AFDA | Creative Differences | May 2024



It’s the start of a brand new term – eight weeks of hustling and grinding at AFDA. I feel well-rested and ready to take on this term.

During the holidays, I still had to finish my research proposal and send it in. Done and dusted. I also received feedback regarding my Textual Analysis for Locke, and I had to rewrite some parts (read the end result here). I also had to sign my supervisor contract, and I was assigned a supervisor for my research thesis that I have to write this year (Dr. Semege from AFDA Durban).

Yes, the holidays were a time of rest, but it was also a time of doing some writing for AFDA.

On my way to campus, I notice that the numerous potholes on the old road has been filled up, and I am grateful for that. It makes the road less dangerous, and I can relax a bit.

On campus, the week kicks off with Dr. Moodley’s class on ‘Narrative in Films’. We are given a few options on a narrative exercise that we have to do, and I choose the line ‘Life never loved me’ to write my narrative paragraph/exercise:

Life Never Loved Me.’

I’m not sure why, but death has always been by my side. Like a shadow, it haunts me, following me all my days. Before I was born, my mother didn’t want me. My mother’s wishes were almost granted when I almost died during a complicated birth. Shortly before my fourth birthday, my mother died in a gruesome death in a car accident. I had no family left, except for my grandmother. I lived with her for a few years, but that didn’t last long either. After she died, I was sent to a foster family. I hated every minute of it. I will never embrace life, for life never loved me in the first place.  

Next, Mr. Wilby shares what the new term is going to look like with the group. We are done with our writing classes for the year, which I am sad about, for I enjoyed those classes. I still have my BBC Maestro subscription, so I will make sure that I watch those sessions on scriptwriting. I feel like I still have so much more to learn about this genre of writing. I don’t want to stop learning.

This term we will also focus on ‘Conceptual Valas’, which is a group presentation we will have to give to a panel of critics and professionals, based on the short film that we will make this year. It’s going to take up much of our time, so we need to start working on this ASAP.

Mr. Wilby also confirms our supervisors with us, and there are four of us in our group that have been assigned to Dr. Semege. ‘It’s Dr. Semege’s job to help students with their research theses, he does research supervision on all four AFDA campuses. He’s very efficient with feedback. This is all he does,’ Mr. Wilby tells us.


I don’t have to be on campus today. It’s a slow start to the term, so there is no work that I need to focus on – for now. I spend the day with my family on the beach and eating lunch at Spur.


Today’s a public holiday, and as a family, we drive to St. Francis and spend the day at The Cove, where we braai and my nephews do some fishing in the canals.


We have a meeting with Mr. Wilby about the script that I wrote for our short film for this year. ‘Congratulations on the first draft of your script. Now you need to work together on the second draft. The ‘d/Deaf superpower’ element in the script has the potential to go even further, and it needs to be explored.’

Next, we have a class by Caleb on ‘The Art of the Thriller’, since our short film will be in that genre. I am thrilled to see how my script ticks off everything on the genre and definition of a thriller film. We are on the right path with this untitled script.

In the afternoon, Ms Mieke from NMU gives us a lecture on how to officially start with the first draft of our research thesis. ‘Keep it simple; don’t read and quote everything. Make sure you don’t feel overwhelmed when you start. The thesis only needs to be 30 pages in total.’


I don’t have any classes today, so I go through my timetable for this term and plan everything accordingly so that I won’t be as overwhelmed as I was last term. I have a much better understanding of how the classes work, and what’s expected of us.


I attend my dear friend’s baby shower, which is also a prelude to her going-away party that will happen in two weeks. She and her family are emigrating to Australia by the end of this month, and the reality of it all hits me. Most of my family has already emigrated or is working overseas, and now my friends are also leaving. Will I leave one day, as well? Or will I stay?


I spend the day working on the introduction of my thesis, which has to be two pages in total. I work all afternoon, and it’s going well. I send in my first submission to my supervisor. All in all, a good start to the second term.



The week starts with a class by Dr. Moodley from NMU. She teaches us what ‘Narrative’ is in films, and she uses examples from Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather, and Water. I am so inspired that I make a note to watch all three films in my own time.

