Global chapter opens for Tebogo Malope

Director Tebogo Malope, who helmed three episodes of Queen Sono
Director Tebogo Malope, who helmed three episodes of Queen Sono
Image: Oupa Bopape

Queen Sono was filmed over eight weeks in 37 different locations around Africa - from the Johannesburg CBD to Lagos in Nigeria and balmy Zanzibar in Tanzania.

But for director Tebogo Malope, who helmed three episodes, it was important that his birthplace of Soweto shone. So, the 36-year-old filmmaker from Jabavu dedicated episode four, titled Rookie, to Soweto.

He planted in the background his favourite childhood memories about the township. He shared that throughout the episode you will spot a lot of people playing soccer in the background.

"It was exciting because we go from this big world of gadgets and you take it back home. There is something warm about that and human about it," Malope points out.

"The temptation with a genre piece like this is to go big with everything. We did go big with a lot of the genre stuff like the shootouts and fight scenes.

"But I always wanted to narrow it down and when I found an opportunity in that episode, I pulled it back. So, you see that a lot of the performances in that episode are subtle and deep. We needed that emotional depth for the audience."

Malope said the ambitious Queen Sono was as scary as it was exciting.

"It was an exciting challenge to take on partly because it was ambitious. When you tackle something this ambitious, it comes with a lot of challenges because you are dreaming big and attempting things that have never been done on the continent.

"The big stunt fights are not something that I have experience in. But challenges were also opportunities. It's weird in that sense."

Malope has had a colourful career that has seen him direct music videos, TV commercials, films and TV shows.

He is responsible for Kwesta and Wale's music video Spirit. Malope has received countless recognition such as South African Film and Television Award and gold at the Cannes Lions festival.

He said Queen Sono is a new dawn in his career. "I did this interview and someone said I'm the most awarded filmmaker in Africa - like I have won every award. This show is quite significant for me because it's on the verge of a new wave," Malope said.

"Although I have won everything there is to win, I feel like I'm starting my career now. What's next is a change of vocabulary where someone is no longer an SA director, but they're a global director." 

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