Screen credit de­lights writer

● Au­thor Bau­mann savours suc­cess of new TV se­ries, writes Shaun Gill­ham

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - News - Shaun Gill­ham gill­hams@ti­soblack­

Fre­quently glossed over by un­in­ter­ested view­ers or just ig­nored out­right – movie cred­its have been get­ting a raw deal for years.

But this was cer­tainly not the case at a home in Bloem­fontein on Tues­day night when au­thor Ver­non W Bau­mann, 45, got the first glimpse of his name in prover­bial lights af­ter the new South Africa thriller se­ries Spoor­loos [with­out a trace] made its de­but on DSTV chan­nel KykNet.

Based on Bau­mann’s fic­tional work about a se­rial killer ti­tled Daddy Long Legs, Spoor­loos was re­cently filmed in Cradock, some years af­ter the orig­i­nal work was penned by the Free State writer in 2012.

“I watched it; it was an un­be­liev­able, amaz­ing feel­ing.

“I even took pic­tures of the screen and then looked at it over and over again,” en­thused a de­lighted Bau­mann af­ter fi­nally see­ing his name ap­pear on tele­vi­sion.

Fur­ther de­scrib­ing the event as emo­tional and as a ca­reer high­light, Bau­mann said the ac­knowl­edge­ments and con­grat­u­la­tions had flooded in af­ter his fam­ily and friends had viewed the first episode of the 13-part se­ries.

With Cradock as the phys­i­cal set­ting, and other scenes filmed in Jo­han­nes­burg, the story is set in the fic­tional town of Digters­dal and wo­ven around a se­rial killer in­spired, ac­cord­ing to Bau­mann, by Amer­ica’s in­fa­mous BTK (Bind Tor­ture Kill) Stran­gler or BTK Killer, Den­nis Rader.

Rader, who killed 10 peo­ple be­tween 1974 and 1991, is serv­ing 10 con­sec­u­tive life sen­tences in the US.

He be­came known for send­ing taunt­ing let­ters de­tail­ing his crimes to po­lice and news­pa­pers.

Af­ter go­ing to ground for about 10 years, Rader resur­faced and started send­ing let­ters again – which fi­nally led to his ar­rest in 2005 and his sub­se­quent guilty plea.

“This, that he [Rader] sud­denly dis­ap­peared and then popped up again, is the ba­sis of the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the fic­tional char­ac­ter in Digters­dal and the real se­rial killer,” Bau­mann said.

While the orig­i­nal work had been adapted to the film ver­sion, the Daddy Long Legs synop­sis best de­scribes the ba­sis of the plot: “Knick Knack Paddy Whack, Daddy Long Legs is Back. Twenty years ago he took nine lives. Nine boys. Ab­ducted. Tor­tured and mu­ti­lated. Nine bodies dumped across the bar­ren land­scape of a small town in apartheid South Africa. Then – abruptly – the mur­ders stopped. And Daddy Long Legs was no more. Un­til now.”

While rev­el­ling in his lat­est achieve­ment, Bau­mann, who has au­thored five works of fic­tion – which are avail­able on Ama­zon, and who has dab­bled in copy writ­ing for the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try, some script writ- ing for South African soapie Bin­nelanders and lec­tur­ing in English, was can­did about his rel­a­tively ar­du­ous road to suc­cess.

“There were no Hol­ly­wood mo­ments. Per­se­ver­ance and tenac­ity are among the tal­ents I do have.

“Those at­tributes and the abil­ity to generate ideas. And they paid off af­ter many in­ter­views, trips to Jo­han­nes­burg and pitches to var­i­ous com­pa­nies and peo­ple,” he said, adding that he had other projects now wait­ing in the wings.

“I am hop­ing to in­ter­est a pro­duc­tion com­pany in an­other of my works – Man in the Wind, and hope­fully this could mean an­other shot at get­ting a book into a film for­mat,” he said, ex­plain­ing that the adap­ta­tion of Daddy Long Legs had meant rewrit­ing the book to pro­duce 13 cliffhang­ers for each of the 13 episodes.

As ev­i­denced by his writ­ings, Bau­mann said he held a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in sto­ries based on small towns.

“I just love the idea of small, ru­ral towns which have dark secrets sim­mer­ing be­low the sur­face.

“This makes for great plots and great set­tings for sto­ries,” he said.

Re­sist­ing re­lo­cat­ing to Jo­han­nes­burg and closer to pro­duc­tion houses, Bau­mann, who is mar­ried “with two dogs and eight cats as our kids”, plans to con­tinue work­ing from Bloem­fontein, say­ing the city, which has a large, ru­ral town feel, con­tin­ues to in­spire him.

SCREEN SUC­CESS: Ver­non W Bau­mann and the book on which the se­ries ‘Spoor­loos’ is based.

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