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Behind The Scenes: SANYU Ugandan Telenovela Series

In July of 2020, the actor and film director Mathew Nabwiso embarked on his most ambitious creation yet.

The series, now the most-watched on DStv’s ShowMax, tells the story of an innocent, rural teenage girl (Sanyu) forced to leave her family and her pursuit for education to be a housemaid for the complex, wealthy, urban Kirunda family.

Here, she falls for her employer’s young son, Oscar, which makes her life even harder. Sanyu stars Tracy Kababito, Allan Katongole, Abby Mukiibi, Mushema Housen, Eleanor Nabwiso, Kuddzu Isaac, Sharon O Nalukenge, Faridah Nabagereka, Marion Asilo, Blessing Naturinda, Kyeyune Shalom, and Timothy Lwanga, among others, who take the viewers on a journey of love, emotions, and drama.

No TV series has captivated audiences like Sanyu has, since The Hostel on NTV back in the day. 

Yesterday, a media tour at the location set saw journalists have a first nad experience of behind the scenes in Mutungo a Kampala suburb where the crew and cast are preparing to shoot an episode for the upcoming season. Actress Eleanor Nabwiso is having her make-up done in a corner at the entrance of the house.

The project bankrolled by South African-headquartered entertainment company Multichoice launched Showmax in August of 2015 as an online subscription video-on-demand service, months before Netflix hit the continent in Jan. 2016. Multichoice has since ramped up its local content to match international competition.

Although the budget for local content was not disclosed by the PR manager Joan Semanda, saying they’re a public company and it’d have an effect on the stock market if the figures were to be published.

Multichoice PR Director Joan Semanda speaking at the tour with the Director Mathew Nabwiso

Mathew Nabwiso the Director of the series, while showing pressmen around the filming facility said they found it after months of searching in different parts of Kampala and Wakiso.

When you arrive in the compound, the storied house strikes you with a vintage design, and next to it is a small swimming pool with a comical shape. The owner also planted a mango tree that’s provided a shed for shooting some of the romantic scenes with a team of 60 actors and actresses housed here.

And they’ve been together for most of this Covid pandemic, as filming kicked off just four months from announcing the first case of respiratory illness in Uganda.

With Covid-19 guidelines in place, it was challenging shooting some of the scenes. While about 70% of the filming is done from the Mutungo house, which also serves as accommodation when they’ve to film past curfew, there are scenes they have to shoot away from here.

Nabwiso at work during one of the shoots

Season One premiered in February of this year with 100 episodes and it’s been a success and because of the success seen in Season One, Multichoice ordered for 260 episodes in Season Two, which will be premiering in a few months.

“By the time we got this location, we had to start filming immediately even before it was renovated, because MultiChoice was expecting us to start delivering some episodes; so, we started filming from the garage,” Nabwiso says.

The series shooting is now in season two expected to have 260 episodes.

The tour witnessed a behind-the-scenes shooting of one of the scenes that took place outside the house, where Patrick (Mushema Housen) was throwing his wife Lucy (Eleanor Nabwiso) out of the house and it took several takes for the actors to nail it.

With the success of these projects, it is hoped more will follow especially with the support of companies like Multichoice.

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