Khabonina Qhubeka, Hlubi Mboya, Ronnie Nyakeya, Danny Keogh,
Meren Reddy and many more.
Dora is a sexy prostitute from hillbrow acted by Khabonina. She takes the responsibility to protect a young boy who is hounded by gangsters. At the same time finds her own humanity.
The eight year project has done amazingly recently winning
the Johannesburg film festival The story is relevant
to South African viewers. Far cry from the trending Romcoms we have seeing in local cinemas. Having the backdrop of hillbrow and popular stars in the film. I would give it four peaches out of five. I can’t wait to see it collect a golden horn.
Howard James Fyvie is impressively passionate about making movies. This comes across in the very descript and insightful response to our questions. Fyvie and filmmaking partner Greg Kriek on Last One’s Out, made the feature film with a measly budget of 50 000 ZAR.
Last One’s Out was invited in 2015 to be part of South Africa’s official delegation at Cannes film festival market. Producer/director Fyvie does not disclose in the interview exactly how they managed to get their pale bums into an airplane and across the ocean but he was quite descript about the overall experience.
One can only assume, when you are passionate enough you will make it happen, like our South African Mzungus have. Enjoy the Q&A!
[TN]As a writer and/or producer what is the most treacherous part of making a movie?
[HF] Everything… making movies is one massive challenge. The difficulties are manifest and they get into every single facet: from your own motivation and self worth right down to trying to learn a new software program in a few hours to make a deadline. It’s all in there. It’s one massive challenge, and unless you’re driven by a passion and vision bigger than the difficulty, that challenge will consume you and paralyse you. I could chat about this for hours…
[TN]What is you goal when making a film, is it to deliver the entertainment factor or deliver a strong message?
[HF] It’s about being moved emotionally: either laughter, joy, fear, thrill. We strive to make entertainment that connects with audiences on an emotional level, and hopefully – influences them in a positive life-changing way.
[TN]How did you guys initially react to all the rejection of your first script and how many attempts did it take before your realised that it’s time to move on?
[HF] Initially, you kind of just don’t believe that people aren’t as interested in your script as you are. After about 6 or 7 formal pitches, we realised we were running out of time. That’s when we had to have a hard chat and scrap the first idea.
[TN]Please explain your process of writing a script aligned to a limited budget – surely there are other production facets in mind that would leave you doubting your story while writing?
[HF] Writing a script on a zero-budget is no different to writing a script on a massive budget: at the end of the day the fundamentals to a good story remain the same: they’re all about flawed characters trying to solve problems in their worlds. The budget stuff is just the cosmetics.
Start out by saying, “I have to write something that will excite me, move me and make me passionate to see this film.”
Then, work on your plot / characters / emotional core.
After that, ask yourself – Okay, now, how can I actually pull this off with no money at all. Literally, zero.
Then, take the surgeons knife and trim your initial concept down to the core level. You’ll often find that the IDEA is the same, but the execution of that idea can be done two ways: one, on a MASSIVE budget level, and 2 – on no budget. At the end of the day, the idea and the emotional core – will remain largely unchanged. Understanding this is crucial in making anything. MONEY WILL NOT MAKE IT BETTER.You and your team, make it better.
[TN]How long and what was your process of gaining trust within the South African indie filmmaking community?
[HF] Traditionally – gaining trust takes years, and it takes great work and great people skills. I mean, we’ve been working with people for about 10 or so years since I moved to Cape Town. However, you don’t need to wait around in order to start making things. Rope in strangers, rope in new comers – they can judge your character and your work straight away once they meet you.
[TN]Why did you choose film to express yourself?
[HF]Film is the greatest combination of all the art forms. I love the visual arts: photography, in particular, and yet I love the sonic side of things too, being a musician and a singer. Adding to this the fact that film allows you to IMAGINE and DREAM – and then see these things become a reality… that is unparalleled.
[TN] Besides the ridiculous budget, what makes Last Ones Out different to every other Zombie movie?
[HF] To be honest, LOO isn’t a zombie movie. It’s a road movie/ drama about broken characters trying to understand each other. The zombies are very far and few between – and don’t feature much at all. What features – what is unique – is the characters, the setting (African locale) and the ending. It just happens to have zombies. 🙂
[TN]How did you keep your cast and crew motivated?
