UCU student Kabogozza takes advantage of adversity to start producing films

By Pauline Luba
What originally seemed an adversity has turned out to be a blessing for Brian Kabogozza, a third-year student of Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Communication. Kabogozza did not have the tuition for his final year studies at Uganda Christian University (UCU). As such he asked the university if he could sit out studies in 2022.

It was during that dead year that Kabogozza developed the idea of creating a short film about the lives of students at UCU. However, when he mentioned his idea to some people, many did not consider him serious, he said.

 Brian Kabogozza and his counterparts have been funding the production of their films.
Brian Kabogozza and his counterparts have been funding the production of their films.

Nevertheless, he persevered. It took him time and effort to convince students that his idea was worthwhile, persuading some to take part in the movie project. On September 16, 2022, Kabogozza’s first movie, the 11-minute-long My Degreepremiered in UCU’s Nkoyoyo Hall. At that function, Kabogozza and his crew promised another production not long after. On February 24 this year, the team released another film, this time named My Background. And they are not about to rest. The production of their third movie is already underway.

My Background, which is a sequel to My Degree, is about how one of the protagonists negotiates an extremely poor background and drunkard father to make it to becoming a student at a university. “I see myself in these characters,” said Kabogoza, who is looking forward to resuming his studies in September.

To illustrate the extent of the quality of Kabogozza’s work, at 26 minutes, My Background is more than twice as long as My Degree. It features better camera quality, a stronger plot line, and the shooting has been done at more locations. The film took three days and four nights to shoot in a rural setting, and the number of actors was higher than it was for My Degree. This time around, the team took advantage of the experience they had garnered from the production of My Degree. However, they met new challenges, such as higher costs with limited resources and uncertain weather conditions. Kabogozza and his counterparts funded the production of both My Degree and My Background movies. The team used sound recorders from UCU’s School of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMC).

My Degree was recently nominated for Best Student Film at  the Ikon awards, a local film and television awards in Uganda. This category celebrates outstanding college or university film makers. Though Kabogozza and company did not take home the award, the nomination cemented the belief that their works were being noticed.

Kabogozza has always had a knack for entertainment. Even while in primary school at Cornerstone Junior School Mukono and at Namilyango College for O’level and Makerere College School for A’level, he was part of the music, dance and drama groups. 

Producer Emma Ilungole (foreground) directing the camera man with Kabogoza (on Emma’s left) during production.
Producer Emma Ilungole (foreground) directing the camera man with Kabogoza (on Emma’s left) during production.

Kabogozza expresses appreciation to UCU students Emma Ilungole, Conrad Galdino, Richard Sekitoleko, Bill Dan Borodi, Kefa Ssenoga and Agatha Nema, and alum Douglas Byaruhanga as people he has worked with to produce the films. Byaruhanga has directed a number of student films and has extensive  production work experience.

“What I love about UCU students is that their passion comes before their love for money,” Kabogozza said, adding: “It is because of that that we were able to produce the films.”

Despite what Kabogozza faced when they were just starting the production of their first short film – unwillingness by the students to participate as protagonists – this time round, as they begin the production process for their third film, Kabogozza says they are getting requests of participation from not just UCU students, but also those from other universities. 

Movies are just one of the many practical projects within the School of JMC. 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.