By Yasiri J. Kasango
The film industry in Uganda has emerged as a rapidly growing sector in the country’s entertainment landscape. Not only is it entertaining audiences and telling compelling stories, but it is also providing a potential solution to one of the world’s most pressing issues: unemployment. Many highly educated and talented young people are turning to the film industry for employment opportunities, seeing it as a promising career path. As the industry continues to flourish, it has the potential to create even more jobs and stimulate economic growth in Uganda.
Despite the enthusiasm of young Ugandans who aspire to make a name for themselves in the film industry, many are facing significant obstacles in realizing their dreams. Foremost among these challenges is the financial burden associated with producing a film. Aspiring filmmakers require a substantial amount of capital to bring their creative visions to life, and this funding is often difficult to secure.
The lack of financial support can lead to frustration and disappointment and may force talented individuals to abandon their dreams or pursue other career paths. Addressing these financial barriers is essential if Uganda’s film industry is to continue growing and attracting new talent.
Douglas Byaruhunga, a recent graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Uganda Christian University (UCU), has a burning passion for film production. During his time as a student specializing in journalism, he was required to produce, direct, or act in a class movie project as a prerequisite for graduation. This experience ignited his love for film production and inspired him to pursue it as a career.
With his academic background in mass communication and his newfound passion for film, Douglas is well-equipped to tell captivating stories through the power of visual media. He is eager to take on new challenges in the film industry and bring his unique perspective to the table.
Byaruhanga and his classmates were faced with a daunting task when they were tasked with creating a group movie project. The project required a lot of time, effort, and resources, which put a strain on everyone involved. Despite the challenges, the team was determined to produce a high-quality film that would showcase their talents and creativity.
“We were operating on a zero to no budget, which led to a lot of improvisation in the production of cookies and sweets,” said Byaruhanga.
To facilitate the production process, the team had to come up with innovative ways to raise funds. They decided that every member of the class would contribute Ugx 2,000 to purchase water for the actors.
Mercy Akankwatsa was charged with the responsibility of collecting the money from her fellow classmate. She tried to persuade the classmate to contribute, but they didn’t respond to her.
“I tried calling each member of the class and sending messages in our class WhatsApp group, but only a handful of the class contributed to the cause,” said Akankwatsa.
Therefore, Byaruhanga and the production team had to find ways of producing the movie by cutting their production budget or improvising in order to finish the movie class project. “We operated on zero to no budget at all, which led to a lot of noticeable improvisation,” said Byaruhunga.
At the first movie screening at Alliance Française Kampala, a team from the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC), led by Leonard Amanya, who is in charge of film at UCC, announced government funding for organized filmmaking groups. This exciting news demonstrates the government’s commitment to supporting the growth of the film industry in Uganda and will undoubtedly inspire filmmakers to create more quality content.
“We have realized that people are struggling with funding; therefore, we have come up with a project dubbed “Content Development Fund” in order to support the filmmakers,” said Amanya.
He disclosed that the fund is worth Ugx 500 million and is at the disposal of film creators in the country. He went on to encourage the filmmakers to apply for this money because it is meant for the film industry in Uganda.
He highlighted the fact that to access the funds, they must present a synopsis of their movie project, a list of the equipment, and even some members of the team.
“We give money to only Ugandans, so you should not have foreigners on your production team in order to promote Uganda’s tourism aspects,” added Amanya.
However, he cautioned the young people against luxurious acting in film production. He implored the young people to give their all while acting because they stand a chance to be rewarded with medals and some money in the form of appreciation.
Boston Misaanvu, a former film producer, appreciated the young people who have taken the initiative to produce a movie. He encouraged the enthusiastic young filmmakers to keep making movies because that is the only way to amplify their talents.
“You produce movies to sell Uganda, show what Uganda has to offer to the world, and also produce movies to show your talent to the world,” said Misaanvu.
Despite all the struggles of the filmmakers, the students were able to produce a good movie to watch with a great message for young people. The movie was about students at a university involved in drag abuse.
Jude Kaddu’s performance in the movie was outstanding, receiving praise for his exceptional portrayal of his character. Despite his excellent acting skills, the film suffered from lighting issues in some scenes featuring “Cookies and Sweets.” Nevertheless, Kaadu’s performance shone through, capturing the audience’s attention with his engaging and compelling performance.