Home Authors Posts by Chanelle Ellaya

Chanelle Ellaya

Chanelle Ellaya is the editor of Screen Africa. She completed her BA Journalism degree at the University of Johannesburg in 2011. While writing is her passion, she has a keen interest in the media in various capacities. Chanelle is an avid social media networker and a firm believer in the power of social and online networking. Between writing and tweeting, she finds time to feed her love for live music.

Netflix increases investment in Africa


Netflix premiered its first script-to-screen African original production, Queen Sono, on 28 February. Created by Kagiso Lediga, directed by Tebogo Malope and starring Pearl Thusi, the spy-thriller marks the start of the streaming giant’s investment in Africa.

Following hot on the heels of Queen Sono’s global release, the company recently announced its next African original: the yet-to-be-titled ‘Akin Omotoso project’ from Nigeria. 

Dorothy Ghettuba, who heads up African Originals at Netflix, was in Johannesburg ahead of the Queen Sono release where she expanded on the company’s “Made in Africa, Seen by the World” narrative and the company’s future investment plans for the continent. “Netflix believes that great stories come from anywhere and will be loved everywhere. We want to tell amazing stories tailored to different languages, different tastes, and different moods. The intention is to showcase African talent not only to African audiences but to the rest of the world,” said Ghettuba. “We believe that more people should see their lives reflected on screen which is why we want to tell African stories to other Africans and to people around the world.”

According to Ghettuba, Netflix sees the value in having a slate that offers diversity and variety, and they believe that key to this is working with creators from across the globe, to tell stories from every corner of the world: “As a global business that spans all over the world, it’s incredibly important for us to make sure our slate reflects the diverse cultures and experiences of our members, especially in Africa. Netflix has already made important investments in the African content space, with Netflix Originals and the licensing of African content.”

For those hoping to one day join the likes of Queen Sono creator Kagiso Lediga and get their stories streamed to viewers around the world, Ghettuba says a passion for storytelling is vital and that it’s important to remember that the company is not making South African content just for South Africa, but for the world, and so ultimately, the strength and uniqueness of the story is what matters the most.

“First and foremost, we look for great storytellers because we believe that great stories can transcend borders. We commission based on human intuition and judgement. The key, like in many creative endeavours, is the strength of the idea and the creative team behind it. We want to work with passionate creators who have a story they want to tell and one that the world wants to watch. We give talent the freedom to tell those stories – some of which have never been seen before – exactly how they want. We then have the ability to distribute these projects on a global stage. We’ve built a strong reputation with the creative community this way, and we have a deep and diverse set of executives around the world who continue to champion these passion projects,” explains Ghettuba.

“We want to tell amazing stories tailored to the different languages, different tastes, and different moods of our members. You may crave an unscripted series to watch alone on a Wednesday, but then want to enjoy a comedy with your friends or family on a Friday night,” she continues. “People’s moods and tastes vary, so we want to make sure we always have your next favourite series, including stories that didn’t previously get told because linear TV had limited shelf-space. That’s also why we invest in a variety of content, such as limited series, short-form series, concert specials, animated series and stand-up specials. Diversity and variety are key.”

“African content has the ability to travel all over the world – good stories transcend borders. There’s a wealth of diversity, multiplicity and beauty in African stories that have yet to be told and we want to be top of mind for creators, especially when it comes to stories they haven’t had a chance to tell yet,” Ghettuba concludes.

Inside the making of Trap! Dis My Huis


Currently screening on Afrikaans lifestyle channel VIA (DStv 147), new South African TV show Trap! Dis My Huis – co-presented by Amalia Uys and Zoë Brown – is based on the hit international Fremantle television format titled Get The F*CK Out Of My House.

Produced by Cape Town-based production house Afrokaans Film & Television, Trap! Dis My Huis sees 50 strangers living together in a two-bedroom house – equipped with supplies for just two people – for a chance to win R1 million. “The original format caters for 100 people in a four-bedroom house over 30 days or longer,” says Afrokaans producer and founding partner Handrie Basson, “but we had to scale down the format for effective production budget control and compelling storytelling. The VIA version is for 50 people in a two-bedroom house for 18 days.”

With cameras recording their every move 24/7, the housemates must spend three weeks together in the two-bedroom house without leaving. If a housemate wishes to leave the house, they are free to do so, but this means that they are also choosing to leave the competition. Contestants are also regularly voted out of the house by their fellow housemates.

An intensely focused production

The casting team selected potential housemates based on their short video and questionnaire submissions that were submitted via the online audition platform, Short Audition. “Our casting team then sorted and shortlisted candidates, and did follow-up interviews to select a final cast of 50,” says Basson.

The production crew had their work cut out for them, tracking the various subjects 24 hours a day, for the full 18 days. Working with a large number of contestants, cooped up in a confined space, brings about its own set of unique challenges. And the fact that contestants could leave the house voluntarily at any given moment meant that the crew had to be prepared for a walk-out at any time of day. “An amazing part of the production was to monitor 50 individual audio tracks at all times and making sure that the individual microphone packs were always functioning and powered up. Keeping on top of all the story developments in a house with 50 contestants, meant that our content producers – in fact, the entire control room – had to be glued to the camera monitors constantly to ensure that we are abreast of all conversations, emotions and strategies,” comments Basson. “Designing and setting up the episodic challenges had to be of such a nature that we could continue filming non-stop – without having to break for set-ups and striking of challenge builds and props.”

These restrictions pushed the Afrokaans team to think outside of the box in order to create feasible yet compelling games and challenges for the contestants. “It was an intensely focused production across the board and our crew managed to pull it off spectacularly,” says Basson.

Great entertainment for viewers and guaranteed ratings for broadcasters

The reality TV show has previously had successful editions in the Netherlands, Germany and Brazil. Basson says that the format first caught his attention a few years ago at MIPTV: “After attending MIPTV in Cannes, France a few years back, we spotted the Fremantle format, called Get The F*CK Out Of My House, creating great buzz at the market and we were adamant about bringing it to South Africa. Afrokaans negotiated the rights with Fremantle and found a broadcast partner in VIA to bring this exciting format to South African audiences.”

