a red glow- the teasing light of the sun hiding just below the horizon, silhouetting the tall palm trees lining the island across from us. In the distance the birds sing their songs just like the odd reed frog announcing its presence somewhere in the sea of green reeds.

The guides talk between themselves, their language like music to one unaccustomed to it. They flash me a smile when they see me watching. Rustlings from the other tents fill the air, my fellow travellers, their yawns and coughs. One by one they emerge ready for our early morning walk. We are all eager to get going and witness the many animals that freely roam the delta.

Into the bush we walk single file, one behind the next. The sky gets brighter as we walk but the sun has not yet revealed itself. We walk through the dry yellow grass, our walking boots making a crunching noise.

Our guide leads us to a plain and we stop. In the middle of the vast plain are a large group of Zebras. As they move they kick up a trail of dust which glows brownish red in the light. They stay together sniffing the air. They have heard us. We stay still as Francis, our guide, tells us quietly about them, the Beautiful Zebra’s, the National Animal of Botswana.

Fascinated we hear about how they use their stripes, black ones used to store heat , the white used to help cool them down. These animals are wonderful, each with its own unique pattern. We stand for a while watching them wonder around in their natural environment.

Moving on we come across a large termite hill, close by the remains of a buffalo. Our attention is soon grabbed by a cry. Someone has spotted in the distance a large group of Giraffe’s.

As the sun suddenly bursts out from behind the horizon we are already heading back to our camp for breakfast. With a parting glance at the Zebra’s in the plains I stop briefly and look around.

We return to our camp 11am – the sun is now high in the sky, blazing down on all below. After breakfast we all settle down. The guides do not work at this time – it is too hot. The afternoon is time for relaxing, taking in our surroundings or for those more adventurous – a go at poling the mokoros.

The middle of the day moves slowly. There is ample time to relax, a contrast to the exciting on the go journey so far. Some sit and read books, others take a nap. I sit there writing in my travel diary, not wanting to forget anything from this unique location but after a while I become sleepy too.

Waking at 4pm the sun is starting to sink already. I join the others round the campfire for food. Afterwards the polers take us out for an early evening mokoro ride. We glide low through the reeds, lying back enjoying the ride. On the bank of an island stand two elephants, hidden partly amongst the trees. They stand there a while before wondering off through the trees. We stop at a large pool where in the distance a hippo ducks in and out of the surface sending ripples in all directions across the smooth surface.

As we make our way back we stop once more to watch the sun set, a spectacular splash of colours across the sky. The water reflects this glow of reds and orange and we all sit in silence as the sun slips below the horizon.

Darkness falls and the roaring campfire lights up the camp. Many wild noises fill the air, the sound of the wild ringing out. The polers stand up and together sing us some traditional songs. There are only six of them singing but their voices are strong, clear and they enchant us with their songs, a small glimpse into their culture. Hot drinks in hand we lie back listening, happily exhausted from an amazing day.

A week ago I was back home, doing the ordinary things that I do nearly every day. But now, this is where I am, this is the Okavango Delta. This is Africa.

Friday, 30 October 2009


Whilst looking at my 3 main characters I find it interesting to find parallels between them and certain wild animals found in the Delta.

Sam, with his stubborness and direct way reminds me of the buffalo, the deadliest animal in Africa. The buffalo is known for the fact that unlike ma
ny other animal, does not give a warning charge. You come across them and they go straight for you. The buffalo does not look dangerous and reacts. Sam, with his wild untamable black hair is very much like this. He doesn't think about what he does and his actions nearly causes tradegy. It is only then he realises what could have happened and that his actions can have serious consequences.

George reminds me of an old lone African Elpehant. He is graceful and refined, but prone to speak his mind if provoked. He is not dangerous but can give a scare and warning charge is needed. This will be shown with how he acts with Sam. George is very moral and traditional.

Lexie, niave and homesick reminds me of a combinations of wild animals. Her strong family connection is common in the wild with many animals. Her curiousity is like a naive
lion cub. She is an interesting mix.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

After Tutorial - Treatment discussion

After my tutorial I have decided to focus on my three main characters:

Lexie, 18 -20 years old
George, 64 years old
Sam, 21-24 years old

Over the next few weeks I need to really look at these characters and think about their background, how they would behave, act and feel and their character development.

There are other minor problems with the treatment, mostly structural which I am working on but overall pleased with the use of arena.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Character Ensemble - Does it work?

Looking at my outline and script ideas I have a group of seven tourists and my script focuses on them. The intention is to have each character change in some way, whether is small or big, as a result of being in the unique environment of the Delta.

However whilst writing my treatment, though I'd like to do an ensemble piece it seems to cover all 7 characters doesn't allow much space for proper character development.

