Friday, August 31, 2012

What Product are filmmakers selling ?

In a focus discussion on contemporary East African cinema hosted by ZUKA and Patrick Sekyaya and Prince Joe Nakibinge we asked what product are filmmakers selling to an audience that is increasingly exposed to global cinema. The need to differentiate the product from Nollywood, Hollywood so that the selling point is the experience of the Ugandan way of life/culture was articulated. The discussion brought out the comparison between Nigeria and Uganda the former with a formal industry with financial institutions willing to finance productions and the result is it produces 70 films a week compared to Uganda with 30 films a year. This output necessitates an entire channel, Africa Magic devoted to Nigerian content no other country in Africa can sustain an entire channel. The lack of institutional support does not end at finance but includes the lack of political will to enforce quotas to protect the local industry against an influx of Hollywood and Asian films. Restrict access to foreign films creating demand for local cinema and therefore increase audience access to local films and coupled with incentives such as waivers on import duty on film equipment, local filmmakers will be encouraged to create. And at least locally will not have to compete directly with global productions. Local audiences will be compelled to consume local productions by the sheer volume of productions on the market. Unfair competition with global productions stifles creativity with local filmmakers having to create content for an audience that is raised on a diet of global productions and as a result susceptible to neo colonialism that creates unrealistic expectations of local productions and cinema in general. These neo colonial attitudes to cinema especially the effect these have of audience preferences and tastes inevitably dictate to the filmmaker that caters to these audiences and the images produced locally reinforce perceptions, neo colonial stereotypes and limit individual freedoms.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

First thoughts

First Thoughts.....For the filmmakers
ZUKA ought to answer the following question posed by filmmakers affirmatively.
So what if my film is shown at ZUKA?
ZUKA's existence depends on how well this question is answered.
So every activity at this event should cater to the filmmakers simply because if they are looked after, ZUKA is looked after.
Its also important to note that ZUKA Film Festival is but one of many interventions in the East African Film industry and development in the region in general. Therefore the film festival is there to complement such interventions . Interventions by broadcasters both traditional and new, exhibitors, festivals, artists,trainers and change agents....
It is with this mind that festival programme is formulated.

What the filmmaker needs?
Opportunity to grow

The ZUKA Film Festival event programme should meet these needs and this is how it should be judged.

And how?


The artist, filmmaker's work must be appreciated and part of the motivation of working is that other people will get as much pleasure from the work  as you the artist. This is the first function of the film festival , to exhibit the work of artists and expose it to a wider audience.
Therefore the events programme should devote festival time to screenings, just how much time will depend on the number of film submissions as well as the need for recognition for filmmakers.

The effort of the artist, filmmaker needs to be recognised by the audience. And depending on the nature of the audience, this recognition can take many forms, cash, awards, festival invites...  but all just as important to the filmmaker.
By segmenting the screenings to cater to audiences that are willing to recognise the filmmaker with cash,distribution deals awards and festival invites....
The key is first  identifying this audience and their tastes to satisfy them and the filmmaker. That way we match the audience with the filmmaker and both are rewarded.

Opportunities for Growth

The festival programme this year at ZUKA  sets out to meet the artist at their point of need, namely  creating opportunities for growth, now ZUKA can't give what we don't have. Therefore creating opportunities for its own growth is a necessity for ZUKA, this growth should be measurable. Its measured by
the sheer volume and variety of the submissions,
the number of partners,
media contacts, media presence,  
the number of films bought, broadcast on local TV,online and of course,
ZUKA's well being as a going concern, specifically its ability to attract funding for its programmes.

The festival programme should create opportunities for growth for ZUKA and the filmmakers. As such the fate of ZUKA is linked to that of the filmmakers whose work is exhibited.
For this to happen ZUKA should be a meeting place, therefore some festival time should be devoted to networking, a launch night represents such an opportunity in an informal environment. 

The event programme should attract more folks to the event from all walks of life and to do so there must be a range of activities all building up to the finale.
And so with great pleasure...