HOUSE OF LUNGULA DVDS AND THE TYRANNY OF NUMBERS
In a country with exceptional man power, talent and equipment to make commercial viable films, one can wonder why Kenya’s film industry is still not blooming. Finances are of course scarce with many a filmmaker crying for government help and better tax incentives, a venture that seems to not bear any fruits. Sponsors on the other hand are skeptical to invest large sums of money for fear of not being able to recoup their return on investment and therefore still see no business sense in film.
Something that can however be solely blamed on Kenyan filmmakers is how they market their films. I feel like a course on “how to market your film for dummies” should be conducted for Kenyan filmmakers. It is sad that many great films go unseen unsung and totally forgotten as soon as they are released with only film enthusiasts and people in the film industry having heard about them.
Marketing can indeed be an expensive venture but a fruitful one but most financial plans drawn for films in Kenya, lack that important marketing budget bit. Film makers then end up begging cast and crew to share their posters and put up status updates to talk about their film…which is one cheap way of marketing your film and there are other cheap ways.
A good example of cheap but effective ways to market your film is studying the film House of Lungula.
With 10 Kalasha nominations, house of Lungula is a movie that has gained much publicity in the recent past than any other Kenyan movie. Well, the title itself was one good marketing gimmick that had many people expect more than was offered. It had an array of well known cast that brought on board their followers and fans but last and not least, it had many Kenyan entertainment blogs and newspapers write about it which in return created awareness and publicity for the film.
Bloggers and journalists are always looking for stories to write home about. They however cannot be in the know of everything and assuming simply because you made a good film, it is the bloggers and journalists work to automatically write about it, is extremely presumptuous. These people need to be contacted and sent information in the form of a press release that they can look at , copy and paste for some or follow up with more questions if need be. Ofcourse, you need to identify which blog writes what and which journalist is concerned with film related matters. The initiative to however contact these people starts with you the filmmaker and it is a free way to get the word out there about your film. If you have money for billboard and tv and radio adverts even better.
With the movie going to soon be out on DVD in August, Historia Films will also incorporate Kikuyu and Luo Language options as extra features. Bright move or what? I mean, Luo and Kikuyu are the two major tribes in Kenya and having those language options means potentially increasing DVD sales and viewership in those regions.
“Because of the finance issue we couldn't do all 42 vernacular languages so we focused on the two that had a greater demand on the DVD market. If this “experiment” works, we intend to expand to more languages in the future” says the director of the movie Alex Konstantaras
The DVD versions of House of Lungula will also have extra features like the trailer of the movie, the music videos of the songs of the movie and the trailer of the film "Fundi-Mentals" the next movie already causing a stir from Historia Films.
Piracy being a looming issue in Kenya, are you not worried? “The DVDs will be protected so it will minimize the chances of it getting pirated or ripped. We also want to work closely with the few local distributors and see how we can minimize piracy. On that note I would like to ask our fans to get original copies and if they see any pirated ones to inform us because piracy will kill Lungula” says Alex.
The movie will be released in supermarkets country wide at a fee yet to be disclosed.
See below a teaser of how the movie will sound in Luo and Kikuyu:
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