Until my tutorial I am going to experiment on which characters I think work best and have more story potential.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Script Opening Montage

I am using raw material from my arena to generate ideas for my opening montage and opening scenes. Above is a selection of videos of the Mokoro ride to the Bush Camp.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Resources - Observational Research

I've been playing around with my script ideas and characters and so forth and am finding that the numerous sound clips, videos, observational notes and photos very useful indeed!

Naturally my script will be derived from my research but I'm trying to be careful not to let it become too much like my own experinces out in Africa.

Non the less, when trying to capture the essence and personality of the arena these tools have been very useful even by simply having the sound clips playing in the background to get my mind going.

I find that I am more creative and write best when listening to relevant music. Odd, but true.

Monday, 21 September 2009

The Delta from the Air

Flying over the Okavango Delta in a light aircraft.

Managed to get this clip and photos before I had to concentrate on not being air sick!

Map of the Delta

Maun Airport

View of the Delta

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Script Outline

Initial Outline:

Seven people, of different ages and backgrounds, are on day three of their overland tour through Southern Africa. So far, the journey has been adventurous but constantly on the move, until they reach one of the tours highlights, a two night bush camp in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, a beautiful and remote location.

Travelling by mokoro, a traditional Botswanan boat, they encounter the Delta for the first time. But it is only when they reach the camp they realise the uniqueness of the location and they get a chance to slow down, getting to know more about each other and themselves.

As they enjoy early morning wilderness walks and evening mokoro rides, each member reflects on their lives or attempt to battle with their demons, no matter how large or small. For all, the Delta allows them to change, whether it’s dealing with anxiety, loss or even just being able use the ‘bush’ toilet!

After only one day changes can be seen, brought about by the Deltas calming environment and influenced subtly by their tour guide & mokoro polers. On the mokoro ride back they sit back, each one leaving different in some way to when they first arrived.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Voices from the Delta

A sound recording from the last night at our bush camp. They polers were kind enough to sing for us, there were only 5 of them singing but the voices rang out across the Delta.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Where next? Script ideas...

After quite an adventure my mind is full of stories and ideas for feature films and documentaries, which I will pursue in the future but in the meantime my focus is this 30 minute screenplay originating from my observational research.

I have discussed the original idea of the bus as an arena interacting with external arenas but must admit since conducting my research my focus has shifted. I had been toying with the idea of using the bus to anchor my story, thus allowing me to use two or three extraordinary external locations.....namely Victoria Falls, Chobe River and the Delta, but have decided that it would be too much for a 30 minute script and not allow sufficient scope to really look at the arenas individually.

Therefore I have decided to focus on the most unique location of the three, the Okavango Delta and the bush camp. The location has such unusual atmospheric qualities. I have sound recordings, videos and photos to support my observational notes.

Though a little reluctant to stray from my original idea I can see how this one has plenty of potential and will be more suitable overall. I will enjoy really focusing on this arena.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Journey through Africa

An video outline of my 12 day journey through South Africa, Botswana & Zambia with Acacia African Adventures - August 2009.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Mode of transport as an Arena vs. external Arenas

My intention with this choice of Arena was to specifically focus on a form of transport as an Arena, which in turn interacted with many different external arenas that was encountered on the overland tour through Southern Africa.

Most the time our location was the mini bus, however in 10 days we travelled over 3,500km in various different modes of travel; Jumbo Jet, Light Plane, Microlight, Ferry, River Raft, Mokoros, Boat, Walking, Overland Safari Vehicles and so forth.

Each mode of transport/internal arena had its own character and rhythm, but despite my original choice to focus on the main tour bus travel, I found myself constantly drawn to the Waterways as arenas.

The tour itself focuses around 3 main waterways; Victoria Falls & the Mighty Zambezi River, Chobe River and finally, the Okavango Delta, each arena unique. The above three still included 3 distinct modes of transport, Rafting, Boat & Mokoro (a traditional Botswanan boat).

So, as shown in previous posts, I conducted as much Observational Research based around these three waterways as possible, seeing them at different times of the day and experiencing them by land, water and air.

I feel each of these three locations have plenty of potential for creating stories, the only problem I have now is I have many ideas for different screenplays for each of the locations! Africa is definitely a place to inspire you. Now to take another look over my many notes, sound recordings, photos and observations and narrow down which idea I would like to choose....this could take a while!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

I'm back!

Africa. A country of colours and contrast, of sights and sounds. What a place to use for an arena for my observational research.

It is a magical land which inspires the creative side in all who witness its splendours.

What an adventure the past 12 days have been. Now to look over my many notes, recordings, photos & videos and start the outline for my 30 minute script.

