Number Number, the film which brought Sdumo Mtshali, winner of talent search competition Class Act, his film break will soon be taking over the small screen as a drama series by production company Quizzical Pictures.
“Sdumo in fact was the winner of Class Act 1, our acting reality show and writing a movie for him to star in was part of his prize. This is how iNumber Number was originally born,” says Harriet Gavshon, the managing director of Quizzical Pictures, who is also the producer of the iNumber Number film and now the executive producer of the television series.
In the film by Donavan Marsh, two main characters – Chilli Ngcobo played by Mtshali and Shoes Moshoeshoe played by Presley Chweneyagae from the Oscar-winning film Tsotsi – are law abiding undercover policemen. Together they solve a huge case but are cheated out of their big reward by their corrupt superiors. This result in a bitter Chilli plotting a way to get him and his partner the money that he feels they were entitled to, which involves busting into a cash-in-transit heist gang scheme.
iNumber Number had its international premier in 2013 at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film was then shown locally at the Jozi Film Festival in February 2014 where it earned an audience award, and was released in cinemas nationwide on 25 April 2014.
After a successful reign on the big screen, the remake rights of the film were awarded to Universal Pictures while Quizzical Pictures retained the rights to make a local television series/spin-off of the film.
“The two main characters Chilli and Shoes are great characters which we felt could have a life outside a feature film. They are also wonderful actors so we are really keen to work with them again,” says Gavshon.
She says that a deal with Mzansi Magic has been in the pipeline since 2015 with Showmax Originals recently coming on board as a co-producer alongside Mzansi Magic – this, after Showmax’s recent venture into original content production.
“This will be amongst the first original productions on the Showmax platform and we’re really pleased to be working with them. This is hopefully a blueprint for the funding of future productions,” she affirms.
The 13-week series started shooting on May 2017 using a different production team from the one used on the movie. However Marsh, the writer and director of iNumber Number, still assists the new team whenever he can, while pursuing his own film productions.
“Brendan Jury, who did the brilliant original movie soundtrack, is doing this soundtrack too; and Janno Muller from on-key sound is doing the sound design again,” shares Gavshon.
This is Quizzical’s first film-to-TV series adaptation which Gavshon agrees comes with its own hurdles and challenges, however for iNumber Number fans this new format promises new plots and twists to the original storyline.
“It is very challenging. Firstly, a film is a once-off event. The series has to live in people’s home for 13 weeks. The aesthetic has to change; it has to be a much more intimate experience. Also, we spent 25 days shooting the film. We don’t have that kind of luxury here,” she shares.
Set in the upbeat, sprawling township of Alexandra, Johannesburg and its urban juxtaposing settings in Yeoville and Houghton, “The series is a mixture of gritty and sumptuous – because of the story and where it is set,” explains Gavshon.
The iNumber Number series promises to be action-packed with all the drama and suspense, guns, squibs, car chases and shoot-outs that one can expect from a crime-thriller TV series.
The series is shot on the Sony FS7 cameras. “They handle handheld very well and can shoot up to 4K which we needed for the action sequences.”
Gavshon expands: “The series is being shot on two cameras with easy rigs – so it has a handheld feel, like the original movie, to give it a sense of immediacy. But it is not as stylised as the movie – we adapted the style to appeal to a television audience and for the small screen. It’s a different proposition but hopefully as exciting and tense as the original movie.”
Mzansi Magic viewers can expect to see the first episode of iNumber Number the series on 9 July 2017.
“The series is tense and exciting but has a very human and compelling emotional story at its heart. There are some big surprises,” Gavshon concludes.
- Camera: Sony FS7
“They (Sony FS7’s cameras) handle handheld very well and can shoot up to 4K which we needed for the action sequences.”
– Harriet Gavshon
Executive Producer: Harriet Gavshon and JP Potgieter
Producer: Siphiwe Hlabangane
Directors: Rolie Nikiwe, Catherine Cooke, Rea Rangaka
DOP: Gavin Sterley
Line Producer: Diane Alex Flak
Music Composer: Brendan Jury