CHALLENGES FACING THE KENYA FILM INDUSTRY, FILM MAKER KABURUGU EXPLAINS
Financing. Many film makers don’t have cash to make films. And films require money. Personally I don’t want to do a nil-budget kinda.Compensating your “workers” is key to any business. Not many investors are willing to fund films. Even the govt fund was withdrawn for reasons only they can tell us. NO bank can give you money to make a film. They will tell you bring a log book, title, statements etc and it ends up as just like any other loan. Okay now take a loan, go shoot a film, get stuck and the bank needs their money! You might leave your extended family in an IDP camp after the bankers ring a bell on it. But am sure an investor or a corporate can come in if high levels of maturity and professionalism are assured. The story is exciting and you have a plan of how you shall get his money back plus interest.
b).Integrity; Many people in the industry don’t see eye to eye? Others have blacklisted each other. How do we make films if we can’t maintain integrity and professionalism? I mean why can’t we all get along??Some people on sets I have witnessed are a pure disaster. They want to come late, not take instructions and when you thought you had enough, they want to screw a chic or a guy on set, you as the producer will be the punching bag as the caveman proves he is strong enough to take care of the hottie on set. Some producers don’t want to stick and respect their cast and crew. Some producers just want to pull others down. I mean if you can’t maintain integrity and decorum within yourselves, how do you expect a stranger with his millions to trust you with his money? Tell me. Some editors want to hold and hoard your work, they hold you hostage. Many films have “died” in the hands of editors.
The sector is very small currently; you end up meeting the same faces in auditions or forums. And nobody knows about tomorrow. And as they say, you are as good as your next project. When people reduce greed and selfishness, then more opportunities will be created
c).Poor govt policies. The govt hasn’t done much in expanding the industry. Only boardroom meetings with heavy lunches and some allowances. But I also feel them at times, they might not have a clue of what film entails. But I must applaud Kenya Film Classification Board. I was happy and contented with their services and support. Others should follow suit. Pirates are always on the prowl for a good movie. They end up making money from your sweat. An individual can’t tackle them, but the authorities are better placed to deal with them. And until that happens, then too bad for us.
The best we can do is making great films geared in uplifting the overall film fraternity. And whatever happens, our eyes must remain focused on the goals that we have set. And a great film as I learnt takes time. When you rush a piece of art, you end up messing and denying it the creativity it deserves. A good script has several drafts. It’s like wine, the more time it takes, the more it matures. Though it shouldn’t take forever.
And when you plan and think of a film begin with the end in mind, what do I want from the film? A film should be like a product. A product that the consumer at times must be consulted. I have been interviewed by several product reps on what I think about their product or what needs to be improved, they take in the data seriously. So when drafting your story, have a discussion with a potential viewer and get his insights. Because there is no point in using modern logistics and you have nothing to tell.
All said and done, Kenya remains the most promising country in African film perspective. We have the best talent, locations and modern equipments are coming in day by day. We have a large populace that is lacking entertainment. Majority is drinking to their death and other modes of entertainment and am sure a good popular film can tap in that populace. By the way it’s not hard to make millions in a film, but it’s tricky. A wise man begins a project with the end in mind.
As I work on my next film, I am prepared to sail in unchartered waters, I shall factor in risks and other unfortunate surprises along the way. I shall involve experienced players, green horns, investors and other parties interested. I have in short lined up a film programme never tried and am sure if it works, it shall not only unlock my doors but also to other budding producers here in Kenya.
We don’t have to go to Hollywood to make it. We have our own Hollywood here in Kenya waiting to explode and go global.
(The writer is a budding independent film maker and writer----Producer Mwangi Kaburugu)
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