Elan Gamaker (Johannesburg, 1981) is a scriptwriter, director and story editor. He is also Senior Lecturer in Film at the University of Roehampton, London.
He has been a working professional screenwriter and director since 2001, having completed two produced feature-length screenplays and features, episodes for various television drama series, several shorts, and a number of commissioned scripts.
Elan also completed a PhD in Film Studies following a fellowship with the University of Amsterdam's School of Cultural Analysis, with the focus of his research on genre, rhetorical style and audience activation.
He has also worked as a story consultant and has been hired by public and private film bodies in the capacity of story editor, or as a reader in film funding applications. He is a story consultant and tutor for Soho-based Scriptwriter London.
As a writer, he has worked under and alongside internationally renowned script writers and tutors such as Hettie Macdonald (Royal Court Theatre, UK), Mark Travis, Judith Weston, David Howard and Martin Daniel (Hollywood), Ken Dancyger (Canada), Arne Bro (Denmark), Gyula Gazdag (UCLA), Franz Rodenkirchen (Torino FilmLab), Jacques Akchoti (La Femis), as well as UK script consultants and tutors Christian Routh, Ian Sellar, Samm Haillay, Angeli Macfarlane and Ellis Freeman.
His scripts have been selected for several international script programmes and markets, including Miramax Scrawl Screenwriters’ Lab, IFP (New York), Berlinale Co-Production Market (Berlin), IFFR Cinemart (Rotterdam) and Produire au Sud (Nantes).
Elan is a two-time attendee of Amsterdam-based Binger Filmlab, first in 2004 with Victor Chicken (2005 Berlinale Co-Production Market and 2006 Talent Campus) as a participant in the organisation’s Writer’s Lab, and then in 2009 for the Directors’ Lab. The following year, he marked his feature writing/directing debut with Visa/Vie (2010), which played in cinemas and on African satellite TV in 2011. It won a SAFTA Golden Horn for Best Music in a Motion Picture and is currently on DVD release. Other writing/direction work includes Dirt, a one-hour comedy/drama for Multichoice.
Works enjoying award recognition include Next Year in Jerusalem, shortlisted for the 2007 BBC International Playwriting Award, his play Jutro winning Best New theatre production for 2007 and his novel, Wayward Nature, being shortlisted for the EU Literary Award 2009. His short script Hidden Life was nominated for Best Short Screenplay (AMA 2011).
Elan has also worked as consultant on large-scale documentary and fiction projects, including those by Cinema Suitcase, with titles including A Long History of Madness, a part of The Mère Folle Project, and Madame B.
His second feature film, the independent project IJspaard (Icehorse) (2014), was the first ever fully improvised feature in the Netherlands. It debuted at the Durban International Film Festival before touring other international festivals.
His upcoming writing/directing projects are Headland, a dystopian romance selected for DFM and Produire au Sud (Nantes) in 2016, the Film London-supported magic realist road movie Violet Culbo, coming-of-age drama The Imperial, and The Night Outside, a supernatural political thriller set in 1980s South Africa.
The Night Outside, produced by Fireworx Media and OneTwo Films, is currently in financing. It was selected for Independent Film Week of the Independent Filmmaker Project producers’ forum 2013 in New York. South African actress Thishiwe Ziqubu (While You Weren’t Looking, Hard to Get) and Austrian actress Susanne Wuest (Perfume, Goodnight Mommy) are cast, and the film is slated for production in Cape Town in 2019.
Elan also consults for Stop Play Record, a writing scheme for young filmmakers organised by Space Studios London, and is associate editor of peer-reviewed screen media practice research journal Screenworks.
Recognition, Selections and Awards
Script Development Programme 2004, Binger Filmlab, Amsterdam
Scrawl Screenwriters’ Lab 2004
Talent Campus, Sithengi 2004
National Lottery Fund Award, Sithengi 2004
Zebra Film Poetry Awards 2004 ‘Longing’
Co-Production Forum, Berlinale 2005 ‘Victor Chicken'
The Kebble National Art Award 2005
Co-Production Forum, Sithengi 2005, 'Hinterland'
Jacques Akchoti (La Femis) Script Workshop 2005
Berlinale Talent Campus, Berlin Film Festival 2006
Co-Production Forum, Sithengi 2006, ‘Visa/Vie’
M-TV Hollywood Heart 2006/8
BBC International Radio Play Award 2007
Best New Play Beeld Awards 2007, ‘Jutro’
EU Literary Award 2009, ‘Wayward Nature’
Director’s Coaching Programme 2000, Binger Filmlab, Amsterdam
Sao Paolo International Film Festival ‘Visa/Vie’
Best Music in a Motion Picture 2011, ‘Visa/Vie’
SAMA Award 2011, Best Writer ‘Hidden Life’
No Borders, IFP 2013 New York, ‘Saturn’
Produire au Sud, Festival de 3 Continents, Nantes, 2016