AFDA | Birthday Month | June 2024



I arrive early on campus, only to find out that our conceptual VALA’s aren’t scheduled for this morning, but only this afternoon at 14:30. Conceptual VALA’s are where we present the concept for our short film in front of a panel of experts. I spend the morning updating my May newsletter for my website, as well as submitting my second Core Course on Turnitin.

I glance at the Wall of Fame, and I notice that I already have two special encouragements posted on my wall: ‘Well dressed, efficient and helpful’ & ‘You are so kind & beautiful’. I am incredibly touched, so I post two more words of encouragement to other students (BRAVE for Andrina, and FUNNY for Chulu).

It’s extremely cold today, and I forgot to bring my jacket. It’s freezing in the Honours Hub, so at lunchtime, I go to Brioche in Main Street and sit by the lovely fireplace to warm up. I order a Chicken Snitzel, and it’s divine.

Back on campus, we set up the chairs and tables for the panel that’s due to arrive any minute. I go through the notes for my own presentation. The whole presentation has been divided into three parts: Narrative, Medium & Aesthetics. The name of our company is ‘Sacambaya Productions’. At first, I think it’s an Xhosa name. I ask Speech what it means, and he says it’s a place where there are lost treasures yet to be uncovered in Bosnia. ‘This name is for each one of us – we have treasures inside us to be discovered this year,’ he tells me. I am truly touched by this name, and I like it indeed.

We have 45 minutes in total to present the concept, which means that each one of us twelve gets only 3 minutes each. Unfortunately, we go over the time limit. The panel’s feedback summary is the following:

All the students’ presentations were well organized. Might need to make the film a dramatic thriller instead of just a thriller. The scenes don’t connect well together – not yet. The title of the film also needs to be work-shopped more. But very well done, it has all the elements of a good film. Little changes need to be made so that we care about the characters, which will make it an excellent film then. Emotional relevance is of the utmost importance.

All in all, a good conceptual VALA. Now it’s time to work on the 3rd draft of the script…


I attend Dr. Moodley’s class online today. The focus is ‘evolutionary Narratives in Film.’ I also realize that I don’t need to go to campus at all this week, as well as next week. I’m looking forward to relaxing a bit more.


Overnight, the winter has arrived in South Africa. It’s extremely cold; this is what it’s like every single year. My birthday always seems to bring in the cold – especially snow on the mountains. It’s my 35th birthday today, and I realize that it’s now a full 20 years since I became a writer. At the age of 15, I published my first article. I celebrate the fact that I’m still passionate about writing, despite the ups and downs that I’ve experienced over the years.

All in all, an uneventful day. I spend the morning revising Chapter One of my research thesis, and I set up documents with interview questions for all the Honours students. It’s a fun, creative exercise. I can’t wait to read the students’ answers. By receiving their answers, I can edit and structure them into articles for my website. This will be Phase 3 of my special project at AFDA.

I email the interview questions to the following 6 students so long: Zaza, Stella, Daniel, Onica, Andrina & Chulu.


I attend Miss Mieke’s class online on Thursday. On Friday, I work on my research thesis a bit more. I start receiving students’ interview answers, and I work through them all. I also start reading ‘How NOT To Write A Screenplay’, a book that I borrowed from Speech.



I set up the PowerPoint slides for the Research Update Presentation that I will have to do next week Wednesday. I also edit Zaza’s article, and I can’t wait to post it online. I also continue reading ‘How NOT to write a screenplay.’


I think a novel takes more raw talent than technique, but a screenplay takes more technique. A screenplay is like a crossword puzzle. Not only do you need the right word, you need the word with the right number of letters. Screenplays are not literature. Nobody reads screenplays for fun, believe me. Reading screenplays is done by people who are looking for one to turn into a movie. These people love to make movies and hate to read… What you are really writing is a blueprint for a film.’

How NOT To Write A Screenplay by Denny Martin Flinn


I post Zaza’s article online, and the feedback from the students is tremendously positive:

Thank you so much, Vicki – Zaza

This is so cute – Xabi

This is a beautiful Article. Rose, it’s with great honor to give you your flowers today. – Stella

This is really beautiful. It was cute reading Zaza’s lover girl side as well!! – Daniel


I spend the day working on Daniel’s article, and I finish reading the book ‘How NOT To Write A Screenplay.’


It’s my mother’s birthday today, and I take a break from my studies and spend the day with my mom and my brother’s family at the Corona Surf Competition at SuperTubes.

