Big just got bigger
Uzalo’s production team reveal how they got ready for a second season.
Season 1 of Uzalo ends with gunwaving action, horrific revelations and a mob chasing our favourite evildoer Muzi Xulu (Mpumelelo Bhulose) down the street on Wednesday 3 February and then, without pause, we slide straight into season 2 on Monday 8 February. But behind the scenes, a lot had to be done to transition from one season to the next. Uzalo series producer Mmamitse Thibedi explains…
A TALLER(ER) TALE
Uzalo was originally planned and shot as a long-running telenovela, as opposed to being a soap opera, which has no planned ending. But as ratings soared and Uzalo’s fast-paced, twisty storytelling and brilliant cast wowed South African viewers, a second season became simply too good to resist. “The telenovela genre has a finality about it, because of its ‘beginning, middle and end’ template. A second season meant that we needed to create some open-ended endings that would allow us to pick up the second season. This is a shift from what we had originally planned when starting the project,” says Mmamitse.
There was also the business side to consider before production could continue on the second season. Uzalo was in talks with SABC1 from September 2015 when filming on the first season ended, all the way until the contract for the second season was signed in December last year. And yet all the pre-production, like script writing, had to be handled before shooting could begin in mid-December. November 2015 was a busy month for the team as they brainstormed new storylines.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Of course, tvplus had some important questions for Mmamitse about Mzansi’s biggest show… When did you start sending season 2 scripts to cast? Some mid-November
2015, It was someall dependentactors Decemberon individual 2015. contract negotiations.
And when did shooting start on season 2?
December 2015. What did you want to do differently for the second season? Because we’re now ongoing, we’d like to kill/send off fewer characters. And we’d like to strike a balance between plot-driven and character-driven stories.
What’s on your wish list for season 2? We hope that we can deliver a compelling season that can in some ways outdo what we did in season 1 and, of course, increase our viewership.
Have any new sets been planned? No major new sets at the moment. Only much later in the story will there be a need for a new set. Will we be staying with the Mdletshe and Xulu families? Absolutely! They will always be the core of the show. It’ll be interesting to see how they deal with the aftermath of the big reveal. What’s it been like having to let actors like Bonga Dlamini (Mkhonto) and Mpumelelo Bhulose (Muzi) go because they didn’t suit your continuing story? It’s been difficult. Both in story and within the daily shooting of the show, we get attached to our colleagues. We enjoy their temperament and energy they bring both on and offscreen, so it’s always difficult to lose that. When are you auditioning for new cast and what are you looking for? We’ve already started with some of the auditions. But we’d like to save the details of what we are looking for for the screen. What were three of your favourite story
moments from season 1? Sindisiwe’s (Joanne Reyneke) funeral (May 2015). The epic imagery of KZN was a nice payoff for the first major story climax of the season. Then Muzi Xulu burying his family alive (June 2015) and Pastor Mdletshe (Bheki Mkhwane) “shooting” Xulu (July 2015) before Xulu can reveal to anyone that their sons were switched at birth. How would you sum up the start of season 2? Unexpected!
The core family matriarchs, from left: Zandile Mdletshe (Leleti Khumalo) and Lindiwe Xulu (Dawn Thandeka King).
Dawn Thandeka King (Lindiwe – left) and her onscreen daughter Nosipho (played
by Nompilo Maphumalo)