10 THINGS I'D LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN THE KENYAN FILM INDUSTRY THIS YEAR
If there is anything to remember about 2013 apart from the obvious pop culture references to twerking, socialites and salacious high-profile scandals; it would be some of the strides the Kenyan acting and film industry took in enhancing local content. Several shows were introduced to us such as the controversial and effervescent dating show Tujuane, the stupendous late-year entry Stay, and the web series In the Forest to name a few. The movies Nairobi Half Life and House of Lungula caused a stir, and despite all of the self-proclaimed critics who arose to rubbish whatever they deemed fit for humiliation (using a hashtag to prefix their blows); for the first time in a long time people were fairly interested in local content as opposed to foreign stuff.
Should the momentum cease? The following points outline a brief wishlist of what we would like to see more of in the year 2014. Add your own ideas in the comments section so as to initiate a healthy discussion of the topic.
1. Local content covering a range of genres. Local filmmakers deserve a pat on their backs because of the strides they are taking. Nevertheless, it would be great to see more programmes or movies that stray from the fall back genres of comedy, drama, melodrama and soaps. Kenyans have stories which can be portrayed in the form of thrillers, adventures, historicals and dare I say horrors? While such efforts have received cringes in the past (remember Cobra Squad and Otho the blood bath?), it would be interesting and dare I say refreshing for us to see.And as we monitor the movies coming out of the Africa Magic Original Films franchise, we only hope they'll get better.
2. Film festivals for film nerds like myself. Yes, we exist. And no, we are not talking about exclusive workshops that require you to dish out loads of money to learn stuff (although there is nothing wrong with that). We are talking about places where aspiring, amateur and professional filmmakers and the like get together to watch a bunch of movies, talk about them, and decide what to do. And not just one or two non-publicized ones. Educational, social and popular events that can really cause a fun, constructive and creative rumble.
3. Web series and channels. Kenyans are fast catching up with the wonder that is Youtube if Fundamentals, Just a Band's Mark Mende story and those mean KOTs have anything to say about it. A web series that garnered a significant audience last year was In the Forest starring our own Gerald Langiri. All of these show that Kenyans can pay attention, even if it is online, so long as you put yourself out there. Youtube is a great forum to get noticed whether it is by posting your short films, comedy sketches, or commentaries. Apart from the standard monthly internet service charges, it is also a relatively cheap way to step out. All you need is a camera that has good filming capabilities, yourself, and a script. Done.
4. Drive in cinemas. I know I know. This suggestion calls to mind John Travolta in Grease. You have to admit though that it would be nice to have a different experience while watching a movie. Granted 3D is cool, but it is also just there. A nice outside screening would add more substance to one's memory of the day, provided of course that there is adequate security and little to no rainfall.
5. Speaking of cinemas, it would also be cool if old movies were screened once in a while (again for movie junkies like myself). Yes we like new releases, but some of the classics would be nice to relive on big screen.
6. Continuing with the subject of big screen cinema, more local content would also be well appreciated. If House of Lungula showed anything with its release in the theaters late 2013, it is that Kenyans are not afraid to support their own. A big boost to this endeavor would be to increase the efforts used in publicity since a lot of people who did not see the film simply did not know of its existence.
7. New talent. While we love our current stars, it would be nice if new faces popped up in shows once in a while. 10I do not believe that there are no other wonderful, talented aspiring thespians out there. 2014 is your year. Come out. Audition. Put yourself out there. Do it for the guys at home who are too afraid to. Make the leap.
8. Local content released in DVD format. Many Kenyans including those in the diaspora would like nothing more than to own their favourite Kenyan shows on DVD. While industry professionals are understandably wary of releasing their content online or on DVD due to the obvious problem of piracy, several people are left wondering how many months they must wait before their shows will be brought back as repeats. Better to grab the bull by the horns even if it means involving the law. Or as they say, faint heart never won fair audience.
9. International recognition. I am talking more Lupitas, more Nairobi Half Lifes, more international cross-over content. More more more.
10. To round it all off is support. Audience support. Government support. Producers supporting their staff and vice versa. No more stories of actors not being paid for months: pay them.
What more would you like to add? Leave your comments below.
Written by Nadia Darwesh