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Superheroes are everywhere. The world can’t get enough of them. In fact, Africa now has its own superhero TV series.
Called Jongo, the series tells the story of Eli King, a young man who acquires supernatural abilities through an alien crystal at the Cradle of Humankind.
The crystal is left to him by his father, an enslaved miner who is murdered shortly after escaping. As Eli tries to deal with the death of his father and find the men responsible, he must also grapple with the powers of the crystal and how it will change his life. However, the men he is hunting have crystals of their own and need Eli’s to fulfil an ancient and devastating prophecy that threatens the lives of millions.
Produced by Johannesburg-based film and TV studio, Motion Story, the series will be digitally distributed by South African digital entertainment and technology company, Discover Digital.
Production is currently underway on the first eight-episode season, which is due to debut on local screens in March 2016. Discover Digital has signed on as the African partner with Jongo’s Netherlands-based distributor, FCCE. The series has already been picked up by both e.tv and Ebony Life TV.
According to Jongo writer and co-director Gareth Crocker, the show will appeal to family audiences around the world while maintaining a distinctly African soul.
“We wanted to showcase the beauty and dynamism of the continent and of South Africa in particular. So many films and TV shows focus on the problems Africans face. Jongo will emphasise all that is positive about this great continent of ours,” says Crocker.
“We knew from the outset that we wanted to do something quite different from the other shows currently on air in this genre.”
According to Crocker, existing series in the superhero genre often come across as over-exaggerated and fake. “We wanted to ensure authenticity – to produce something that people can connect with,” says Crocker. “In casting, we specifically sought out people who are closely aligned to the characters we’ve written.”
The show was shot on location in Johannesburg and drones, cranes and low-light cameras were among the equipment used to add to that sense of realism.
“Virtually the entire show is shot on location in Johannesburg. We shoot everywhere from the tops of buildings and bottom of basements to tattoo parlours and theatres. The effects we use in the show are physical and we use them sparingly. They’re there to enhance and add to the show, not dominate it,” says Crocker.
The team behind the new series includes businessman and venture capitalist Chris Lawrance as the executive producer, along with producer Phillip Wolmarans. Nick Keulemans is the cinematographer and the series is co-directed by Crocker and Fred Wolmarans.
According to Discover Digital MD Stephen Watson, the show is “an original and uniquely African concept that has excellent production values. We just couldn’t say no to the opportunity to be involved. This marks an exciting foray into the world of content acquisition for us.”