Durban Film Office partners with soapie, ‘Uzalo’, to train local filmmakers

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From left to right: Durban Film Office trainees Slindokuhle Msomi (Umlazi), Ntombifuthi “G-2” Zakwe (Mobeni Heights), Philipe Masondo (Ntuzuma), Thokozani Mahaye (Inanda Newton) and Mbusi Harrison Msane (Wyebank) with Pinky Sozombile (Newlines West) in front, on the set of Uzalo in Durban.

Six aspiring Durban film-makers have been given the opportunity to work behind the scenes on one of South Africa’s most watched soapies, Uzalo, which boasts a viewership of almost three million per day.

eThekwini Municipality, through its film industry development unit the Durban Film Office, facilitated the year-long placement of the six trainees who will gain experience by working on the popular SABC 1 drama series.

This is the second year that the trainee programme, which covers a number of areas of film-making including sound, camera, make-up and hair, art, continuity and wardrobe, is being run by Stained Glass Productions.  The programme aims to empower young people and create more technically savvy people for the local film industry.

The six young film-makers, who were selected from over 70 applications, includes Pinky Sozombile (make-up and hair), Slindokuhle Msomi (continuity), Thokozani Mahaye (sound), Mbusi Harrison Msane (art department), Philile Masondo (camera) and Ntombifuthi Zakwe (wardrobe).

Pinky Sozombile, 22, from Newlands West, who studied beauty therapy at the Creative Arts College in Durban said the scope to learn on set has been fantastic. She said: “I now know that I can do so much more with make-up. It’s not easy doing make-up for film, but I am loving it and hope to learn more about special effects as well.”

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Trainee, Pinky Sozombile in the make-up department at ‘Uzalo’.

Slindokuhle Msomi, 24, from Umlazi, who has a diploma in film and TV production is enjoying the responsibility that comes with continuity on a film set.

“Already I have been given an opportunity to work on my own which was very nerve-wracking at first, but people have been very helpful,” says Slindokuhle.

Ntombifuthi “G-2” Zakwe, a 29-year-old fashion design and video technology graduate from Mobeni Heights is loving the challenge of working on a soapie with the many costume changes required daily.

“You have to know your callsheet and script inside out to ensure that you are looking after the actors well,” says Ntombifuthi. “I have been so humbled by the experience, and appreciate learning to work with so many different personalities.”

Setting her long term goals on being a director of photography one day, Philile Masondo, 21, from Ntuzuma, who has a diploma in film and TV production, is based in the camera department. She says that Uzalo provides a “whole new experience.”It is helping me aim to be the best that I can be. There is so much experience to gain here.”

Mbusi Harrison Msane, 25, from Wyebank, is in the art department and also has a film and TV diploma. The focus for him at the moment is in the construction of the sets for Uzalo. “Working on this soapie is really helping me to groom myself for a career in film – I am learning so much,” says Mbusi.

In the sound department, Thokozani Mahaye, a 21-year-old graduate in music production and sound technology from the Creative Arts College is enjoying working hard and is determined to prove herself in this department.

“There is nothing better than learning through experience,” says Toni Monty, head of the Durban Film Office. “Programmes like this play an instrumental role in enabling Durban to grow its share in the market.

“The programme has supported 11 trainees over the past 18 months, many of whom continue to work for Uzalo. We are pleased to see the high level of commitment and enthusiasm shown by these six young people, and appreciate the contribution Stained Glass Productions is making to develop the local pool of skills in the industry.”

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