Mandela mini-series set to film in Gauteng
Gauteng Film Commission CEO Andile Mbeki at the press event to announce the principal photography schedule for Madiba.

A new mini-series on the life of Nelson Mandela begins shooting in September. The South African/Canadian co-production Madiba, based on Madiba's autobiographical Conversations with Myself and the authorized quotations book Nelson Mandela by Himself, will be shot primarily in Gauteng.

"We visited Qunu while we were scouting, but there is so much development taking place that it proved unsuitable for our purposes," producer Lance Samuels said in an interview ahead of a cocktail party to announce the principal photography to the media in Sandton on 21 May.

"We found a perfect replacement in Magaliesburg. This is why I love shooting in Gauteng - you can pretty much shoot the whole world without leaving the province.

"The biggest challenge the region faces is the perception that crime is everywhere," Samuels said. "It's as simple as that. Filmmakers go to Cape Town because that perception does not exist, but it's easy to change filmmakers' perceptions.

"We need high visibility security, we need local knowledge on locations. The Gauteng Film Commission has been incredibly helpful with these logistics, from our initial contact with them. They have introduced us to an amazing group of local people who became part of our team."

Samuels' production company Blue Ice Pictures is partnering with Out of Africa Entertainment and American satellite TV channel BET to produce the six-part series, with support from the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) and financial assistance from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

madiba launch1 300
Producer Lance Samuels with South African director Gray Hofmeyr.

The entertainment channel is going for more substantial, scripted original programming after its co-production Book of Negroes (shot in Cape Town) was nominated for a Critics' Choice award.

Also chatting ahead of the cocktail launch, American director Kevin Hooks (Prison Break) said he was humbled by the opportunity to tell Nelson Mandela's amazing life story.

The extended TV drama format, he said, gave him the opportunity to fully delve into the life of a man he calls his personal hero. "His courage, sacrifice and dedication made him one of the most important and inspirational leaders the world has ever known. His is a rich story, the kind of story you can't tell in two hours."

Speaking during the launch, GFC chief executive Andile Mbeki reiterated that the Commission was there to partner with filmmakers who were looking to use Gauteng as a location.

And whether it was unique landmarks, unspoiled natural beauty or familiar neigbourhoods you were after, Gauteng could stand in for anywhere in the world, Mbeki said.

"We have the world to offer filmmakers. We can match our competition for locations. What can they offer - besides the ocean - that we can't? We have a rich pool of experienced and skilled crews, we have cities and the countryside.

"We are dedicated to helping filmmakers produce good work, we are committed to helping you get the job done. Come to us, we will help you look beyond the obvious and connect you with any and every resource you could possibly need."

Blue Ice Pictures will commence with principal photography on location in Gauteng in September. The shooting is scheduled to run for six months, through January 2016.

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission