A new Afrikaans series for kykNET is bound to cause conversation with its controversial
subject matter, and is already a talking point as the first television drama in South Africa
to be shot on the Sony F3.
Hartland, a sequel to the successful Kruispad, is produced and written by playwright
Deon Opperman, and inspired by elements from three of his Hertzog prize winning
plays: Kaburo, Stille Nag and Boesman, My Seun. According to Opperman, certain plot
lines, elements and characters were used from each of these plays.
The series, produced by Bottom Line Entertainment, explores the identity crises of
contemporary Afrikaners in Johannesburg around the themes of politics, economics and
the spiritual. The story is told by an ensemble of seasoned Afrikaans actors and
actresses including Marius Weyers, Sandra Prinsloo and Brumilda van Rensburg, and
directed by Gerrit Schoonhoven.
Among the sensitive issues explored in the 13-part series are the lingering effects of the
border war on the soldiers who were involved, far right white groups plotting to
overthrow the government and immigration: the question of whether there is a future
for Afrikaners in South Africa.
According to Opperman, he followed a very straight and hard-core approach to these
thorny issues. “KykNET didn’t censor me at all, these are the things that are happening
and they’re the issues that people are talking about,’ says Opperman.
Asked about the message the series will send out, Opperman says that it is not a moral
lesson. However, specifically with regard to far right groups, he says the series does
show that the consequence of getting involved in any kind of violence is inevitably more
violence and death — whether you’re black or white.
“I think it’s going to be controversial; it’s going to cause a huge amount of
conversation. It’s when you bring audiences hard core truth that they will be glued to
their seats,’ says Opperman.
KykNET learnt this from the “fantastic reaction’ they received to Kruispad, one of the
most successful dramas in their history.
Hartland and Kruispad form part of a trilogy and Donkerland is in the pipeline as the
“prequel’ and third instalment. “It’s about being Afrikaans and white in South Africa,’
says Opperman, “these are my people; I want to investigate their lives.’
Director of photography (DOP) Jon Kovel says he is extremely pleased with the results
of shooting on the Sony F3: “It’s a huge step forward in my opinion.’
Given the budget they leant towards using a Canon 5D, on which Kovel had worked on
a number of productions in 2010. “Although it gives great results there are a lot of
drawbacks, the 5D is simply not designed to shoot a television series,’ says Kovel.
A week before the shoot was due to start Henk Germishuizen called from Puma Video in
Randburg, informing them that the F3 had just landed and would be available for their
shoot. According to Kovel he jumped at the opportunity to be the first TV drama
production to try the camera. “It was just a stroke of luck really,’ he adds.
The F3 is Sony’s answer to high end digital cameras like the Red and the Arri Alexa, but
Kovel says many local productions can’t afford these. “What the market needed was a
full-frame Super-35mm sensor camera with a PL lens mount, a price tag suited to local
productions and a post-friendly codec. Essentially an EX-3 on steroids; the F3 fits the
bill like a Lycra suit on a racing cyclist.’
Kovel says the F3 features the same menu as the Sony PMW-EX3 with the same user-
friendly design, but as a drawback: it also features the same viewfinder and LCD:
“Neither of which is great for judging exposure, although the red peaking function is
great for judging focus.’
All in all Kovel is pleased with the result: “While capitalising on the excellent quality and
post-friendly nature of the EX-3 codec, the full frame sensor marries 35mm lensing to a
sharp, crisp, beautiful image and has a compression ratio that holds up down the line.’
Investing in local content
The series was shot on locations around Johannesburg including Northcliff, Houghton
Estate, Kyalami, the Constitutional Court parking garage and the Krugersdorp game
reserve, and is currently in the hands of editors CA van Aswegen and Quinn Lubbe of
FiX Post Production.
According to kykNET GM Karen Meiring, it is an important priority for kykNET to continue
investing in local programming. The channel’s viewership has grown by about 30% in
the past year, which Meiring ascribes to the fact that South Africans love local content.
This is further illustrated by a 20% non-Afrikaans kykNET viewership. “There’s generally a better awareness of the channel and there’s a real need for good local programming,’ says Meiring.
Hartland will start on kykNET on 19 July in the 8pm slot.