Behind the scenes of 7de Laan

The characters’ look

Izelle Bodenstein, Nicola Roodt and Theola Booyens are in the hair and makeup department of the soapie. They make sure the actors look their part for every scene.Anything related to skin, whether it’s covering a tattoo or creating a bruise from a fall, these three women are trained to do it. They also take care of the actors’ hair, which includes weekly or monthly cuts, wig placements and extensions.Before the makeup artists start their work, Roodt says they get a sketch about each character’s background. “The creative director and the head of department decide what they want. We then discuss with them what would work for that character and the actor.”Every person is different. You have to look at what suits that person’s hair or whatever.”

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Roodt says they have certain scenes written on a board for each episode. “For instance, if there is a kissing scene coming up, you can’t give the female actor red lips. You don’t want the residue of the red lipstick to be on the man. So you give the female actor a natural lipstick colour.”She also says each actor gets their own bag to take on set, containing their makeup. A standby make-up assistant does touch-ups during filming. “Hygiene is important, so no-one shares products. Each actor gets their own – whether it is an eye pencil or anything going on the eyes and lips.”sewende 2 Drawings of each character’s face are posted on the wall of the makeup department. (Image: Melissa Javan)

Bodenstein worked in a hair salon before she started at 7de Laan in 2006. She prefers the pressure of working in the film industry, she adds.Fans often call the show for tips on how to look like a certain character. Popular characters’ hairstyles include Paula van der Lecq, Emma le Roux, Kim Conradie and Charmaine Meintjies. “I am off on weekends, so I have done some of the fans’ hair according to certain characters. Sometimes people want to know what makeup we use on a certain actor’s face.”sewende 3 Everything in its place and organised – each character has their own bin for makeup. (Image: Melissa Javan)

The clothes

Mpho Mhaladi works in the wardrobe department. “People think I just pick clothes. I don’t. There is much more to it. [Picking the clothes] depends on where the storyline is going, the emotion of a scene, how it is going to look on a body type, who the character is, and what their status is – I have to consider all of that!”Mhaladi says the clothes of a character influence the style of hair and makeup.Actor Ingrid Paulus walks in; she likes a certain dress. But it does not compliment Paulus’s body type. “We are going to rework that dress. We rework whatever does not work on the body and make it fit.”sewende 4 Mpho Mhaladi, wardrobe assistant, with 7de Laan actor Ingrid Paulus, who plays the character Vanessa Meintjies. (Image: Melissa Javan)

Mhaladi says her department also makes sure that colours don’t block on a set. “For instance, a person standing in front of certain colour background can’t wear the same colour as the background.”Not everyone can be in a plain shirt. We have to put in a print here and there.”Actors in the same scene also need to wear different colours. In one scene, for example, when the character Marko Greyling (Francois Lensley) introduces an artist at his restaurant, he is wearing a light blue shirt. Mhaladi has to get the artist to change into a dark blue shirt.

The beginning

Rosa-mari Erasmus, publicist for 7de Laan, says the first episode was broadcasted on 4 April 2000. “Our existence is 16 years. In March 2017, we will celebrate our 4 000th episode.”When 7de Laan started, it was only broadcasted on Tuesdays. After that we then had an episode on a Tuesday and a Thursday. The viewers asked that we should do more episodes per week. We are now broadcasting daily from Monday to Friday.”sewende 5 The soapie 7de Laan has a total of 120 crew members, although not all of them work on each episode. One episode is recorded per day on average during Monday and Friday. (Image: Melissa Javan)

Danie Odendaal is the creator and producer, having got the idea for the story when he was living in Melville, Johannesburg years ago. He used to drink coffee regularly at his favourite coffee shop and watch people. He made up fictitious characters based on what he saw.Oppiekoffie, the coffee shop, was originally called Die Koffiekan (the coffee jar), which was also the working title of the series. Another suggestion was Hoe Meer Dae (Afrikaans for “days of our lives”). 7de Laan was eventually chosen because it portrayed a place where people lived and worked.Erasmus says there are 120 people in the crew, excluding the actors. “The crew members, for example, include the accountant, the camera men and those in the wardrobe department. The crew is anyone who is not an actor.”sewende 6 While shooting a scene, there are standby staff on set. For instance, the standby of the makeup department makes sure the actors’ hair stays in place when the cameras are not rolling. (Image: Melissa Javan)

The making of an episode

On 4 August, journalist Melissa Javan visited the set, the day the crew and actors were busy filming their 3 900th episode. It will air on 20 October.Erasmus says this episode is part of series 17; a series runs for a year. A total of 260 episodes are recorded each year.Erasmus explains how an episode is created:

  • Every Monday, the head storyliner and her team brainstorm the characters on whom they want to focus for a week’s episodes. From Monday to Friday, these episodes are recorded. Sometimes, six episodes are recorded during that work week.
  • The ideas are pitched to the SABC’s commissioning editor, who will decide if the stories are in line with the broadcasting standards.
  • The storyliner grids the scenes they want.
  • This grid is sent to the storytellers. They then work on the script, which includes dialogue for the scenes.
  • There is a heads of department meeting on the Thursday to discuss the episodes, where they talk about issues such as the hair and makeup.
  • Actors get the grid – not the script yet – about a month ahead of time. They try to get into character and prepare themselves emotionally. Later they get the script to practise their words.

Some of the things that take place on the day an episode is filmed:

  • On the day of the episode, call sheets are done. Certain scenes of that episode are recorded first. For instance, scenes in the deli-set will be recorded and finished, after which the crew and actors go to another set.
  • The actors do a rehearsal scene first and practise their lines on the set.
  • There are four directors, but only one of them works on an episode. The director of the episode gives the actors and the extras details about where they should stand when they are saying their lines, among other instructions.
  • Scenes are then recorded from different angles. The box producer gives notes through the floor manager’s earphones about what changes he or she wants the actors or crew to make on the scene.

Some of the things that take place after an episode is filmed:

  • In post-production, scenes are put together for an episode.
  • Every Monday people such as the art director, one of the producers and the SABC’s commissioning editor discuss the scenes in the episode. For instance, they will decide what scenes should be redone.
  • Music and sound effects are added.
  • Sub-titles are added.

Finally, the episodes are sent to the SABC to be broadcast.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using SouthAfrica.info material