Multichoice celebrates 25 years

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TO isibaya 034 INLSA LIGHTS UP: Zeno Petersen at work controlling artificial light. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha

THIS ONE is for the internet generation. The kids who grew up with all the answers to life pasted on a screen. They live in a time when they not only have endless TV channels to watch at home, but if they miss any show they want, there are devices that can be preset to record the said shows to be watched later. You could not do that in 1990.

Without any of us realising it, Multichoice has been in our lives for 25 years now as they celebrate their existence, and their constant innovative ways to keep us glued and loyal to them. We look at some of the unsung heroes who have worked with them over the years.

With every film or TV production that you see, several individuals are involved with the production of the project. We rarely pay attention to those names in the credits because they are faceless. This is perhaps why Marvel movies are now notorious for leaving juicy bits of their blockbusters to air right at the end after the credits. Jackie Chan’s films also had the bleeps and blunders aired next to the credits and so in one way or another, you would get to see who was involved in the making of that film.

Today we look at some of these people on the local front and we find out from them just what it takes to pull off a production.

Anna-Marie Bronkhorst (make-up artist)

After being in the business of make-up art for 25 years, Anna-Marie Bronkhorst is a legend among her peers. She has worked on several soapies, commercials, local and international films.

“After 25 years you look back and you are amazed at how much has changed in our industry,” said Bronkhorst. “I studied for this a long time ago and I have been doing it for long to see the trade evolve. It has been an amazing ride,” she added.

Bronkhorst’s wide portfolio means she is constantly in demand from different types of productions. These all come with different kinds of expectations.

“With commercials, the hours are very long and that’s surprising since the end product is only a few seconds long. They are always tricky because of the big budgets. I constantly have to maintain the subject’s look as it constantly gets attacked by the bright lights and their make-up runs,” she said.

She also finds herself in bizarre jobs which may need her to be more creative than just applying basic make-up.

“I have worked on horror projects before and I loved it. The process of creating convincing things like wounds always intrigues me. In fact, seeing how we used to do things back then and how they are done now on its own is really amazing. Things have got easier now,” she explained.

For young people who want to enter the industry, Bronkhorst promised that her door would always be open and she wants to impart as much information as possible.

“I can be contacted through Multichoice and when and where I can help, I will assist. I think it is important for young people to get as much wisdom that comes with experience as possible. I am here to point them in the right direction.”

Kutlwano Ditsebe (junior producer and casting director)

When you saw Nomzamo Mbatha appear on Isibaya without any acting experience prior to that, you must have asked yourself how she cracked it. Well, Kutlwano Ditsebe is one of the people who believed in Mbatha before Mbatha even applied for the job.

“I saw a picture of hers as we were looking for someone to play Thandeka. I had a good feeling about her and asked my colleagues who agreed with me. When she came in, she had the right energy and personality but something about her was not clicking. She had to fight for her role by auditioning several times before she got the nod,” said Ditsebe.

And that’s part of his day at the office. The man has to sift through hopefuls and place the ones that he thinks work for a given production.

“It’s not an easy job but what I like is that you may have a particular character in mind and the actor steps in to blow your mind away. This then morphs the entire production into another positive direction,” he said.

While Ditsebe studied in Los Angeles, he feels home is where all the magic is. For him it is up to Africans to build the African film and TV legacy.

“We are the custodians of storytelling and we need to lay that claim. We should not aspire to be like the US or even compare our- selves to them. They have been doing it for too long. I have a job waiting for me in LA but I just would rather be at home telling our own stories,” said Ditsebe.

Zeno Petersen

(director of photography)

If you found Zeno Petersen at work you’d be intrigued by the way he handles it. His job is to tell the story through pictures. So, from one scene to the next, after discussing with the director, Petersen looks for the best possible ways to shoot a given scene.

“The cinematographer’s job is to create the visuals. He moulds the director’s ideas into shots using frames and lighting to create mood,” he said.

Currently employed as part of the Isibaya production team, Petersen said his is a 12-hour day as they shoot an episode a day.

“We shoot 28 scenes per day and what makes it interesting is we don’t shoot it like other soapies. They have set lights and scenes and yet we make our show look like a local drama,” he said.

Isibaya is moving its entire environment from outdoors to indoors and although you may never notice the difference, Petersen loves the development.

“We can now control the weather and the lighting so we don’t have to worry about rain or cloud cover like we did before,” he said.


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