Afrokaans specialises in unscripted formats, both internationally acquired and original, for South African broadcasters and content platforms. The company also produces lifestyle series and branded content, as well as productions in the scripted genre. Some of their recent projects include Survivor SA (international format) and The Scene (original format) for M-Net; Hoor My Sien My Soen My (international format) for kykNET; Style Squad (original branded content format) for Mzansi Magic; as well as In Ons Midde, Mooi, Dit Proe Soos Huis and Die Kliek (all original formats) for VIA.

Localised international formats are hugely popular in the South African television market – think Survivor, Come Dine With Me, The Bachelor, Masterchef and Dinner Date, to name a few – but while producing home-grown versions of these formats guarantees reward, executing these productions effectively for the local market can be challenging.

“South African TV audiences are becoming more and more sophisticated and demanding in their content choices, and broadcasters and South African production companies have to deliver to these demands,” says Basson. “International formats executed locally allows South Africans to see themselves on TV in international success stories and it brings a unique flavour to tried and tested TV formulas, but it is sometimes difficult to execute international formats on the same scale as our overseas counterparts, because local production budgets often do not allow the scale and production values that one sees in international executions.

“However, South Africans are creative, resourceful and innovative when working around restrictions and smaller budgets. The pay-off is huge when it is done authentically and professionally as our local versions of international formats provide great entertainment for viewers and guaranteed ratings for broadcasters,” he adds.

A huge technical challenge

Afrokaans engaged with Visual Impact SA to provide their trusted turnkey technical support on this format execution. “A producer is only as good as their suppliers and crew,” says Darren Lindsay, supervising producer at Afrokaans. According to Stefan Nell – digital imaging HOD at Visual Impact – this was no easy feat. “The concept of the show is fantastic and I knew that this was a project that would be a huge technical challenge as well as a lot of hard work to deliver a high-quality workflow and ensure that Afrokaans had a top class show to deliver to VIA.”

Once a location had been confirmed, Nell went on a technical recce with Afrokaans supervising producer, Darren Lindsay, and the two immediately realised that the way the technical was executed on the Dutch version of the show would not work for Trap! Dis My Huis. “The Dutch had a lot of space and we did not. The location was a two-bedroom, two-bathroom tiny show house for a complex development in Kuils Rivier,” explains Nell. “There were 50 people that were going to have to inhabit the limited space. It did not take us long to realise that we needed a far different approach in accomplishing the technical requirements of the South African version of the show.”


Around the same time, Visual Impact had acquired a large number of PTZOptics hot head cameras for another format show and the decision was made to use 20 of those on Trap! Dis My Huis. The use of the hot heads combined with two ENG-operated cameras would form the basis of the content acquisition workflow – successfully capturing the action without compromising the integrity of the show format.

“We also combined the PTZOptics cameras with four Canon XU81 cameras for the exterior of the house, as Canons are water- and weatherproof. For the ENG cameras, we decided to use the super reliable work horse that is the Sony PMW 400s, which have been a staple on most of the reality shows that Visual Impact has serviced,” Nell adds.


Determining how best to tackle lighting for the show was just as challenging for Nell and his team, until they settled on the Parvo LED tubes, which are RGBW and can be controlled via Wi-Fi. “These tubes turned out to be the perfect choice as their form factor is not much more than a regular fluorescent tube minus the actual lighting fixture,” Nell explains. “This enabled us to control not only the colour temperature of the lights to match the ambient light spilling in from outside, but also the intensity during the different phases of a day.”

The Parvo LED tubes also allowed the team to set the time of day in the psyche of the contestants by changing from daylight to tungsten in the evening, and then dropping the intensity to 1% on the LEDs at bedtime. “This was not enough light to bother the contestants but enough for the PTZ optics hot heads to expose without too much signal noise. The exterior lighting was provided by our trusty Velvet 2 x 1 LED panels as they are water- and weatherproof and emit the most gorgeous soft light,” adds Nell.


According to Nell, rigging the show was “a laborious process as the hot heads would always be in shot and, as such, all cabling would have to run super neatly and be glued into place.” Nevertheless, Visual Impact’s top technicians Roedolph Louw, Thomas van Greuning and Mcini Jarvani, assisted by the company’s newest team member Sam Maritz and two interns from the Visuals Academy, Siyabulela Mvulana and Giovanni Campher, got the rigging done in just one week. As space was seriously limited in the ceiling cavity the team had to “fish cables into the roof with a PVC pipe and a hook to reach into the corners of the house,” says Nell.

Master Control Room

The control room for Trap! Dis My Huis was set up in the double garage of the house, which was impressively converted into a cutting-edge Master Control Room (MCR). The MCR was kitted out with a Blackmagic Design 4K ATEM for Afrokaans director, Mareli Olivier, to do the vision controlling as the workflow required that up to eight streams were captured at any time. “These streams were being recorded onto the tried and trusted PIX 270i recorders from Sound Devices. Using these recorders allowed us to make use of the Dante system by integration with a system provided by Stratosphere Sound, whereby all audio tracks are imbedded into all the video tracks,” says Nell.

The Visual Impact team made use of three different controllers for PTZ control – a Vaddio precision camera controller for the Canons; and the pro controllers from PTZOptics for the hot heads. “This enabled us to pre-program camera positions instead of relying on a joystick for control,” Nell explains. “This proved to be the best way to run a show where we had four different operators running various shifts, but having to maintain the same shot set ups for presenter positions, etc.

“I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised with the results obtained for Trap! Dis My Huis. It was a fantastic format to work on and the content that was created is absolute gold,” says Nell. “Visual Impact is proud to say that we delivered a great technical setup and workflow to our client Afrokaans Film & Television and they in turn delivered a gem of a show to VIA,” he concludes.

Top prime-time ratings

Trap! Dis My Huis premiered on 15 January 2020 on VIA (DStv 147), in a prime-time slot, exceeding channel ratings expectations and creating massive buzz on social media nationally.

“We’re ecstatic about the great reception Trap! Dis My Huis has been met with. The first four episodes performed consistently strong, rating well above the benchmark for its prime-time timeslot. In fact, ratings for the show have been climbing week on week,” comments Charles Povey, VIA commissioning editor.

“This is due, in no small part, to the talented team at Afrokaans who were brave enough to take on this challenging format. What’s more, Trap! Dis My Huis has proven to be a major source of talkability – a dream for any broadcaster – with VIA’s social media burning up with comments from viewers. As a channel, we’re proud to share this excitingly different content with DStv viewers.”

The KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission turns five


This year marks five years since the inception of the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission (KZNFC). We spoke to Carol Coetzee, KZNFC CEO, about what the commission has accomplished over the last five years, and what lies ahead.

The KZNFC was established in 2014/15, with a very clear mandate to attract investment to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province through the promotion of film locations and to position the province as a choice film destination.

“KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), with its warm weather and beautiful beaches, has long been a leading tourist destination in the country. Furthermore, there has always been a clear, mutually beneficial relationship between film and tourism,” says Coetzee. “The provincial government identified the creative sector as a priority sector in KZN and, given the potential impact of the film sector, the commission was established to facilitate the growth thereof through specific interventions.”

According to Coetzee, although still in its infancy, the KZN film industry is seeing positive growth year on year: “In 2017 and 2019, KZNFC-funded films have been the highest-grossing local films at the South African box office, earning over R17m and R18m respectively. This results in the capital recoupment flowing back into the KZNFC, allowing us to fund more projects,” says Coetzee.

The biggest challenge currently inhibiting the KZN film industry’s growth is a combination of the skills gap and a lack of film studios.  Over and above the bursary programme, the commission has invested, on average, R5m per annum towards the development of local filmmakers through free industry workshops and training programmes. “There is still an issue of retaining talent in the province, as there aren’t enough productions to employ young filmmakers, but as the industry grows and local film producers shift towards producing made-for-TV content, we will begin to see a change in this area. The KZNFC funding conditions ensure that local businesses and crew participate in the productions through a minimum of 50% production budgets being spent in the province,” says Coetzee. 

Since its inception, the KZNFC has established and implemented a number of initiatives:

  • The KZNFC Bursary Scheme has awarded a total of 138 bursaries with 36 students graduating over the past five years. The two-year internship has seen 30 young people undertake the programme successfully.
  • The KwaZulu-Natal Film Cluster, which provides a range of solutions for aspiring and existing filmmakers from shared workspaces to high speed internet connectivity, has made it easier and more affordable for filmmakers to access equipment, post-production facilities, sound studios as well as training and development programmes.
  • The KZNFC also hosts community screenings, throughout the province, aimed at developing local audiences and ensuring that local films are consumed by those who do not have access or simply cannot afford to go to the cinema.
  • The KZNFC Film Fund assists in funding projects for development, production and post-production, as well as marketing of the finished product.
  • The Marketing Fund supports audience development initiatives; provides funding for filmmakers to attend Film & TV markets and festivals; and aids in the marketing and distribution of the film.

Looking back on the last five years, Coetzee is extremely proud of what the commission has achieved within the province, having funded a total of 236 projects to the value of more than R250m – of which 177 are in development and 59 are in production. Additionally, 113 projects are underway with new applications being received every month. Coetzee adds that the KZNFC has also encouraged co-production between local filmmakers and filmmakers across the continent and the African diaspora. “Through this drive, a co-production with Nigeria was realised in 2015. Currently, there are 10 more films being developed and produced through our collaboration with Nigeria, Kenya and the minority communities in the UK, to the value of R63.5m.”

Additionally, since its establishment the commission has supported more than 60 filmmakers with financing to travel to and showcase their productions at national and international festivals and markets. The recently-formed Quality Boost Programme for made-for-TV movies is intended to improve audio and video quality of these productions; shorten the time-period between development and production; arrange pre-sale deals with broadcasters; and improve efficiencies in these productions. The KZNFC will take on six made-for-TV productions under this programme in 2020/21.

Looking forward, over the next five years the commission aims to establish a thriving and sustainable local film industry, one in which local films are consumed by the masses. “We hope to have attracted big international film producers to the province, to have film as a major economic contributor in our province, to have developed the necessary infrastructure to support the industry and to see more of our films on international platforms,” says Coetzee.

“We are looking at the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how we can equip our filmmakers to remain relevant and competitive in this changing, technology-driven industry. We also would like to see active participation in senior roles by local black crew with a strong bias towards women and youth. Our programmes on sustainable filmmaking must see a shift in production methods benefiting not only the environment but the budgets of productions. The drive in fighting gender bias and gender based violence must lead to tangible outcomes and a proud filming community with strong values and impeccable code of conduct. Another passion of the commission is ensuring that all South Africans have access to local content and a special drive to include audio-descriptive captioning with our projects,” Coetzee concludes.

Durban FilmMart partners with Talents Durban and announces call for applications for 2020 edition

The Durban FilmMart has announced a new partnership with Talents Durban, as applications open for the 2020 edition.

Talents Durban is a five-day talent development programme, which has been presented in Durban, South Africa for the past 12 years in co-operation with Berlinale Talents, an initiative of the Berlin International Film Festival. This year’s Talents Durban edition is scheduled to take place from 16 to 20 July.

Up to 20 emerging African filmmakers and emerging film critics are selected to attend the programme. Talents Durban comprises workshops and seminars by industry experts with opportunities to connect with a global network of film industry professionals, and benchmark their work against African and global trends.

“Through discussion with the Berlinale Talents and the Durban International Film Festival, in which Talents was previously housed, we felt that as an industry facing programme, that it was a logical fit for it to be incorporated into the Durban FilmMart,” said Toni Monty, current Head of the DFM.

Christine Tröstrum, Project Manager of the Berlinale Talents commented, “Talents began in Durban ahead of the creation of the DFM 13 years ago. The Talents programme and the DFM have both now evolved into solid vital industry initiatives on the African continent. With our shared aim to create again more synergies in project development and promotion, we are sure that the intensified collaboration will provide some excellent opportunities for the participants.”

The DFM also announced the appointment, Menzi Mhlongo as the Manager of the programme for the 13th edition in 2020. “Menzi Mhlongo has been the Project Manager of Talents since 2017, and brings a wealth of institutional knowledge to the table, providing programme stability and excellent curatorial experience,’ said Toni Monty.

“The framework for the Talents Durban programme remains the same,” said Menzi Mhlongo. “This is a just an operational shift, and we will continue to support emerging talents from the continent – with a special attention to promoting a community of filmmakers to inspire growth and expansion of African cinema. I am very excited about working more closely with the industry through the platforms that the DFM provides.”

