What to look forward to in 2018

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TheWorkRoom (Photo by Stephen Webster)

Industry professionals weigh in with their hopes and expectations for the New Year…

Turbulent 2017 is almost passed, and the South African film production industry can reflect on a year of exciting growth and development. Not only were some extraordinary films produced – including powerful documentaries (Strike a Rock), bold and controversial dramas (The Wound) and stylish genre experiments (Five Fingers for Marseille) – but partnerships throughout the industry have deepened, and South African film professionals are becoming increasingly sought-after for their skills and expertise.

This strong performance, not to mention the swell of young filmmaking talent that this country possesses, points to the possibility of even bigger and brighter things on the horizon for 2018. We caught up with seven leading film industry professionals and asked them what they were most looking forward to heading into the New Year. From exciting feature productions to new industry initiatives and increases in technological capacity, their responses predict another buzzing year for South African film and television in 2018.

Karen Meiring, director of Channels at kykNET:

“We have a very exciting slate for 2018. We will be premiering two films from the talented director Christiaan Olwagen (Johnny Is Nie Dood Nie), namely Kanarie and Die Seemeeu. The year will enjoy some standout female performances, such as Diaan Lawrenson and June van Merch in Raaiselkind (February 2018), and Jill Levenberg in Ellen, which will premiere at the 2018 kykNET Silwerskermfees. kykNET will also showcase some exciting new voices next year with films such as Nommer 37 (May 2018) and Wonderlus (April 2018).

Verona Duwarkah, CEO of Urban Brew Studios (Johannesburg):

“Urban Brew Studios will launch its new and improved studios by mid-2018. Situated at Brightwater Commons in Randburg, Johannesburg, the main studio will now measure 1 000 square metres. This is in addition to a variety of other studios of different sizes as well. Urban Brew Studios will be equipped to produce shows of all genres in various formats. With legendary productions like Live AMP, YOTV and RGB, Urban Brew Studios will continue to create innovative shows that capture the attention of audiences across all platforms.”

Stephen Webster, director and head engineer at TheWorkRoom (Cape Town):

“2018 is a big year for TheWorkRoom with the launch of our new studio facility based in Woodstock. This facility will feature a host of new benefits including larger suites, projection screens, as well as comfortable indoor and outdoor working environments. We expect to see an increase in Virtual Reality (VR) content delivered next year, as personal VR devices become mainstream and industry VR workflows begin to stabilise. We also expect the continued growth of immersive audio formats like Dolby Atmos™, Auro-3D and DTS-X, as clients start to see the creative benefits of these formats.”

Bradley Joshua, business manager of Gambit Films (Cape Town):

“Gambit Films has completed the feature film Nommer 37 and we are looking forward to its local release during May 2018. Up until that time it is being submitted to international festivals, and our hope is that this film will make it into at least one big international festival before its local release. When the film is released locally, we are sure that audiences will flock to take in this ‘edge-of-your-seat’ thriller.”

Louise Barnes, managing director of EarCandy (Johannesburg): 

“EarCandy has seen an increase in the demand for dubbing into South African vernacular. We have dubbed premier children’s animation shows into isiXhosa and isiZulu this year, and we’re excited about this trend continuing into 2018. This allows content creators to extend their value chain throughout the African continent and beyond, and from the industry standpoint, the advantage of dubbing is that it increases and extends the value for production houses.”

Luke Rous, producer/co-founder of Rous House Productions (Johannesburg):

“Rous House Productions has had a very interesting 2017, starting off with nine SAFTA nominations and three wins for High Rollers, and the successful collaboration as both mentors for and partners with the kykNET Silwerskermfees for the second year running. But most of all, we have highly enjoyed returning to our comedy roots with the production of two kykNET sitcoms, Elke Skewe Pot and Die Kasteel… Next year will start off with Die Kasteel, which starts screening on kykNET from 10 January at 20h30. The show follows the De Wet family who own and run a boutique hotel in Waterkloof, Pretoria; it’s a farcical comedy shot in front of a live audience, and it’s been a rip-roaring ride for us. Our director Josh Rous hasn’t shot a feature film since 2012’s box-office hit Semi Soet, so in May we’ll be shooting our next feature with him, Bruid Van Die Jaar, a rom-com about a girl who is a bit too obsessed with a bride of the year competition, which will be released in the last quarter of 2018. In July 2018, we’ll be following up the success of the first season of Elke Skewe Pot with a second season of the show for kykNET. Other than that, there are plenty of projects on our slate and the rise of Video on Demand platforms in South Africa is going to be where a lot of our attention goes next year. We’ve begun work on a few of these players already – so watch this space.”

Written by David Cornwell

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