From: Obat Masira
Date: Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 3:36 AM
Subject: LAKE VICTORIA BASIN FILM MAKERS GUILD
THE LAKE VICTORIA BASIN: THE NEW HUB OF FILM MAKING IN KENYA
BY AKECH OBAT MASIRA,
DIRECTOR, MISANGO ARTS ENSEMBLE (KISUMU)
A film story is about desire and danger. It begins when the central character commits himself to attaining the story goal in the face of opposition. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to analyze why film making has not taken root in the Lake Victoria Basin despite its huge filming potential and tourism attractions. The paper therefore, attempts to highlight the challenges in the film making industry in the region and therefore proposed strategies that could address the vacuum. The region is uniquely endowed with great sceneries, heritages and monuments that could make film making in the region interesting, great and memorable. These endowments have great potential in tourism promotion of the western Kenya tourist circuit.
2. THE FILMING TECHNIQUES AND PRODUCTIONS
I here would like to quote one of the great script writers in the World Moran, and he asserts that “Films exist as an economic and cultural good before it ‘can’ be considered as an industry. In this duality, the cultural good passes through industrial supply and demand- thus production, distribution and consumption.” Film is a unique work. Its uniqueness is that it has the greatest potential to bring pleasure and people together by creating space for fun and escapism for people. Film mirrors people’s lifestyles. As people watch the screens, they laugh at their follies and therefore make the necessary adjustments in their lifestyles vis-à-vis the characters in the screen. It promotes social transformation.
3. INTEREST IN FILM MAKING IN THE REGION
In the recent past a new consciousness as dawned in the region in the world of film making. The region seemingly is not ready to play the second fiddle in the world of film making. A number of script writers, actors, directors and production team have emerged to fill the void. They have started telling their stories in different ways. I think this interest should be sustained by various players particularly the donor agencies to enable quality film making to be rooted in the region.
The players seek to make the Lake Victoria Basin the new hub of film making in the country. The region is also blessed with various universities offering degree courses in film making. These institutions could go a long way in enhancing professionalism and quality productions to promote excellence in the film industry.
4. THE CHALLENGES OF FILM MAKING IN THE REGION
The drive of desire is the life’s blood of every film. And the danger is its heartbeat. The main challenge we face as film makers in the region is basically lack of technical aspect of film production. Most of our film makers hardly use the essential techniques of making the flow of tension stimulating and pleasurable. It is in the technical aspect where we score very lowly. We still find it difficult to develop the use of desire and danger to enable us manipulate tension in our viewers.
Again, scripting is basically wanting and predictable. We hardly explore various techniques to bring in various story elements for aesthetic value i.e. how do we treat our characters and their characteristics, their relationships and reactions. Are all these elements well developed? Secondly, how do we handle situations in our scripts, particularly in which characters find themselves in? Another shortcoming we have the handling of the setting and the mood. In scripting, we should find techniques in building emotional pertinence in shooting script to create the reaction we are seeking in our audience. We need to develop a technique that would hold our viewers to the screen particularly the use of hook and emphasis. Emphasis is the details we want to draw the attention to. Our major handicapped is lack of broadcast quality equipments (cameras/editing machines) and lastly funding to offset production costs.
5. THE WAY FORWARD IN MAKING THE REGION THE HUB OF FILMING
There is urgent need for film makers in the region to work together to promote synergy in the industry. We should avoid mediocrity and short term monetary gains in the name of film making that hardly go beyond our estates and friendship fraternity. Art should not be compromised because of lack of equipments or short term gain.
Training is paramount if we want to achieve success in the industry; it is the training that is going to empower our film makers with the necessary skills to enable us to compete with others outside the region. I here suggest some strategies for the way forward.
* Film exchange program so as to learn from others.
* Annual regional film festival (cash awards for winners).
* To promote quality scripting through script writing contest.
* To patent the works of film makers in the region (and pay royalties to artistes and producers).
* To promote the region as the new tourism and filming destinations.
* To develop the film Guild as the agent for film makers in the region to reduce exploitation of the film makers and promote the welfare of artistes and producers.
