Sandisiwe Mbhele
Lifestyle Journalist
4 minute read
11 Apr 2022
12:48 pm

WATCH: Netflix execs let us in on their plans for Africa

Sandisiwe Mbhele

The Citizen sat down with the streaming giant executives from Netflix to discuss the growing and exciting content from Africa

'Blood & Water' returns for season 3, as Netflix executives divulge more on how they approve content. Picture: Supplied

The evolution of the South African film and television industry has seen its content grow leaps and bounds.

This has been assisted by new production companies and the funding and investment from the likes of Netflix, and other major players in the space. 

In a broader context, the African continent as a whole in terms of the type of series and movies available has never been so accessible and diverse.

Netflix Africa has opened a space for new filmmakers, storytellers and talent in the continent in a number of ways.

They recently announced a R900 million investment into four series and movie productions. 

The Citizen sat down with the streaming giant executives which included Ben Amadasun, director of content for Africa at Netflix, Dorothy Ghettuba, director of series for Africa and Tendeka Matatu, director of film at Nelfix Africa. 

Watch: Netflix executives tell-all about original African content on the streaming platform

Original series such as Blood & Water and Young, Famous and African have been highly successful for the platform. Ghettuba says this type of depiction of Africa shows how vibrant the continent is. 

“We’ve got more than one story that has been told the past few years. We laugh, we cry, we are fabulous… We are just showing the world that we have amazing stories in Africa, we are a [melting pot] of stories and we want the world to see the stories.”

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Having the resources to invest in new productions, Matau says they work closely with many different production houses, writers and local producers by trusting the process, the film conception which they deem are crafted well. 

“We give them the freedom and responsibility to create,” he says.  

Always on the lookout for new filmmakers, in October 2021, Netflix in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) set up an innovative short-film competition on ‘African Folktales, Reimagined’ across Sub-Saharan Africa. Executives were looking to discover new voices and give emerging filmmakers in sub-Saharan Africa visibility on a global scale.

Amadasun provided an update on this competition and said it has been an incredible journey so far. 

“We had over 2,000 applicants for the Unesco project. About 21 of them come from South Africa, each session we managed to select six incredible upcoming directors, creators and storytellers for us.”

He further explained the six winning applicants will have mentors who are established and experienced in the industry to start their journeys and tell their folklore stores, reimagined.

“The work starts now, we are very excited about it,” he said.  

So how do Netflix executives green light certain series or films?

Ghettuba explains that they look at it in terms of what would the audience want and not their own likes or needs. 

She adds they Netflix decision-makers what the story is, what it is about and the story put forward will it interest the audience?

“Then we look into if the creators can do this, can they develop this show, can they put nuance? If all those things come together, we are able to land on something that is very exciting.” 

Although African content has come a long way, the executives agree Netflix is just getting started as their main goal is to contextualise the best stories and talent. 

One of the most popular shows Blood & Water has received a third season and a giddy Ghettuba said they listened to viewers, who wanted more from the show. 

Blood & Water season three is currently in production in Cape Town. Gambit Films have been working very hard to give us something special,” she said. 

Staying on brand, the executive has all finished bingeing Young, Famous and Rich and Matau said they are pleased with the release of the first original Netflix Africa film Silverton Siege which comes out on 27 April.