Skyf a huge downer

2013-01-13 18:26
Johannesburg - A year-and-a-half after the local film, Skyf, was shot, its cast and crew have yet to be paid.

The debut feature film by actor-turned-producer Thapelo Mokoena and Lungelo Mdlalose, his director partner, bombed at the box office despite its celebrity frontman and much hype.

According to Mokoena himself, Skyf - which was produced by his Easy Sundays Production - was “a dismal fail”.

The film is about addiction and features some of South Africa’s freshest talent including Samkelo Ndlovu, Thabo Malema and Mokoena himself.

And instead of seeing cash in their bank accounts for the job done, cast and crew have been subjected to endless e-mail updates on why they have yet to be paid.

A cast member who asked to remain anonymous blamed the lack of marketing for the failure.

“I think the buzz on social networks came too early because the hype was there and the movie took like a year-and-a-half to drop after that. I think people lost interest.”

Another cast member added: “He [Mokoena] did get married recently, so maybe that’s where the money went.”

According to an e-mail dated 5 January 2013, Mokoena expressed his disappointment at how Skyf was received.

“We finally got a chance to open the film with Nu Metro last year. As you know, we had a month-limited release.

“To our disappointment, we were informed that only 39 people in total saw the film in those cinemas,” said the e-mail.

When City Press sat down with Mokoena and Mdlalose about some cast members disgruntled over non-payment, the former said: “It’s true, the actors and crew of Skyf have not been paid.”

The “china” whom we all want to drink a Hunter’s Dry with attributed some of the problems to lack of appetite for South African movies, the fact that they had encountered problems with their distributor, and also lamented the disgruntled workers’ reaction to the issue.

“It’s quite disappointing that someone couldn’t pick up the phone and say, ‘hey Thabs’,” said Mokoena.

“Instead, they choose to make it a national issue. We had an agreement with the cast and crew saying we shoot the film and people will get paid 12 months later after we’ve seen how much it has made.”

Mokoena and Mdlalose said they have taken the film out of the country to garner up investors and recover some of expenses.

While Mokoena said Skyf was funded out of his and Mdlalose’s pockets, the e-mail in City Press’ possession points to the fact that the two are indebted to two banks.

“We still have two bank loans to settle since our launch. They have been lurking since the beginning of 2011 …”

As for the upset cast and crew, this is little consolation.

Said an upset cast member: “I know we won’t get our cash. This was the first movie that production company made and it’s a learning curve, but it’s still sour to swallow.”
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