Sunday, March 22, 2015

The 2015 South African Film and Television Awards keeps getting worse - this year in fact you won't even find it in the TV schedule listings.

The amateur awards show, the 2015 South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) is set to be broadcast tonight - live on SABC2 - but looking at TV schedules you wouldn't know: it's not even listed this year meaning viewers will care even less.

With the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) which couldn't be bothered to ensure the 2015 Saftas' broadcasting details are in schedules issued to the media, and with SABC2 which couldn't be bothered in the slightest to send out an updated SABC2 schedule for Sunday, you'd be hard pressed to find any SABC2 schedule in any magazine or newspaper listing and telling viewers that the awards ceremony is taking place and on SABC2.

On Friday not the SABC's online schedules where SABC2 is listed had the Saftas showing for Sunday 22 March, nor did MultiChoice's EPG on SABC2 show any trace of it.

It means that people like me leaving their homes on Friday for the weekend and setting their weekend recordings - couldn't even record it even if they wanted to or knew that it was supposed to be on SABC2 around 19:30 or 20:00 on Sunday.

(If you think there's going to be Setswana and Sotho news on SABC2 at 19:30 guess again. It will be Saftas red carpet coverage with Ayanda-Allie Paine and Jen Su - but nobody in the world would ever know that.)

Look at Friday newspapers, Saturday's ones and even Sundays papers today - not a mention of the Saftas on a SABC2 schedule grid of this terrible awards show trying to "honour" local film and television.

It's yet another sign of how the South African Film and Television Awards keeps regressing and getting worse - in 2015 it's not even making TV listings and printed schedules this year like in the past.

I type up TV schedules for a living. By hand. Daily. For this Sunday, SABC2 couldn't be bothered to issue an updated programming change for something one would presume the SABC and SABC2 would want viewers to watch and want viewers to tune to SABC2 for.

Why are basic things not done and why is standard-set practices not taking place and happening when it comes to the Saftas year after year after year, and why does it keep getting worse?

Another example: Who is the host of the 2015 Saftas? (Pssst, it will be Loyiso Gola).

SABC2 broadcasting the Saftas this year, again produced for TV by Clive Morris Productions, couldn't even put out a very basic press release or statement to announce it - neither did the NFVF release a statement nor the Saftas' PR and publicity company Listen Up getting paid by the NFVF to actually communicate with the press and send the media information.

Although painful and painfully late, at least in previous years the press were officially told and knew who the main presenter or presenters of the Saftas would be.

Also this year: Not a single word from the NFVF, SABC2, the Saftas or Listen Up on the red carpet presenters - something else that grudgingly were at least announced in previous years before the awards show. This year ... nothing.

And another part of the overall Saftas puzzle which signals how it keeps regressing and remains a last minute, rushed, badly organised affair.

On Wednesday 18 March - only four days before Sunday's awards ceremony - I suddenly/finally/co-incidentally/surprisingly got an invitation to the 2015 Saftas (no communication or word or details regarding pre-show media coverage or red carpet accreditation.) Really Saftas, in what world?

In a universe where you compete with things like a Big Brother Mzansi's live launch (which was actually moved out of the way and a week earlier to be out of the way of Miss South Africa 2015 next Sunday) and other events happening at the same time (and set weeks before) and properly communicated and the press invited, the South African Film and Television Awards has a really long way to go before it will be considered remotely professional.

The Oscars and the Emmys (and the Saftas purports to try and be the "Emmys" of South Africa) communicate with press and the media - even in South Africa - constantly and months in advance.

I get emails and media statements and press information and accreditation requests months before from them. With the National Film and Video Foundation and the Saftas everything is always last minute.

How do you not laugh at something like the Saftas which emails a throwaway-looking invitation just 4 days before the actual event?

The NFVF, the Saftas organising committee, NFVF CEO and Saftas chairperson Zama Mkosi need to do more to communicate better - and to build better relationships with South Africa's press, TV and film critics and journalists covering not just them, but the Saftas.

They need to do more to make the Saftas more transparent and to bring legitimacy to the Saftas - something this awards show doesn't have and won't get if the very basic basics don't improve.

Every year I hear from several production companies and producers complaining, and people who are upset and angry at the way the Saftas operate. They're too scared to speak up and speak out out of fear of being blacklisted.

I listen to what they all say, and to a very large degree I agree with their complaints and issues. Add to those the myriad of small things not being done, and not being done properly, and you end up with the amateur mess the Saftas ends up being every year.

And it starts with a lot of small things like having a programme listed in a TV schedule, properly announcing the presenters, properly announcing the nominees without spelling mistakes and other trashy errors.

I've been to and attended the Saftas a few times in years gone by. It was bad, but I always had hope. It's gone from bad to worse over the past few year - but when it comes to the Saftas I still have hope.

I want the Saftas to be good. I want the Saftas to be a legitimate, real representation of great work done in a year in South Africa's film and television industry and have those people and production companies be honoured for it.

And being able to feel they legitimately deserve the award and recognition.

It is still not happening.

Why is it so difficult for the NFVF and the Saftas to get right?