When I get home, I see that The Godfather 1 and 2 are available on Netflix. My mom and I watch it together; it’s a fascinating dark film about the Italian mafia and more importantly, patriarchy. I download The Godfather 3 so that we can watch it later this week and finish this well-known trilogy.


Our short film producer – Seraya – wants to have a Zoom meeting with me and our new director. My research supervisor also wants to have a Zoom meeting with me. The problem is that it’s incredibly stressful and difficult for me to follow Zoom meetings. I think and rethink different ways I can dodge these meetings, but then I think: No, I can simply communicate with them and come up with alternate plans. My hearing loss is real, and so are my challenges.

Thankfully, Seraya is understanding and tells me she’ll send me the minutes/notes on the meeting.

The Honours group also asks for a synopsis of the short film script that I wrote during Script Camp, and I quickly type it out and send it. I would LOVE to share it here in my newsletter… but alas, I can’t. Not yet.


I am incredibly excited about today because today I get to do something completely different that is not part of my Honours curriculum at AFDA: I get to take screen acting classes, hosted by the dynamic Gemma Barnard. ‘Today we’ll be focusing on the ‘Language of the Faces’’, she explains. ‘The eyes tell a story. The eyes are very important. The face is an important muscle. Everyone is going to express emotions differently.’

Gemma then shows us clips from American Hustle, I, Tonya, and The Help. She also tells us about Viola Davis’ memoir ‘Finding Me’, and I am so inspired that I make a mental note to buy her book during lunch today. I love reading people’s memoirs.

In the afternoon, we get to practice our facial languages. Gemma sets up a camera, and our faces get projected on the big screen. We have to do four emotions – Happiness, Sadness, Anger, and Fear. Fun, fun class and I enjoy it immensely.


It was one of the Honours students’ birthday last week – Luthando and we didn’t celebrate it. I bought a cake and two packs of chips, and we host a surprise party for him during break time. He is pleasantly surprised and touched by our gesture.

We have a Literature Review class with Ms. Mieke, which will be the First Chapter of our theses. She also gives me feedback on the Introduction of my thesis: ‘The way you started with your thesis – the statistics you gave on how many people have hearing loss – was very good Also where you stated that deafness has been covered through the medicine and education fields, but not through film, was also excellent.’ I have yet to receive feedback from my supervisor, so these comments are encouraging and show that I am on the right path.

At home, my mom and I watch The Shawshank Redemption. ‘Hope is a dangerous thing…’ the film tells us. Interesting trivia: this film is Morgan Freeman’s favorite movie of himself, and Stephen King also wrote the book on which this film is based. Who knew?!


After Mieke sat down with me yesterday, she gave me a few suggestions on how to make my Introduction better, so I’m sitting down today to edit it. I send it to my supervisor again and ask him to ignore the previous submission. Hopefully, I’ll get some feedback now.

My mom and I watch The Godfather 3 in the evening, and it’s not as good as the first three. But it’s still realistic how Al Pacino’s character grew into an old man filled with regrets and disappointments. I also see Sofia Coppola in this film; her father was the film’s director. I know Sofia from her director’s efforts in The Virgin Suicides and Lost In Translation. I didn’t know that she also acted. I Google her and find out she wrote a book about all her film projects called ‘The Archive’, and I would so LOVE to have this book… The problem is, that it would cost me R1,000 plus to get it from Amazon. It’s not available in South Africa. Bummer.


I had planned on spending the day working on the Literature Review/First Chapter of my thesis, but life had other plans and instead, I spend the day buying and preparing Mother’s Day gifts for my mom and my sister-in-law.


It’s Mother’s Day, and we spend a beautiful day hiking out The Big Tree in Tsikikamma.

In the evening, my mom and I finish watching The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live with Rick & Michonne. But the dialogue is TERRIBLE, and we think that it was AI that wrote it…

We also watch The Last Castle, another prison film similar to The Shawshank Redemption, but with more action scenes. It’s clear from the beginning who the protagonist and antagonist of that film are… my mind automatically starts reviewing and analyzing all the films I have watched lately. Proof that my AFDA classes are having their desired effect on me.



