Describe your family?
I come from a huge family, with six siblings and a large extended family. Easter and Christmas are events that bring us all together and I place huge importance on these moments, purposefully trying to avoid taking holidays or work over these periods. You wouldn’t say from looking at me but I’m quarter Lebanese which will probably explain certain ‘interesting’ personality traits that shine brighter than others.
I come from a family that has worked hard to get where they are today and I am incredibly grateful for the way that my parents raised me. I stand on the shoulders of their good decisions, something that I hope to honour by being successful and satisfied with the work that I do. They never tried to force me into a certain career or occupation but had one condition, that whatever I did, I did well.
What’s your mantra / life philosophy?
A mantra that has resonated with me for years comes from the film Cloud Atlas (based on the novel by David Mitchell) and it reads as such:
“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”
If I ever get a tattoo it’ll probably be this.
Has travel impacted your life?
That is an understatement of note as the travel that I’ve been on has shown me things that I would never have seen had I never left home. The fact that it hasn’t just been holiday travel adds to this because vacationing never takes you behind the curtain and into the experiences of another culture.
My trips have taken me into war zones, natural wonders, malnutrition clinics, refugee camps, 5 star hotels and presidential houses. It has impacted my faith, my opinions and the way I view the world. It’s forced me to be less certain and more curious, something that is completely against my personality as I always like to be right. It’s also impacted my stories, giving them a depth that didn’t exist 10 years ago.
Where do you get your ideas?
Life, other art, experiences, watching people, listening to stories. I believe that creativity cannot exist in a vacuum and that, for you to do your best work, you need to constantly be in contact with experiences and other art. It creates the spark that you will take back to the quiet place and spend hours trying to describe/capture.
What’s your writing process?
I’ve developed a model of storytelling which sees me writing the novel and the screenplay for the same story simultaneously. While both are very different mediums I find that they compliment each other nicely, strengthening the story with each draft and manuscript. I can’t see myself doing this for every story but, for now, it feels like a great way to approach things.
Ideally, I write the screenplay first and then move on to the novel, using the script as a skeleton of sorts for the book. I then do creative cross pollination, taking element that I like from the novel and incorporating them back into the screenplay. This continues until the book hits the printing press and the film shines on screen.
What software do you use?
Final Draft 8 for screenplays and Pages for novels. If you’re going to be serious about writing for screen then it is my recommendation that you purchase the right tool so that your craft can be properly developed and your story fully realised.
Why stay in South Africa and not go to the US?
The US may be in my future but the truth is that South Africa has much more opportunity for to make movies than the US. They are an established market, one in which I have very little reputation or influence, whereas South Africa is a blank canvas, one that has been good to me.
I’ll never say never but I think things are playing out as they should, enabling me to tell the stories beating in my heart.
What’s the most important advice for a would-be novelist/filmmaker?
Put the work in and prepare for the long wait. That’s what surprised me the most, how long it takes. I was prepared for the rejection and the hours but the waiting has almost derailed me a few times. Prepare your heart for the fact that it will most probably take quite a few years to get the ball rolling and, if you still want to do it, start the process with realistic expectations. Patience is a virgin 🙂
I’ve got a great idea for a film, would you like to write it for me?
Get in line as I have about 20 concepts that are asking me to do the same for them. The truth is that the world is filled with ideas for good films and novels but it is only the ones that get written that see the light of day.
Will you read my manuscript?
Unfortunately, time is a commodity I have less and less of and have already committed to reading and commenting on the work of other peers in the film and literary world.
Can you help me get my book published / get a movie deal?
Alas I’m so busy trying to get my projects off the ground that I wouldn’t be able to help anyone in these areas. Maybe one day when I’ve made it I’ll be able to do more but, for now, I’m hustling as much as you are. As a side note, no one ever makes it, they just get really good at looking as if they have.
What is your favourite travel destination?
Turkey blew my mind, from Istanbul to the Izmir and all the spots we visited in between. Everything about that country was attractive to me; food, people, music, history, architecture, weather. It was a surprise that I didn’t see coming.
Would you rather return to a place you enjoyed or visit somewhere new?
Definitely somewhere new if I had to choose. I’m a restless soul.
What trip or destination is at the top of your bucket list?
I’m keen to do a round the world trip on a cargo ship, starting in Durban, travelling up to Asia, down to South America and then back to South Africa. They seem like an interesting way of seeing the world and a great space to do some writing. Alternatively, I’d love to do a train trip similar to what Paul Theroux did in Ghost Train to the Eastern Star. I’m really drawn to the idea of moving as opposed to staying in one spot.
Places like Cuba, Namibia, Turkmenistan, Iran, Lebanon and Afghanistan are also on the top of my list of destinations. Time will tell…