A Good Home, Film and TV Awards

When Things Come Full Circle

I left part of my heart in South Africa.

How could I not? One of the defining times of my life and career came in the early 1990’s when my CBC boss, Les Lawrence, asked me to lead a project. It was to help South African radio and TV journalists prepare for their post-apartheid role as journalists in a newly democratic country. 

Sylvia Vollenhoven was one of those senior S. African journalists.

Sylvia and Madiba

Brilliant, tough-minded and gifted, Sylvia blazed quite a trail before and since the Canadian workshops. She worked as a television host-interviewer and executive producer at the South African Broadcasting Corporation,  then established her own production company, VIA-Vision in Africa.

Tim Knight was born in England, raised in S. Africa, but became an Emmy-winning producer, then executive producer and lead trainer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

blog-photo-tim-when-i-first-met-him

Blog Photo - Tim and S. African journalists

Tim broke his self-imposed exile in Canada to lead several of the CBC’s S. African workshops. Through this initiative, he met Sylvia.

“Tim was one of the first TV Trainers I encountered as we prepared to ‘hijack’ the SABC and turn it into a public broadcaster,” Sylvia says.

Two years ago, Tim decided to return to S. Africa permanently and practice his skills as a journalist and trainer there. I was both glad for Tim and devastated. Tim, over the years, had been my own trainer, mentor, book editor and friend. As if recognizing my heartbreak, Tim spent his last week in Canada at my family’s home.

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Life sometimes takes wondrous turns.

Back in  S. Africa, Tim started work with the production company of his former trainee, Sylvia Vollenhoven. There, he became a producer, writer, trainer  — and conscience.

“Please take good care of Tim,” I’d asked Sylvia when Tim first returned to S. Africa. But anyone who has worked with Tim knows he can be infuriating at times, as he pushes you unrelentingly to find the heart of the story. It was no different for Sylvia and her team.

“Some days we were tempted to walk away from his rigorous questioning and unflinching commitment to the demands of the story. But it is extremely inspiring to work with Tim, especially because he brings an outside perspective to the unfolding South African story… a narrative that has become almost part of his DNA by now. We are very fortunate that he has made South Africa his home.”

Blog on Sylvia  Tim 2016

Last week, Sylvia contacted me with great news: A VIA film has been nominated for one of S. Africa’s highest honours in film and television. The film, Emo Adams – Tall, Dark and Afrikaans received two nominations and Sylvia, Director and Executive producer, credits Tim’s contributions.

Blog on Tim and Silvia Emo Adams_3  Photo by Retha Ferguson

The story is about an outstanding S. African performer, Emo Adams.

The experience was special for Sylvia – her son, Ryan Lee Seddon, a cinematographer, and partner Basil Appollis and Tim were all part of the team.

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“Tim helped us move from a good concept, through a challenging process (punishing deadlines & modest budgets) to a potentially award winning story. 

“The credits list him as Script Editor. But as usual he played the role of Mentor, Devil’s Advocate and Story Coach.

“I think it is so amazing that things have come full circle. This is the first time that Tim and I have worked together.”

There are many ways of coming home.

Bravo to everyone involved with this production and my best wishes.

 

 

 

 

A Good Home, Book Editor, Book lovers, Books, Canadians, CBC Television, Creative Writing, Life Challenges, Mentoring Writers, South Africa, South African Journalism Training, Tim KNight, Writers

A Terrific Writer-Editor

Tim Knight is a brilliant writer.  

Blog Photo - Tim Knight CU

He’s an Emmy-winning documentary-maker.

Ladeda
On location: “Inside Noah’s Ark”

And writing coach.

Luckily for me, he’s also an excellent editor.  

I know this because he taught me to write for television and edited many of my stories.

And because when I came up with the crazy idea of producing a book  — at the worst time in my life — Tim calmly agreed to be my editor.

It was not a job for the faint of heart.

I first met Tim just before my graduation from journalism school. Tim Knight, head of TV Journalism Training for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was already a legend. He interviewed me for the best job a TV Journalism graduate could land: an apprenticeship with the CBC’s prestigious trainee reporter program.

Blog Photo - Tim when I first met him

Each year, CBC TV picked the top 6 students from journalism schools across Canada. That year, I became one of the six. But my journalism professor wasn’t pleased. I was a Canadian citizen, but one who’d come to Canada from Jamaica. He argued that the job should go to a real Canadian. 

Tim overrode his objections and I got the job.

Tim’s been looking out for me ever since.  Not that I gave him much choice.

I sought Tim’s advice before every career move. Producer-director. Executive producer. And when Tim decided to leave the CBC to write his first book,  he recommended that I replace him as head of CBC TV’s journalism training.  His word carried so much weight that the job was offered and I took it.

Blog Photo - Tim's book

We worked together to train South African journalists at the end of apartheid.  For us Canadians, this was a remarkably moving experience.

Blog Photo - Tim and S. African journalists

Blog Photo - Tim and Madiba

Years later, I had a car accident.

In ‘Type A’ style, I thought I could return to work soon.

Not so.

Something happened to Tim when he realized the full extent of my physical, intellectual and emotional states post-accident. His cool manner slipped: he was worried about me.

Tim became one of the few people who knew just how bad things were. He’d watched me struggle — to write, speak, think.

He must have been surprised when, years later, I said I was producing a book and wanted him to edit it. Not that he showed it.

“Send me the manuscript,” he said.

I did.

“This book could be great,” he replied. “Not just good, but great.  It needs more work.”

More work! I was already exhausted.  How much more work?

Some chapters were excellent, Tim said. Some would need substantial work. But he would help me.

It was not easy for anyone to help me back then. Blog Photo - Tim, wearing hat Sometimes, Tim had to stop our conversations abruptly. I’d start stuttering badly again, lose track of what was being said to me, but refuse to admit I was in trouble.  

His voice would become very firm.  “Cynthia, we’ll talk again later.” Tim never babied me, which was important. No matter how unwell I was, I always sensed when people were trying to baby me, and I didn’t like it.

Mostly, Tim said, I needed to make the music consistent throughout the book.

The music?

The music.  The storytelling.  The rhythm, the pace, the cadence of the writing. And so we went to work, to create the music in every chapter. agoodhome_cynthiareyes

**

Every good writer needs a good editor. Considering the shape I was in, I especially needed a good editor.

Tim not only edited my first book, he also edited my second.

What a blessing to work with such an excellent editor, trainer and communicator.

Thank you, Tim.