Set inside a large, although hot and overheated, warehouse facility in Newlands, Durban, there's nothing on the outside of the industrial park surroundings to hint at what's going on inside: frenetic filming of the SABC's first local telenovela Uzalo, set to start on SABC1 on Monday 9 February at 20:30.
TV with Thinus was given a detailed set tour last week by Lucky Mokoena, Uzalo art director, of the sprawling, yet densely packed set complex, erected within a period of 3 months.
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Production company Stained Glass Pictures has already completed episode 24 of the more than 300 episodes for the new SABC1 telenovela set in KwaMashu and filmed entirely in Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.
The warehouse contains interiors of a big church building, several houses each with multi-rooms, a police station complete with jail cell, a classic kasi hairdresser and an Uzalo street sidewalk. There's also several other "one room" dwellings.
Even with incessant pleading Lucky Mokoena remains absolutely tight-lipped about when it will feature and when viewers will see it, but he is gladly willing to reveal and show off some of the Uzalo sets' build-in secrets: like a secret library door leading to a secret room in the study of pastor Melusi Mdletshe. What is the "good man" hiding?
There's been great attention given to detail to make the sets an as accurate depiction and representation not just of the families who live there but of the architecture.
The interiors very closely match the very real homes in KwaMashu its "modeled" on - even down to window frames used and in what corner a staircase (leading nowhere) in the Xulu mansion has been placed.
The paint job on several of Uzalo's sets are outstanding - especially where plywood walls are supposed to represent brick and concrete.
Even standing close with up-close inspection, its virtually impossible to tell that you're looking at thin plywood - especially the brick walls and arches of the church building and the "concrete walls of the police station and cell.