The Talents Durban programme comprises a Storytelling Lab for three features, three shorts and three TV/Web series currently in development; a Doc Lab in which three Talents Durban with documentary projects are given expert mentorship and can pitch their projects at the Durban FilmMart’s African Pitching Forum; the Animation Lab which is open to screenwriters and animation directors with animation projects and Talent Press which offers mentorship for three emerging African film critics and journalists

The Talents will also be able to participate and interact within the formal DFM (17-20 July) programme with the expected 1000 delegates in attendance this year.

Applications for Talents Durban are now open online here. Talents Durban will cover participants’ accommodation, airfare, and market accreditation. Deadline for application is 24 April 2020. Selected projects will be announced mid-May 2020.

Talents Durban is one of seven Talents International initiatives around the world formed by Berlinale Talents. It is an initiative of the Durban FilmMart in cooperation with Berlinale Talents, with support from the Durban Film Office, the Gauteng Film Commission, the International Emerging Film Talent Association, and the Namibia Film Commission.

In conversation with award-winning female DoP, Gaopie Kabe


We spoke to award-winning cinematographer Gaopie Kabe about making her way in film, how she continues to thrive as a black female in a male-dominated industry and the process of shooting Lockdown season 5…

Give us a sense of your background as a cinematographer? 

I am born and raised in the South Western Township of Johannesburg, Soweto. I went to Boston Media House, where I did a media course and specialised in video broadcasting. I began working in this industry at the end of my second year. I started at the bottom of the chain, as a trainee both in the lighting and camera department on a feature film called Gums and Noses. I worked my way up on different projects over the years, from being a loader, then first assistant camera to camera operator and now an award-winning director of photography. I’m grateful that my film school has been, and still is, the hours learning on set.

How did you get involved in the production of Lockdown?

I got involved in the production of Lockdown in its first season. I got an invite from BlackBrain Productions to meet with the director and co-owner, Mandla N, just to chat about the production. Let’s just say, I walked in for a chat and like my agent put it… “That carrot was dangled proper.” The story got me and I couldn’t resist. I was sold. I walked out of there wanting to shoot this series badly!

What excites you most about working on this project?

What excites me the most about Lockdown is the story, the characters and the fact that it is a South African original series. Lockdown has the most talented cast and crew – and five seasons later that still gets me, a lot!

Tell us about the approach you took when shooting Lockdown season five and why?  

When I learned that the show was moving from Mzansi to Showmax, I thought that this was a great opportunity to change things up a little. I decided to change cameras from Arri Amiras to Arri Minis. I also decided to go for glass with higher contrast than the previous seasons, motivated by the storyline getting darker with every season. Lockdown season five was lensed on Panavision Primo Primes.

What was the most challenging part of the shoot for you?

The most challenging thing about Lockdown season five was the limited amount of prep and shooting time we had. I am a true believer in fixing it in prep and not in post.

As a sought-after, award-winning black female cinematographer in South Africa, how do you keep succeeding in a particularly male-dominated industry?

My hard work, determination and hunger to create amazing pictures and tell good narratives are what keep me going and succeeding in this male-dominated industry. Cinematography is my life! I love everything about it. The combination of a great script with a talented director, cast and crew is my absolute best. It keeps my passion in check and wanting to strive more with each project. 

What are some of your favourite productions that you’ve worked on?
In no particular order, my five favourite productions I’ve worked on are Lockdown, Valedictory: The Movie, Inside Man, Kissing Booth and A Measure Of A Woman.

What would you say makes a great cinematographer?

I think cinematography is about collaborating. As the DoP, you need to understand the director’s vision and work closely with the other departments to make that vision come true. So, a great cine is a leader and a collaborator at the same time. Being a good listener is a cherry on top! 

What advice would you give to young female DoPs wanting to succeed in this industry? 

When I first started, it was completely unheard of to be a black female in the camera department and, in fact, I was discouraged by many folks who said I wouldn’t make it far. I guess the nature of the profession is male-dominated and it can be very physical and mentally challenging, but I believe that one’s gender cannot determine one’s talent. So my advice to aspiring female cinematographers is to never give up! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Also take the time to learn and pay your dues… and most importantly keep those cameras rolling!

What next for Gaopie Kabe?

I’m currently in prep for my first international drama series. I am pretty excited for this one. I can’t talk too much about it, but I am putting my all into it… like with every production I do.

What was your gear list for Lockdown season five?

I think you’d need a double spreadsheet for my gear to fit on a list… But I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the guys at Panavision Johannesburg for coming through for the girl and making all of this season possible! 

In conversation with multi-award-winning director Rea Moeti


Screen Africa spoke to multi-award-winning director Rea Moeti, director and creator of Showmax’s latest Original, the soon to be released coming-of-age comedy series Woke in Progress

Tell us a bit about your background and how it has shaped you as a director?

I grew up as an only child, living with my grandparents. A lot of the time it was just the three of us, so I had to entertain myself. I think that pushed me to be a very imaginative child and explore myself creatively through art and craft, painting and drawing. I would call that the start of my storytelling journey.

As the creator and director of Showmax’s latest Original, Woke in Progress, can you tell us what inspired you to create this series?

I wanted to tell a story about two friends who are exploring the city together, inspired by my own experiences exploring Cape Town with a friend. I just thought of it in a different context: Maboneng in Johannesburg.

The series is set in the uber-trendy Maboneng. What informed this choice and what has it been like shooting in the area?

It’s this really colourful place where young people are together, being free and exploring themselves creatively. It’s chaotic filming in public, in the street, and trying to control the environment.

There have been a lot of spontaneous, unexpected moments with members of the public – but Maboneng has been very friendly and accommodating to us. We’ve had a very good time shooting there; it’s been fun.

What is it like working with Showmax?

Showmax have been a pleasure to work with. They have really pushed me and Emma [de Wet] as writers to be as creative as possible, to think outside the box, to think new and to think big. Working with Candice [Fangueiro], Shaamila [Fataar] and the team has been great. We’ve had such great chemistry as an all-female team.

It’s also been inspiring to work with their massive marketing team, which is also female-led. It’s been such a new, positive experience that’s been so encouraging and has got the best out of us.

Your previous works include the award-winning short film Mma Moeketsi and TV drama series Lockdown to name a few, but you have said that comedy is your first love. What do you love most about comedy?

