Shona and Connie Freguson. Picture: Instagram

Johannesburg - Ferguson Films has denied actress Vatiswa Ndara's accusations of alleged exploitation saying she had every right to decline their offer when they couldn't meet her financial demands.

"They can be seen as a ploy to defame and tarnish our name and reputation," Ferguson Films said.

This follows an open letter Ndara wrote to Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa detailing poor working conditions in the industry and how Ferguson Films offered her R110 000 for a five week production of the third season of "Igazi", a Mzansi Magic production.

She also said conditions actors were expected to accept bordered on abuse and detailed how in June this year she buried her mother but was back on set on Tuesday as she had to help the production company meet it's "extremely" tight deadline.

In her letter, she also spoke about producers displaying their "multimillion rand homes and German machines" on social media while she was not getting paid enough. It's believed that she was speaking about Shona and Connie Ferguson.

Responding to Ndara though their lawyers, the Fergusons said as actors themselves and producers, they were aware of challenges facing the entertainment industry. They also said they support the need for the industry to be regulated and for the Performance Protection Amendment Bill to be signed sooner rather than later. 

However, they said, allegations made by various actors didn't reflect the true position of the industry and were misleading. 

They said they had attempted to negotiate with Ndara and her agent in good faith and within the scope of the applicable production agreement.

However, they said, the agent subsequently recused himself from the negotiations and they then had to deal with Ndara's manager.

"They made it very clear that Ms Ndara would not accept anything less than R700 000 for the 5-week shoot. She absolutely had every right to decline our offer which she did and we, on the other hand as we could not meet her financial demand, due to contractual restraints, had every right to move on amicably, which we tried to do.

"Contrary to Ms Ndara's allegations, Ferguson Films does not reap the financial benefits through repeat broadcasts, licensing deals and repackaging of the show. 

"Just like actors, the production company is not guaranteed work whether the show is performing or not. We are in pretty much the same boat as the artist. We do not own the shows we produce under commission and therefore have no right or say in what happens with shows post final delivery to the broadcaster.

"We record that, Ferguson Films was not the production company in question in relation to the sad passing of Ms Ndara’s mother and her having to resume work shortly after. Conveniently, Ms Ndara neglects to mention this fact therefore insinuating it was Ferguson Films.

"Shona and Connie Ferguson have other business interests apart form their production company and do not owe anyone an explanation as to how they manage their finances and lifestyle. The jab from Ms Ndara is petty, unnecessary and uncalled for.

"There have been other slanderous and false allegations made by Ms Dieketseng Mphuti and Mr Katlego Malele, which are being addressed separately by our legal team," they said.

The Star