South Africa: The Perfect Script & the 'Almost Story'

2013-05-14 05:36

Those in the TV entertainment industry will know that a good idea does not mean much if it cannot be translated into a good script. Again, a good script needs to have a good cast attached to it. Moreover, a good script & good cast needs a good producer & a visionary director to bring it to life. Without this entire package, you will have what I call, an ‘almost’ story- what could have been. But everybody knows, almost doesn’t count.

On that note, welcome to New South Africa, the new production. Let’s define the key attributes:

Name of production : New South Africa

Production Company : ANC Productions

Director : The President (currently JZ)

Original Idea : Freedom & A better life for all

Script : Constitution, legislation, policies

Cast : All South Africans

Audience : The Rest of the World

We come from a rather successful production of the previous regime - not fair, but successful in its unfair state. Due to its unfairness, it was inevitable that it would come to an end, to be replaced by a fairer production.

Come 1994, we were introduced to something new. A New Idea. A New Script. New Crew. New Cast. A completely new & reworked production. We moved from a script that only focused on a few Lead Actors, with the rest only catered for as Extras - this had to change.

From the New Ideas, a New Script was developed, not focusing on a smaller ensemble lead cast, but encompassing everybody – ensuring that everyone had a meaningful contribution and benefit. The perfect idea. The perfect Script. The perfect Crew… Ok, I’m getting there.

Normally what happens is that one comes with the Idea, another writes the Script and then it’s taken up by the appropriate Producers and a suitable Director. But of course, it does occasionally happen that a Scriptwriter also Produces and Directs his own script.

This was one of those rare cases – ANC Productions came with the Idea, wrote the Script and insisted on handling the production themselves, choosing a ‘suitable’ Director from among themselves. Well, it was their Production after all, maybe they had every right to do so. The rest of us just had to anxiously wait for the realisation of the dream, the materialisation of this great production, New South Africa.

**clears throat**

Admittedly, each production has its challenges, delays, hiccups, rethinking, rewrites, etc – but ultimately, the script is delivered upon. The Director delivers according to his vision of the production.

New South Africa – maybe we cannot, with certainty, say that the production should be complete or at what milestone it should be. But, the question that has been raised by many: can we still trust ANC Productions to continue producing this beautiful show for us? Or is it time to find a new Producer?

Some argue, the problem is not necessarily with ANC Productions per se, but with the Director put in charge of the show. Some argue, the Script needs to be reworked. And for some, the entire package is just not working.

Yet, loyalty says: these are the producers who even came up with the Original Idea that Perfect Script leading to this great play, New South Africa. This loyalty consistently allows a benefit of the doubt about any concerns about the actual realisation of this Great Project. But for most, it’s not even loyalty – it’s actual belief and pure conviction that the producers are delivering on the vision.

What are some of the concerns being raised about ANC Productions? Let’s look at a few:

  • They have been accused of not sticking to the Script, the Script that almost every South African bought into. They have been accused of digressing from the Script, due to lack of skill, their own greed and personal ambitions.
  • They have been accused of introducing unscripted Cameos and Special Appearances. Like the Shaiks, Guptas, the Chinese, the CAR, etc. And of course, New South Africa has had so many ‘Gates’, it makes Jerusalem sound like a joke.
  • They have been accused of moving away from a Script that was based on an ensemble cast (everyone playing an equally important role), to one where there are now a few lead actors and actresses, others are just supporting actors and some even reduced to mere Extras.
  • The Director has been accused of poorly directing certain scenes, such that the intention of the Original Idea is missed. (can you think of a few examples? So can I.)

You know, the Script was designed such that this production could possibly even garner a few awards/ Oscars – like the likes of Mandela, Luthuli and Tutu did (Nobel prize laureates) when they were only extras or antagonists in the Old South Africa production. One would have hoped this New South Africa would have such a beautiful image it would even get an Oscar for Best Picture – but what with all the shenanigans that have spoilt that perfect picture in the making.

In recent months, there has been an on-going debate about who is to blame for the woes of this New Production. Others arguing the Old Production is to blame for some of these challenges. But to what extent really? Can we blame the old producers for failures of the new Director? Can we blame the old script for inefficiencies in the new script? I say, the blame should be shared - but ultimately, the new producers should and can do much better.

Now let’s look at the likely genre of this Production. We all know this was meant to be a ‘feel-good’ family drama. But what has it turned out to be? A thriller? Horror? Action? Let’s see:

  • With all the revelations and breaking stories that brace our media every other day, the twists, the back-stabbings. We helplessly wait for the next ‘wow’ story, the next twist in the story we thought we knew so well. It sure looks like a Thriller/ Suspense Drama.
  • Yet the unbelievable stories we hear almost daily, giving us nightmares and endless sighs of “I don’t believe this!”, high rates of violent crimes, service delivery protests, and more – one could argue it’s actually a Horror play.
  • But again, there’s the constant dodging of bullets, the courts, appeals, Public Protector investigations, etc – maybe it’s actually more of an Action movie.
  • But, oh wait, what with the constant singing & dancing, common phrases like ‘Crisis? What crisis?’, ‘everything is under control’, and more such - making monkeys of the audience – well, maybe it’s just a Circus show.

Yet, to many who have been delivered from poverty, given free houses, have running water and electricity, free education, new opportunities in life, etc – for them, this still remains that much lauded ‘feel-good’ family drama we were introduced to in 1994. And they have every right to celebrate these successes, no matter how much looked down upon by others.

Over the years, we have seen new Production Houses springing up all over, all claiming they can do a better job in this Production - DA Productions, COPE Pictures, and recently, Agang Productions.

Leading the pack is DA Productions, hell-bent on eventually taking over the Production. Yet, sometimes it’s not clear to many what their intentions are. How much of the Script are they going to rewrite? Will they introduce a new Script at all or will they just tweak this one there and there. Or better yet, they’ll just retain the ‘Original Idea’, and seek to bring it to life via a new Script altogether, backed by a new Crew. But, others fear: what if the new Script resembles the old Production which was hated by many? But of course DA keeps insisting they would never bring back the Old Production. However, this uncertainty and ‘fear of the unknown’ is what keeps most South Africans loyal to ‘the devil they know’.

We loved the Original Idea. We loved the Script that followed. But if the production does not bring to life that Original Idea, then all we have really, is an ‘Almost Story’. The best example of an ‘Almost Story’ right now, is post-independence Zimbabwe, under the Directorship of Mugabe and his crew at ZANU-PF Productions. My goodness, what a beautiful story it could have been.

Let’s hope New SA will not regress to that level.

I love our new production, New South Africa - and I’ll continue remaining optimistic about it. I have managed to reach a better life for myself – and I believe together, we can work towards a better life for ALL – the realisation of the Original Idea.  Now let us, We the People, ensure we have the right Producers steering this wonderful production.

So, what’s your take: Is it time for a new Script? Is it time for a new Director? Is it time for a New Production Team altogether? What needs to change, if anything at all?

New South Africa. Hail the beloved country!

.

Yeah, me too, I write what I like. Catch me on twitter @xolanik

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