When I return home, I post Daniel’s article online. The feedback is great:

Thank you so much V, this was really sweet. It’s literally such a nice thing to read. I really hope to see what the rest of the year holds for you as well. You’re really making a mark on AFDA and it’s a great thing to see. – Daniel

This is a great Article. Good Job Vickie and Daniel on telling the story. – Stella


I get up early in the morning, and I start working on the 3rd Draft of the short film script. Firstly, I print out the panel’s feedback, as well as Mr. Wilby & Amanda’s (the director) feedback. Then I compare notes and highlight the parts that are within my ability to tackle.

Then I read through the 2nd draft and make my own notes. Then I jump in and write the 3rd draft. By 16:00 I’m halfway through; I stop when my eyes start to blur. I will continue with the second part of the script tomorrow.


I get up early again, and I spend three hours focused on the second part of the short film’s 3rd draft of the script. By noon, I am finally done. I send it to the other two writers to proofread and change/adapt where they think is necessary. I am so relieved to be finally done with it.



I spend the morning editing Andrina’s article, and then I post it online. I also finish my PowerPoint slides for my presentation on Wednesday. Then I edit Stella’s article and send it to her to proofread before I post it online tomorrow.


I post Stella’s article online; it’s also her birthday today so it’s a sweet coincidence (no not really; we both planned it that way).

I stop at Milk & Bread and buy a Bar One Cake, as well as 14 cupcakes for our Party of Three celebration on campus tomorrow (we will celebrate Zaza’s, Stella’s, and my birthdays). I look forward to seeing everyone again.

We also get fantastic news: Seraya (our producer) is finally on her way back to South Africa from Namibia. She missed out on the whole term and had to join each class via Zoom. Who knew that it’s so difficult to get South African Visas??

I write Chulu’s article and plan on posting it on Thursday. I also update my journal entries for this month, so that they can be posted either on Thursday or Friday. I also plan on posting my Research Update Presentation slides on my website this week.


It’s Wednesday, and it’s also the last day that we have to be on campus. After today, we have three weeks’ holiday.

All twelve students are on campus, except for the three actors (Andrina, Xabi & Asher). They are hard at work rehearsing for their theatre show that will be performed at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this coming weekend.

We start off with presentations for our Research Updates, and I’m the second one to present mine (view the slides here). The feedback and questions are valuable. I’m so glad I’ve got a supervisor now; it’s helping me immensely to narrow down the focus of my thesis. Mr. Wilby reminds the group that we are a practice-led university, which means we need to give more attention to our practice-based outcomes for this year. Our research theses are secondary to our practices that we have to outcome in.

During a short break, I take Polaroid photos of Seraya & LT. Now the ‘Wall of Fame’ is finally completed with everyone’s photos on the wall.

Everyone gets a chance to do their presentations, and then it’s lunch time. Three of us – Stella, Zaza & I – had our birthdays this month, so I set up party celebrations. Cake, cupcakes, droë wors, and chips. Each one of us gets to blow a candle, and we are each requested to ‘make a wish’. The students dance, eat and laugh together.

Afterwards, Mr. Wilby has a meeting with us in regards to the short film that we have to shoot next term. He asks for an update from the scriptwriters, and I tell him about the 3rd Draft, and that I can send it to him now. He also asks for an update from Seraya, our producer. She now has the important task of getting financial sponsors within the next three weeks. Then we’re done discussing the film, and just like that, the second term is over.

As I say goodbye to everyone, I realize that I won’t see them again until the 24th of July, which is more than a month away. I can’t believe that I’m now halfway with my Honours this year…


I finish a few admin stuff that needs to be done before I officially log off with this term: publish Chulu’s article online, post my Research Update online, as well as this June newsletter.

I have a few plans for the next two weeks… I’m not sure if I’ll be able to tick off everything, but I remain hopeful:

Creatively, I hope to put together my 2024 portfolio for this year, as well as sort out a box full of family photos that I found in the garage.

Regarding AFDA, I hope to work on Chapter Two of my research thesis, as well as finish the STORY book on scriptwriting. I also want to equip myself through watching the BBC Maestro sessions on scriptwriting, as I had no scriptwriting classes this term. If I can, I want to start planning my second script that I still need to write for my outcome.

As for my special project that I launched this year, I still need to write seven more student articles (Onica, Asher, Xabi, Speech, Seraya, LT and my own). I want to start so long with Phase 4, which will be revealed next term. I will also need a financial sponsorship to complete Phase 4.

But… I also might end up doing none of those things. Part of being a creative also means leaving room for doing nothing, boredom, procrastination and daydreaming. I might just read fiction books for the next two weeks, and finish watching The Good Wife. And that’s also okay.

Leave a Reply