Locally produced film Stuck premiered this past Friday evening on DSTV’s Southern African channel, Zambezi Magic. The film, shot in Gaborone, is a fascinating story about how four colleagues who hold different positions in their organisation find themselves trapped in a lift.
Not only do they have to survive each other, but they also have pretty interesting lives waiting for them outside the lift and deep secrets. The 75 minutes film is produced by local company, Mangorelo Images owned by Dutch Palala and Mcdonald Kengaletswe. It features four main characters, namely Tefo Paya, playing the role of Mandla, who thinks that he is God’s gift to women. Although he is married, he does not respect his marriage, and chases after every skirt that he fancies and has very little respect for other colleagues.
And then there is Lucas Kgosi, playing the role of Kabelo, who is barely surviving and is employed in the company as a security guard. What is sad about Kabelo is that life is showing him flames, and he has to resort to selling some of his possessions including his cellular phone. At work, he attempts to gain the audience of his boss, in order to pitch a business proposal that can uplift him, but his boss played by Ruth Moore does not listen to him. Kgomotso Ratsie plays the role of Nono a receptionist.
Her life is also not so perfect. She is about to give up on life as she does not have the funds to pay for a much-needed kidney transplant, and is toying with the idea of taking her life. Not only that, Mandla makes fun of her and her shabby phone that has seen better days. The fourth person in the lift is none other than Morati Kgari from Colours. Wearing shades and on the outside appearing as if her life is put together, she also has dark secrets. Hiding behind sunglasses, she is battling to get out of drugs, and her abusive boyfriend happens to be a drug dealer. The sunglasses hide her black eye.
The four are hopeful that the other security guy who relieved Kabelo from his shift will rescue them. The guard is none other than Tomeletso Sereetsi, and is fast asleep on the ground floor. Of the four, calling for help is an impossible task. Kabelo does not have a phone, he sold it. Mandla’s battery is dead; his wife is waiting at home with dinner, and calling him a million times. Leah forgot her phone in her office, meaning that the only person with a phone is Nono, who is embarrassed to take it out.
The film was mostly shot at Kagisong centre. And the big scenes inside the lift where tempers flare, and egos are displayed is shot inside a ‘man made lift’. Speaking in an interview, with producer Dutch Palala, he explains that the film features a total of 17 cast members. He explains that in the beginning it was mission impossible to construct the lift, but that a team from AFDA came through for them in the end. “In the end it was a wow,” he says.
He also says that one of the challenges that they faced was funding, but that Zambezi Magic who commissioned them to produce the film covered the bulk of the costs. Shooting for Stuck started in May, and they finished production in August. Giving a brief of how they were commissioned, he explained that they pitched in December, and that early January they received a call that their proposal has progressed to the next stage.
He also explains that their company was established in 2015, and that they have previously produced short films that include Don’t Fall asleep. One of their projects, Small House, a feature film, he says might be shown on Now Tv. “Don’t fall Asleep was the opening act to the horror film, Annabel which showed at New Capitol Cinema’s,” he explains.
Zambezi Magic (channel 160 on DStv) recently unveiled one of their exciting plans for the coming new year. They are looking for five new film concepts that depict the authentic African experience and reflect the nuances of the Southern African region. The call has been made to producers in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia, and Eswatini. The deadline for submission of proposals is December 31st.
Ahead of this submission, local Film and TV content producers were this week invited to a forum that seeks to devise strategies to respond to the Zambezi Magic call for content. The event was pencilled to take place in Gaborone, at the AFDA premises. Speakers for the event include AFDA Director, Tsholofelo Ntshingane, Tshepo Maphanyane, PR Specialist and Media Practitioner and Thembile Ndzinge, Corporate Affairs Manager for MultiChoice Botswana.Speaking prior to the event, event Coordinator, Gao Lemmenyane indicated that they organised the event for local content producers to take advantage of platforms such as Zambezi Magic.
“We want to galvanise people to submit in large numbers,” he says. Lemmenyane also said they will share submission requirements with content producers as well as other valuable information that the latter might need as they work on their concepts.
He further says that in the instance that some producers are successful in their submissions, this would go a long way in tilting the scales of the local industry.
“They will employ locals, and can also mentor other producers. This would go a long way in growing the standards of the industry,” says Lemmenyane. He also says that there is a need for local content producers to take advantage of platforms that are out there other than government and complaining about Botswana Television.
Quizzed on what could be leading to the non-existence of content on the DStv platform, he explains that one of the problems could be lack of knowledge on what is expected of them when it comes to conceptualising concepts, and bringing them to life.
