Big just got big­ger

Uzalo’s pro­duc­tion team re­veal how they got ready for a se­cond sea­son.

TV Plus (South Africa) - - UZALO -

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)

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