Cape Town – Ferguson Films have broken their silence on allegations made by actress Vatiswa Ndara.
On Monday the iGazi actress penned an open letter to the Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa about the treatment of South African actors.
The Safta award-winning actress played the role of Nomarashiya in the Mzansi Magic series produced by Ferguson Films, owned by actors Shona and Connie Ferguson.
In the six-page letter posted on Twitter, she alleges poor remuneration, alleged unfair contractual agreement, alleged unfair treatment by producers, and make claims about bullying and intimidation in the industry.
'iGazi' actress Vatiswa Ndara's open letter to Minister of Arts and Culture claims unfair treatment of SA actors
UPDATE - 8 October, 12:19: Ferguson Films referred Channel24 to their lawyer, Brendan de Kooker who said; "We are in the process of obtaining instructions from our client and we will respond in due course." Cape Town - i Gazi actress Vatiswa Ndara has written a six-page open letter to the Minister of Arts and Culture about the treatment of South African actors.
On Wednesday the company released a statement addressing some of the allegations via their lawyer, attorney Brendon de Kooker.
"As actors ourselves and producers we are aware of the challenges facing the entertainment industry. We support 100% a need for the industry to be regulated and for the Performance Protection Amendment Bill to be signed sooner rather than later.
"With that said, the allegations made by various actors do not reflect the true position of the industry and paints a false picture, that may mislead the public."
The statement then goes on to address some of the points raised by Vatiswa.
"We attempted to negotiate with the actress and her agent in good faith and within the scope of the applicable production agreement, however the agent subsequently recused himself from the negotiations. Thereafter we dealt with her manager. They made it very clear that Ms. Ndara would not accept anything less than R700 000.00 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."
With regards to the company "reaping the financial benefits through repeat broadcasts, licensing and marketing deals and repackaging of the show" the statement says that the company is pretty much in the same boat as the artist.
"Just like actors the production company is not guaranteed work, whether the show is performing or not. 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."
ON VATISWA HAVING TO RETURN TO WORK SHORTLY AFTER THE DEATH OF HER MOTHER
"Ferguson Films was not the production company in question in relation to the sad passing of Ms. Nadara's mother and her having to resume work shortly after. Conveniently, Ms. Ndara neglects to mention this fact therefore insinuating it was Ferguson Film."
ON THE PRODUCERS
"Shona and Connie Ferguson have other business interests apart from 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."
"Producers are held 100% accountable by the broadcaster as to how a production budget is utilized. It needs to be clear that these funds do not belong to the producer. The producer is merely a middleman between broadcaster, artist and crew. The producer is held accountable for every single line item on the production budget. What is due to the producer is the production markup at the end of the production and on final delivery."
The statement goes on to say that the allegations towards Ferguson Films are consequently misguided, misdirected and misleading and can be seen as a ploy to defame and tarnish the name and reputation of the company.
Other allegations made actress Dieketseng Mphuthi who appeared on The Throne, and Katlego Malele are being addressed separately by their legal team.
"Ferguson Films prides itself in producing quality shows, providing much needed employment to new and old talent and contributing to the growth of the industry. We will remain steadfast in our endeavour to treat everyone who works with us fairly and with the utmost respect", ends the statement.
Compiled by Leandra Engelbrecht.