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About Jenna Cato Bass

I'm a director, writer, photographer, aspiring explorer and retired magician living in Cape Town, South Africa

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What if... | or: Where Has All the Pulp Gone?

Posted February 18, 2011

Writing? Yes. Still writing. After over a year of working on a script, I find I need to make up games to keep my spirits up. 'Fantasy Directors' almost drove me insane, as can be seen from previous posts. So I've come up with a new one, which started off as a joke. It's called 'What if..?' I don't mean this as 'what if we tried throwing this in the mix, how would the characters react?' That's far too tame for me. I mean a 'what if' scenario when we change the entire film. 

i.e. 'What if this was a Korean movie?'

See? interesting. 

i.e. 'What if the ghosts were elephants? Or trees? or people?'

And the one that really twisted my noodle: 'what if this was a Nigerian film'. 

Trust me. It doesn't make you forget what you're doing. Far from it. It just puts things in perspective. It's fun and it helps. Or at least it helped me. And when I finally finish this script then, by golly, that will be saying something!

'what if this was a pulp story?'

And here's where my pet-project intrudes on my thoughts: I've just started a pulp fiction magazine with my friend Hannes. It's called Jungle Jim. After quite some work, we've started getting submissions from all over Africa. Awesome! Some great writing. But it seems that no one remembers what was great about pulp, and why one would try take, at least it's good elements, and publish stories inspired by them. For me, what's so wonderful about pulp is that they're STORY STORY STORY DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA. But what about subtley, you cry! What about nuance? It just seems to me that we could all be reminded what makes a story (character x change=story) tick these days. Yes, even you, big blockbuster action films. 

And talking about films which are not made with lots of money: I just watched SKELETONS, a UK indie about a pair of dowdy exorcists who help unearth the buried secrets of ordinary people. Flawed, but a lot of fun. And ultimately really understood the themes it dealt with.

Oh, and where have I been since I last posted... Well, I was in Rotterdam for their Producer's Lab, connected to CineMart. Great experience - I think I may finally getting the hang of this networking thing. Namely, enjoy yourself. And if you've had enough, don't force it. Go see a movie. Actually, got to see far less films than I intended, not all of them good. The highlight was definitely Jan Svankmejer's SURVIVING LIFE (not to mention getting a glimpse of the old magic man himself - 'he's so cute!' says Alicia, and you know, he actually is) and also getting to see some (if regrettably not all) of ATTENBERG in the film library.

Tok Tokkie travels are not over - I'll be in New York next month at a financing forum specially for South African films. So watch out USA. Or at least, NYC DVD stores with good Orson Welles collections watch out... I WILL ask for Don Quixote. 

PS I've been good. I've only seen The Social Network twice more since my three day binge. Bring on Black Swan and True Grit...