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WHY WE ARE HERE..AN ACTORS TALE

Gerald Langiri
August 10 / 2011

I was sitting in front of my television tonight (as most out of work writers in the industry will do) watching the thing that drives my life. I was having some kind of chat about how I really bring my work home all the time because I am constantly on my laptop or constantly watching TV, seeing what interesting new shows are happening. I found myself watching the Behind the Scenes for SATC 2. I was hooked instantly! As I watched the making of this movie...the interviews with Michael Patrick King and the costume designer Patricia Field, I was amazed with the splendour of the movie. The spectacle of it all.

I started to look at our fledgling industry. It got me thinking...truth be told, we are not at that level. Because as much as I have worked with actresses who have more raw talent in their pinky fingers than Sarah Jessica Parker does in her WHOLE BODY, the spectacle is missing. I was watching the Behind the Scenes thinking, "Shit!!!If someone spent this much money and time on me for a shoot, I would walk onto set knowing all my lines and my co-stars lines as well!" True story...

Perhaps we, as actors, haven't projected that image where corporate or private sponsors trust us and want to invest in us...as brands! I don't think anyone is at that scale in our country yet but we must start to aim for that place. Where we are a trusted brand name...to the scale of SATC...or even to half that scale. That movie had a spectacular splendifourous budget (yes,I said it!) Half of that movie's budget could fuel my movie ideas for five years, buy me a house, an office and that BMW I've been coveting with the hybrid intelligent system contraption. I want that for me...but perhaps it stems from knowing that in my life, this is where I want to be!

Because for me, it doesn't matter about the fame or the celebrity...what counts is the craft...and having fun and being professional and growing something that will be a viable industry for our country....and a viable option for the young talented children in schools across the country.

Perhaps, the producers are the ones who need to scare the pants off the actors and crew. This business of shooting on half your budget doesn't fly...I suspect that on some level, if as Kenyan actors, we walked onto set and found a set up as spectacular as the set of SATC or Dark Knight or Transformers or even Devdas, we would be so scared...and find ourselves working harder than usual to get ourselves to that level.

Personal story...when Makutano Junction first started and I got cast, we got taken to the set in week one. The largest scale set I had been on up until that point was a billboard advert shoot when I was in Standard Seven...(which doesn't say much since I had been shooting Better Days pilot episode before that!) Anyway, point is that I was blown away.The producers scared me...and as much as they may deny t, a few of the guys we went with were blown away too! :) I became so scared of failing that I started working harder and harder. I used to know lines in advance...and I got good!welll, better than I was then! :)

Perhaps, we must stop pointing fingers and start looking to us. The trouble is with the actors who treat each shoot as a new excuse to socialise and lose track of the professional mission before them, the rejects who think we are here because we can't do anything else and that this is a great way to pass time until the law firm calls or PWC hires you,or the producers who want us to take shit money and give shit to produce shit,or the critics who are not really critics because they are love you when you are hot and ignore you when you are not,or the writers who think writing is just pulling an idea out of the sky and not doing the necessary research or character development to make the product work,or the old farts who have no faith in us,or the lazy directors who aren't willing to put in the work, or the people who want the glitz but don't want to get the mud on their tyres and their fingers in the mess...basically, the the people who are holding us back...stop!

Let us look to ourselves...and answer the question! Why are we here?

Because the television industry in Kenya right now is like the bypass at Museum Hill...it looks really ugly right now, but if the right people build it for the right reasons and in the right way, it will be beautiful and will last us for generations to come

Written by Charles J.Ouda

For those who were wondering what SATC is,its Sex and the City.

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