IPO comments on Vatiswa Ndara Open Letter

The Independent Producers Organisation responds to the open letter to the Minister of the Department of Arts and Culture written by veteran actress Vatiswa Ndara.

Actors work incredibly hard, giving of themselves to create characters that audiences fall in love with. To say that the acting community are an essential and treasured skill would be an understatement.Without them, there are no stories and there would be no industry.

We acknowledge that there is a systemic economic crisis in this industry that affect our actors, crew, writers and producers. It is widely known that production rates, for producing local content, have been significantly cut by broadcasters generally. The national broadcaster, SABC, is spending almost 50% less than it did in 2006, and Multichoice has also reduced their local content spend. This puts intense and almost impossible pressure on all film workers to shoot longer days, in order to deliver productions within the budget demands. With the collapse of the SABC and compounding the low rates paid, we have seen numerous production companies go bankrupt, and sadly this is often the case for emerging black owned businesses, which are left vulnerable to the challenges we are facing as producers. This is exactly the opposite of what should be happening to address the transformation needed in the industry both creatively and economically.

We need a collective and unified effort by industry creatives to ensure that broadcasters are allocating responsible and reasonable budgets for local content which ensures fair pay for all the talent involved both in front and behind the camera. We also believe and advoctae that actors, writers and producers should receive royalties from exploitation of the shows and films that they have created.

The IPO remains a dedicated orginisaiton which has continuously engaged industry stakeholders to create meaningful dialogue. We call on South African producers to ensure that fair conditions and a safe environment are being adhered to on their productions. All cast and crew must be treated with utmost respect in all aspects of the production, and we undertake to have a discussion around rates, taking into account the given constraints. However, broadcasters are critical role players in this discussion, as they ultimately have the final say on budget allocations. Broadcasters need to come to the conversation to ensure these goals are met, not only to participate in industry sustainability but to also guarantee the retention of key talent in the industry.