[HF] Faith. You have to believe in the project yourself, and then communicate that to them on set all the time. You have to be exceptionally aware of their needs, and constantly give little speeches, show them footage that looks good, make sure there is food on set (even when there wasn’t food, which was often), and in general – you have to, at all times, maintain a positive, can-do attitude. They need to trust you 100%, trust that “These guys know what they’re doing, and everything is going according to plan”.
Thankfully – Greg Kriek and myself were 100% a team, always backing each other, always there for each other. That guy is a soldier. And only afterwards, once we got back to my place where I was editing, would we open up about how tough the day was.
Sometimes, we would just sit in silence for a while; there wasn’t anything to say. It was that bad. I mean, at one stage, our DOP was running during a take, in the dark, down a corridor, filming zombies chasing a flare… He fell headlong onto the floor, smashed his hand, the lens and entire camera system nearly trashed… he went to the hospital the next day and I carried on shooting that scene that night… That was just one day… We had stuff breaking in the middle of a take, we had our follow focus antenna get lost in a giant field of grass (that we were already shooting in illegally), we had the sun setting before we were anywhere near finished, we had actors just not pitching, we had crew members attempting to smoke weed during filming, we had times when we filmed with completely broken cameras… I mean, it’s a challenge. And the whole way through – you can’t let that show. Not ONE moment. You have to be above all of that – and keep moving. It’s about vision. Luckily, God was involved in our film and the miracle of pulling this whole thing off cannot be understated.
[TN] Now that you’ve been invited to Cannes with Last Ones Out, what is your next move?
[HF] Last Ones Out was invited in 2015 to be part of South Africa’s official delegation to the Cannes Film Festival’s market, the Marche Du Film. Myself and Producer/Lead Actor Greg Kriek had no cash to go, but somehow managed to be there – we paid for ourselves, stayed in a the cheapest accommodation we could find – cramped 1 bedroom flat 1 hour outside of town, stayed with a Welshman (Greg slept on the floor between the cupboard and the bed, I slept on the bed next to the Welshman. We used the toilet as the cupboard. It was nuts). That time was special. We got to meet people in Cannes and understand the business side of things.
Back in SA, we’ve had a few people making us deals to try sell Last Ones Out – at this stage, we haven’t chosen anyone yet because the film is only now being released and we want it to grow in profile before we hand it off to others, who will not be as passionate about driving it as us at this stage.
However, whilst Last Ones Out is being released independently throughout festivals, Greg and myself are actively working on acquiring budget for our next film. I’ve written an action comedy, along the lines of Tropic Thunder, and we’re currently trying to get that thing going. We’ve applied to the KZN Film Commission and will be meeting with them whilst at the DIFF.
Meet Marycate Masilela, the creator of E’bioscope – Her friends call her Peaches. She studied film at AFDA Johannesburg… [MM] I remember walking in those gates I thought I was going to be a director (she laughs) quickly how that changed. Yet my passion for film started when I was a toddler, without knowing my parents encouraged it when they replaced the baby sitters with the cinema (It’s best place to keep your child occupied and know where they are at the same time) while they spent their time at the casino, (laughs) good times. I spent the whole day watching blockbuster films, sometimes repeating, I always new the latest movies.
Radio was a coincidence in the sense that I’m from a small town and when my mom past, I decided to move back home to keep my papa company. I thought it would be a great advantage for me to focus on shooting my first documentary. The station programme manager for BCR Radio heard about me. He offered for me to be on radio and create a show about films. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, to produce and host my own show.
The show became a partnership between my production company Dlambili productions and the station. Most people don’t even think South Africa has a film industry. They hear about the big films, which are circulating on the cinema and only if they have been marketed well but the greater South African audiences are unaware of the small independent films that are on festivals or need votes for awards.
We need to create a culture where people go to cinema and festivals and support local films. This is important because the production company’s will make more films relevant to South Africa and stop imitating a Hollywood storyline here, no one wants to watch that. Hollywood mastered their craft, we can’t do it better than them but we can always do us.
[ZI] What challenges have you faced putting the E’bioscope show together and how long has the show been running?
[MM] The show aired for the first time during the last the week of October 2015. I was nervous and unfortunately my nerves took over my logic of speaking normally… I didn’t approach the radio as if I was speaking to friends. Basically it went south (laughs) but now I’m easy on the microphone.
