Tag Archives: Waterberg Welfare Society

Questions about my writing

Sophie Neville by Sylvain Guenot (trimmed)

Sallie Eden contacted me when she was staying at Bank Ground Farm last month, requesting an interview. I have pasted a few of her questions here:

  • Where do you write? In solitude? At home? I find it much easier to write the first draft of my book if I retreat to an African hut in the middle of no-where, which I managed to do in February and March of this year. However, much of writing is re-writing, which I do at any and every opportunity. Most of my books have to be checked by experts and get re-drafted a great many times while I improve the flow of the narrative. It’s hard work and takes time but I see it as vital. Even when a book is based on a dairy I might re-draft it 100 times, drawing on skills gained as a painter and when editing my own films. I have learnt to be unoffendable, preferring to laugh at my own mistakes rather than have them displayed in print.
  • What authors do you admire? I have been inspired by authors of amusing true life stories: Anne Lamott and Monica Dickens, James Herriot, Gerald Durrell and Helene Hanff, who wrote 84 Charing Cross Road from letters she’d received from a book shop in London. Gerald Durrell told me how he’d edited the story of his years spent on Corfu, making the construction of his book seem easy, when of course it must have been soul wrenching. I love CS Lewis and follow his advice on writing the book I would like to read that is not there.
  • Sophie Neville
    How do you describe yourself when people ask what you do?  I’ve managed to live about five lives professionally, working interchangeably as a writer, producer, artist, actress and horseback safari guide. All require practice to gain fluency and do well. None are much good a making money. Many people assume that we receive substantial residuals from Swallows & Amazons but we only earned £7.50 a day whist working on the film and nothing at all from VHS or DVD sales. The parrot earned £25 and he didn’t speak. I wish I was better at raising funds for charity. The need is so great. In the year 2000 I helped to set up the Waterberg Welfare Society in a corner of rural South Africa to help combat the pandemic HIV/AIDS. You can see some of the mad things we do help finance their work here:    
  • Do you need a trigger to start writing – to give you an idea? Good stories will always call out to be written and to be read. Getting down to illustrate them would be difficult if the drawings were not already waiting. I started putting together Ride the Wings of Morning when I was living in Africa but only added the illustrations once it was formatted, filling natural gaps between the letters which make up the book with sketches and paintings. I ended up using about 120 graphics, accumulated over the twelve previous years. Someday I am hoping that a version will be produced in full colour as a coffee-table book that will motivate others to get out into the wild and start painting. You can read about Ride the Wings of Morning here

For the full interview with Sallie Eden please click here

For Sallie Eden’s review of ‘The Secrets of Filming Swallows & Amazons’ please click here

Photographs by Sylvain Guenot

 

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Filed under Autobiography, Christian, Sophie Neville, Uncategorized

Sophie Neville: Profile

SOPHIE NEVILLE

Actors are warned: ‘Never work with children or animals’. This is because they come across so well that their own performance won’t be noticed.

Sophie Neville spent years at the BBC specialising in drama productions that featured children and animals.

Sophie directed her first documentary in Kenya at the age of 25. By the age of 27 she was directing improvised dramas in a tough London Comprehensive school. After spending 13 weeks on the Ealing film stages as Director of FX sequences and animation on a 10 part drama she was asked to produce a series working with 4 to 6 year-olds. By the age of thirty she was directing a serial that featured an 8-year-old girl in almost every scene. ‘I cast identical twins to play the part, used two cameras operated by sports cameramen and finished by 4.30pm each day.’

‘I’d acted in feature films as a child and knew what would work. And what could cause havoc. You need to check children’s teeth well before filming. They tend to lose them just when it is most likely to wreck your continuity. The BBC never used casting directors so I’d look for kids myself; finding  a large cast of children able to sail for two Arthur Ransome book adaptations and the right boy to play Gerald Durrell in My family and Other Animals.’

‘I’d grown up with animals and love working with them. My family keep tame otters and filming wildlife sequences – handling creatures from adders to elephants – has always been part of my life. Making the zoo vet drama series with grat apes and big cats was fascinating . The best ting about working on Eastenders was that I was re-united with Little Willie, the pug dog that we had bought to play William, the hero of  Coot Club.’

Beenie the Otter Sophie hand-reared

In 1992 Sophie emigrated to southern Africa where she worked freelance for the BBC setting up wildlife films and documentaries in Botswana, Namibia and throughout South Africa.  ‘One highlight was setting up the Blue Peter visit to South Africa when Diane Jordan interviewed Archbishop Tutu.’

Breaking her pelvis in a riding accident Sophie was immobilized for a while but took up painting and established herself as a wildlife artist.

After meeting her husband at an archery match Sophie settled down  to concentrate on writing, looking for true stories that could be adapted for the screen. She has just published Funnily Enough about her life in Gloucestershire and is planning the sequel Never Enough. She is soon to bring out Ride the Wings of Morning and Life on an Africa Farm, which are both set in Southern Africa. She is currently writing a filmography on the making of Swallows and Amazons and the screenplay of Makarongo’s War.

Sophie Neville in Beijing

Sophie travels widely. She has driven through twenty different African countries and ridden horses across the Namib Desert, the Masai Mara and the Okavango Delta. She recently rode from Addis Ababa up to the Blue Nile in Ethiopia and through Cappadocia in Turkey. In 2009 she rode across South America in 19 days and is planning a ride of 1000miles through Patagonia in 2012.

Sophie is a founder and trustee of the Waterberg Welfare Society Trust, a charity set up to address HIV/AIDS in rural South Africa . She has a BA Hons in Anthropology, is a fellow of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, an intercessor for CHM, a speaker for Bible Society, a Director of Witness Films Ltd and a member of The Drapers Company, which was recently used as locations for ‘The Kings Speech’.

Sophie lives with her husband on the south coast of England.  They have three grown children, three boats and constant building projects.

Follow Sophie on Facebook on http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=100002148369972

or Tweet Sophie_Neville

Contact sophie@sophieneville.co.uk   Also http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0481437/

Sophie Neville riding at Ant’s Nest in the Waterberg, South Africa

Current news ~

http://www.yachtsandyachting.com/photos/?s=64&PID=58283

Sail Ransome http://www.sailransome.org/photos  http://www.sailransome.org/videos

Movie Memories write-up  http://www.arthur-ransome-trust.org.uk/2011/11/movie-memories/#comment-2676

http://www.yachtsandyachting.com/news/?article=155317

http://www.bankground.com/swallows/

Signals from TARSUS  http://allthingsransome.net/archives/sft/sftjanuary2012.pdf

http://www.justgiving.com/patagonianride

Film clips ~

http://www.youtube.com/user/WriterSophieNeville/feed

http://www.ovguide.com/movies_tv/swallows_and_amazons.htm  

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Filed under Autobiography, Biography, Cinema, Film, Film Cast, Film crew, Film History, Filmaking, Movie stories, Swallows and Amazons, truelife story