Location scouting has started, and casting will begin soon to find an "iconic" place and actors to film M-Net's retelling of the story of the Zulu king Shaka that will be broadcast as a new drama series on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161). by Thinus Ferreira
Besides broadcasting Shaka in South Africa and across Sub-Saharan Africa on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service, M-Net has plans to sell what it wants to be a prestige series to the world, showcasing to global broadcasters the production quality, capacity and talent that exists in South Africa.
With Shaka M-Net wants to lure more international co-productions made in South Africa and across the continent and make global content buyers aware of the raft of local content available for international broadcasters.
Produced by Bomb Productions, M-Net in May 2018 announced that it has commissioned a 12-episode drama series order to tell the story of King Shaka kaSenzangakhona. The black historical drama series will explore the precolonial South African kingdoms that influenced and gave rise to Shaka Zulu.
South Africans and viewers worldwide are familiar with the 10-episode, 1986-series Shaka Zulu from the SABC and Harmony Gold USA that was directed by William C. Faure, starring the iconic, late Henry Cele in the adult Shaka role and based on Joshua Sinclair's 1985-novel of the same name.
"To tell the story of Shaka in this moment is a huge responsibility and a great honour," says Jacob Ntshangase, one of the writers.
The new Shaka will also be filmed across South Africa, with Bomb Productions now scouring the country in search of iconic locations while pre-production has started before shooting later this year to recreate the world in which Shaka lived and reigned.
M-Net and Bomb Productions will also cast several Shaka's seen as a baby, at 7, 12, 18, as well as the man, as well as several other characters who will "age" as well and be portrayed by different actors as life moves on.
The casting process looking for the perfect actors to inhabit Shaka and the other roles will be nationwide.
"We are excited about making an epic and exhilarating drama that is respectful of the real history," says Teboho Mahlatsi, executive producer and co-creator at Bomb Productions.
"Research is key. Telling a story of such complexity does not just happen overnight. We will depict the great kingdoms of the AmaThethwa, the AmaNdwandwe, AmaQwabe, AmaHlubi and AmaZulu amongst others, and on this epic canvas, we will see the heroic rise of Shaka. We are telling an African story about a great African empire."
Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice CEO for general entertainment, says "Starting this journey is history in the making and whilst research and consultation with stakeholders will continue, we are looking forward to unearthing and showcasing the deep pool of talent that lies within South Africa."