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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 Makes Peter Weir So Different, So Appealing...?

Posted August 26, 2010

I do realize that at the moment, this is predominantly a blog about writing. Not particularly interesting. Granted. But right now I am writing a post more for the sake of convincing myself that I actually do exist. 

I never thought I would be able to apply the word 'husk' to myself. 

What's happened is I have been writing for too long. And in too much isolation. I need a script editor. And fast. So open call: Script editors of the word: Jenna needs you. 



  • Must have seen Dark Passage 
  • Must not think Inception is the greatest film of all time. 
  • Added bonus (negotiable): able to do decent Werner Herzog and/or Polanski impressions.
Remuneration: ah hem... we'll get to that later. 
See? nothing to it. 
I've just got to the point where I have absolutely no objectivity. oh help. I just wish all the work I have put in over the last 3 weeks of solid writing showed up more obviously. Maybe I should just listen to David when he says (via muffled skype call from Mauritius): "You must realise that you are a human being. And not a robot."
And as to the title of this post? Well I sure as hell can't explain it! But I just watched Gallipoli. And it was AWESOME!


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Writing... and visitations....

Posted August 20, 2010


So yesterday I kind of turned a corner. This is, with writing. David's on holiday in Mauritius, which I thought would make his emailed deadlines easier to avoid. Sadly, the sugared coconut rums have done nothing to dampen his alertness to the fact that the next script deadline is like, um, yesterday. Scary times. No doubt they will get scarier. But I think it will be OK. How did I manage? I will tell you. But really, you can't tell anyone...

So, I'm sitting there on the couch - my normal office being taken over by visiting cousins. So I'm writing from home. Seldom a good idea. At the moment it's proving to be not. A good idea. So I'm stuck. Seriously stuck. And then - I look up, and who is sitting on the next couch, smoking a Gauloise (despite the fact that smoking in the lounge is forbidden): Roman Polanski. So I say:

JENNA: Oh, Roman, I am so screwed. I can't work out this problem. What should I do?

ROMAN POLANSKI: Well, I found, that when situations became difficult, I would go to Paris. 

J: Um, I'm sorry, Roman, but that's not really practical for me right now. 

RP: Oh that is too bad, really. 

Then there was an awkward silence. 

J: But Roman, you've made some amazing films. Seriously, I still can't get over The Tenant, it's a masterpiece. 

RP: Well, I don't know. Maybe you should just listen to the new Arcade Fire album. I hear it is really good. 

J: Really? You listen to Arcade Fire in Switzerland? 

RP: But I will give you one piece of advice if you really want. 

J: OK, but just, will this be The Tenant/Chinatown advice, or will it be Bitter Moon advice, because if it's the latter....

RP: No, just listen to me, forget Bitter Moon, OK, just listen now. 

J: OK, of course. 

RP: I think this what you should do. Stop writing blog posts while you should be writing your film. We did not have blogging when I was working on Chinatown. Also, you should stop checking your phone all the time. It's uncomely for a young woman. 

J: Um...

RP: Just remember: you are either going to make a good film, or you're not. You know the answer already. 

At this point, he dissolved in a cloud of cigarette smoke. The faint sound of violins and.... the sea....

Still, this was an improvement on the last time I was visited by a fantasy director. The Coens just played ping-pong in the background, and I couldn't concentrate because of all the noise they made each time Ethan hit a great serve.

Anyway, better follow Roman's advice. I have a good film to make.


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The wheels on the bus...

Posted August 14, 2010

So what's goin on? Well, I'll tell you: Not much. But also a lot. It's that perfect example of 'Hurry up and wait' that those film folks always talk about. But when you're forced to apply it to your actual life, it gets a bit frustrating. 


To be honest, things are good. I have resigned myself that I will earn no money for the next 6 months. And once that was over I could come to appreciate the fact that I am finally in a position that I've been wanting to be in for a very long time. Let's put it this way: Now, when people ask me what I'm doing, instead of mumbling something about film and, like, stuff, I can look em straight in the eye and say: "Gosh darnit I am working on my feature film!" And you know what? I won't be lying! As we South Africans have gotten into the habit of saying since the World Cup: Feel it. It is here. 

Indeed it is. 

And when will it actually be here? When will we feel the biting cold and exhaustion of a three week night shoot? Well, at the moment the status is thus: We will probably be shooting TOK TOKKIE in March 2011. Last week David, Hannes and I accompanied a Scottish real estate agent around the abandoned warehouse circuit in search of a production office. I have planned exactly where I am going to hang my "The Hellions" poster. That's how certain we are. 

Of course, there is much much much work to be done. Mainly in the re-write department. The only thing more annoying than having someone else delay your film's progress, is when the delay is your own fault. Right now, the script needs a lot of work before it can go to the next level. And that means me sitting down and making the things that are really wrong go really right. It's at that point where you look at it and you're like: Wait a second, I could have sworn I knew and understood the basic tenets of screenwriting. So why did I make this horribly, GLARINGLY OBVIOUS blunders. But it's OK. Like when I was writing The Tunnel, it's all about remembering the core around which you want your film to rotate. 

So, another day: Like yesterday and the day before that, I will stay inside all day today. It's the most beautiful day outside that you can possibly imagine (aside from the dude with the power saw who's been at it since Wednesday) and I will stay inside all day working on a film about ghosts. Such is life.

Oh, but we've also starting making inroads into assembling a team. More on that later as soon as things are confirmed. But it's pretty awesome, actually. 

Movies watched recently: Christiane F, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Reprise, EXistenZ. And you know you're in a funny space when part of you wants to watch EXistenZ twice in a row. Best line? So many! But this one takes the slimy-Cronenberg-cake: "I have this phobia about having my body penetrated surgically. You know what I mean?" (!!!!!) 

Tonight I watch Inception - on Kisha's recommendation - putting all doubts aside, I will put my money willingly into the massive Christopher Nolan machine. What is the world coming to? I ask you. 


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