One of the pillars of AFDA’s educational model is to provide its clients with world-class learning inputs in all creative, business and technological disciplines offered at its campuses. To that end, students are guaranteed exposure to the most incisive and dynamic academic thinkers as well as acclaimed, celebrated professional practitioners and key entertainment industry stakeholders.
The undergraduate class of 3RD Year Screenwriters at AFDA Johannesburg were treated to the best of both worlds this week when its Head of Screenwriting, Zunaid Mansoor, was joined by the Executive officer of the Writers Guild of South Africa (WGSA), Thea Aboud, in a special three hour informational Q & A workshop session which took place on Tuesday.
Mansoor ushers 3rd Year Screenwriters in Term 4 into the business dimension of the creative discipline of Screenwriting so that craft skills are supplemented with the necessary entrepreneurial skills required for young screenwriters to excel beyond the gates of AFDA. The focus in Term 4 is on professional pitching in various contexts ranging from the festival market pitch, the executive pitch, the elevator pitch, and the screenwriters speed-date pitch, as well as personal and professional branding, business query letter writing, interfacing with the Law and standard legal contracts, responding to commissioning briefs, competition calls, and liaising with the WGSA.
The Q & A session with WGSA’s Aboud provided answers to students questions about the overall role and function of the WGSA, its mission to protect, develop and empower South African performance writers, intellectual property protection and security for creative writing through its script registration process, membership categories, fees and benefits, networking opportunities, hook ups for local and international festivals and film/TV markets, access to professional script editing services, mediation and arbitration in the event of disputes between co-writers and/or producers, the role played by other government and private agencies to support the WGSA and screenwriters, and the WGSA Muse Awards competition.
Aboud has served as Executive Officer of the WGSA since its inception in 2010 and is a key advocate and lobbyist for legislative reform which seeks to afford South African writers higher degrees of remuneration, protection and career advancement.
At the session, Aboud was proud to announce that Mansoor will be one of the judges in this year’s WGSA Muse Awards. The Muse Awards, now in its 4th year, is an award for writers by writers, which seeks to recognize screenwriting talent in a variety of formats like short film, feature film, documentary, web series, TV pilots, covering live-action and animation. Submissions are drawn each year from all over the country. Aboud expressed her gratitude to AFDA for allowing the WGSA to apprise young writers of its existence.
During the session, a few students opted to volunteer their time and skills to the WGSA to assist talented youth from underprivileged communities with basic skills development in storytelling and screenwriting. Aboud was also grateful that Mansoor was able to agree to assist this year in his capacity as Head of Screenwriting.
Mansoor has served as AFDA Johannesburg’s Head of Screenwriting for over six years. He is South Africa’s first and, to date, only Fulbright Scholar in the discipline of Screenwriting – an honour he shares with the celebrated American story expert Robert McKee and over 50 Nobel Prize laureates. He has been acknowledged for contributing to AFDA’s second Student Academy Award nominated short film KANYE KANYE, in his capacity as lecturer and consultant.
After passing his Attorney’s Admission Examination in 2006 and completing studies in Media, English and Psychology, he earned full sponsorship from the United States Department of State to pursue a Masters Degree in Screenwriting from Chapman University in California, which is annually listed as a top 5 film school in the world. Chapman University also set a record this year at the Student Academy Awards after taking silver and bronze in the category of Short Film Narrative inside the same year.
Mansoor was also recognized and honoured by the US Department of State as an Amy Biehl Scholar for qualifying as the #1 international student sponsored by the U.S. in 2007 from a pool of hundreds drawn from medical science, information technology, engineering, etc., as a result of his unique, and refreshing vision for how storytelling education should evolve in order to become a key part of individual and social development.
He was also inducted into the Brightest Young Mind program in 2004, funded by major public and private sector enterprises like Anglo-American, Barclays etc. which is a prestigious South African organisation that holds an annual summit, and which recognises exceptional demonstrated leadership and academic excellence in people between 18-32.
He has worked on the world-record breaking daily drama series THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, and continues to be mentored by a slew of Oscar and Emmy winning writers, producers and directors as well as international film festival directors. He served as Script Development Assistant for a Hollywood film producer honing his skills as a script reader and story analyst. His scholarship in the screenwriting curricula at American universities is extensive and continues to expand.
A veritable creative writing teacher, thinker and mentor who continues to sharpen his skill set through international linkages at the finest university film schools in North America, Mansoor has lectured at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College Campus, at the historically important Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, at the University of Southern California, and he was honoured to give a class on the Academy Award winning film TSOTSI at the famed Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in 2012.
When not teaching Screenwriting at AFDA, Mansoor volunteers his time and expertise as a Script Editor, Consultant and Creativity Coach to AFDA alumni and young professionals. Recently, he was invited as a member of the Young African Leadership Initiative, which is US President Barack Obama’s legacy program for Africa, to serve in public diplomacy and nation building activities.
“When you get, give. When you learn, teach! We have to roll up our sleeves and vigorously, passionately build competence in creative writing in our country without distraction, after learning from the best in the world, and evolving that knowledge here, that we may compete with and beat the best of the world. This requires laser-sharp focus, discipline and indefatigable dedication from both teacher and student.”
– Zunaid Mansoor
Tags: johannesburg campus