* To host regional, national and international film workshop for the players in the region (capacity building).
* To acquire broadcast quality equipments.
* To liaise with foreign film makers on behalf of film makers in the region.
6.0 THE ROLE OF CHILDREN IN FILM MAKING
Art has, since time in memorial, been related to sustainability of society in its various manifestations. Children feel encouraged and recognized when they are given roles to play in a production (Drama/ Film). It does make them feel that they, too like everybody else, can have a role to play in the society. This makes the children wanted whichever type of background and condition they came from. This sort of empowerment is significant in development. Artistry is a very interesting, pleasurable, memorable, vivid and easy to understand.
It is also a great vehicle for the presentation of vital development information. Art enables youth to build good habits for effective living as an individual and as a member of a group.
We in the Guild seek to empower the child and the youth in coming up with effective things and film participating from their perspectives. That is the only way we as adults could bequeath film making among our children in Lake Victoria Basin.
7.0 THE JUSTIFICATION FOR THE REGION TO BE THE NEW HUB OF FILM MAKING IN KENYA
The justification for the Lake Victoria Basin as the new hub of film making in Kenya is self evident. The region has produced some of the greatest, interest and memorable artistes in Kenya. The history of the Kenya cultural development has been decorated by great talents in various cultural spheres from the region.
Unfortunately, such talents have emerged spontaneously and without organized local support, some of the best talents in the region have been “forced” to retire early into oblivion after a short period of success, this has led to the falling cultural standards. This, has moreover increased enhance of foreign cultural products, some of which have actually borrowed from the regions cultural potentials.
8.0 THE LAKE VICTORIA BASIN FILM MAKERS GUILD
The Name of the community based organization Lake Victoria basin film makers’ guild (Kenya) (in this constitution referred to as Umbrella body for upcoming and new musicians, film writers, editors, actors and directors’ based in Western Kenya)
The objects of the organization are as follows
1. To educate inform and entertain the public through quality scripts, productions and professional acting.
2. To facilitate the training of stakeholders in the film industry and equip them with professional skills in the scripting and production of film.
3. To act as patent and royalty agents for film makers in the region.
4. To act as an arbitrator between the various stakeholders in the film industry within the region.
5. To act as a link between the film makers from the region and both National and International film makers or relevant institutions.
6. To be a channel for the promotion and marketing and distribution of films from the region.
7. To identify preserve and promote filming sites within the region.
3. VISION AND MISSION
To make the lake region a center of excellence in film making.
To produce competent professionals capable of producing films that match international standards.
The Lake Victoria Basin Film-Makers Guild was founded at the end of a 2 day film workshop organized by the US Embassy and in collaboration with the Kenya Film commission at Kisumu Area Library as an umbrella body to promote and protect film makers in the Lake Victoria Basin (Nyanza, Rift Valley and Western Provinces)
The Guild will be a means of sensitizing and promoting the filming potentiality of the region, our values and stories. It will also be a forum for regional professional exchange of ideas, styles, knowledge, and experiences in film making to enable the region to be the hub of film making. The Guild will rekindle the regions creativity.
The Guild will provide the organizational framework that will “market” the film producers is the region. It’s hoped that in the process the various fields of artistic and film productions will attract the most talented in the region and therefore, increase financial viability of artistic and filming endeavors. It’s our firm conviction that only a self sustaining artistic endeavor’s can promote cultural film making in the region to enable it become the new hub of film making in Kenya.
The Guild will expose and popularize the region as the new film tourism destinations. It will also assist in the patenting of the rights of its members and provide loyalties annually.
This is because it has been realized that other film makers have been taking advantage of the local artistes and film makers. The region has abundant talent, limited exposure; poor marketing strategies and elected factors have reduced our artistes and film makers to marginal position in the society. The Guild seeks to reverse this trend.
The various arts and film making in the region are therefore, in the process of decline because they have been relegated to the position of unprofitable enterprises.
