Thursday, November 24, 2011

To The Bearer of this message, Urgently Deliver it to @sirlotan By 22nd December 2012

@sirlotan, it came to me in a dream, that you are indeed the same man Dr. John Xhuma. I have also learned that you now reside within the Unified Lands, and blend with the people there as a part of your guise. I am aware that the alias @sirlotan is a guise to allow you association with the people of the Unified Lands. For both our sakes, I will maintain this pretence as I travel through the unified Lands; nobody must know that we are natives of the Valley.

I contact you now not as an adversary, but as a friend seeking your help. When you departed from The Valley, you left your apprentice to administer your laboratory research into the Metapsychological Analysis of Parapraxis. However, earlier this year, he went missing and nobody has seen or heard form him since. The scientists that you left working at the laboratory reported nothing missing from the premises aside from your apprentice and his favorite cap. 

It is worrying to note that since his disappearance, several residents of the Valley have reported unique incidences of parapraxis, and we have become aware that the Valley has been infiltrated by an unknown enemy. We have searched for you for many months but as only your apprentice knew of your location, the search has been futile. Until now… Please be warned that though your apprentice is indeed loyal and honorable, after all this time he is sure to have succumbed to coercion from the enemy and your location may be compromised.
The situation in the Valley is growing direr by the day, and as I departed in my quest for you 3 months ago, the state was that of near panic. 

It is imperative that you return to the Valley, and help us fight this unknown enemy. Without you or your apprentice, we lack the intellectual caliber to resist their infiltration. A report has reached me that the seers are wary of the 22nd of December in 2012. I cannot be sure when this letter will reach you, but be aware that even as you read this, we have little time. Please abandon your business in the Unified Lands and return to the Valley before it is too late.

The messenger bearing this letter is the nephew of your trusted apprentice. Please trust him in turn, and he will lead you to me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Heat-rash, Mavoko ( and) Njeri almost fainting! (Behind the scenes of Blind Sight)

For the past 5 weeks or so, I’ve been on set shooting a film in Athi River. Now, for the benefit of everybody that has never been, I must explain that Athi River is: ‘a town outside Nairobi, Kenya in Eastern Province. It is also known as Mavoko. ( Weather: Hottest! (Recent astronomy reports indicate that the sun resides in the Mavoko skies with her sister and two gentleman friends. They enjoy a good game of ‘burn-this-town’, a competition designed to generate additional solar heat played mainly by elements of the tropical cosmos)

Ian Kithinji wrote an amazing script and chose Athi River as the location. I ended up as the producer of the film. 

Murphy’s Law:
According to Murphy (who is Murphy in the first place?), ‘anything that can go wrong will go wrong.’ So we began the shoot with Murphy’s Law in mind, and I even covertly carried an emergency inflatable tent with fire-stones and a microlith so that in case of anything, I could shelter a few chosen crew members and eventually eat them if the rescuers didn't find me in time... Thankfully, Murphy was trampled by our prayers, and nothing very drastic happened.   

(Photograph: Writer/director/DOP Ian Kithinji with Camera Assistant Steve Waguwa)

The team:
In choosing the team that would form the film crew, Ian and I (naturally) looked for people that we know and had worked with before. It was a little challenging, as many of the people I trust in filmmaking were not available or simply could not come to Mavoko, but I finally got an incredible group of people from Daystar, and we all worked hard at the shoot. Casting was a lot easier and Njeri Wagacha did an impressive job as casting director; in my opinion, some of the  best actors in Kenya turned up for auditions and the final cast ensemble was excellent: Emmanuel Mugo, Hana Gitau, Maureen King’ori,  Kibui Kariita, Mandela Mukundi, Joshua Karanja, and the actors from Daystar Theatre Arts (Caleb Chuma, David Kiarie, Michelle Siro, Rodney Mutugi): a biiig tune! They wowed us, and I know they’ll wow you when you watch the film. 

Heat-rash, Mavoko ( and) Njeri almost fainting!
(Photograph: Crew members under the shade of a reflector)
For most of our shoot, the sun and her posse shone down on Mavoko like a cat on fire! Hopefully, the footage doesn’t show the actors becoming progressively darker with each scene, or else we’ll have to add in a scene where everybody in the world is diagnosed with revitiligo (opposite of what MJ had #UncleRucusNoRelation). We got heat-rash and sunburns and lost weight, but often times this is the nature of production. For the most part, thanks to the creatively cool crazy (alliterate) people on set, we had an amazing time shooting and nothing went horribly wrong... Well, we did have this one runner who came on set more than 3 hours late (and) got under everybody’s skin (and) freaked everybody out because he smelled of aqueous methylethanoxidohydrosuplhaclyrous solution.  (and) Njeri almost fainted. Then another time we went for dinner at Mandela’s place (and) got detained by the guards at 11:05pm at the Daystar gate (and) had to write down our names at the guards' post (and) Njeri almost fainted. Another time we waited for an actor X for 1.5 hours on set (and) all the other actors were ready with their make-up done (and) the camera, sound and lighting were all set (and) the actor X says, after 1.5, that he does not feel well enough to come (and) Njeri almost fainted. 
(Photograph: Actor Emmanuel Mugo prepares for a shoot)
(Photograph: Actor Kibui Karita in action as the camera rolls)  

I wish lot of peace, love and blessings za Jah to everybody that put work into this production. Watch out for the film Blind Sight next year (2012), and follow me on Twitter @LoiAwat! 

*Photographs by Leonard Dzoga, Marc Mukunya and Loi Awat