In the television entertainment industry, occasionally the media are invited on to a set to see how a particular show is made. This is, of course, the ultimate behind-the- scenes treatment that very few people get to experience. So when the lot falls on a journalist to observe a TV show in the making, it is a welcome invitation.
This opportunity came our way last week when e.tv invited us to see the making of their new sitcom, Vat ’n Sit which will be broadcast on eKasi next month.
The show stars comedian and actor Trevor Gumbi in the lead role and is based on the idea of live-in couples.
Tonight staff joined a group of media members from other publications and we waited for further instructions.
We were introduced to the show’s assistant director who, surprisingly quite reluctantly, took us to the set where we saw Gumbi and an actress in their pyjamas, going through a specific scene.
During camera breaks the photographers in the room took photos that would obviously have the studio cameras in shot to convey the feeling of being on set.
It only took a few minutes for the assistant director to ask our photographers to stop taking pictures as the actors were unhappy being photographed “naked”.
The lensmen complied.
But before you could spell “shutterproof”, the grumpy assistant director just snapped and promptly herded all the media out of the room, saying we were making his actors nervous and would have to come back later.
Given that this reporter had other engagements on the day, there really wasn’t a “later” and we had communicated with the respective publicist how short our visit would be.
As a result, we saw 20 minutes of the same thing and were then evicted.
Now let’s look at this order of events once more. We were invited by e.tv, so this should have meant the channel and production company were expecting us, but the reception we received proved otherwise.
And here are a few things to ponder about the rude assistant director.
First, why do actors get nervous in front of people?
You’d think the first thing they need to get over before they get into character is nerves and it’s probably a basic requirement in that line of work anyway.
Second, as for the actors being half-naked, there is really no one to blame but whoever commissioned the shoot at that time, knowing the media were coming.
Also, if they were shooting a scene that will appear on TV, why were the media asked to take more decent shots?
On our way out, we caught up with the creator of the show, Mandla N, who saved the day by walking us through the conceptualisation of Vat ’n Sit.
“I took the idea from remembering that growing up we were not allowed to have live-in relationships and yet now this is the norm in South Africa,” he said.
Having worked with Gumbi in the past, Mandla N wrote the sitcom with him in mind for the lead role.
“My main character’s name is Thomas Gumbi, and I modelled it around Trevor who is doing so well on it.
“He plays a guy from Newcastle and he moves to Jozi where he meets a beautiful woman from a rich background. Her parents don’t want them to marry and the two end up shacking up together,” said Mandla N.
The sitcom is scheduled to be released next month on eKAsi+. Further details will be released closer to the date.