The challenge was creating the feel of the show. I didn’t want it to be a film review, then play the trailer, and then rate the film: its been done! I added the hip hop blends in the back ground the live interviews and covering of festivals even being comfortable to make the show bilingual with English and Siswati. The show is conversational and is between my guest and I.
[ZI] Who was your favourite filmmaker to interview?
[MM] Ernest Nkosi, producer and director of Thina Sobabili. He’s a fan of good storytelling. By watching his film you could tell that he withdraws from his own life, and was honest enough to share with me, on E’bioscope, the two leading characters where inspired by his own childhood with his sister. His craft is real and relevant for the South African audience to watch.
[ZI] What is your most memorable interview?
[MM] Recently the director of Safe Bet announced on E’bioscope that his film was going to play on SAA in June. Which was an exclusive for us.
[ZI] Who’s your filmmaker crush?
[MM] Cute question…
[ZI] Where do you see our local film industry in the next 15 years?
[MM] I think South Africa is at an advantage right now, more and more Hollywood and Bollywood productions are shot here in South Africa. Meaning our industry is booming, all we need to ensure is that we are producing South African content the world wants to see.
While browsing the web, I came across a headline that read “Uganda’s Tarantino…” which immediately shifted my focus and I decided to read further. After reading it, I was left amazed, inspired and completely bewildered by what Ugandan film director Isaac Nabwana, was able to achieve with his $200 viral feature films.
Isaac Nabwana is the master mind behind Ramon Film Productions located in Wakaliga, a slum on the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda. It is in this exact location where self-taught filmmaker Isaac Nabwana has developed his art form and shot 40 low budget action films, each costing around $200 to make.
To make things even more unbelievable, Isaac’s films have gone viral, building a considerable following of film enthusiasts who love his work. His followers had been so mesmerized, that Lake Placid Film Festival Programme director Alan Hoffmanis packed up his things in the United States of America, to join Isaac in Uganda.“In the West when you have no money, you shoot two people having a conversation… You don’t make a war film” says Alan Hoffmanis.
So, I decided to watch the trailer of “Who Killed Captain Alex?” punted as Uganda’s first action film. The trailer had me bursting out with laughter, making me think of action comedy film “Hot Shots” the parody of the blockbuster film “Top Gun”. Starting off with a child’s voice over announcing the production company (Ramon Film Productions), what I was seeing was remarkable, computer generated helicopters bombing buildings, replicas of machine guns welded from scrap metal, carved bullets from wood and loads more to leave you in awe.
In the case of Isaac Nabwana, with a volunteer cast, lack of money, equipment and facilities, it is pure passion that gets a film made in Wakaliga, also known as “Wakaliwood”. The action films have a comedic twist to them, “I include comedy, there was no comedy in the violence I witnessed” says Isaac Nabwana.
To counter the distribution problem, the crew and cast work for free, but get to keep 50% of the profits for any DVD they sell. The films can sell for up to 3 000 shillings or 1 dollar, but they only have one week to sell them before the films become pirated. We do man-to-man or door-to-door all over the country to sell them…” says Nabwana.
From “Hollywood”, “Bollywood” and “Nollywood”, its clear that “Wakaliwood” will soon be the new kids on the block and a force to be reckoned with. Isaac Nabwana is testament that with passion and innovation anything is possible . For more information on Isaac Nabwana’s films click here
Since 2009 Wilson Egessa Okwenje has been profession driven as an actor in the Ugandan film industry under Maisha Film Lab.
His first movie was a short film, known as “The Pardon”, a story of a genocide survivor who is the writer and director of Imbabazi. “The Pardon” – short film produced and shot in Rwanda, is about Karemera the character whose family had been butchered during the tribal conflict of the Hutu against the Tutsi. In the movie Wilson acted as Karemera and the short film really did tremendously well around the world, winning awards such as best short movie in the Silicon Valley African Film Festival.
Winning that award has resulted in him being very grateful and giving thanks to his first director, Joel Karekezi from Rwanda who also directed Wilson in the feature film “Imbabazi The Pardon” – Watch trailer here.
Why did you choose the film industry/how did you get into the industry?
