Friday, February 20, 2015


Thomas Edison arguably invented film. So it's all his fault.
As I'm travelling to work on the set of a friend's short film, working for free, for long hours, with a crew of kids who show up late cause they're hungover, or make stupid suggestions because they're high, while I'm literally 100% completely & utterly, can't-even-buy-cheap-bodega-coffee-until-next-Wednesday broke, but I still enjoy my day, it occurs to me that I must be mad.

I'd better be pretty damn sure that I love what I do when I do it for free when all I should be doing is selling my body for money. But I do love it. & everything will be fine. Film is some sort of labour-intensive drug & I am an addict. Film is magic and storytelling can change everything. The world tells too many crappy stories and I want to tell better ones.

That same day, I am privileged & blessed to be put in touch with an established director, via a friend of a very thoughtful friend, who turns out to be the pitch perfect mentor for me right now (I've never really been a good mentee, because I guess I've never really done anything I cared about as much). He completely bursts my bubble, confirms what I kind of already know & helps me re-adjust my focus, assuring me it will never get any easier or any more sane, but giving me a practical heads up to help me get where I want to be, if I'm sure I really want to get there. "To start off," he says "is there any way I can persuade you to go back to law?". He's only half joking. I completely share his sentiment, but I couldn't persuade myself, not even for a second (well, maybe for a second). I can't do anything else. Not now. It's like marrying someone your parents disapprove of but that you just know is the one. Despite all the ups & downs you know you'll have, you'd be a fool to pass her up. You have to jump in headfirst & just make it work.

So in other words, I am now a film school graduate, and the world is a big and daunting place. Where do I begin? Where will the dictates of rent money and visa requirements take me? Will I be lucky enough to do some good work in between the paying gigs I have to say yes to? Who knows. But for now the Big Apple is our home & we are all in. All I ever wanted is film & Mareesa. Now I have both, so I can't complain. I just have to figure out a way to keep them both happy while paying the rent. Easier said than done, but who ever wanted an easy life?! ("me! Me! Pick ME!" yells the voice inside. I ignore it.)

Onward & upward as I try to do something meaningful & truthful while getting paid enough to keep a roof over the heads of the offspring Mareesa & I certainly won't be able to help ourselves having. Everything else is a bonus.

It's a lucky thing my interests lean so strongly towards low budget, independent film & Mareesa's mission is to start a non-profit from scratch. If we end up being rich, know this - it is because of God's grace, not our common sense.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Riding the subway in New York is like going to the movies.

I've based at least two characters directly off photos I took of strangers in the subway (yes, I'm that creepy guy), and been inspired by tons more.

So I guess it was inevitable that the subway made it's way into my thesis film.

I love riding the subway. I will miss it so much when I go back home. Sure it's dirty and full of urine, sure you occasionally have people going on homophobic rants at every guy that passes them (issues...) or yelling out repeatedly about presumably traumatic past events ("I'm ON my WAY to the BRONX!! They HAVE iDENTified the KILLER!!" <silence> "I'm ON my WAY to the BRONX!! They HAVE iDENTified the KILLER!!" That one was really really sad...), or asking for money to feed their family which is also really really sad, but A) you don't have to drive a car, ever B) barring some occasional stop-missing, you can mostly daydream / read / write / cry / secretly listen to Taylor Swift to your heart's content and C) you'll never be in a tinier space with a wider range of human specimens anywhere in the world - that can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how much sleep you had - which is usually little, hence the crying & listening to Taylor Swift, but it's a remarkable and treasurable thing.

So to recap: I am terrible with directions and I hate paying for gas, paying insurance, paying for 6-month checkups and tire replacements or having to pay attention while travelling from my home to anywhere else. So subways - however hygienically unwise - are a godsend to me. And the perfect resource for any writer.

More pictures from my movie!!!

Ugh - these screenshots are making me realise how badly my film needs some good colour grading.


The search for a home in New York was very traumatic & one that binds every New Yorker - barring the stupidly rich and famous - together. From epic application requirements to sky high prices, finding an apartment in New York will cut you down to size.

We'll live in Brooklyn, we thought. That should be affordable. If Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg are too pricey, we'll aim for Park Slope or Cobble Hill or something nice like that, we thought... By the time New York apartment hunting was done with us, we'd be happy to have a roof over our heads at a price we could half afford in any corner of the five boroughs. Mareesa used to joke that we'd sleep under a bridge if we could just get here. From our safe white middle class bubble in Pretoria, we had no idea how close we'd come to eating those words.

It was quite an experience, but I'm so grateful for it. Even if we had five times the money we did, we learnt firsthand - for the first time - what discrimination feels like. As a foreigner with no social security number, realtors and landlords alike look at you like you're about to rob them and skip the country with their hard-earned goods. It sucks. Also, as a married couple, finding a roommate to share with is no easy feat. Understandably. It's a weird setup.

So thank God for Gazino Scott, the super laidback Jamaican brother who took us in with very few questions asked - and gave us a chance to prove that we really can and will pay the rent on time every month, even though we are from Africa & don't have an American sugar daddy. Gazino has since moved out, but our new roommate is just as nice and easy to live with. We try to forget that we used to pay a third of what we pay for our room in Brooklyn than we did for a whole apartment back home. Now we're just glad to have a place to come home to. We live in New York, after all, so who's complaining?

And we really lucked out in terms of location. Although we had all sorts of panicked ideas about where we'd like to stay, the man upstairs had our backs as always. We chose our neighbourhood - Prospect Leffert Gardens - because we had no other options but, had we known what we know now, we could hardly have chosen better. We're just 3 blocks from the Park but, being on the non-Park Slope side of it means prices are super reasonable and our neighbours are way more interesting. We're really close to the Q - arguably the best line for getting into Manhattan - and the 5 runs a few blocks from our house straight to NYFA Battery Park campus. It's a great, green, clean neighbourhood full of families (and all the noise you become accustomed to in Brooklyn - which I presume is much the same for the fancy pants in Manhattan).

Ironically, we're mere blocks from the street in Flatbush that we were initially so freaked out by - you know, the one I joked about and got outed as a racist over. It's true. I come from a white suburban bubble and I was a bit freaked out by the sheer urbanness of geniune Brooklyn. Now my bubble seems embarrassing and extremely limiting and I hope I  never get stuck in it again.

It's really great in terms of life experience, and really fun once the privilege bubble bursts. It's so funny how I ever thought I was poor back home. Hilarious. Hopefully I'll never take all the extraordinary opportunities and and options I've been given for granted again.

Anyway - this is home now. Even when we're both earning actual money again, and if we're fortunate enough to still be in New York, we'd like to get our own place, but likely still in Leffert Gardens, cause you can't beat being so close to the magic that is Prospect Park while having so much jerk chicken all around you.

Where we started:

Used to sleep on an inflatable mattress, now we have a real bed!
These days we have furniture & drawers

Where we are now:

Our apartment is quite lovely, really. We decorated it as an act of faith / defiance when we genuinely thought we'd be going home with our tails between our legs. Worked out well.

We only share this with one other person!

This is an enormous kitchen by NY standards.