I start the week by updating my newsletter for this month, and then I read our director’s notes on my scripts. They are all fantastic suggestions, and I can apply them to the second draft later this term. This is also the week that we have to finalize our group presentations for our short film of the year. After the presentation, I’ll be able to take that feedback and start working on the second draft of the film.


My mom drives with me to Port Elizabeth, because she wants to stop at Hyperama first to buy a bed mattress. Afterward, we eat lunch at Heritage Cafe, which has now become my favorite place to hang out. Best of all: it’s less than 5 minutes from AFDA’s campus.

At 13:30, I’m on time at the Honours Hub for Mr. Cloete’s meeting to start with the writers. He’s 30 minutes late. When he arrives, he gives us background information on who he is and which departments he works at. He asks me what’s the theme of our short film, and at first, I say, ‘It’s about deafness as a superpower’ but he is not convinced that’s the right way to go. Instead, it needs to be a universal theme that speaks to the human condition. I suggest that we change the theme to family, and more specifically, brotherhood. He seems satisfied with that. ‘The more specific you get with the theme, the more universal it becomes. Everything in the film should speak to the theme, support the theme,’ he explains.

After that, we have another class with Dr. Moodley where she teaches us about narrative in documentaries. We watch clips of Hiroshima, Mon Amor, and I am so moved by it.


I don’t have to be in class today. I work on my research thesis, and in between I read my new book that I bought last week – Finding Me by Viola Davis. ‘I became an actor because it’s a healing wellspring,’ she writes. It’s a moving story.

I am feeling a bit unsure about the way forward with the writing of the short film, as it seems that there are certain members of the crew that is pushing me to deliver the second draft before the presentation next week. There are too many voices speaking, and I don’t know which voice I’m supposed to listen to. I set up a meeting with Mr. Wilby & Ute for Thursday during lunch.


Before I meet with Mr. Wilby today, he has a meeting with the whole crew. ‘I have an announcement to make,’ he says. ‘The group presentation has now been postponed to June. It seems like there are more questions than answers at this stage.’

I have my meeting with Mr. Wilby afterward, and he manages to clear up quite a few things that I’ve been uncertain of. There are three writers in this Honours group, and Mr. Wilby says that the other two writers need to step in and write the second and third drafts. ‘All three writers will be credited on the short film,’ he says. Thus, all three writers need to contribute equally.

All I need to do now is have a meeting with Amanda, our film director, to restructure the script’s backbone. I agree to this, and the meeting is set up for this coming Saturday at Mugg & Bean in Port Elizabeth.

The relief after this meeting is palpable, as I can now focus on the second script that I still have to write, as well as the first draft of my research thesis.

After lunch, we have a session with Ms Mieke. She teaches us the basics of writing – when to write, what time of the day, how to be productive, maintaining discipline, etc. I already know all this, and I already have my writing schedule worked out. I leave Port Elizabeth a little bit earlier, as my mom has been waiting for me as well.


I get a fantastic, golden idea for a special project that I want to launch at AFDA… It involves Polaroids, words of encouragement, interviews, and more… I am so excited about this, and I can’t wait to share more soon. But for now… it’s a secret. With this project, I hope that team building will develop from this… that we will learn to have each other’s backs, no matter what.

I download the four films that we can choose from for our Core Course 2 assignment. I think I might do my assessment on Hiroshima, Mon Amor


My mom and I leave early for Port Elizabeth, and we meet up with Amanda (photo)at Mugg & Bean in Humewood. We spend a wonderful two hours rewriting the structure, as well as working on character development. She is an amazing human being, and I can’t wait to work with her.

Vicki & Amanda in Port Elizabeth


I get up early to update my journal entries. I read through previous scripts and treatments that Ute sent me so that I can know how to write my second script. I also set a plan of action for my secret project, which will hopefully be set into motion next week.

Finally, I start with Chapter One (Literature Review) of my research thesis. I sort out the outline, and then I write a bit. Will continue tomorrow and hopefully finish the first draft of this chapter, and send it off to my supervisor.



