Mamelodi – the township in the Northeast of Tshwane, Gauteng – has been in the spotlight since the birth of one of the South African soccer giants, Mamelodi Sundowns.
In the competitive film industry, the township is yet to earn its spot as one of the greatest producers in the country; however, it is slowly earning a national recognition.
And one of the proudly Mamelodi homegrown sons who is putting the township on the map is a filmmaker and producer, Thabo Zitha.
Zitha – who, from a young age, struggled to fight his love for camera and its features such as zoom ring, flash button and red-eye reduction – has turned his status from just being an ordinary cameraman, who was often spotted in action at weddings and parties around Pretoria, into a well-respected filmmaker, producer and businessman.
When Zitha, 32, turned his hobby into a professional career in 2007, his ultimate dream was to become one of the best filmmakers Mzansi has ever produced. His daunting dream was boosted in 2011 when he met Thoko Maponya, an inspiring scriptwriter, editor and director from Pretoria. The pair has been working together ever since.
Almost a decade later, the father of six-year-old son is still on a mission to reach the top – and the harsh challenges of the film industry don’t seem to faze his ambition. He is a proud founder of Kalkop Productions, an independent movie production company that operates without a studio or distribution contract or budget, which has already produced two movies: Hard Lesson (which received an impressive review and also played on Soweto TV) and Trip to Moria.
Furthermore, Zitha’s production company will launch its third and fourth movies – If I knew and Bazalo – on the 2nd May.
To prove his unconditional love for his kasi (township), the movies will be launched in Mamelodi. The Voice of SA (Tvosa) caught up with Thabo, to chat about the most talked about upcoming launch in Pretoria.
Tvosa: What has been the inspiration behind Thabo’s passion of filmmaking?
TZ: The love and passion for the arts were the inspiration, especially the time I met with an inspiring scriptwriter by the name of Thoko Maponya. Then I got inspired more because we had one goal of pursuing our dream of changing the world and giving the young generation a stage to prove themselves and remove them on the streets and away from drugs and crime.
Tvosa: If I Knew and Bazalo: Tell us more about the movies.
TZ: If I Knew and Bazala are the two local brewed movies that will be launched at The Village in Mamelodi West on May 2. If I Knew is about domestic violence and Bazala depicts lives of two unfaithful friends.
Our movies reflect the challenges that we meet on a daily basis as we grow up, love, money, drugs , domestic violence and life pressure.
Tvosa: What should people expect at the launch?
TZ: They should expect a very good time and mingling with celebrities from Scandal [e.tv soapie]. They should expect something they never thought it could happen in Mamelodi.
Tvosa: What made you choose Mamelodi for the launch?
TZ: I chose Mameledi because the movies storylines are based on Mamelodi life style and they were produced here in Mamelodi.
Tvosa: What inspired the name of your production company – Kalkop?
TZ: The freedom and rainbow nations inspired the Afrikaans language on the name, which is a ‘bald-head’ in English. It was inspired by the guys I grew up with, they really loved shaved heads and shaved heads are very popular in Mamelodi, so that’s when I thought people will quickly relate to it.
Tvosa: Who else did you work with, to mention just a few?
TZ: I also worked with a few dedicated guys like Johannes Tshabalala, aka Bones and Emmanuel Malepa, aka Sifire.
Tvosa: How do you handle the challenges of shooting movies without a studio, distribution contract and budget?
The dedication and love of what we’re doing. Actors and management also help us to keep going and to face such challenges
Tvosa: What is your vision?
TZ: Our vision is to create a new fresh vibe in film making (Mzanzi stories) by giving talented, deserving and dedicated young people the chance of realizing their dreams.
Tvosa: Your goals?
TZ: Our goal is to become one of the best and a biggest independent film producer in the country, conquering the world is one of our long term goals. We also want to groom our actors to be the best in their own leagues and win awards.
Tvosa: What is the ultimate dream of Kalkop Productions?
TZ: The ultimate dream is to become bigger as close to Hollywood. That’s why we are also launching an event called MAMEWOOD on the day of the movies launch.