People You May Know nominated at Series Mania in Paris
5 May 2017
Emerging filmmaker Zandile Tisani recently had her web series People You May Know nominated in the web and digital series competition at Series Mania, one of Europe's premier TV festivals. During the trip, she was approached by several French distribution platforms. by Rhod Marshall
Tisani tells #Trending: Our sales agent Cote Ouest submitted an episode of the show and, the next thing we know, we're in competition. We were the only South African production in the festival. I just wish we had this kind of enthusiasm from a local entity. Tisani started writing People You May Know in late 2014.
In this carefully crafted, partially autobiographical tale, she reflects on the lives of her friends. If she secures funding from her meetings in Europe, she intends to make 10 episodes.
Tisani has steadily developed a reputation for her powerful yet simple imagery in exploring issues of class, gender, sex and violence.
I've spent most of my life in Joburg and to me it's a living, breathing organism with a shape, a personality, a dodgy past and precarious future. I've never felt like the spirit of this place has been captured in a way that felt real - that's because Joburg is all about the people who live here.
A lot of our television is driven by a plot, telenovela-style. This show is driven by characters - it's slower, and we spend less time on what happens and more time on who it happens to.
People You May Know follows the lives of five young Joburgers in their late twenties who haven't achieved anything close to what they imagined they would by that age.
Tisani chose the cast before she even began writing, then wrote the script specifically for them.
The principal characters are played by Carla Fonseca, Loyiso Madinga, Thantaswa May and Huggins Jawe, who I met when he was a waiter. He'd not acted before, but he just had that thing.
The show was nominated based on its pilot episode, which was paid for with money its production company Goodcop made from commercials, as well as by the executive producer, Laurence Hamburger.
The trip to Europe was a dream come true for the team - they tried shopping their series around in South Africa, but had no takers.
Tisani wants to be known as a committed storyteller who's sensitive to the world and courageous enough to tell the truth about what's going on.
I believe you need to really put yourself on the line - be willing to expose your flaws, be comfortable with the messiness of being and reflect the world around you in an authentic way.