I love comedy because it’s part of my childhood; that’s what I grew up watching. I watched a lot of television, especially animation, and it was always fun for me to be able to laugh and be entertained by all the ridiculous things animation is able to do, in slapstick ways but also in these magical realism ways.

I also liked watching comedy, especially characters like Steve Urkel and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and South African comedies like Sgudi ‘Snaysi and Suburban Bliss. There have been so many comedies that have shaped the South African landscape of entertainment and television and inspired me as a creative. I also like satire a lot; I like being able to make social commentary in funny ways.

Showmax and Netflix are investing a lot more in local content, why do you think that is?

A lot more South Africans have access to television than there are film and cinema goers, so it makes sense to invest in local content for the small screen because that is where a lot of South African consumers are. And it’s obvious that South Africa consumes local when it comes to television, so it would be a mistake for Showmax and Netflix not to recognise that.

In your opinion, what value do these digital platforms hold for emerging filmmakers and how can they best utilise these avenues?

The digital platforms are as emerging as the content creators are; they are newer than traditional television. To work with SABC and e.tv, you have to understand the system, which is very strict, with a lot of red tape in terms of how to become a vendor and make content there. Whereas with Showmax, there’s more fluidity and less red tape.

What in your opinion is the key to creating a successful television show in South Africa?

This is my first time as a creator and showrunner seeing the project all the way through from conception to post. I’m learning as I go, so I’ll only be able to say what the key is in retrospect.

One key I can say right now is people management. You need to be able to carry the vision through to the end, with flexibility at times, because you write something on the page and it’s not always what you see on the day, so you need to be flexible and work with what you have so you still have something successful when you’re done.

What next for Rea Moeti?

I’m making a feature film, so look out for that.

When you’re not on set, you are…?

I’ll find out in 2020 when I have more time off-set. I’ve been on set back-to-back for so long, and when I’m not on set I’ve been writing, trying to finish my feature film. For the past four years, I have been working myself to the bone and trying to take all the opportunities ahead of me; I’m really not giving myself as much time to rest as I’d like to, or to be as social as I used to be.

Promax Africa 2019 speaker line-up

The Promax awards represent excellence in the global media and marketing space, and are regarded as the most prestigious awards for creative endeavour in the field. On 7 November, leading South African and African creatives working in on-air marketing, branding and the design of video content will come together under one roof for the 2019 edition of the Promax Africa conference and awards. Award-winners will be announced at the close of the annual conference, which will take place at The Maslow Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg on the same day.

Delivering on its promise to inspire and challenge creatives year after year, the Promax Africa conference programme will once again present informative, original and alternative sessions helmed by leading players in the global media industry.

“It’s become everyday speak. Change, morph, reposition, rebrand, relaunch, reinvent. The eternal brand story! But how do you do it, and do it well? How do you make sure that it’s relevant for your entire audience? The answers are in the Promax Africa 2019 Re.Invent line-up. In one exciting day you can find inspiring perspectives on our industry with lightning-bolt sessions to spark ideas, solutions and of course, all possible ways to Re.Invent,” said Promax Africa chairman, Elouise Kelly in her 2019 letter.

“Each session, from the Keynote address, to the multiple discussion forums, are designed to provoke, challenge, teach and invigorate. Join some of the most creative thinkers, from different corners of the world and harness their insights to chart a future focused, trailblazing reinvention journey. It’s, quite frankly, unmissable!”

Promax Africa 2019 speakers include:

Michael Morgan

Raised on cartoons, video games and movies, Michael Morgan became a professional Animator in 2000, working in Video Games, Television/ Commercials and VFX Films.

Morgan will present a session titled Animate Your World, where he’ll discuss his journey in the world of Animation and Visual Storytelling.

Tim Hughes

With a background in TV promotions, branding and marketing, Tim Hughes is global expert in creative brand strategy and founder of The Brief Doctor. Hughes previously ran strategy for Discovery UK’s in-house creative agency and is a lifetime achievement award-winner and former chairman of Promax UK.

In his session, The Brief Doctor: Your Prescription for Better Creative, Hughes will teach delegates how to jump-start their briefs and resuscitate collaboration in order to deliver Promax Gold-winning creative.

Lee Hunt

Lee Hunt is founder of Lee Hunt LLC, a New York-based consultancy focusing on brand strategy, on-air architecture, competitive analysis and personnel training for television networks and media companies around the world. A strategist, trainer, and industry thought leader, Hunt’s success in launching and positioning channel brands, in addition to his pioneering work in audience management have set many of the standards for our industry.

Hunt will present two sessions at this year’s Promax Africa conference: the first, titled New Best Practices 2019, is his annual Promax keynote in which he explores the best practices that are disrupting and transforming our industry. This year Hunt takes a deep dive into the opportunities for competing with and against both linear and streaming services.

Hunt’s second session, New Ad Sales Initiatives 2019, will look at the strategies, tactics, creative and most importantly, the success or failure of 6-second commercials, 30-second pods, LCI (Limited Commercial Interruption), JAZ (Just the A and Z), 2 x 20 (2 minutes of commercials/hour by 2020), Prime Pods with AI, Prediction Pods, Future Now, Absolute As, Shoppable Ads, Non-stop programming, and brand integrations.

Gavin Strange

Gavin Strange is a Director and Designer for UK creative studio Aardman Animations by day and by night he indulges in all manner of passion projects under the alias of JamFactory – from filmmaking to illustration, toy design to photography.

Strange’s accomplishments include author of motivational book Do Fly and co-founder of the contemporary design store ‘STRANGE’ with his wife.

In his talk, Graft, Craft and being Daft, Strange will share his stories and methods behind getting the most out of your time, conveyed via the medium of bright colours and animated GIFs. His presentation will focus on finding the energy and making the time to create things that matter.

Tebogo “Lepito33” Mogola

With more than a decade’s worth of experience on the frontlines of African entertainment content and creative production, SAFTA-winning creative Tebogo “Lepito33” Mogola is the former Senior Creative Manager for Viacom Africa and Co-Director of Sneaker Exchange.

In his session titled World Gold, Mogola – who is currently a partner at Don’t Look Down Productions – will showcase creative genius, inspirational thinking and straight-up insanity that should supercharge your work for the next 12 months.

