SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: It may look like a large container from the outside, but step inside the IntelliLAB, based at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), and it’s a full on, stylishly decorated music recording studio and TV production / post-production setup.
This is where the action for SugaRushed, a new daily reality talent search show, licensed by satellite pay-TV operator, TopTV, takes place. The 30-minute show begins broadcasting on TopTV’s flagship channel, Top One, on Monday, 26 November at 17h30.
SugaRushed, the brainchild of Nico Steyn, was launched on 20 November at IntelliLAB.
Said TopOne channel manager Mmabatho Kau: “We’re really excited to bring this innovative, fresh and sexy show to TopOne. When Nico first approached us with the concept we were a bit confused as he said it was an unscripted reality talent search show but that it wasn’t anything like Idols or Big Brother. However, once we got to know more about the show we realised the entertainment value it would bring to our channel.’
Steyn explained that IntelliLAB is part of the engineering department of UJ and is all about the generation of innovative ideas. “IntelliLAB is one of 10 start-up ventures initiated by the UJ’s Resultion Circle, which helps develop student projects into real world situations. Through Professor Willem Clark, the head of the electrical engineering department at UJ, we recently produced a TV show about UJ’s solar car project. It was broadcast on TopTV’s Top Learning channel.
“SugaRushed is not only the name of our new TV show, it is also the name of a record label that we created together with music producers Bradley Africa and DuPreez Strauss. Anyone is free to come and audition for them and this is all documented on the show. We have already been inundated with videos from would-be singers, songwriters and instrumentalists hoping to reach fame and stardom in the music world.’
Steyn noted that he pitched the concept to TopTV when its interim CEO Eddie Mbalo sent out a letter calling for innovative proposals. “Initially I approached TopTV about creating an entire channel for them but they didn’t have the required funds for such a project. Instead we managed to get a good licensing deal for the SugaRushed show. Once I got the go-ahead from TopTV, I called in top industry professional Anne Williams, who I’d always wanted to work with.
“Before commencing production Anne and I looked at all aspects of the music industry, including rights and royalties, recording contracts, etc. All these issues feature in the show. SugaRushed specifically focuses on original musical content and we’re exploring new online revenue models for talent in the local music business.’
Steyn and Williams have a small crew of 10, comprising students, graduates and “kids who were jobless’. They rotate between cameras, editing and storyboarding, which means the show also serves as an on-the-job training ground.
“All these kids were newbies in the industry and in just two months they’ve grown into TV professionals. We don’t have a sponsor for the show so our budget per minute is low but the TopTV deal allows us to exploit the rights of the show. I’ve already had interest from some African broadcasters in this regard.’
The team shoots an episode and a half a day and is producing two seasons of 60 episodes each. There are two recording suites in the IntelliLAB studio and an offsite ProTools suite manned by professional engineer Sudhir Misrah, who features in some of the episodes.
In terms of SugaRushed’s online presence Steyn is seeking a cell phone partner. He is also in the process of installing streaming cameras so that visitors to www.sugarushed.com can see all the action.
SugaRushed has already attracted much interest on its website and Facebook pages.
Together with Africa and Strauss, PA Penelope Moila and marketing manager Refilwe Modiselle appear as themselves in the daily soap.
Report by Joanna Sterkowicz