A decision to shoot a new telenovela and the ever-popular Housewives franchise in Gqeberha has led to the local creative industry getting skills development, job creation and business opportunities in the region.
This means that an investment by MultiChoice, Africa's best storyteller, in partnership with the Eastern Cape Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, has led to producers employing local people across the two productions – from interns, continuity technicians to production assistants, stylists and make-up artists.
Gqeberha: The Empire and The Real Housewives of Gqeberha are enthralling audiences with their captivating storylines, but the investment in the production of these shows has also led to small business growth opportunities, and strengthening the creative sector in the area.
“This extends beyond the financial investment we’ve made as a company,” says Shirley Adonisi, director: local entertainment channels at M-Net.
“Our efforts have enabled the creation of local jobs. This is done by aiding an industry to contribute to stimulating the economy while responding to the ongoing consumer demand for quality local entertainment.
“In addition, the location is beautiful and diverse. For us to serve our audiences we have to diversify the quality of our content, knowing that our sustainability as a company and country is grounded in the relationship we have with the communities where we operate.”
Gqeberha: The Empire and The Real Housewives of Gqeberha have collectively employed 46 local crew members – including interns and production staff. The presence of extended cast and crew from outside Gqeberha contributed to local economic stimulation by accommodating 54 people jointly for both productions, and by, extension the amenities of service industries such as catering, security companies, and shuttle services, including over 650 extras, were used in Gqeberha: The Empire.
With that, Gqeberha: The Empire has broken ground shooting a telenova in the Eastern Cape. Since its inception, the show has more than doubled its cast and crew, with half of the crew hailing from the Eastern Cape. At the same time, technical skills are being transferred and new talent is being developed, with a goal of using only regional skills in future.
Gqeberha: The Empire series producer Khobi Ledwaba says: “The size of the South African film and television sector in the Eastern Cape is still relatively small. There is, however, a maturing of this sector, which is contributing to a greater amount of innovation and growth, particularly for young people who wish to develop and advance their skills within their local community.”
To understand the growth potential of the local market, MultiChoice productions needed to establish a presence in the region, and to identify challenges and opportunities. In addition to providing capacity building resources and visibility to help establish the television industry in Gqeberha, MultiChoice has utilized transformative opportunities for small businesses and individuals in the hospitality, beauty, fashion, security, tourism and other fields.
The Real Housewives of Gqeberha executive producer Jemma Ford says: “Providing the people of Gqeberha with sustainable technical skills that ultimately create opportunities for job experience was a critical part of helping to establish the television industry as a viable career path. Through partnerships, we were able to find a more diverse crew, which created a better work environment.”
As a company, MultiChoice has experienced the impact investments can have with businesses such as Nands Beauty Studios having more than doubled its revenue since working on The Real Housewives of Gqeberha and AFDA Film School graduates becoming full-time crew members after interning on both productions.
“Our ethos has always been rooted in actively making a social and economic difference, creating employment opportunities, and enabling small businesses to grow. By empowering more people, a greater number of people will begin to initiate and complete projects in supporting industries and sectors, and in turn everybody benefits, including viewers,” adds Adonisi.