Its therefore, the intension of the Guild to invigorate film making though skills development, quality production, distribution and promotion of film making among children and youths in the region and lastly to increase the public’s interest and consciousness of arts in general and particularly in film production.
9.0 MY EXPERIENCE AS A LOCAL FILM MAKING
The film industry in the region can be vibrant if natured well. There has been interference of film makers from other regions. They have been interfering with the region’s industry for it would rob them of easy “prey” local artists, who feature in their films are paid peanuts and no clear terms and conditions & no signing of contracts.
Our first feature film NO RETREAT also suffered at the hands of these films makers who believe the production was going to be an obstacle in their waters. Through external interference we were only able to finalize only 50% of the production. We still intend to get partners to assist in the finalization of it.
The Misango Arts Ensemble writes quality film scripts. We already have three- “NO RETREAT” ‘MISANGO OKONYO LOLWE’ SACRIFICE SAVES LAKE VICTORIA and ‘TEARS OF MUD FISH’ all by Oloo Nyamwaya, our main script writer. At this juncture, I would like to share insight into some of our stories-1
SYNOPSIS- “NO RETREAT”
This story, NO RETREAT, examines how two typical Kenyan urban families grappled with problems posed by HIV/AIDs Scourge.
Lead Character (LIZA) young gender conscious and forward looking wife in Kisumu discovers that her husband, OCHOLA, has been having an affair behind her back. Upset by this betrayal and fearful of the prospect of contracting AIDS, she deserts her matrimonial home, taking a twelve year old daughter LINDA with her, she immediately begins divorce proceedings. Unknown to her, her friend and neighbor ATOTI, is a lady who has been having an affair with her husband.
Matters take interesting turn when ATOTI’s own husband, JOE, a medical doctor by profession tests Positive. In her solitude, LIZA first seeks refuge in ATOTI’s but finding ATOTI beset by too many problems of her own, she turns to MARION, an old friend and a colleague. With time, as she tries to deal with her suicidal husband, ATOTI discovers that she too is HIV Positive, unlike her husband; she assumes a stoical attitude about it.
In the mean time, LIZA, finds another love in MOSES, a born again Christian. A brief period of courtship leads to a proposal of marriage. Will LIZA find happiness in her new relationship? Or has HIV/AIDS made far reaching in-road into her life and those surrounding her to extent that it is now meaningless to harbour any hopes in life? Will she discover that a long time friend, ATOTI is the one who has been having an affair with her husband? Will she succeed in preventing her daughter LINDA, from demanding to be reunited with her father?
The film poses critical and pertinent issues affecting spouses, for it mirrors true life situations in various homes in the region and beyond. These are the untold stories that should be told. The NO RETREAT Script uses various technical aspects of filming (desire, danger, plot twists, conflicts, suspense, tension, mood, emphasis and the hook) to hold the attention and interest of the viewers.
Its gladdening to realize that various film players have emerged within the Lake Basin, working out on quality entertainment and educative films, if well supported would go a long way in making the region the hub of film making.
The main challenges we face is lack of broadcast quality equipments that could not compromise the sound and the picture, for film is about sound and picture. The art of film making should also be introduced to children so that they could be able to tell their stories for themselves by themselves. This is the best way to sustain the film industry in the region.
The region boasts of unique and memorable sites that should be promoted to enhance quality film production in terms of sceneries and locations. We the film makers in the region should take advantage of God given endowments.
The Lake Victoria Basin film Guild should be supported by well wishers who are interested in making the region the hub of film making in Kenya. Thank you the Kenya National Library Services. Thank you the US Embassy for creating the American corner in Kisumu. This is going to be the greatest resource in transforming the region that has been marginalized for many years because of parochial politics.
BY AKECH OBAT MASIRA
Presented During the World Literacy Day Celebration at the Kisumu Area Library
Theme: Learners’ Week
Date: 4th September 2009
MISANGO ARTS ENSEMBLE (KISUMU)
AND THE CONVENER
THE LAKE VICTORIA BASIN FILM MAKERS GUILD
Mobile: +254 726164954