ABC’s three-time prime time emmy nominated show, “Criminal Minds” invited Coal Stove Pictures’ Script Development Executive, Nompi Vilakazi, to spend a week in their writers’ room in Los Angeles, California between January 25th – 29th 2016.
Coal Stove Pictures is the production company behind the dance film, “Hear Me Move”, which recently won the Best Score and Best Original Screenplay Awards at the Kalasha International Film Festival. Nompi worked as a writer on shows such as “Isidingo” and “Skeem Saam” before joining Coal Stove Pictures as the Development Head, where she oversees a wide range of projects in development.
Said Nompi, “It was an exciting opportunity, and I’m really grateful to the Writers Guild of South Africa, the DTI and Coal Stove for making this possible. At Coal Stove we are currently developing a twenty-six-part office drama and a thirteen-part crime series. So the timing was absolutely perfect!”
The opportunity arose due to a chance meeting that Nompi had with the showrunner of “Criminal Minds” at the 2015 Story Expo in Los Angeles. The Story Expo trip was sponsored by the DTI and organized by the Writers Guild of South Africa to grow our local writers’ expertise. Nompi jumped at the opportunity, and Coal Stove was more than happy to sponsor the week in L.A. at the “Criminal Minds” Writers Room.
“We are all about developing our people,” said writer-producer Fidel Namisi, the co-founder of Coal Stove Pictures. “We have a pretty intense weekly training program – we call it ‘The Friday Pages’ – where we are constantly reading and writing spec scripts, no matter what paying projects are on the go. We borrowed the idea from Google. When Nompi landed this, we tried to get sponsorship or funding for the trip, but the turn-around time was too short. So we had to fund the trip ourselves, as the opportunity was too great to miss and in the hope that it can lead to a long-term collaboration that will see many South African writers from different backgrounds participating.”
“The aim of taking WGSA members to international markets,” added Theoline Maphutha, Chair of the WGSA, “is to give South African writers a platform to not only pitch their ideas and learn from industry professionals, but to network and create mutually-beneficial relationships with international contacts. Nompi has achieved the latter.
We can only wish her the best in her endeavors and hope that her achievement inspires similar stories in the future.”
Coal Stove recently closed financing for a drama series that was partially funded by the DTI and the KZN Film Commission. The show will be aired by Star SAT across the African continent. Pre-production will commence shortly.