I am Pat van Heerden, I was recently in Lisbon with colleagues from South Africa at a financing and pitching  for documentary funding workshop.

Final pitching to commissioning editors in Portugal at Lisbon Docs Pitching Caught in traffic – a story about recidivism in South Africa – why is it so hard to get out of the pattern of repeat offending in the drug trade between South Africa Brazil?

1. Tell us about yourself – who are you and what do you do?

I work in content strategy and development and commissioning for television. I also work in the industry as co-chair of SASFED and in various other capacities. 

2. What are you currently up to? Are there any exciting projects ongoing?

I am in development of a 10 part drama series with Bomb Productions based on a book written by Margueritte Poland based on her book titled Shades which I am very excited about. I am also working on a biography of Neil Aggett. And a series of similar cases from the 80’s. I also teach commissioning and content development in Southern Africa which I love. 

3. What’s your best project/work to date?

I think one of the best jobs I ever had was working at SABC in early 2000 as the Commissioning Editor of documentaries and Factual programming – we did Project 10 and a whole lot of licensing of international and local documentaries that really worked on SABC 1. It was a wonderful learning curve for me and an dynamic period to have been part of public broadcasting. 

4. Who or what inspires you?

I love creative and intellectually insightful works of any form. Great books about the lives of trees, stories of people making films about animal scat, films like Elena and Wormwood, Minding the Gap and reading lots of articles from all over in many different fields. I am a generalist that dips in to everything and I am inspired by the experts in the field. 

5. When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

I mountain bike every week, I love to kayak and walk in the forest. I walk in the park everyday. Watch late night American comedy/talk shows. Pick produce out my garden and talk to friends. I love my two boys and would spend much of time if I could with them. They are very funny. 

6. Finally, what tips or advice could you give to other documentary creatives, just starting out or to the more experienced creatives needing a bit of encouragement?

Read widely, watch a lot, almost anything, any subject, that has a lot of focus and carving and thought can be interesting because you see it in a special way.