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John van de Ruit

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Spud’s Journey from a Book to a Script and then… to the Big Screen!

Watch out – Spud is set to come alive on the big screen! But we have a long journey ahead of us.

Every good movie starts with a strong screenplay (so they say), and the first draft of Spud‘s is underway. I hope to see it make its way into the world in the second half of the year. I’m told the Tsotsi screenplay went through 40 drafts before a winning formula was reached; and, as with all (or almost all) writing, the secret is in the re-drafting process. So we will re-draft until we get it right.

We plan to shoot the film in 2008, but until then, besides working on the script, we need to find a director, lead cast, key crew and – oh yes – the money.

But there’s no harm in thinking ahead, and so we’re thinking that the cast will mainly comprise local talents, with the possibility of a few international names. Finding the right boys to play Spud and his mates will be key, and given their age they are unlikely to have had any professional acting experience. We will, however, search far and wide for the Crazy 8!

Most of the movie’s footage will be shot on location in a school, something commonly found in “high school films” (as the genre is formally known – kidding). The standard Hollywood question to answer here is: Is the film going to be like a film I’ve seen before? Let’s say – the audience will catch whiffs of recognition.

Spud the movie will be concocted using many ingredients: “magical” elements à la Hogworts, poignant moments as in Dead Poets Society, American Pie-style comedy, and – can’t forget these – adolescent love triangles, like those in Flirting. In terms of the market for the film, one hopes it will have international appeal.

In an ideal world the film would be released around Christmas 2008, but, to quote another bit of industry wisdom, putting a film deal together is like a making a steak by having people walk through a room and blow on it. So who knows?

Spread the love always.

- The spud guy


Recent comments:

  • Dimo
    May 28th, 2007 @16:07 #

    Congratulations on getting the books done and onto the big screen. Very entertaining read and hard to put down!

    I have but one question. You've probably been asked it before, but hey i dont see it here :)

    How much, on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is minimal and 10 is 100% - is Spud based on you and your experiences in school/life?

    Thanks again for a great read.

    rurapente AT gmail DOT com

  • Lauren
    June 5th, 2007 @20:07 #

    If it took John around 18 months the difference in releasing Spud 1 and Spud 2, I wonder with the movie coming out, how long it will take till book 3 will be produced? Maybe only after the movie? wow imagine waiting till 2010 for the next book

  • AlanB
    June 12th, 2007 @15:11 #

    hi john

    my name is alan b and i am 14

    firstly , congrats on great books, they are original and really funny. then, good luck for the book tour.

    i would like to know (i know its at an early stage) whether the all the parts of the crazy 8 are going to be looked for in sa ( or some )and which casting agencies you would use, as it would be an experience of a lifetime to audition for your exciting project. i hope you will use south african actors and use a wide variety of agencies.
    good luck again for the movie! am holding thumbs

    i would sincerely appreciate any comments/replies/ questions you have


  • dreamgirl
    July 16th, 2007 @10:26 #

    sumfing weird happened the otha day...
    i dreamt that there woz gonnab amovie of spud, and that i was starring as mermaid.
    now, it could b a coincedence, bt i then went on the internet and... surprise, surprise, i found this article.
    i mean, is it a sign??
    pls cud u tell me wen and where the casting will be???
    i think i hav a chance here...
    mabe im being superstitious, but...
    bye 4 now

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">stephenphillipson</a>
    September 1st, 2007 @11:52 #

    That bit of "industry wisdom" is actually a Douglas Adams quote:

    "Getting a movie made in Hollywood is like trying to grill a steak by having a succession of people coming into the room and breathing on it."

    He spent 20 years trying to get "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" made into a movie and it was only finished a few years after he died.

    I wish you speedier luck.

  • Matt
    March 12th, 2008 @23:50 #


    the last post on this was well... a long time ago so i'm not sure if you're still checking this but I decided to give it a try anyway.

    I'm a director/writer working and studying film in CT. Last week I had this fantastic idea to turn Spud - my favourite South African book, into a movie. Overnight I came up with a plan of how to do this, how to find the money and make the film, low-budget but high quality. How I envisioned it looking and how I was going to contact you and try and make this vision come alive.

    Today I decided to try and track you down via the internet. But this was the first article I came across.

    Unfortunately it seems I was a bit late.

    Good Luck with the film, I look forward to seeing it, if I can be of assistance I'd love to be involved. (

    Otherwise perhaps one day in the future I may have the oppurtunity to work with you.

    Matt Griffiths

  • andrewbeattie
    June 27th, 2008 @20:48 #

    Dear John,

    I bought Spud as a present for my grandson - but read it first! I think it is very well written, funny, moving, and brought back many memories of my boarding school time in the UK during the 60's.

    Along with the writer at the top of this posting, I also wonder how auto-biographical this is, and thus, who you are closest to within the crazy 8? If it is complete fiction, it is exceptional. So glad a follow-up is available, (I have already ordered it - should be here in time for christmas), and I hope the film is really faithful to the book.

    Thanks and regards,


  • jessica
    January 19th, 2009 @11:54 #

    Hi John

    First of all, Im so positively excited about the Spud movie, Im actually hopping up and down. Is it still on the go? If so, what are the new developments? From page one, I imagined Spud as a movie, ( I think we all do when reading a book), I studied film producing and am based in johannesburg, I would love love love to get an opportunity to work as a part of the crew on Spud, if you are still going ahead with it. Have you chosen a production company to work with yet?

    Please keep in touch!


  • phoenixfawkes004
    February 18th, 2009 @07:27 #

    I'm half way through Spud, for the first time, and I was hoping that there would be a sequel to this wickedly funny novel. I come from The Bluff, Durban, and I'm currently living in Taiwan. You can imagine how home sick I was when reading this book and recognising the language of my youth being used. I am so glad there's a sequel and that there's going to be a third novel, too. And a film! Yah! Yah! Yah! Johan, you have become one of my favourite authors now. Thanks so much for a wickedly funny novel especially about the best city, and the best country in the whole world: Durban, South Africa. I was trying to work out - more or less - where Spud's school is, and I thought it may be close to Midmar Dam. Oh, and, what's the name of his school? You never said.
    Please get back to me - I know you must be busy, but if you could, that would be great - answering these questions..
    Thanks again, Genevieve

  • phoenixfawkes004
    February 18th, 2009 @07:30 #

    Oh, and I also want to know if the movie is going to be filmed in and around Durban, more or less where the setting takes place. Yes?


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