Wednesday, May 27, 2020

From ladies living in lockdown to Zoom etiquette tutorials: The behind-the-scenes secrets of putting this week's second season finale of The Bachelor SA on M-Net together.

by Thinus Ferreira

The arrival of lockdown because of Covid-19 abruptly altered the originally planned, key light bright second season finale of The Bachelor South Africa that had been slotted into the M-Net (DStv 101) schedule months ago already and that will now be broadcast this coming Thursday evening at 19:00.

The Rapid Blue production team - working on a hopefully happy ending for the second season of the local adaptation of the Warner Bros. International Television Production (WBITVP) format - had to adapt and change the gameplan in putting Thursday's upcoming finale on M-Net together.

Some of the challenges ranged from having to deal with the ladies stuck in place because of lockdown across South Africa and Namibia, making it impossible to get them all back for a "Women Tell All" studio-seated reunion.

The show also had to help them to suddenly find their way through do-it-yourself video set-ups, providing them with Zoom "finishing school" masterclasses.

Then there was also the race against time to get equipment to locations, while trying to direct and edit a fitting finale without making it come across as a low-resolution clip show filled with webcam content.

On Thursday evening viewers will be able to tune in for the second season finale of The Bachelor SA as an hourlong "lockdown episode" on M-Net.

The usual preceding "Women Tell All" hourlong episode that was originally planned has been removed from the M-Net broadcast schedule by the pay-TV channel's execs - likely done to help lessen local production pressure on the show because of Covid-19 - and has been replaced with a The Bachelor SA Pyjama Afterparty reunion webisode.

This will roll out on the M-Net website on Thursday night right after the linear televised finale is broadcast on the M-Net channel on DStv.

The Bachelor SA Pyjama Afterparty online webcast will feature short clips that viewers can tune in to at their leisure. It will be embedded on the M-Net website as a special event to view indefinitely.

Meanwhile, the televised The Bachelor SA finale will combine the last of the footage that the love finding show filmed pre-corona in late-2019 including bachelor Marc Bucker's choice (if he makes one), new Zoom call footage with some of the women, and a look at what happened "after the final rose".

With a limitation on travel in cities, no domestic flights, and an ongoing ban regarding travel across provinces still in effect in South Africa - combined with strict social distancing rules - it is impossible to reveal, even if it was known, whether Marc will appear in-person in any post-Covid-19 scenes with either or both the speech therapist Marisia, or the extrovert Bridget who have been the last two women left.

M-Net is only willing to confirm that "Marc will be speaking to the final two ladies in some way or another while being in lockdown at his home".

Zhooshing up for Zoom
In terms of the production challenges around prepping and recording Thursday's finale, M-Net tells TVwithThinus that "Marc and all the various ladies have remained in lockdown at home or with loved ones".

"Andeline, for example, went to her family in Namibia just before lockdown had started and some of the ladies, who found love after not receiving a rose on the show, found new love and are spending lockdown with their new beaus," says M-Net.

 "A special shout out as well to soldier Tamryn from Pretoria who has been working keeping South Africans safe."

Asked about challenges the production says that doing The Bachelor SA finale in the time of Covid-19 presented a couple of challenges since it was completely new territory.

"Some of the challenges included communicating with the various ladies and obtaining various responses timeously, establishing their data connection speeds and access to technological equipment, and delivering relevant equipment within lockdown protocol where necessary."

Then, the women who are video-calling in, now have to do their own hair and make-up, and styling.

Of course video conference call etiquette classes is something that has suddenly become a much-needed requirement for reality TV stars when they are filmed remotely from their homes.

There are no floor managers and production assistants who can rush in from the off-camera side-closet or who can peek out from behind the bookshelf to make adjustments to webcam heights or to try and improve audio feeds.

Neither are there make-up artists who can quickly rush on-set to do powder touch-ups during ad breaks.

It was necessary to do some training for the women "on how best to present themselves during a Zoom interview and being cognisant of backgrounds, camera positions and posture," says the show.

"The most difficult part was putting together a high-quality production that allowed the ladies to be part of the show given the challenges of lockdown," says M-Net.

Host Jason Greer filmed the final interviews in-studio with the correct Covid-19 health and safety protocols that were followed and permits in place, with M-Net that says that the look and feel of the studio for the second season finale is on par with The Bachelor SA brand identity. "We believe that viewers will really enjoy this unique finale".

ALSO READ: Season 2 of The Bachelor SA to end with unique remote video conclusion followed by a special M-Net online pyjama reunion episode.