South African Producers: The Rise Of Ferguson Films
South African television producers, Connie Ferguson and her husband, Shona, are the couple behind the local television empire, Ferguson Films which they launched in 2010.
The couple is responsible for helping to change the face of television production in the country, all because they were tired of having to look for jobs, Shona said in a Nehanda Radio interview – instead they decided to create their own. “As soon as Connie and I felt we were comfortable with our levels of knowledge, we launched the company while we were busy with The Wild,” explained Shona.
“Being part of something that changed the face of TV and particularly of soapies in this country was a huge learning curve and when it ended, we didn’t want to go out there and find jobs again,” he added.
Their first production was only commissioned by M-Net three years after the company was launched. The result is the now popular, Rockville.
Last year the South African producers, who shared their 15th wedding anniversary, were awarded the Naspers Order of Tafelberg Award, which is given out by the group for an outstanding business partner. Ferguson Films has also been nominated in several award categories at the South African Film and Television Awards for series like The Queen.
Here’s what you should know about Connie and Shona Ferguson’s journey.
Before they became television producers they learned the ropes as actors
Before launching their production Connie was a well-known actress, in particular for her portrayal of the character, Karabo Moroka, on the local soapie, Generations. Shona played the role of Dr. Leabua on the Venda soapie, Muvhango.
Their company produces some of SA’s most popular telenovela series’
Ferguson Films has produced multiple series for Mzansi Magic, which includes Rockville, iGazi, The Gift, The Throne, The Herd, The Queen and The Imposter. The couple is known for playing roles in their own productions, for example, Connie played the role of Mavis Mabaso on Rockville.
Series like The Queen, for example, has been nominated in different categories at the South African Film and Television Awards this year.
— FERGUSON FILMS (@FERGUSON_FILMS) March 5, 2018
Job creation is a big priority for the South African producers
Channel24 reported earlier this year that Ferguson Films has about 70 cast and crew members.
Besides giving us new faces on the screens, like Kamo Modisakeng who acts as “Bassie” on Rockville, both Connie and Shona often give advice to young actors on social media or in traditional media.
Connie told entertainment magazine, Zalebs, that young actors who want to work for Ferguson Films should work through agents. “People need to pester their agents because the bottom line is that we send out briefs to agents, we don’t have one on one contact with actors,” she said.
“We do get a lot of actors sending through their CVs and their profiles but it’s difficult to try and contact and negotiate with an actor, directly and an actor that you’ve never worked with before so it’s easier to just go via agents.”
Their legacy is a motivation
Connie said to Channel24 that they attribute some of their success to their fans who continue to support them. She also said that her family members always backed them, are her biggest cheerleaders and her motivation. “I have always been a provider from a very young age, and failing has never been an option for me.”
The couple has two daughters.
They use social media as a marketing tool
Whether it’s a behind-the-scenes look at productions, or live-tweeting episodes – Twitter is being used as a form of promotion by the pair of television producers.
This is a strategy that has also being used to good effect by productions such as the American show, ‘Scandal’.
Recently Connie tweeted that she cried during a scene where her husband was shocked by his sister’s secrets and then had to cry. Connie also tweeted that her husband had to console her on set and remind her that he’s just acting.