In an article on Sunday, Sunday Times ran a piece that claimed that the SABC1 series-turned-telenovela producers submitted a budget of R167 million to continue producing the show for a further three years, with four seasons every year. Each season would be 13 episodes long.
In response to the trending topic around this issue I tweeted that if the story is accurate, Uzalo was getting an unfair advantage. In my series of tweets I also asserted the fact that we love Uzalo hence it is doing well with its ratings, however the success of one show at the expense of potentially 20 other productions was counter productive.
I am a firm believer in open dialogue about this industry. I have shared this many times, that I believe the only thing holding the black side of industry back is this culture we adopted from the apartheid years of not wanting to be transparent about finances in this industry.
People catch feelings as soon as you start talking about money. But this conversation, for the future of our industry, is necessary. It bothers me that we are expected to celebrate the "success" of local films at the box office but the producers aren't prepared to divulge how much the budget for these films are. How are we then to know that they are making a profit?
My sentiments on transparency are clear so with that I was very impressed when Uzalo's creative director, Mmamitse Thibedi, responded to my tweets by claiming that the report on Sunday Times was false.
I specifically asked her if there was ever a submission for a 13 part season budget and she replied; NO.
@mmamitse Hi. So there was no proposed deal for reduced episodes series — the 13 part one?— IG: philmphela (@PhilMphela) July 10, 2016
Uzalo has 156 episodes over 12 months over three years. That's a standard budget. False reporting. https://t.co/5lVdINpc4A— mmamitse Thibedi (@mmamitse) July 10, 2016
How can it be true when the show goes on air 3 days a week 52 weeks a year? https://t.co/6Kn3zIZJTS— mmamitse Thibedi (@mmamitse) July 10, 2016
Well, there you have it. I appreciate Mmamitse for her response. I also do think that asking questions and probing deals made within the industry is necessary. It is in interrogating and questioning thing that the new emergence of the appreciation for black ownership within the industry will benefit the people it is meant to and not just a few connected individuals.
Obviously, Mmamitse works for the production so in the interested of fairness her statement without any documentations should be taken with some caution but one hopes that she is telling the truth. If so, Sunday Times will have done the show an injustice.