By Frederick Philander
Some 500 first-time, established and would-be Namibian actors have auditioned for Namibia’s first fully fledged 26-part television drama series soon to be shot on location in the capital.
The series to be known as ‘Things that Bind Us’ is to be produced before the end of June by Optimedia of Abius Akwaake, who was also involved as a producer in the making of the feature film, Namibia: The Liberation Struggle.
“The response has just been overwhelming after my company had advertised extensively in the local print and electronic media during last year. This gives me hope for the future of the film industry in our country,” said Akwaake, the producer of the series to be screened on NBC-tv by June this year.
The series was part of the NBC’s commissioning television film system in 2007 and was given to Optimedia.
“We are well on our way in completing the episodic scripts of which the first ten have already been submitted for final approval to the NBC commissioning editor. We are confident that the scripts will be accepted, after which time shooting on the serious will commence in and around the capital,” he said.
According to Akwaake, the final character selection process has not gone very smoothly.
“White character roles are still wide open due to the fact that so few white Namibian actors showed any interest and responded to our public call. This can be ascribed to the fact that white Namibians do not watch NBC-tv and the fact that the series is produced and will be screened by the national broadcaster.
“Finding local white actors has always been a problem and will probably be so for a long time to come. Anyway, if there are white actors out there, they are welcome to come for auditions,” the soft-spoken filmmaker and chairperson of the Filmmakers Association of Namibia (FAN) said.
Akwaake sees the drama series as a learning and educational project through which the local film industry can tremendously benefit.
“At the moment we are finalising the casting with call-backs to those actors we have auditioned. The successful ones will be informed in due time. We are also putting together a film crew that will entirely consist of Namibians for the multi-lingual series. Yes, we have opted for using most of the indigenous languages to be as authentic as possible,” he said.
Akwaake also revealed that award winning Nigerian film scriptwriter, Femi Kayode, is the head writer of the series.
“He acted as a script doctor on the Nujoma film and is currently working for my company on a full-time basis. However, the majority of the writers that went through a workshop on the script dealing with social issues such as family life, neighbours interrelations, employment relationships and many others, are all Namibians,” he said.
The writers are Christian Appolus, Dudley Viall, Nailoke Mhanda, Dorinda Pieters, Louis Maruwasa, Oshosheni Hiveluah and Girley Jazama.
“I am pretty confident that our proposed work method of finishing the first ten episodes in the shortest possible time and then completing the rest as we shoot will work well,” Akwaake, who refused to be drawn into divulging the budget of the series, concluded.
Many unemployed actors see the television series as a chance of a lifetime in view of the fact that Namibian film work is as scarce as the proverbial chicken teeth.