Monday, January 21, 2013

My New Colossal Page That Will Inevitably Change The World And Its Environs...

Today, I’m publishing a new page on this blog, and it will be colossal! I don't normally promise that the things I do will be colossal, but I have a feeling about this one :)
My new page is under the new tab, Scripts, and on it I will publish scripts that I have written and which I have the permission to share. I think this is the first effort by a Kenyan screenwriter to share their work with the public, so... Colossal, is all I'm saying... I know I’ll get those “Aren’t you scared of having your idea stolen?” questions, which I will answer with “That’s why the Kenya Copyright Board exists. Duh.”

I started writing scripts before I ever sat in a media class; when I wrote my first script, in fact, I was in a Form 3 Chemistry class seated at the back bench of the Chem Lab in Pangani Girls’. I had no training when I was starting out, but I was able to write a little anyway, and that was only possible because some people somewhere (in USA) were kind enough to share the knowledge that they had on the internet. By reading other people's scripts on sites like Simply Scripts and Daily Script, I had basic information about format, structure, characterization and genres.  At that time, I couldn’t find any Kenyan screenwriter that shares their work online, although I did find published ebooks by novelist Andrew Macharia, which were an inspiration. 
I'm publishing the Scripts page so that I can:

- Share my work so that anyone that would like to sample it will have instant access. It's Generation Y, yawa! 
- Give upcoming Kenyan (East African, even) writers a sample of content written in our own context... for the sake of variety, or something!
-  Get feedback from people so that I can grow as a writer and enhance my style and skills.  It’s hard to put my scripts out there, prime for criticism and attack, but I know I’ll get some helpful feedback.
- Hopefully, my scripts can 'build' someone somewhere, much like the first script that I read, John Singleton's Poetic Justice set me off writing the types of stories that I enjoy.

The first script that I'm publishing is Haven, a script that I wrote in 2010. It was one of the very first scripts I ever wrote, and so far a lot of people have read it and given me feedback; I've been told mostly that the dialog is a little weak and the ending is abrupt... otherwise, feel free to leave me feedback! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why not just do it?

If you want to be a movie-maker, you have to make movies. It says so right there in the title. Since I started posting on my Facebook profile that I’m a (small-time hustling wannabe) screenwriter, I’ve had people that I know tell me they’re ‘into the same thing’; they have ideas for scripts, short films, documentaries and what have you- but, they say, ‘ I’m waiting for this’ and ‘waiting for that’, ‘I need some money,’ ‘I’m looking for funding’... Well, you’re not much of a filmmaker then. You’re a film-ideas-haver, which is not even a valid English word, so you don’t count.   
If you’re interested in making movies, then the only way to do it is to just do it! Make a movie, even though it will turn out badly; write a script, even though it will be unreadable; that’s how to get the ball rolling. Once you make something, you get into the system, you join the networks, and people get to know you and to send you relevant information or include you in their projects. This way, you’ll either grow as a filmmaker and achieve what you intend to achieve, or you’ll realize that the filmmaking thing is not for you, get the whole phase out of your system and spend more time pursuing what you deem more worthy- win/win, you see?
On the set of Once Upon A Rhyme, directed by Muriuki Erick
For those that say ‘Oh, my idea is too good to be done on no budget; I’m looking for funding, because my idea can’t work with some low-quality production...’ Well, if you’re such a pro with conceiving grand ideas, then come up with a simpler idea to start off with! Every filmmaker has their master project that they’re working towards, so you’re not superman/superwoman with your magnificent idea. You won’t get the resources to make your master project by being a film-ideas-haver because people give resources to filmmakers, not to people with grand ideas; combine these by becoming an actual filmmaker.

I know a lot of Kenyan film-ideas-havers have not attended any production training or film school, but that cannot be a problem- it’s 2013! Here are some tips that might help:
     1. Google University – film school is literally a mouse click away, and with the right information you can make a good quality film with what you have, no matter how little. Check out Film Riot, or other online film schools
For writers, check out John August’s blog, The Daily Script, and

     2. Get a camera – Borrow a camera, or a phone with a camera; you don’t need expensive gear, especially for your first indie project. 

     3.  Make something – Make a short film, a PSA, a commercial, a music video; anything complete. The whole process will be a learning process. Whatever you make will probably be so bad that you’ll feel the need to learn, grow, develop skills and never produce something so horrible again! 

      4. Get it out there – There are many ways to get your movie out, especially online. Apart from uploading content, you can enter it into film festivals in the East African region, or have it screened somewhere. Lola Kenya Screen Foundation organizes an annual children & youth film festival, and if your film can qualify for a screening, then you’re a pretty good filmmaker! The Kenya International Film Festival is a worthy challenge for an upcoming filmmaker; ‘international film festival screening’ on your resume or showreel is a big tchune. 

      5. Keep learning and growing – Don’t remain on the same level, or to make two movies that are on the same level; keep upping it!

      6. Stay in the network- Keep abreast with the industry so that you can be aware of opportunities for work and fun.

See, it’s not very complicated!