I chose film/movies to tell stories that inform and educate people so as to change and improve their lives in the world. I joined the film industry through Maisha Film Lab workshops and that’s how I managed to act in my very first short movie known as The Pardon – Watch trailer here.
How old are you and how long have you been in the film industry?
I am 30years old and have spent 7years acting in the movie industry in Uganda.
What work did you do before working as an actor?
I was a marketing intern at Bayimba Cultural Foundation and also worked at Warid Telecom as a production person in Uganda. And yes they have been paying my bills as an actor. Also been doing chicken poultry farming.
Who is your inspiration/role model?
My inspirational person is my reverend Pastor Chris Oyakilome Phd.
Who was/is your favourite director to work with and why?
Joel karekezi is my favourite and first director, because he would always keep informing me about the behaviours of the character so as to maintain the character till the shoot is done, and he is so open to new ideas.
Do you have any advice for upcoming actors?
To all actors and actresses believe in yourself because it starts with you, and also remember there is always room for learning and development. In other words have a listening ear to criticism and then learn to change. And also to better yourself watch movies that have won Oscars Academy Awards so as you may be able to learn different skills and abilities done by the different actors in the award winning movies, this will help you improve your acting game.
What is your future plans?
My future plans, is to work with all movie directors and scriptwriters around Africa and the rest of the world and then WIN at the OSCARS and GOLDEN GLOBES.
Early in his career Wilson Egessa Okwenje acted in a number of movies such as;
In later years, the talented actor worked on a number of movies such as Nico The donkey (Character – Reverend) a Raising Voices Project, The Test – short film (Character – Friend), The Hostel – television series (Character – Lawyer), Bye Bye Mzungu (Character – Bar Tender), and he also acted as a Prison Inmate in State Research Bureau (S.R.B) under the guidance and direction of Matt Bish – Watch trailer here.
Since the start of his career in 2009 Wilson Egessa Okwenje acknowledges that he has learnt and acquired vast knowledge from all the directors he worked with in Uganda and is grateful for that.
From flawless performances to mesmerizing and beautiful landscapes – “The forgotten Kingdom” is a well-executed film of an excellent stature.
It’s no surprise! The independent feature film snatched three at The African Movie Academy Awards!
Carlos Carvalho for Best Cinematography;
Michael Botha and Charlotte Buys for Best Sound Design; and
Lebohang Ntsane for Best Child Actor.
Ntsane’s acceptance speech was the highlight of AMAA 2014. At the microphone in front of 3,000 people, he held up his trophy and belted out, “This is for Lesotho!”
This 98-minute film is no blockbuster moneymaking cash cow… Andrew Mudge realized from conception, at the beginning of his 9-year journey but pursued it anyway. The only sensible conclusion one can come to – he did it for the love of film, to be drawn into the life of a character so much so, that you are encapsulated by scenery and character.
While Mudge has no kids of his own, he believes, “Making a feature film is akin to having a kid”. He goes onto to say “we only have a certain number of heart beats, why waste time…”
Here’s an interview with Andrew Mudge the writer, director, and part producer of The Forgotten Kingdom
What is your moral premise and you overarching goal within this 98minute film?
It’s interesting that within the film the antagonist is more than a character it seems to belong to the greater plot…please elaborate.
How did you select your cast? What was it like working with amateur and professional actors while working from a foreign language script?
Why did you choose to set this film in Lesotho and Johannesburg?
This is your first feature film… what was that journey like?
Thank you Andrew Mudge for being part of Africa’s 1st Film Blog
“Share your experience and journey with us on taking iNumber Number from creation to it’s manifestation on screen…”
“From a writer’s perspective who’s not typically associated with ‘gangsters’ and have not experienced that culture first hand, nor are you ‘black’. We know you took inspiration from Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and made it your own in terms of a South African action cultural piece… Where you anxious at all, where you nervous about doing it right?”
“You mentioned Israel Makoe is a real life (ex) gangster; he played a big part in the iNumber Number film – What was it like working with him?”
“There are lots of villains in this film, making iNumber Number pretty enticing. I mean we don’t know whether to like the characters or throw stones at them – this moral dilemma is what makes for a really great film. Having the audience question their own morals and integrity is something many South African’s and people in general, from around the world, encounter, please elaborate…”
Thank you Donovan Marsh for being part of Africa’s 1st Film Blog