Life After SAE – Nosibusiso Dambuza

25 Apr 2018



Life After SAE – Nosibusiso Dambuza

25 Apr 2018

From Higher Certificate graduate in Film at SAE in 2012 to becoming an established and respected script-writer, alumni, Nosibusiso Dambuza epitomises the philosophy of perseverance, independence and a yearning for leaning that we encourage at SAE.

This is her story…

“I remember scripting on Christmas day in my small apartment, while my neighbours partied next door.”

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What was the first job you did after graduating from SAE?

My first official job was part of the writing team for the T.V Series Matatiele. But that came a year or so after graduating. Before then I was a passionate graduate, directing music videos and minor productions, a way to sharpen my skills and get some form of showreel going.

What made you choose Digital Film production as a study choice?

TheSteven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 film, A.I (Artificial Intelligence) sparked my passion for Film Production in its entirety. I was 12 at the time and the whole film was such an emotional, aesthetic roller-coaster. The story and themes explored were interesting to me: A robot boy yearning to be a ‘real’ boy, so he can gain the love and affection of his human owner. Yet throughout the movie the mechas are the ones expressing more humanity than the humans themselves. Which begs the question about our own ‘programming.’

I knew then my calling was to make films -tell stories that interrogate and exhibit the complex nature of human society and interaction.

You’ve since become a scriptwriter and have written for both Matatiele and Heist on ETV. How did you land this job?


My being part of the Matatiele writing team was pure divine intervention.

Both shows were done by the same production house, Branded Soul Productions. The plan for Matatiele series was for it to be shot on location in my home town, Matatiele Eastern Cape. I was in Johannesburg at the time struggling to break in professionally when Ntsiki Matubatuba, our municipality representative then, facilitated an introduction between myself and the Director; Rolie Nikiwe.

I joined the team as a consultant, soon after I was given an episode to write and that episode led to another. After that, Heist came along, and I got the official call to join the writing team and we’re now, currently adapting a book for cinema, The Polygamist by Sue Nyathi. Nosi3

As one of the lead writers on Heist what were the biggest challenges as opposed to simply being part of the team? 

As stated above, I was a rookie on the first season. But I will admit being given more responsibility by the Head Writer on the second season encouraged me to step up as a writer, it was challenging but I ended up writing 40% of the season. I had never written that much volume before and there was tremendous pressure to get it done; I remember scripting on Christmas day in my small apartment, while my neighbours partied next door. 

Working closely with Khobi Ledwaba, a seasoned South African screenwriter/producer, who was the show’s Head writer and also a writer, pushed me to express a high level of dedication and passion, then I ever had before the project came along.

The whole experience challenged my every insecurity and any idleness I had. Season 2 didn’t have a big team for me to hide behind. I had to stand out, be responsible, committed and confident with whatever I put out there. But looking back now, I will say I had a great time.      

“S.A has some great writers and some pretty amazing shows out there, but I do believe there is room for growth.” 

We believe you’ve also just finished writing a show for BET South Africa. Can you tell us more?

Grit Season 2 was the highlight of 2017 for me. The entire season was the first creative project under my ‘small’ production company – Dat’Concept. It’s also the first project I co-created and wrote with my business partner and SAE Alumni; Temilolu Ajibulu.

The show was very challenging to take on because the first season was written by a different team and by the time we took it over, there was no framework for Season 2, so we had to figure out a way to keep the story authentic to the first Season while creating an entirely different show.

Before Grit, I had only worked on two shows and was honestly not prepared for the magnitude it was to head write one. And unlike the previous productions I had been on, Grit didn’t have a big developing team. The two of us were creating and writing a Law/Medical Drama, 13 episodes, 60 Minutes each (60 pages), while researching every Law/Medical case depicted in the story.

We had to push ourselves and it was rewarding to see our capabilities as individuals and as a production team. I’m grateful to say Grit is a very intelligent script, even more grateful to know it came from my stable.

It is a well-documented fact that in the world of television in the USA they often have massive writing teams for a series. From your experience, what is a typical size script writing team for South African television?

I’d say S.A more or less practices the same standard as the U.S when it comes to their developing teams. You’ve got your creators, story liners, head writer, scriptwriters and editors. The exact size depends on how big the production company is. I had the experience of seeing how a Huge production company in S.A framed their developing team -you were looking at 10+ writers, same number for their story liners.  But it all varies.

In South Africa are there an abundance of good script writers for television and movies, or would you say this is an under supplied industry?

S.A has some great writers and some pretty amazing shows out there, but I do believe there is room for growth -taking it to the next level with intelligent, ground-breaking storytelling. There’s always room I believe for people who want to challenge how we currently tell our stories, and they’ll always be.

Any other projects you’ve been working on that excite you for the future?

The most exciting one for me right now is the Polygamist Film. It’s going to be our first cinema project, but we are currently developing projects as Dat’Concept that I hope will make some headways and personally I’d like to work on some projects in Nigeria. But the year is just beginning -we’ll see what God brings.

I’m also newly contracted to takeover a family soap currently airing on BET, my season is in production and should be airing soon.

Tell us a bit about your time at SAE;

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How long you were with us?

A year; 2012 – 2013, for the Higher Certificate Course.

Which subjects on your course you enjoyed most?

 I don’t really remember the subject, but the lecturer was Clint Tessendorf. We dealt  a lot with film history, production, writing and putting pitches together.

If you could name one thing that you feel you benefited the most from studying at SAE, what would this be?

Independence and self-confidence.

What advice would you offer someone considering studying creative curricula such as Audio, Film or Animation?

Be dedicated, accountable and responsible. Learning doesn’t stop in the classroom, you must put in extra effort to your studies, even after school hours. Research is your friend!

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