He further lamented that local consumers were subscribing to DStv, and yet there were no shows that are locally produced that are aired on DStv. “We wish to shake up MultiChoice Botswana, because other countries are benefitting right now,” says Lemmenyane giving the example of Zambia which is doing pretty well on the channel.
Recently, it was revealed that since Zambezi Magic was launched in 2015, the channel has worked with over 20 production houses in the country through licensing and commissioning content. It has also been revealed that over 900 hours of local productions featured on Zambezi Magic, with shows such as Zuba, Zambia’s first telenovela, Fever and Date My Family Zambia becoming instant success stories. Furthermore, the channel has also held several workshops and onsite or on the job skills transfer programmes that has allowed Zambian producers to produce quality content fit for the international market.
Closely behind Zambia, is Zimbabwe that has local films such as Love Is Not Enough, Accidental Small House and Jaiva S’bone. Other Zimbabwean shows such as Wedding Diaries, Makosi Today, Celebrate Life, Tonight with Zororo, Wine and Dine with Tumi, Zambezi News and The Arthur C. Evans Show are also featured on Zambezi Magic.
Speaking recently at the MultiChoice Southern Africa Media Showcase 2018, Timothy Okwaro, Channel Director - East and Southern Africa Channels for M-Net revealed that the channel was established in 2015. The following year, he said they commissioned five shows. And so far, they have commissioned over 17 shows. One of the shows that they commissioned was Botswana’s very own We Are All Blue, a production by Donald Molosi which premiered on Africa Day in 2017. It marked the first ever broadcast of a Botswana documentary film on the channel since its launch in 2015. For information about submission requirements check out https://submissions.mnetcorporate.co.za/
He also revealed that viewers can look forward to exciting new shows such as Our Perfect Wedding Zimbabwe, Date My Family Zambia and Date my Family Botswana. The new season of Zambia’s first-ever telenovela, Zuba, will continue into the new year alongside another telenovela, Mpali, which also made its season debut, he said. Okwaro also revealed that a brand new Zambian drama, called Turn of Fortune created by ‘the father of film’, renowned Lawrence Thompson will hit the small screen in the New Year.
On May 25th, when the rest of the continent celebrates Africa Day, Botswana and DStv customers will witness history-in-the-making as Zambezi Magic (DStv Channel 160) premieres locally produced Botswana documentary film, “We Are All Blue.” It will be the first time Zambezi Magic, a channel that is dedicated to telling stories from Southern Africa airs a locally produced documentary film since its first broadcast in 2015.
“Written and starring award-winning Broadway and Hollywood actor, Donald Molosi (30), and produced by local production company, Torch Studios, “We Are All Blue” was commissioned by M-Net and MultiChoice Africa in celebration of Botswana’s 50th Anniversary of Independence.
Local content producers, film makers and anyone with a concept worth making its way into telly have an opportunity to submit their works to a Southern African platform that is committed to telling the stories of this part of the mother continent.
While Zambia and Zimbabwe have been quick to take advantage of the new platform available on DStv (Channel 160) and submitted stacks of content, the same cannot be said about local producers.
This was revealed by Zambezi Magic’s Channel Head, Addiel “Dzino” Dzinoraeva this past week in Gaborone. Dzinoraeva was in the country to sensitise and brief locals about how they can get their works onto DStv, the sort of content that they are looking for as well as explore possible partnerships and how to go about writing proposals.
His visit comes seven months after the channel was launched. And to date only one story has made its way from the shores of this country to the channel. The story is none other than Situational Comedy, the brainchild of Decent Ngwenya and product of Chaf Top Films. In his address, he explained that the channel was dedicated to telling the stories of other African countries other than the two powerhouses in the continent - South Africa and Nigeria.
The content they are looking for ranges from music, reality, drama, soapies, and film. “Over the seven months since the channel was launched, I have been travelling through the region looking for as much content as possible. We have put out calls for content and to date, Zimbabwe and Zambia are aggressive when it comes to sending content,” he said.
“Botswana hasn’t sent a lot. People here might not be getting what type of content that we are looking for and the steps to follow,” he added. He also pointed out that they were looking for movies, drama, long series, reality, sitcoms and lifestyle programmes.
He said that they get content through two main channels namely acquiring and licensing as well as commissioning to produce on their behalf. “We are also open to joint ventures and looking for advertiser funded programmes,” he explained. One of the reasons why it might take a while for them to respond or even review content he observed could be a result of incorrect labelling and missing contacts.
He said that failure to adhere to these set requirements sometimes leave them with no choice but to do the producer’s job all over again. He also explained that the procuring process takes up to three months.