Written by Joan Kabugu
Camera, lights action….and pap! It’s not that simple!
Making a movie is not merely a pipedream. You do not wake up one morning and decide to make a movie, and then tomorrow you hit the ground running and the next day, voila! You have it.
Storymoja set out to clear out this illusion by setting up two established filmmakers during the Storymoja Hay festival (1st, 2nd and 3rd October 2010 at the Railway Sports Club Grounds). ‘Film story’ a discussion run by Kenyan Wanuri Kahiu known for her two award winning films: From a Whisper and Pumzi alongside Tom Tykwer a German director known for the films Run Lola run, Heaven, and Perfume-the story of a murderer, were perfect candidates with different yet rich viewpoints about the film industry.
These two renowned filmmakers engaged young and upcoming scriptwriters, directors and producers in a moderated discussion about their careers and the world of film. It was charged with question and answer sessions, sharing experiences from how they have faired in perfecting their craft to giving out advice.
A good movie takes close to three years of your life to produce-as outrageous as it sounds it is gospel truth. Wanuri’s film which is barely half an hour took her almost a whole year to produce. That said the point was home, that Yes! One can make a movie, but to make a “good” movie-passion, commitment, long nights, rewrites, character development are just a few things(from a very long list) that come into play.
Tom Tykwer related it to the feeling you get once you leave fox theatres, after watching a blockbuster in his words “you need to come from a movie as if you have just met someone” it is supposed to be a wholesome, exciting, enjoyable experience.
Having a good hand at writing screenplays Wanuri gave me something to ponder about as I write my next script. That as writers we are often hit hard with writer’s block, when all story ideas take a sabbatical. She says we only need to look deep within “we need to write about ourselves, for we have interesting lives that our audience will relate to” that our African everyday experiences are appealing and can make funny, emotional and serious storylines.
Though imitation sometimes takes the day, as filmmakers we need not lean on the western experiences for doing so is a great injustice to our rich culture, rich history and our authenticity. Most successful movie producers and script writers make movies about themselves and their lives, its easier borrowing from within and writing something you have full knowledge about, it’s even exciting when you work with aspects of a story that are part of your personal life. This eases the character development equation, where characters are the movie. If a character sells the movie sells, hence the more you know about your character the easier it is to bring the character to life.
Compared to the music industry, the film industry is catching up. If the Kenya International Film Festival is anything to go by, many new local short films and feature films have premiered and that is concrete evidence that industry players are really trying to be at par. There are also a lot of opportunities for fresh content that could make Nollywood child’s play. This year the festival runs for one full week from the 21st to 30th Oct, se sure to catch Kenyan movies such as Rogue Priest, Pumzi, Soul boy, Catching the Mirage among many others.
When the session ended 3 hours later I was still eager to soak in some more insight, I got the rejuvenation I needed to revise some scripts I had shelved and tips on how to look out for festivals and grants which can propel me towards showcasing my work locally and internationally. Alvaro in hand, soothing me from the impending hot weather, I proceeded to the laughter tent (storytelling competition)