Ferguson Films break silence over exploitation and mistreatment allegations
Local TV production company Fergusons Films, owned by power couple Shona and Connie Ferguson, have for the first time broken their silence over iGazi actress Vatiswa Ndara’s open letter accusing them of exploitation.
In lengthy letter released through their lawyer Brendon De Kooker, they address other allegations made by The Throne actress Keke Mphuthi of mistreatment. They also addressed allegations made by The Queen crew member Katlego Malele over alleged sexual harassment on the set of the show.
“The allegations towards Ferguson Films are consequently misguided, misdirected and misleading and can be seen as a ploy to defame and tarnish our name and reputation,” the statement read.
“Ferguson Films prides itself in producing quality shows, providing much needed employment to new and old talent and contributing to the growth of the industry. We will remain steadfast in our endeavor to treat everyone who works with us fairly and with the utmost respect.”
On Ndara’s letter
1. We attempted to negotiate with the actress and her agent in good faith and within the scope of the applicable production agreement, however, the agent subsequently recused himself from the negotiations. Thereafter we dealt with her manager. They made it very clear that Ms Ndara would not accept anything less than R700,000 for the five-week shoot. She absolutely had every right to decline our offer, which she did, and we on the other hand as we could not meet her financial demand, due to contractual restraints, had every right to move on amicably, which we tried to do.
2. Contrary to Ms Ndara's allegations, FERGUSON FILMS DOES NOT “reap the financial benefits through repeat broadcasts, licensing deals and repackaging of the show.” Just like actors, the production company is not guaranteed work, whether the show is performing or not. We are in pretty much the same boat as the artist. We DO NOT own the shows we produce under commission, and therefore have no right or say in what happens with shows post final delivery to the broadcaster.
3. We record that Ferguson Films was not the production company in question in relation to the sad passing of Ms Nadara’s mother and her having to resume work shortly after. Conveniently, Ms Ndara neglects to mention this fact therefore insinuating it was FERGUSON FILMS.
4. Shona and Connie Ferguson have other business interests apart form their production company and DO NOT owe anyone an explanation as to how they manage their finances and lifestyle. The jab from Ms Ndara is petty, unnecessary and uncalled for.
5. Producers are held 100% accountable by the broadcaster as to how a production budget is utilised. It needs to be clear that these funds DO NOT belong to the producer. The producer is merely a middleman between broadcaster, artist and crew. The producer is held accountable for every single line item on the production budget. What is due to the producer is the production markup at the end of the production and on final delivery.
On the Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill
As actors ourselves and producers, we are aware of the challenges facing the entertainment industry. We support 100% a need for the industry to be regulated and for the Performance Protection Amendment Bill to be signed sooner rather than later. With that said, the allegations made by the various actors do not reflect the true position of the industry and paints a false picture, that may mislead the public.
On Mphuthi and Malele’s accusations
There have been other slanderous and false allegations made by Ms Dieketseng Mphuthi and Mr Katlego Malele, which are being addressed separately by our legal team.
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