The power of social media platforms have given rise to some of our biggest trailblazers in many facets of the entertainment industry. There’s a growing number of influential creatives in the film/television space who got their rise through their popularity on social media platforms. In the past year alone, we’ve seen a continuous stream of crossover successes from LaSizwe launching MTV’s first local reality television show with Fake It Till You Make It to Tali’s Wedding Diary taking home 5 SAFTAS at this year’s ceremony. Most recently, local award-winning web-series Chin Up!‘s third season has been picked up on Showmax. Web-series as they are, are also making those transitions on our local TV screens, especially with channels like 1Magic that air originally online content in their loose formats, like Complex’s Blue Print as well as Everyday Struggle. In this article series, we aim to spotlight some quality local content creators and explore the crossover potential we believe they have and why. You can read the first article in this series, here.
- Three Fine Guys
Basic Info: Three Fine Guys is made up of a trio of UCT students; Abongwe Booi, Matthew Frey & Tebogo Moloto. Their style of content ranges from vlogs to public interaction videos, their public interaction videos often come in the form of challenges and bets or testing the public’s general knowledge. Humour centers itself at the core of all their interactions, whether public or among each other.
Breakdown: Three Fine Guys in essence can be defined as a show that follows the adventures of its three leads. Every Sunday at 15:30 without fail, TFG steals your P (the show’s catchphrase) with a new video, and the consistency of that roll-out already makes it feel like a format even when they don’t necessarily stick to a specific story structure. In essence, they are the format and the adventures inform it but this only works because their on-screen chemistry is undeniably infectious and engaging. Whether it’s Matt’s consistent ability and/or want to slip into his Nigerian accent or tell us about his time there, Tebogo’s expressively shady reactions and the editing used to amplify it or Abo’s reminders that he’s a faithful boyfriend, their dynamics not only ring true but are hilariously entertaining. For people who like their content, it’s great escapism. It’s good-natured, hilariously packaged fun.
Future Potential: Three Fine Guys lives off of the hyper chemistry that is fostered between its hosts. They have a chemistry that feels both light-hearted and genuine in nature, that makes them appear accessible; especially to a student demographic, or like myself, a post-student-but-early-in-the-working-world demographic. Their type of humorous energy already feels primed for them to be able to crossover into mainstream platforms like MTV, fully based on personality; think shows like Guy Code and You Got Got or even more reality formats like Forever Young. Their current content speaks to formats like those but also the ability to create content that continues to center them and what they want to say. As a channel and concept, TFG is still incredibly young but they’ve managed to foster a type of energy, fanbase and ethic that can’t be dismissed. What I’m incredibly interested to see is what the off-shoots of this are, as they continue to mature and even graduate from the university space.
Basic Info: Defining is a channel championed by Industrial Engineering graduate and award winning digital entrepreneur, Dennis Ngango. Whilst the channel has a vlog element to it, it centers itself around formats like interviews, discussions and video advice columns. One of its most common formats is Defining Love, which we’ll be our primary focus for this section.
Breakdown: Defining Love a series in which every episode focusses on a couple who unpack their love story and/or journey in love. In many ways, Defining Love, feels like the antithesis of shows like Seng’khathele and within the same breadth can occupy a similar space as those shows within traditional media as reality content. It has a format that is incredibly clear to follow yet fluid enough to let the spotlight couple’s chemistry shine starting with an introduction of the couple together. What follows then, is each love bird is individually asked similar questions in different rooms. The questions usually start from first impressions of each other to things like their first kiss and the qualities they love about each other. This culminates in them back together for more interactions which culminate in them reading love letters to each other. This coupled with the choice of music and our framing devices culminates in a viewing experience that is akin to eating soul food, incredibly wholesome bordering on treacly. Moreso, it shows Dennis Ngango and the team’s ability to consistently tell and build a story.