Over the weekend, the other two scriptwriters who are doing their Honours with me, worked hard to write the second draft. All three of us will now be credited as writers for this short film.

Speech (one of the writers) does his research on the taxi business by interviewing the Norwich Taxi Association boss.

I research the first chapter of my thesis (literature review), and it’s fascinating. I make a list of all the misconceptions, myths, and stereotypes about d/Deaf persons. It’s fascinating, but there’s a lot of ground to cover.

In the afternoon, I post this message on the Honours Group Chat:

Hi Wild Ones

I have a special project that I’d like to launch this week…

There are (hopefully) four phases to this project, and the final phase will be completed by the end of this year.

Phase 1 of this project is that I’d love to take a Polaroid photo of each one of you on Tuesday & Thursday. So please come looking pretty, hair combed, make-up and all that jazz.

More will be revealed soon…’

I also receive the most wonderful news: I AM GOING TO RUSSIA!

Turns out, my sister received a free ticket from her school where she’s a teacher, and so my mom get to go for free (my mother is paying for my ticket). We will be there for two weeks, and spend time with my sister and her family. I am ecstatic. Has it really been 7 years since I was last overseas?!?!


I take the N2 to Port Elizabeth today, and there are almost no roadworks left. From now on, I’ll take the N2 again. The old road is extremely unsafe; what a relief that the N2 is open again.

I arrive on campus, and I take the Polaroid photos of the students. They love their pics and want to keep them, but I tell them, ‘You’ll get it back by the end of this year..’

We have a session with Dr. Moodley this afternoon on Narrative in Documentaries, and it’s fascinating. I think I would love to make documentaries one day…

Seraya (our producer) also shares this and tells us to share it on social media. Hint hint: these are the themes that will be featured in our short film… more will be revealed later this year.

Short Film Advert


I read through the second draft of our short film, and it’s really good. The first draft had been focused on the structure, and the second draft now adds visual and auditory descriptions. I’ve been asked to write the final 4 pages, and I write it within two hours and send it through to the other writers.

I now have enough Polaroid photos to start with the second phase of my special project. It looks beautiful. I remember that I’ve been doing things like this ever since I did my gap year as a 19-year-old. I also made posters, for my family and my roommates. Creativity is something I always hunger for. I’ve been feeling a bit bored lately, so this is just the stimulation that I needed.


Ms. Mieke gives us a lecture on Media Analysis today, and it’s extremely helpful. It’s just what I needed to kick-start the second chapter of my thesis.

I also take more Polaroid photos, this time of the students that weren’t on campus on Tuesday. Stella takes my photo, and I clean out the bulletin board in the classroom. I measure it to make sure that there will be enough space for the posters that I want to put up next week on Monday.


I get up early, ready to take on the day by writing the second chapter of my thesis, when the worst thing ever happens: I spill water on my laptop!! I take immediate action: I unplug everything, switch off the laptop, and take out the battery. I take it to the IT guy, and he says that it will have to stay there overnight. I’m crushed and I hope my laptop is going to be okay. Thankfully, everything’s been backed up, so I haven’t lost any data or documents. But in all my 20 years and four laptops, I’ve had a glass of water next to it every single day, and I NEVER spilled anything. There’s always a first time for everything…

I have my first supervisor meeting with Dr. Semege via Zoom (through my phone), and he says that my thesis is too focused on sociology and not on the film industry. I am crushed, for I love sociology and would’ve loved to include my sociology notes in my thesis… Maybe I still can, later on. We’ll see.

Dr. Semege gives me fantastic advice on my research topic and guides me in simplifying it. I wish I had talked to him at the beginning of this term… Now it’s already week four. I’ve lost so much time already. I would’ve loved to be done with all five chapters by the end of this term, but now it looks like it’s not going to happen. I need to take it slowly and do my thesis properly.


I watch Hiroshima, Mon Amour as my subject for my second Core Course. I do a Narrative Analysis of it, and as I watch it, I realize how complex and multi-layered this film is. I like this one more than Locke, the first film I had to analyze.

