Gerald Langiri
August 10 / 2011

Since there is Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood and Bongowood, what should we call ours? Riverwood? I dont think so and that should be the least of our concern but instead we should agitate on how to save our dying film industry. Yes, I said dying. Dont look surprised. But one thing for sure, I know you have questions like how can this be after great success in the industry over the past few years. The reason as to why I labeled our industry as a dying is not that we have not achieved or that we are not doing well but fact is that we have certainly outdone ourselves by producing great films and T.V shows. The main reason as to why I say so is that that our industry has reached a certain peak where its at most vulnerable to collapse.

What do I mean?

Our industry is growing but our producers and directors tend to make the walls to come down crumbling due to various reasons such as:

1. Not Being Authentic(creating a balance)

Many TV Directors and Producers tend to be more westernized forgetting our own roots. I am not of the opinion that its bad to bring westernization in our films but we should create a balance so as not to overdo it and our films should be based on what Kenyans relate to on their daily basis.

Ever wonder why Nigerian movies are so popular all over Africa? Not forgetting the popularity Nollywood films are taken over our country by storm in our own country and the reason being that generally most of them relate to the African society and the challenges Africans face in our day to day society. I am not saying that we should produce films based on only witchcraft and other African sagas but create a balance between the western culture and our African culture. Lets not come up with films such as C.S.I Nairobi or SuperOmondi or even Keeping up with the Wanjikus, come on lets be realistic. And as much as that can be achieved as one good producer told me so, please make it convincible and what do I mean? I mean make sure that the story line is realistic and the content itself.

2. Same Old Faces

As much as a production team would like to use a face that is familiar to the audience in their new production to sell the movie or series, overdoing it becomes boring yet killing the industry slowly by not recognizing new and raw talent among actors. There are thousands of good actors in Kenya that have not yet been discovered and are worth a lot to the industry and by incorporating them brings a new feel and presence to the industry making our current good actors in the industry have a run for their money by challenging them and by this, it creates a wake up call to them making them work harder by producing even better results because they tend to relax knowing that they dont have any competition as yet.

Someone asked me concerning this that if I would go to the cinema to see a movie by Tony Adams or a movie by Johnny Depp? I had to agree so as to disagree with that point. What Im trying to say is that most of us would all go and watch Depps movie neglecting Adams movie. But have you ever asked yourself what next because at some point Johnny Depp is going to retire or even get old. Exactly, I am of the opinion that as much as we still want to use familiar faces, we should incorporate new faces as co-stars or even extras to familiarize them so when the time comes they can step up and rise to the challenge. Another fact is that we dont have to use famous faces to sell a movie because most box office movies actually have very new faces like for instance the Twilight saga, no one knew who Robert Patterson was but look, and he is an A-list celebrity doing quite well. So this comes down to the production house and whether the content is worth selling the movie.

3. The "People who no other People Factor"

This is literally destroying the film industry with an impact and it is so sad to say that this has dominated in our T.V series where the main actor is a close friend or a relative to the director and note that the character did not get the role genuinely but through the back door. I need not say more but we all know this is happening and this should stop because we find some of the actors do not fit the specified character big time killing the show. Lets STOP this.

4. Directing

I believe that our directors and producers are very knowledgeable of their duties and know what they are doing. For instance if the movie is boring, that tells us a more about the director and he/she does not know his/her duties .Kenyan Directors should avoid "Plastic acting in actors and this makes the acting look so fake indeed and also during directing they should avoid being so predictable because this kills the show and in my own point of view I do not see the need to watch the show if I already whats going to happen next. Mind you I am not targeting directors but this is what happens in some cases.

5. Low Budgeting of Films

This is common to most producers where most productions are low budgets hence hindering the films to reach the quality mark. Movie Production is just like any other business and the more you invest in it the more likely the production is profitable. By this I mean in terms of the lighting, cameras, props and so on. Enough said.

6. Role Played by Kenyans

Kenyans themselves play a huge role when it comes to the industry. In order to save our industry Kenyans should:

• Be supportive of local productions by watching them, sharing views and ideas. How do we go about this? Most Kenyans are very reluctant when it comes to buy original local movies even at 100 Kshs. Right now we have local movies going for that amount at various supermarkets, entertainment shops and other outlets.

• Not participating in pirating our local films thus this hinders in production. Majority of Kenyans are very much glued to American movies and series thus neglecting our own. Even I have to confess this, that Im a victim to international shows but it is high time we be proud of our very own by in every 5 movies you watch, make sure that 2 of them are local and by just trying this we will go to greater heights.

7. Government Policies

They say every obstacle faced, the government is held responsible and is to blame. Well in this case, I am not blaming the government at all but the best way for saving our industry is by appealing to the government to collaborate with film stakeholders by creating a line of distribution for local films and zero tax them so as to encourage popularity among Kenyans.

Someone approached me and asked me, who you are and what power do you hold to come up with “possible solutions on how to save our industry.” Well I said that I dont have any power at will to save the industry but I have views, ideas, opinions and perspectives that can come in handy. So I dont have to be right on all this ideologies and stand to be corrected. This is my own opinion and how I feel.

By Mark Kaiyare

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