Monday, 31 August 2009

The Okavango Delta, Botswana

The Okavango Delta. It is August when the Delta is flooded. We are told we are lucky to see it now, this is the highest the waters ever been since 1961.

To get to our bush camp we take a mokoro. Newer ones are made from fibre glass, mine however is a traditional one, made from a Kegilia Tree, whose numbers are rapidly declining.

The mokoro is low in the water, but my poler, Francis, pushes it along gracefully as he sings a song. We glide gently through the reeds and lilies.

Wildlife can be seen far away on the islands, of which there are many. In the reeds, insects skip about and we spot a reed frog or two.

It takes three hours to reach our camp. By this time the sun is high, too hot even for the polers who take their siesta until our wilderness walk in the late afternoon.

We have two nights here, that is one whole day living in the wilderness, a whole day to take in the remoteness and uniqueness of the location.

But it is not enough, there is always something to observe or admire here, whether it is the stillness of the water or the sounds that echo through the night.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Chobe Waterways

The Chobe Rivers provides the border line between Botswana & Namibia before flowing into the Zambezi.

The water is greeny brown, dark but smooth. The only interruption in its cover is small waves produced by the many tourist boats swarming to find wildlife on its banks. Hippos break the surface now and then but we do not get near. They watch us, their eyes only fractionally above the water line before disapearing again.

In the water tiny white fresh water jelly fish go about their business. There are many of them.

In the sky, a fish Eagle swoops down and into a tree, following the cries of its mate.

The wildlife is plentiful. Crocodiles bask in the sun, hippos appear both on land and in the water. A herd of elephants slowly approach the banks. A
cormorant sits with its wings outstretched striking a perfect pose for eager photographers.

A crocodile knocks our metal boat, the splash is large and a dent is left, the sound of the collision rings through the air.

We glide along the river, eagerly looking out for anything new. The wind breezes by, refreshing and warm. The sound of the engine and waves lapping accompany the sights that we see.

In the distance is Namibia. This is where the sun is setting, with wildebeests silhouetted in the foreground. With a orange wake the sun sinks lower until all that is left is a blood red glow.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The Mighty Zambezi

The Mighty Zambezi, known to be one of the best White Water Rafting destinations in the World. A winding river dwarfed by canyon walls towering up to 200 to 250 metres high, with Basalt rock lining the lower fraction.

It is low water, the best time to raft the many rapids. A whole day in this mode of transport allows you to really experience and observe the power and beauty of the river.

The water flows fast, the water dark green in colour, deep and deceptive. Before a rapid the water is smooth, with the pretence of calm until it drops into a wall of sheer white water, rolling and vicious.

The rapids themselves throw you about like a rag doll. It shows no mercy to those daring enough to encounter and take on its full force. One mistake, wrong judgement and you're thrown into its water, sometimes held under until the rapid releases you into a calmer pool below.

The water at least is warm, but to those on the raft under the blazing sun who are thrown in, the water feels cold, sharp, this with its power quite literally takes your breath away.

On the calmer stretches you have time to marvel at the smooth surface water, it is dangerous currents hidden below. Either side the black basalt rock shines in the sunlight. Birds flutter low, almost skimming the surface then darting back between the rocks. Where the rocks meet the green water insects swarm around a safety kayaker who has moved to the side to watch us pass.

On the rocks behind them small lizards are found. Further up, in various locations, a crocodile will sit, unmoving but watchful of those who pass by. They do not like the fast water, so they watch from a distance as the currents push us onwards.

Every now and then the rocks stop to reveal a white sandy beach surrounded by a few green trees, all that remain in this dry season, their colour preserved by the water nearby.

The sides of the canyon are dry and bare. Skeletons of trees line the sheer slopes. From the top, on and off, a selection of small, crispy brown leaves float steadily but gently down to the water below.

An eagle flies overhead but there is no time to wonder, the silence is broken by the rushing sound of a rapid coming up, increasing on our approach.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Victoria Falls, Zambia

Mosi-oa-Tunya - The Smoke that Thunders. Even in dry season the spray from the falls can be seen from a distance. The roar of the water tumbling from the flat upper Zambezi to the water far below.

A constant rainbow hovers where the spray and sunlight meets. From the bridge a light refreshing spray falls on all those gazing at this natural wonder. The air is clean, fresh, so much so it is almost intoxicating - it is nature at its finest, in its magnificence.

David Livingstone was right with his immortal words, 'no one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England...but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight'.

The falls are one of the 7 natural wonders of the World. Both Zimbabwe and Zambia get to share it. We are on the Zambian side.

In the distance the Victoria Falls bridge stands prominently out high above the churning water below. It is no man's land.

