Cameras start rolling again on local productions
Shooting of new episodes has resumed for hit telenovelas such as Gomora, The Queen, and Isibaya. Here’s how the stars of these shows have responded to the new ways of working:
Award-winning Gomora actor, Zolisa Xaluva, plays Melusi – a hardworking, dedicated teacher, whose son is mixing with the wrong crowd. Gomora’s return to the small screen will have viewers on the edge of their seats following a revelation about Melusi’s love child.
Xaluva says that being back at work is an honour. “I feel extremely privileged to be working at a time when most people find themselves deeply despondent because they are still unable to. My heart goes out to every family that is struggling under the circumstances. I look forward to going back to work to help provide entertainment that will hopefully help raise the spirits of those who are at home and heighten their consciousness. I feel like we are capably led and appreciated. We didn’t work in April but received our remuneration as per our contractual agreement”.
“It feels really good to be back on set,” says Connie Ferguson, executive producer of The Queen. “It has been a tough time worldwide, with the pandemic, and we are grateful to still have an opportunity to do what we love. Our priority is the team’s health and safety on set. We would not be able to make swift decisions without the support of the broadcaster. The team at Mzansi Magic has always been there to respond promptly to our questions and concerns and, together, we are working really hard to give The Queen’s audience a great season finale.”
Asavela Mngqithi, who plays Ntwenhle Ndlovu on the award-winning telenovela, is among those who returned to work this week. “They have very strict rules on set and it’s weird working with masks and social distancing,” she says, “but it feels good to be back. We all have to learn to work safely and to protect each other during this time. I’m grateful to MultiChoice that we are able to work, and for their continued support during lockdown.”
M-Net CEO, Nkateko Mabaso, is excited about the return to work but says his focus is on the health and wellbeing of everyone on set. “At this stage, the safety of crew and cast remains a priority and we are in constant communication with production houses, as per government’s directive, to ensure that stringent health guidelines are in place and are being adhered to.”
Denise Newman, who recently won Best Actress at the SAFTAs (South African Film and Television Awards) for her role in Suidooster, says she feels safe on set because: “The producers are following the rules to a tee.”
The relaxation of restrictions has been joyfully received and followed on the good news that MultiChoice was setting aside R80 million to pay salaries to cast and crew during the March/April initial lockdown period.
“This relief fund has helped a lot of our people during a very difficult time,” says Christelle Parrot, producer of Megaboere. “We’ve received a ‘thank you’ message from every one of our crew after their salaries were paid into their accounts – and, in turn, we shared our thanks with the MultiChoice Group. We appreciate their support for an industry that is so desperately in need.”