Emile Rademeyer

Emile Rademeyer is Creative Director and Digital Placemaking Strategist at VANDAL in Sydney, Australia. Under Rademeyer’s direction, VANDAL combines the physical and digital worlds to enhance human experience and bridge the gap between art, advertising, digital media, content and culture. He further oversees executive curation of the VANDAL Art Gallery in Redfern, Sydney.

Rademeyer’s session, Augmented Reality is the Future of Advertising, will explore the idea that the future of advertising, art, entertainment, content and culture is in augmented reality. Showcasing impressive examples and case studies, the session will demonstrate how augmented reality alters human behaviour and will shape the future as never seen before.

Nokulunga Ncube

Currently the marketing head of department for local interest channels: Mzansi Magic, 1Magic, Mzansi Wethu and Channel-O, at M-Net South Africa, Nokulunga Ncube sets the portfolio brand strategy, drives viewer acquisition, retention and key partnerships for the channels.

Having previously worked at Ogilvy, JWT and Lowe Bull, Ncube began her career in advertising where she cut her teeth as a brand and communication strategist. She then moved on to brand management within the FMCG sector, working at Tiger Brands and Brasil Foods.

Ncube will speak as part of a panel discussion titled The State of our Art. The panel will feature five inspiring women who will offer their differing views on what is happening in the local and global market-place, and how this is driving each of them to find new answers to old questions.

Between them, they offer views from international channel marketing and on-air, local channel and local content marketing as well as Pay TV platform and content discovery marketing perspectives; on how their unique points of view and skill-sets are rising to the challenge of the ever-evolving industry and viewer landscape.

Pippa Tshabalala

Pippa Tshabalala is the On Air Manager for Viacom International Media Networks Africa, where she oversees the On Air team, producing promos and graphics for all the African brands. Tshabalala has a diverse background in television, animation, video games and academics, having worked as a lecturer, television presenter, magazine editor and a content and promo producer. Her accolades include speaking at TEDxSoweto, being named as one of Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans and being listed on BrandSA’s 40 under 40.

Tshabalala will speak as part of The State of Our Art panel discussion.

Samira Gerin-Singh

Samira Gerin-Singh is the Media Networks Marketing Manager for The Walt Disney Company Africa. Previously she worked as Head of the On Air and Creative Services department for FOX Networks Group Africa, responsible for National Geographic, National Geographic Wild, FOX, FOXlife and FOX Sports brands on the continent. She is a local and international award-winning creative, with over 14 years of experience working both in creative agencies and broadcast networks as a promo producer and later creative director.

Gerin-Singh has spoken at the Promax conference in New York in 2018, as well as at the Promax Africa conference in 2017 and 2018. This year she will present as part of The State of Our Art panel discussion.

Bron Schultz

As Content Discovery Manager at DStv, Bron Schultz works within the newly formed Content Discovery team defining and delivering new ways to guide customers to the content they prefer by personalising customer journeys across all available platforms. Previously, Schultz has worked as an Executive Creative Director, winning awards both locally and internationally and leading multi-award-winning teams to stretch their imaginations and problem-solving abilities to deliver ground-breaking campaigns.

At the Promax Africa 2019 conference, Schultz will speak on The State of Our Art panel.

Jasco Broadcast Solutions and Memnon complete Nelson Mandela Foundation digitisation project

Jasco Broadcast Solutions and Memnon recently sponsored the digitisation of almost 200 tapes for the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Jasco is currently involved in a three-year project with the South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) to digitise 150,000 hours of content. To undertake this mammoth task, Jasco partnered with Memnon – a Sony-owned company based in Brussels – on the SABC digitisation project. A global leading provider of services to digitise, restore, preserve and provide access to recordings of any format, Memnon has been in the industry since 2005 and to date has digitised over 3 million hours of content worldwide.

The Nelson Mandela digitisation initiative

One of the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s (NMF) founding principles is to create, protect and preserve a Centre of Memory about Nelson Mandela. The Centre of Memory contains an archive of Mandela’s life and times, works, and writings.

“Whilst touring the facility, Razia Saleh – director, Archive & Research, NMF – mentioned that an Australian foundation had donated tapes of Nelson Mandela, documenting, amongst other things, Mandela’s visits to Australia and his interactions with the Australian nation,” explains Maximus Magwaza, Account Manager, Jasco Broadcast Solutions. One of the tapes in question documented Mandela’s visit to Melbourne, Australia, on the invitation of a group of boys hoping to promote world reconciliation on 8 September 2000.

The tapes hold great value for the NMF and South Africa in general, but they needed to be digitised. Knowing the state of content libraries in Africa, when presented with the opportunity both Jasco and Memnon agreed that the Nelson Mandela Foundation digitisation initiative would be a project worth sponsoring.

Undertaking the initiative

A lot of time was spent verifying the inventory and what could and couldn’t be digitised: “The tapes were finally collected from NMF and sent to Memnon early this year, where they went through the digitisation process. This included processing of a test batch which allowed for the quality and formats to be agreed upon, checked and signed off by the NMF.”

A total of 195 tapes were identified as being suitable for digitisation. These were made up of VHS, Betacam, DigiBeta and MiniDV tapes. “The tapes were in pretty good shape, out of the 195 only two failed to digitise,” says Magwaza. The hard drive with the final content was delivered late in September and was formally handed over to the NMF at a special event which took place on 15 October.

What next

Despite having a fully operational plant at the SABC that is geared to accommodate bulk projects,  Jasco Broadcast Solutions is looking at the best ways to cater for smaller capacity projects – like the NMF digitisation initiative – in different formats (video, audio, film or image).

“The beauty of digitising content is that it opens up opportunities not only to preserve history, but to make it more easily accessible to the world at large and to ensure that it doesn’t remain a long-forgotten memory, but lives on for generations to come,” comments Magwaza.

In conversation with award-winning director Quentin Krog


Screen Africa spoke to award-winning director Quentin Krog about his journey to the director’s chair, his process when directing Die Byl, and what is next for him as a filmmaker…

Tell us a bit about your background and how it has shaped you as a director?