Your eyes cannot stay on the bridge for long. Instinctively, they are drawn back to the falls. The white turned water contrasting with the dark stone it cascades upon.

From the air the falls are even more spectacular - one can truly get a sense of the sheer size and marvel at the dramatic landscapes.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Africa Awaits

'The time has come the Walrus said, to talk of many things...'

That's it then, I'm off to Africa in less than 24 hours taking what seems to be more notebooks, pens and electrical items for my observational research than anything else!

Both excited and nervous, never been to Africa before so there will be a lot to take in....and write down of course.

Due to the nature of my tour it seems I may not have the chance to get any internet access at all, so.....on my return I will have to type up some notes from my observations and travel journal for all to see.

Will post again on my return, and hopefully will come back with tons of script ideas based around arenas....well, hopefully not too many otherwise I may have a tough time choosing which to use.

But for now....Africa awaits!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Preperation - One week to go!

Ahrg! Can't believe there is a week to the midst of gathering things I will need for my research. Am probably taking more notebooks, pens, cameras, batteries and recording equipment than clothes at this stage!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Delta and Chobe Waterways

Only two weeks to go until my tour in Africa where I will be observing life on the road in my moving arena and the external arenas that we visit.

I am keeping an open mind and am trying not to get images of what I may observe out there. This is my first trip to Africa,'s actually a lot of first things for me: crossing the equator to the Southern Hemisphere, seeing wild animals, trav
elling overland, the list goes on and on. Until I get out there, I only have my idea for an arena and of course its practicalities.

What I observe and what creative ideas I may get from my observations may be plentiful with such a wide range of exciting arenas.

But before babbling on about observations in my African arenas, it may be helpful to say a little about where the tour goes!

Below are details from Acacia Africa's website:

Delta and Chobe Waterways
Countries: Botswana, South Africa, Zambia

Sunsets over the Kalahari Activity opportunities at Victoria Falls Huge elephant herds at Chobe National Park Mokoro safaris through the watery Okavango Delta Rhino encounters at Khama Rhino Sanctuary


DAY 1, Johannesburg, Nata

From Johannesburg we cross the border into Botswana, skirting the immense Kalahari and making our way to Nata for our first night camping.

DAYS 2 - 3, Livingstone, Victoria Falls

We drive to Zambia and our campsite on the banks of the Zambezi, near Victoria Falls. We visit the Falls themselves, plunging deep into the Bokota Gorge and enjoy a day free to try some of the activities on offer. Ride the rapids, raft the white waters, take a bungy jump or maybe take an elephant-back safari! Scenic flights are also available to view this spectacular area from the

DAY 4, Chobe National Park

We cross into Botswana and head south to Chobe National Park where you may wish to game cruise the Chobe River, spotting the park’s large elephant herds at the water’s edge. Hippo, crocodile, antelope and various other animals are also regularly spotted coming here to drink in the late afternoon.

DAYS 5 - 8, Maun, Okavango Delta

We start the day with an optional game drive in Chobe before heading to the Okavango Delta. We explore its enchanting reed-filled waterways and tranquil islands by foot and mokoro (dug out canoe) while camping for two nights in this watery paradise for a unique wilderness experience.

DAYS 9 - 10, Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Johannesburg

We travel to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, recently established to restock the area with rhino and other grazing animals. We take an evening game drive across the reserve, enjoying the open horizons and animals we meet, as the day turns to dusk. Our final journey takes us back into South Africa where our tour finishes on arrival in Johannesburg.

Lots of opportunities await and I think what is exciting is that anything can happen, I may be swamped with tons of ideas for scripts in such an enticing choice of location.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Choosing an Arena

Where to start, where to start?

My original idea was an arena focusing around transport. I liked the idea of a form of transport as an arena in itself, travelling overland and interacting with many other external arenas/locations.

Looking into this I realised I was probably aiming a little too high, that whilst it may be a good idea on paper the practicality of it was not. I needed something that was appealing to me, I've always found it is hard to be creative if something did not inspire you, but the thought of a moving arena interacting with many external ones really made me curious and keen to find something.

So, I looked around various tour companies and found one or two of particular interest. After emailing them I held my breath and prayed that someone could help me out.

In the meantime I looked at various other modes of transport as a backup plan, which it never hurts to have. I visited Swanage Railway and other locations but this overland arena kept leaping back to the forefront of my mind, only for me to keep extinguishing the idea with little hope someone could help.

Imagine my surprise when Acacia Africa, an overland tour company emailed me back offering me a place on an overland tour in Southern Africa for 10 days!

A simple email which set me on my way to the moving arena I had hoped for, surrounded by the most varied and fascinating external arenas I could have imagined!

Thank you Acacia!