SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE…Two brand new studios each 250m² in width have been dedicated to the homegrown South African telenovela, Inkaba, produced for pay-TV local content channel M-Net Mzansi Magic. Inkaba goes on air from Mondays to Thursdays at 8.30pm as from 19 March.
The studios are located at the Urban Brew complex in Johannesburg and were specially built (between December 2011 and February) to accommodate the production. This is one of the first studios in South Africa to have a 360 degree set so that the camera can pan all the way around. A fully equipped control room is situated just above the studios.
Inkaba is shot in full high definition (HD) as well as standard definition (SD), with a three-camera set up.
Unlike a soap as opposed to a telenovela, Inkaba is shot out of sequence. The rate of shooting is equivalent to an episode a day. Each episode then spends a day in post-production and packaging. Production runs about three months in advance to broadcast.
The studios were introduced to the media on 13 March at the Inkaba launch. Mzansi Magic channel head Lebone Maema said that Inkaba was the biggest and most challenging project yet for the 18-month old channel.
“I’m thrilled that we’re trying to tell a story that takes place both in the 1980s and in the present day. Together with Dr John Kani, who conceived the series and also acts in it, we’ve been able to put together an awesome cast, ranging from well known faces such as Magic Hlatshwayo, Baby Cele, Ernest Ndlovu, Nakedi Ribane and Ilse Klink to a younger generation of actors like Nompilo Gwala.
“What is really exciting is that Inkaba offers Mzansi Magic stability in terms of our schedule and forms part of the channel’s soap hour. As from 1 April the M-Net soap, The Wild, will move into the 8pm time slot Mondays to Fridays, with Inkaba following at 8.30pm,’ said Maema.
He stressed that his passion has always been industry development and diversification. “Because this series is not done by any of South Africa’s usual soap producers, it is giving work to a whole host of new people. This ranges from the builders who constructed the studios to the technicians who supplied the hardware to the crew and cast. Inkaba is a story of transformation in the industry and it has created sustainability because it runs for nine months.’
M-Net’s director of Local Interest Channels Yolisa Phahle described Inkaba as “an unprecedented initiative’ and thanked Dr Kani for creating the series.
“Inkaba is designed to be addictive TV and will take viewers into a world of engrossing characters who strive to overcome familiar challenges. It is a story of love, loss, lust and family honour set against the fashion industry,’ said Phahle.
Dr Kani, who is also the series’ executive producer, said some of his inspiration for Inkaba was drawn from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. “It all started when Lebone Maema encouraged the local industry to submit proposals for a telenovela. Urban Brew CEO Danie Ferreira phoned me up and said we needed to do something. So I thought of Romeo and Juliet and of two elderly, feuding gentlemen embroiled in a love triangle and transferring the baggage of the past onto their children.’
Maema added: “Every time I walk into these studios I get shivers down my spine. I was trained in African cinema by the likes of the great Ousmane Semben and Gaston Kabore. They said to me that only when we tell our own stories will they be relevant.’
The telenovela launches on Mzansi Magic and other DStv channels as from 19 March in the 8.30pm slot. It broadcasts from Mondays to Thursdays.
Inkaba (the Nguni word for umbilical cord) depicts the nation’s rich social landscape that includes the very rich and powerful, the upwardly striving middle-class and the struggling poor.
Report by Joanna Sterkowicz