In our first blogpost you read about how we’ve been trying to make it in the industry for the last eight years and throughout those eight years we have used one particular hashtag, #WeMakingTV. (A fun fact on that hashtag is that our MD, Katleho Ramaphakela, was the first person to ever use it, according to Twitter receipts). But now we get to add another hashtag to our name because we are about to make films. And it’s been a longtime coming.
To explain our joy and excitement of venturing into this new era of Burnt Onion Productions, I will compare it to having a baby (I obviously don’t have any children because if I did, I imagine that I would be outraged by the comparison). So yes, thanks to the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and their slate funding, we have the honour of developing 9 (yes, NINE!) feature films. No pressure.
We finally get to have children of our own. I know what you’re thinking; we have many babies already, but as you know, well at least I hope you do, our broadcasters own everything that we have made for them. So we essentially make babies and then we give them up for adoption. It’s as sad as it sounds and also a blogpost for another day. But with films, it’s a completely different story, hopefully one that comes with a happy ending.
You see, with films, your baby doesn’t really have a support system like a broadcaster, it’s just us and the film, and after the grueling process of writing and then sourcing funding so that we can actually make the film, a baby is born. And like all parents, we will think that it’s the most beautiful baby and gush over it but what other people think of it, well, that’s a whole different story. Making films in South Africa is like playing the lottery (there are clearly a lot of analogies for making films), you can have the best crew, a pretty decent script and a talented cast but if no-one bothers to come see your baby then it’s all pointless really.
Don’t get me wrong, our industry is starting to grow especially when runaway successes like Happiness is a Four Letter Word give us producers hope that we actually can make our money back and payback all the investors, especially the uncle who had no idea what he was actually investing in. But, Happiness is one of a handful at this point, and unless you’re Leon Schuster, you don’t really know if South Africans are going to watch your films or not. You can research the Top South African films (usually, Leon Schuster and maybe a couple of Afrikaans-language RomComs), then try to make sense of cinemagoer trends and even hashtag FILLUPTHECINEMA once the film comes out but at the end of the day, you just never know if your film will be the next Happiness.
But this shouldn’t stop you from telling stories, right? Well it’s a little more complicated than that. On the one hand, yes, let’s all tell stories and make films but on the other hand, I have a bond to pay off and I would one day like to have the opportunity to consider myself as a potential Blesser. Marrying the two wants is the difficult part. But we’re hell-bent on making it work.
Our slate of films promises to bring you all the goodness that you usually enjoy from a Burnt Onion Productions winning recipe, but this time for the big screen.
So as we embark on this new journey where we become parents to babies (nine of them) that will stay with us for the rest of our lives, we will ensure that they are entertaining, memorable and make us some of our money back (otherwise family gatherings with our uncle will be very awkward). There is no formula to follow because even if you have read all the parenting how-to books, well, you just never know how your kid will turn out.
And whilst we gear up for this new chapter, we learn from those that have come before us as we can finally say: #WeMakingFilms.