By Asenath Were and Vanessa Namukwaya
Uganda Christian University (UCU) students of Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Communication have turned their classroom knowledge into action by producing a short film about university life. The 11-minute film, named My Degree, with a cast of seven students, centers on the dangers of pride at the university.
In the movie, Alexa, a final-year student is seeking an extra mark, to push her score from 49% to 50%. It is that one mark that is standing between Alexa and her graduation. The solution for her challenge lies with the head of department.
At the department, Alexa discovers that there is a new person in the portfolio, someone she had never met. However, as she joins the queue to the office of the head of department, the office bearer arrives. Alexa told the head of department off, thinking she was one of the students, and reminding her that it was only proper that she joins the queue from the back if she wanted to meet the head of department.
The head of department eventually finds her way into her office. When Alexa and the head of department finally met in the latter’s office, the former presented her request for an additional mark so she could be able to graduate. The head of department was clear in her response: “One mark is added to students who have been participating in class and are virtuous throughout the years. Your report does not show that.”
Brian Kaboggoza, a third-year student of Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Communication, who directed the movie, said the film’s theme is about students “failing in life because of pride and disrespect.” It does not cost anyone anything to respect others because you may despise someone who will rescue you one day,” he added.
The movie was a work in progress from June 2022 to its September 16, 2022, premiere at UCU’s Nkoyoyo Hall, according to Kaboggoza, who said the My Degree film “is a dream come true for me because I thought I needed to start my career right now since the opportunities and the equipment are available.”
Kabogozza believes that the movie will not only market the School of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMC), but also the university, since it has the potential to attract students who are interested in making films.
Kaboggoza encouraged his student colleagues not to wait for graduation to start putting classroom knowledge into practice. He said, “Anyone passionate about film making should start right now because there is opportunity to learn and get experience.”
The movie producer, Emmanuel Ilungole, is a third-year student. He said the time he spent on producing the movie helped him and his colleagues gain experience in audio balancing and teamwork. “It was the first time I was producing a movie, and the experience taught me that hard work pays.”
The lead actress, Alexa, whose real name is Deborah Talemwa, is a second-year student. She said she joined the cast because she saw it as a learning opportunity for the film crew, but also as an avenue through which they could pass a message to fellow students about the consequences of their actions.
John Semakula, the head of the Department of Undergraduate Studies at the School of JMC, said the project consolidates the school’s position as a leading practical journalism training institution in Uganda.
“We pride ourselves in equipping students with practical skills in line with our curriculum that is heavily practical and, therefore, students’ projects, such as My Degree, make us feel proud that our efforts of skilling them have yielded positive results,” Semakula said.
“Most of the work in this project was student-led,” he added. “The school’s main contribution was skilling and encouraging the students, plus providing the equipment.”
Kaboggoza said they have plans to produce more episodes concentrating on the life of a campus student. He, therefore, called upon all those able and willing to finance their projects.
The movie is just one of the many practical projects that the School of JMC is engaged in. The students also produce a weekly TV news bulletin through the online channel The UCU Focus, podcasts and multimedia stories on the Standard website. They previously produced a bi-monthly newspaper, The Standard, and assisted the Uganda Partners NGO with the July 2022 production of a newspaper called Ebenezer.