Being my dad’s 20-year-late laat-lammetjie and my mother’s only child, I never had the constant companionship or presence of brothers or sisters at home. My folks divorced when I was still a toddler, and I ended up living with my mom. So, growing up, I had a pretty lonely childhood where the TV was my constant companion, my babysitter and my favourite form of entertainment. My mom also allowed me, from a very young age, to watch movies that were totally inappropriate for my age. She’s always been very progressive and liberal-minded in that regard, so naturally I was always fascinated by the medium. I’ll never forget being superbly young and being moved to tears by the death of a grandfather in scene of a movie that was on TV. I can’t remember what the movie was but I’ll never forget that moment. I think those early years had a lot to do with shaping and informing what would become my future career.

You majored in stage acting at the University of Stellenbosch, tell us about your journey to the director’s chair?

I think it was in my second year when my dad asked me to help him with some safari footage he had filmed on his new video camera – a Sony Hi8 Digital Camcorder. The camera came with some really primitive editing software on a CD and a fire wire cable that allowed you to digitise the 8mm footage from tape to hard-drive. I started messing around and cut together my first amateur doccie featuring my dad’s safari trip with his friends. The bug bit me really hard and there was no turning back after that. I filmed and edited everything that came across my path after that. Needless to say, my dad never got to use the camera again. From there onwards, I juggled acting jobs with shooting videos for friends and colleagues, eventually starting a small little side business.

Having directed well-received feature films and television series, which do you enjoy more and why?

Feature films are definitely more of a director’s medium; you get more time and focus to craft the screenplay, more time to compose the visuals and fine-tune performances. It’s definitely friendlier to the director. TV, on the other hand, is more of the writer and producer’s medium for all the obvious reasons, whereas the TV director has to compromise on pretty much everything, every day. So naturally I would gravitate towards films more, if the luxury and privilege presents itself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy TV. I do; it’s just a totally different mind-set and work fitness level. It’s like running a marathon at a sprinter’s pace!

Tell us a bit about your work on local crime series Die Byl… What drew you to the project?

First of all, I really enjoy working with producers Jaco Smit and Herman Binge, along with their company Marche Media. I’m also a big fan, and friend, of head writer Leon Kruger. That and the fact that I’ve never really worked in the detective genre so intensely, so I looked forward to the challenge of show-running, reinterpreting and rejuvenating the series. An almost-deal-breaker was the fact that, at 73 minutes, each episode is feature-length and they wanted to produce 14 of them in 18 weeks. I’m based in Jozi and I wasn’t willing to stay away from my family for that long to shoot in Cape Town. Luckily, Jaco agreed to bring two other directors on board, in the form of Liezl Spies and Leon Kruger, to share the heavy workload. So I directed episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 12, 13 and 14 – and the rest in between ended up in the highly-skilled and capable hands of Liezl and Leon, who did some really amazing work.

What approach did you take when directing the first episode?

Due to the nature of the shooting schedule, being constantly out of order and grouped in location blocks, there was less of a focus on ‘episode one’ and more of a holistic approach to the whole series. I do, however, always try make a point with the 1st AD of not scheduling episode one scenes within the first week or two of shooting. Mainly to allow us, as a creative team, to find our groove and settle into a style. So that by the time we get to episode one scenes, we’re already in a confident and clear flow, which translates to making a good first impression on the audience in the first episode. As far as stylistic approach goes, it’s a very dialogue-heavy series, so my main aim was to always keep the scenes alive and moving, whether that be via dynamic blocking and camera movement or just engaging and rhythmic performances. When we scouted the main location for the detectives’ office, the first thing I told the art department was to break out 80% of all the dry-walling and open up the place. This allowed us greater freedom of movement, as well as lots of depth and layering for camera. Then it was just about making the look, feel and tone much darker than before. 

True-crime/murder content has become a consistent favourite with viewers locally and globally, why do you think that is?

I reckon it appeals to the darker side of us all in some sort of weird and fascinating way. Also, as an audience member, I personally always enjoy trying to figure things out before the characters do, so I think that mystery-solving aspect makes it way more interactive for the audience. That could be part of the main appeal.

You’ve worked on some of SA’s most-loved TV series. What, in your opinion, is the key to creating a successful television show in South Africa?

For me the most essential ingredient is a good set of scripts. A great story with layered characters, all set in an engaging world. If you’re missing any of those ingredients, or they’re not developed to their fullest potential, then you’re already dead in the water before you’ve even rolled a single frame. For me that’s really the most challenging part of the whole process, wrestling with the scripts and fighting with the writers and producers for the best version it can possibly be, sometimes even right up to the last minute before we roll on the scene. And, more often than not, the bulk of this crucial phase usually ends up taking up most of my precious pre-production time, and then I’ve got scraps of time and attention left for the actual shoot prep. But once I’ve got a proper handle on the scripts, it’s all imprinted in my mind and then it’s really downhill from there.

What next for Quentin Krog?

I’m on a bit of a creative break at the moment, busy developing and pursuing some of my own ideas for the first time, ideas that I’ve been aching to do for many years now. I’m also keen to get some producing credits to my name. The extra time at home of late is also giving me some precious time to hone my dad and husband skills with my wife and two kids. We’re also currently expecting a third little one early in 2020.

If you weren’t a filmmaker, what would you be doing?

In high school, I was really into music, so much so that I was pretty sure I wanted to be a rock star. My dad, however, was not so keen on the idea. I was the lead singer of the high school rock band… such great memories! I also had three different bands during my university days in Stellenbosch, which all faded into the background as my love for filmmaking grew. Currently, I have five of my old guitars hanging on the walls of my office – so, if all else fails, I guess I’ll have to dust off the old acoustic and warm up the vocal chords again!

Buddha in Africa provides a unique perspective on Chinese soft power in Africa


Set in a Chinese Buddhist orphanage in Malawi – against the backdrop of China’s increasing influence on the African continent – Buddha in Africa documents Malawian teenager Enock Alu’s journey and the inner battle he faces as he is torn between the contrasting worlds of his traditional African culture and the Buddhist value system that he was raised within.

Through Enock’s journey and the orphanage he calls home, the film provides a unique perspective on Chinese “soft power” in Africa today. “I was actually living in Malawi when I first came across this story of the Chinese Buddhist orphanage. I had been working as a freelance video journalist producing video features for Reuters Pan-African magazine programme Africa Journal and this was the last story I did before returning to South Africa,” comments director Nicole Schafer. “I was working on a story about orphans at the time that Madonna was adopting her second child.”