Future Potential: Concepts like Defining Love are so simple and universal at its core that they’re able to move to other platforms without having to change much, from podcasts to television. Dennis Ngango and the team at Defining have worked hard to define the format of the show, so much so that I can see it on TV as is; bolstered with the additional production value that a TV budget can provide. Outside of concepts like Defining Love, it’s incredibly clear he has a keen interest in bringing humanity and depth into his content. He fosters conversations that go beyond the surface and is able to control a conversation without appearing domineering in it. That potential shows his ability in becoming a credible producer/director within reality formats, read: talk shows and formats like Defining Love. Ngango is already producing quality content, it’s a wonder what he could do with further quality backing.
- Okay Wasabi
Basic Info: George Mnguni, more commonly known as Okay Wasabi, is a 25-year old storyteller hailing from Vosloorus. His digital output is incredibly vast with multiple channels that he feeds different styles of content, from skits and parodies to vlogs and reality formats, Wasabi plays the game. Within this article we won’t be looking at a specific format that he’s done but his persona in general.
Breakdown: Like OM Films in our first article, Wasabi represents the on-going crossover that digital already has within our mainstream platforms, see Guy Code and You Got Got (directing) as part of his achievements. What’s fascinating about him for me, is his ability to be incredibly versatile with consistent messaging. He’s showcased an ability and affinity to host across different topics from food (see Cooking Sushi with Wasabi/Kota Past 9) to tech gear (see Arcade ZA). His sketches showcase his ability to act as well as show off some of his behind-the-scenes savvy and he even releases his own set of parody. He’s able to assert his identity across all these different platforms in a way that’s yet to feel forced.
Future Potential: His immense versatility shows how he’s planting seeds for the long game within multiple fields, which if ultimately are realized will be seen as the makings of an icon and/or media mogul. His current work already makes him feel primed to build his own blueprint akin to figures like Kagiso Lediga and Trevor Noah, backed by the digital. His malleability within different formats as a performer, backed by the technical prowess he’s building behind the scenes make him an undeniable force to be reckoned with all-round. It’s not hard to imagine him 10 years from now being a late night TV Host or a venerable filmmaker, comic performer, or creative behind his own version of shows like The Pure Monate Show, Key & Peele or The Chapelle Show. Okay Wasabi currently stands as a pioneer within the digital space, and it’s thrilling to continuously watch and learn as his journey continues.
- Love: The Webseries (Outré)
Basic Info: Outré is a youthful production company consisting of Zigi Ndhlovu, Siya Mkholo, Gcinahlunga Dibi and Mothusi Maxwell. As a company, their digital output has seen them dabble in multiple formats from sketch comedy to satirical commentary (see Black Twitta) and drama series. Within the frame of this article, we’ll be focusing on their web-drama, Love: The Webseries.
Breakdown: Love: The Webseries is a drama series that revolves around the lives and relationship of its lead couple, Sbu and Angie. The show has gradually built itself from dramatic short sketch-length videos to full fledged TV-length productions with production quality to boot. From a story perspective, Love provides an inspired take on entrepreneurship and the working world through the lens of being an aspiring 20-something, in a way that’s not really explored in local television. What’s refreshing about Love, besides the story, is how fresh it feels from its cast to its world-building techniques down and music selection. It’s a series that’s been figuring itself out as it goes along and continuously manages to provide engrossing set-pieces along the way.
Future Potential: Of all the web-series that we’ve unpacked thus far, Love: The Webseries has the clearest course of action of where it wants to be and is consistent in its pursuit of it. It already functions as a drama series and has the ambitions of becoming prestige TV, it just has a longer turnaround time. Outre TV as a channel and production company are continuously churning out content that frames them as trailblazers amongst their peers. As they continue to grow in popularity it’s only a matter of time until their ambitions are realized.
Web-series have become a legitimate way for one to pilot their voice and concepts. The more we start taking our current content creators seriously for what they could be and already are, the better our entertainment industry will be for it. I’m hoping to have one more of these types of articles before the end of the year, if there are any content creators you’d like me to checkout please comment below or reach out to me on twitter: @wnjakes, instagram: @yazzthestudent.