It takes me the whole day to write the essay – 3,000 words in total. By 6 o’clock, my brain is fried and I am done.


I spend the morning reading through my Narrative Analysis, and I look at Dr. Moodley’s notes and incorporate them into my essay. Satisfied, I send in my draft to Mr. Wilby.

I’ve also been having trouble with my WordPress website, as it’s blocking me from uploading photos. I find someone in Jeffrey’s Bay, and I hope he can help me sort it out ASAP.



I arrive early on campus to have a meeting with the other two writers about our short film presentation that we will have to rehearse on Thursday morning. We sort out what we will say, and how we will say it.

The writers have to focus on the NARRATIVE of the short film, which has the following questions that need to be answered in our presentation:

  • Does the proposed narrative build in intensity, with increasing pressure on characters?
  • Is the central event problem relevant and engaging?
  • Are the protagonist and antagonist clearly established?
  • Will the film resonate with a satisfying and entertaining ending/fulfillment that serves the meaning of the film?

With that done, I set up Phase 2 of my special project on the wall in the Honours Hub; it’s a Wall of Fame with students’ Polaroid Photos on it. I explain to the students:

You can honor and celebrate one another by writing kind and uplifting words on one another’s spot that will be placed next to your photos. Short, powerful words such as BRAVE, KIND, FUNNY, etc., or short sentences like ‘You light up the room’ or ‘Thank you for who you are.’ These words need to be intentional & heartfelt. Phase 3 will be revealed in due time…’

Special Project – Wall of Fame


I receive feedback from Mr. Wilby regarding my second Core Course submission, and it’s incredibly positive. He writes, ‘I have enjoyed your draft essay.’ He also adds the following to what I wrote:

I also work on Chapter One (Introduction) of my thesis, and send it to my supervisor. We will have a meeting on Friday morning to discuss it.

My mom and I book tickets for Russia; I still can’t believe we’re going in July! It’s finally becoming a reality.


It is Voting Day. We stand in line right on the beach at Aston Bay; it’s a gorgeous, sunny day with minimal wind. We only stand in line for 30 minutes, which is incredible.

I edit the draft for my second Core Course and make the necessary changes. I also print the notes for the presentation that we will have to rehearse on Thursday morning. So far, so good.

My website is also sorted out; turns out that I needed to upgrade to a larger package because of data shortage. With that fixed, I can finally post new articles again.

I finish reading Viola Davis’ memoir, and this quote by Cherokee speaks to me: ‘May you live long enough to know why you were born.’


I arrive at 09:00 on campus, only to find out the rehearsal for our group presentation has been moved to 10:30. The students scramble around to make final changes to their presentations.

When I do my presentation, I stay within the time limit, which is fantastic (each student only gets 3 minutes to talk). It is interesting to see how everything is finally coming together. The production design (aesthetics) is interesting to listen to, as well as Stella’s presentation (she is the cinematographer). Interesting fact that I learned: 65% of moviegoers in South Africa are Afrikaans.

W receive valuable feedback from Mr. Wilby and Ute. Mr. Wilby also asks that I edit the 2nd Draft to check for grammar and spelling mistakes before it gets sent to Monday’s panel. During the afternoon session with Ms. Mieke, where she lectures us on how to set up interviews for our research theses, I check the script and there are over 143 errors. It takes me all afternoon to correct it. I know that I’m leaving for East London tomorrow after my supervisor’s meeting, so I know I won’t have time to edit it over the weekend. With that done, I send in the updated script to Mr. Wilby.


I have my supervisor meeting first thing in the morning, and he gives me valuable feedback regarding my first chapter. I am relieved to hear that Andrina has changed her research thesis topic; our topics had been too similar and it seems that we are not allowed to do that because we are in the same class and same university. With that done and dusted, I pack my bags and we leave for East London for the Shifting Atmospheres conference with Dawna de Silva in East London.

And with that, the long month of May is finally over. It’s been a difficult five weeks of creative differences. I am glad that it’s over; I look forward to the last three weeks of the second term.

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