China in Africa                                 

At the same time Malawi and other parts of Africa were experiencing a rapid influx of Chinese investment and Chinese nationals – following the formalising of Malawi’s diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China. Schafer says that she felt this story would be a fascinating lens through which to view and engage in the debates around the implications of China’s involvement in Africa.

“While most debates around ‘China in Africa’ at the time was focused on the so-called ‘colonisation’ of her economies and natural resources, this story showed a unique aspect of China’s cultural influence on the continent. I was struck by how this orphanage was strangely reminiscent of the Christian missions during the colonial era – only here African children had Chinese names and instead of learning about the West, they were learning about Chinese culture and history. I felt the orphanage would be the perfect metaphor to explore the growing relationship between China and Africa, but also as a mirror of Western colonialism.”

The Amitofo Care Centre

At the Amitofo Care Centre (ACC), where Buddha in Africa is shot, Malawian children are given Chinese names and taught to read and write Mandarin. There, these children wake up at 04:30 am to pray inside a Buddhist temple and they are masters of the art of Shaolin Kung Fu at a young age.

Our guide into the world of the Buddhist orphanage is Enock Alu – one of 300 children growing up at ACC. At the age of seven Alu was one of the first children to be recruited from his village and offered a place at ACC, when founder Master Hui Li – a Buddhist monk from Taiwan – opened it in 2003. At the time, Enock was living under the care of his grandmother after his mother passed away and his father had left and re-married another woman. While in his final year of school, Alu is torn between trying to hold onto his Malawian roots and the opportunities afforded to him by his Chinese upbringing.

“The first time I met Enock was when I was doing a short video feature and I asked them to identify one or two of the kids who I could profile and so they introduced me to Enock, who was one of the star performers and the top of his Kung Fu class. He was only 12 years old at the time, he was fluent in Mandarin, and I was captivated by the story of this young Malawian boy with dreams of becoming a Kung Fu film star like Jet Li,” explains Schafer.

Two Contrasting Worlds

About a year and a half after first meeting the young boy, Schafer returned to the ACC to start development on the film, and wanted to know more about how Alu and his friends were making sense of themselves between two very contrasting worlds: “I was surprised to learn that Enock knew very little about his personal history. He had never even seen a photograph of his parents before,” says Schafer, “and so the first part of filming very much involved initiating a process of reflection into his past… I always imagined that at some point some form of conflict would present itself between these two very different cultures and worlds Enock inhabited. And so I was very much focused on observing his shifting relationship between his community in the village, on the one hand, and his new Chinese family, on the other.”

Additionally, Schafer says that she was also interested in capturing the boy’s experience of feeling like an outsider in terms of his longing to belong to his village community as well as the challenge of fitting into Chinese culture – “and then the realisation that comes towards the end of the film that he will never completely belong to either of these worlds.”


Buddha in Africa was shot sporadically over a period of five years, with Schafer travelling to Malawi for two to three weeks at a time as she acquired funding. “Most of the footage used in the film was shot in the final year when I had more resources to shoot on my camera of choice and by then I had established a solid relationship with all the characters in the film,” she comments.

The film was financed predominantly through ‘soft funds’ from various local and international film grants, with development funding coming from The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), IDFA Bertha and Hot Docs Blue Ice Funding. Production funding again came from the NFVF, IDFA Bertha and Hot Docs Blue Ice Funding, as well as Chicken and Egg Pictures, the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, the Alter Cine Foundation and AfriDocs. “It took seven years to secure all the funding from when I first pitched the film at the Durban FilmMart in 2011,” Schafer says.


Due to budget constraints, Buddha in Africa was shot on several different cameras, depending on the available budget at the time of shooting. “It was only in my final year that I was able to afford the Canon 5D Mark III, which was ideal for the low light conditions I was working in,” comments Schafer, who paired the camera with a combination of lenses – a 50mm prime, a 17-40mm wide and a zoom lens. “I also had my old video camera that I used for sound and could capture the radio mic feed on one channel and the rifle mic or, when I had a sound assistant, the boom, into the other. It was quite cumbersome spending 12-18 hour days with all these cameras, lenses and mics, but I got the hang of it. Well, I had no choice really!” Schafer adds.


Editing on the film was done by Schafer with the help of a team of assistant editors “and some input from editor Catherine Meyburgh, up to the rough-cut stage,” she says. “That took about three years after filming ended completely. At this point, I was able to secure the interest of a Swedish producer from Momento Film who came on-board as a co-producer to support the final stages of post-production. This enabled me to work with two very good international editors who refined the story and turned our rough-cut into a film.”

The final colour grade and online was done by The Monk and Priest Post in Cape Town: “This was an award that I received through the Cape Town International Film Festival Works-in-progress pitch. Without this, we would still not have a finished film,” comments Schafer.

Festivals and Awards

The film had its world premiere at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary film festival in April, and opened the Encounters Documentary Festival in Cape Town and Johannesburg in June, where it received a Backsberg Encounters Audience Award. It was also in the official selection at this year’s Sydney International Film Festival in June.

Excitingly, Buddha in Africa was awarded the coveted Best SA Documentary award at the recent Durban International Film Festival, which means the film automatically qualifies for Oscar consideration. “The journey of making and completing a documentary can be a long and challenging process and it is very meaningful to have this affirmation and recognition here, at home, at the Durban International Film Festival, where we first pitched the project several years ago,” comments Schafer. “With regards to the Oscar consideration – we are thrilled and immensely grateful to have the opportunity to be considered for an Oscar nomination.”

Still to come, the film will have its European premiere in the Official Competition at the Visioni dal Mondo, Immagini dalla Realtà International Documentary Festival in Milan and the Afrika Film Festival in Belgium in September. In October Buddha in Africa will open the Afrika Filmdays Festival in Munich, followed by the UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival in Florence. “There are several more local and international festivals pending for the rest of the year,” adds Schafer.

Buddha in Africa is an international co-production with Momento Films in Sweden. Paris-based sales company CAT and Docs is representing the film internationally, while AfriDocs is the African broadcast partner. Additionally, the documentary has already sold to several territories and been broadcast on NHK in Japan and ARTE in France and Germany.

Buddha in Africa will be broadcast on AfriDocs, the free-to-view VOD platform and broadcast documentary strand, across Africa in December.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Pin It on Pinterest