It is unprecedented that a story gets told from behind the scenes by the ones involved in the making and production of such an epic drama that has millions of South Africans glued to their TV Screens every weekday at 8pm.

A riveting Behind the Scenes set visit of popular South African telenovela “The River” reveals the intricate art of storytelling and highlights the growing impact of local productions on the lives of South Africans.  

“While it is more glamorous to always focus on the quality, end product that we see on our screens, it is also important to showcase, at the most granular level, the number of actual talent involved in the stunning episodes seen by many across the continent,” says CEO of M-Net, Nkateko Mabaso. “This is how we invest in the television industry to ensure that it is poised for significant growth for future generations.”

We got to chill with some of the main cast members who make the story even more interesting.

What I like about working on such as set is that there’s a lot more creative things you can do with the camera here, versus a studio where there’s so many things you can’t do like use drones for spectacular shots. Says Hlomla Dandala.

We also go to chill with Thaphelo who plays Khabzela (a Taxi driver) and Warren Masemula who plays Oapa (an unemployed hustler with a criminal record) on the telenovela.

What do you like most about your character and is there a part of you that resonates with the character you portray?

Thapelo: I think for me in order to play a role for a long time it will require a part of you for you to bring it to life.  What I like about Khabzela is how he finds humour is some of the most difficult situations which has taught me not to take everything too seriously in life.

Warren: Oupa is really an important character in the story. He represents what every other male between the ages of 20 to 40 goes through on a daily bases, men who are unemployed and don’t have academic qualifications to acquire decent jobs. They are the guys in the townships who are just trying to get by and are trying to survive, and I relate to him because I also grew up ekasi in the heart of Soshanguve and Mamelody and we grew up at a time where the world was all about take a girl child to work.   

As a seasoned actor who has been on big TV productions; What is your take on Kasi Stories?

Warren: To be honest, I think Kasi stories are badto be aired on TV. Everybody assumes that that is the standard you need to crack for you to say you are a television producer. I think it would be best for such to be converted to short films because of budget constrains which will give them an even better-quality product.

Thapelo: I would like to echo his sentiments because the biggest problem now is that everybody thinks it’s easily accessible and everybody can do it. We all have to start somewhere but the problem is that Kasi stories portray an unsatisfactory standard.

The set visit also unpacks marked progress in the socio-economic impact of the television industry, sharing information on what it takes to create a successful local production and the value it adds to the culture at large.

“There is great detail that goes into creating each episode – for example, when filming we have a minimum of 45 crew on the set. If we break it down to economics, we can say that for one person involved in the production, at least three others are supported. That’s a total estimate of at least 80 people whose lives are improved and developed by a single production unit,” says Candice Tennant, Series Producer at Tshedza Pictures, the production house for “The River”. “There is power in creating a thriving local television industry – telling our own stories and supporting families and the greater community at the same time.”

With a blend of both seasoned and new talent, the captivating and impressive cast of “The River” includes Warren Masemola, Presley Chweneyagae, Hlomla Dandala, Sindi Dlathu, Moshidi Motshegwa, Lunga Shabalala, Larona Moagi and Tinah Mnumzana.

Currently in its second season, “The River” airs on 1Magic (103) weekdays at 8pm.

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