Senior Arts Reporter
Due to the Covid-19 global pandemic which has affected the arts industry world-wide, the creatives and filmmakers have resorted to social media services.
In a bid to promote popular local drama series Wenera and to reach out to the world, producers of the soap have started loading episodes on YouTube.
The initiative started yesterday and has so far received overwhelming response.
Some of the cast in the series include Tinashe Pundo (Gugu), Zolile Makeleni (Tsotsi), Muriel Tavaziva (Chichi), Conrad Mwanawashe (Humba), Tariro Chitapi (Donna) and Arnold Gara as Boss T1.
In an interview, executive producer and writer of the soap, Eddie Ndlovu, said going digital was long overdue and he was happy with the good kick start to 2021.
“Wenera has only been available on television, ZTV, for the past six years and nowhere else,” he said. “The viewership and brand grew, and this triggered a hunger of the need for those without access to ZTV to want to watch it, especially the diasporians.
“Even some locals who couldn’t get the time to watch it on television or missed it will now have an opportunity to watch on their free time and be able to control when and how they want to watch, unlike terrestrial television whereby you have to wait for a certain time to watch it.”
Ndlovu said they started loading episodes on YouTube from when they rebranded the series.
“We had about 15 seasons with 180 episodes, but we have started from episode 80, that is Season Six,” he said. “The good thing is that our audience will still have a glimpse of the story-line and it will also be easy to follow.” Asked how they were going to benefit, Ndlovu said all was set accordingly.
“There are so many ways we are going to benefit from it,” he said. “Primarily, we are trying to grow our audience and viewership because we are planning to target a wider audience, including the diaspora market with our next offering “Viva Wenera” which is going to be the spin-off to Wenera.
“So, for our outside audience to understand the spin-off, we think if they do watch a few episodes from the previous Wenera they will be able to understand where it’s coming from and the spin-off.
“On monetisation, honestly it’s a secondary issue, actually I don’t even know how to monetise, but it’s something that we are going to look into as we have never done it before. Have just started to push the Wenera TV channel and as we go we will be learning the game of YouTube and see how it works.
“If it works and we are able to make something from it then who never knows maybe the spin-off will be released straight to YouTube.”
Ndlovu said the global pandemic has been a nightmare to the arts industry as a whole.
“The whole of 2020 came and went without even noticing it,” he said. “We didn’t work on anything as planned at the beginning of 2020 and as for us we are full-time filmmakers and this has been a big blow to us as we struggled to fend for our families. It’s been a tough time.”
Ndlovu said that his 2020 plans were affected and had shelved them.
“Since the beginning of 2020, we have been in pre-production of Viva Wenera and that is our next project,” he said. “It was supposed to have been shot and released in 2020, but got affected by this pandemic. Right now we can’t say much about the future of it as we don’t know yet how this year is going to pan out.
“In VIVA, yes, we are also incorporating new faces since the spin-off will also have new characters and plots along with the old plots and characters.”