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Secret to Successful Movie Business in Africa

Peter Nuyah, a filmmaker, speaks during the 97th Lola Kenya Screen film forum at Goethe-Institut in Nairobi.What do you make of a person who fails to show up for the premiere of a film the person has directed? Or of a woman who deliberately fails to turn up on a location where she is expected to direct a movie? Or of a producer who hands a movie file to an exhibitor without any information or pictures of the cast and crew involved for publicity and promotional purpose prior to screening?

These were some of the issues tackled during the 97th monthly Lola Kenya Screen film forum held at Goethe-Institut in Nairobi on November 28, 2016.

‘How to Package Yourself for Success in the Digital Age’ was the presentation made during the ‘ExpertSpeak’ slot of the programme.

Ogova Ondego, the Director of Lola Kenya Screen movie initiative for children and youth in eastern Africa, emphasised that packaging sets successful practitioners apart from their less successful counterparts. Talent alone, Ondego stressed, is not enough in today’s Digital Age.

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“No matter how talented you are, less talented candidates who know how to package themselves will get ahead of you,” Ondego said in his five-minute presentation that named and defined terms like ‘Curriculum Vitae’ or ‘CV’, ‘Motivation’, ‘Director’s Statement’, ‘Cover Letter’ and showed how a CV is written and how to apply for ‘opportunities.

Ogova Ondego, Lola Kenya Screen's Creative Director, interviews Daisy Nandeche Okoti, a beneficiary of the initiative, on how her life has been shaped by Lola Kenya Screen's Mentorship programme for children and youth.“Why are you in the moviemaking sector? Is it to mark time as you wait for the ‘right’ occupation to arrive? Do you do it as a hobby or as your career of choice?” Ondego posed, alluding to the words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, the US Civil Rights leader and Christian preacher who is quoted as having said: “If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.”

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Daisy Nandeche Okoti, a beneficiary of the Lola Kenya Screen’s Mentorship programme in Creative Enterpreneurship through Media and Information, shared her experience to demonstrate the impact of Lola Kenya Screen in society over the past 12 years.

Okoti said the experience had guided her in her career path and what she studied in university where she just graduated in November 2016.

Derick Kagiri, an actor, speaks during the 97th Lola Kenya Screen film screening, discussion and networking forum on November 28, 2016.“Lola Kenya Screen helped in identifying and sharpening my critical thinking, cultural and film writing, gave me exposure and presented me with plenty of networking opportunities both locally and internationally,” Okoti said of her six-year experience at eastern Africa’s premier movie platform for children and youth.

A short movie titled IT HAPPENS in which a woman accuses her fiance’s best friend of attempted rape with grave consequences, was shown and discussed by the gathering that brings together critics, directors, actors, journalists, producers, enthusiasts and other players in the movie sector.

Holmsamson Thiongo, a student of International Relations picked out a scene in IT HAPPENS in which the makeup artist used a very different shade of red liquid to represent blood.

“The ‘blood’ was ‘made’ by an artist who was very tired because it was late in the evening and the scene had to be shot,” was the explanation from the film owners, Theluji Africa Productions.

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Collins Ochieng, who identified himself as a film director, expressed his dissatisfaction over the sound quality saying, “The film has a sound hitch, especially at the beginning, which later on in the film is covered up with a lot of sound tracks.”

Alexander Ikawah, Discussion Moderator, interacts with Godana Halake, Macharia Mwangi and Dennis of Theluji Africa Productions in Nairobi.“The cast and crew had had a problem with locations and hence we had settled for the only location we found at the time to shoot the scene; a hotel that had a lot of noise interference,” Godana Halake, an actor, responded.

Derick Kagiri, an actor, pointed out that the cameraman had failed to capture shots that would have brought out the emotions of the actors in the film.

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Dennis Macharia, who shot the film, explained to IT HAPPENS had given him his first experience at handling a camera: “Our cameraman registered absent for another job when we were on location. I had to step in and shoot the film having never handled a camera before in my life.”

The audience at the 97th Lola Kenya Screen film forum.The audience was informed that some cast members had also not turned up during the shooting of the film, forcing the crew to use substitute ‘actors’ who had not rehearsed and therefore ended up “bringing out the actions wrongly” as Peter Nuyah, who identified himself merely as a filmmaker, had pointed out.

“Lack of commitment is the major reason why we at Wajanja Productions don’t work with many girls,” Collins Ochieng said. “Girls don’t keep time; they register absent for scenes at last minute and their flexibility towards the job is also very wanting.”

Noting that the director, assistant directors, writers and many of the actors of IT HAPPENS were absent at the screening, discussion and networking forum, the gathering couldn’t help wondering how young people in eastern Africa can hope to succeed in moviemaking without commitment, discipline and focus.


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