Most filmmakers are still learning

The film industry has made some strides over the years. Some filmmakers have received continental and global acclaim because of their outstanding work. In this interview, our reporter BRIAN ITAI talks to president of Film Association of Malawi (Fama) Ezius Mkandawire to shed more light on current developments in the industry.

Mkandawire: There is lack of requisite skills on the part of filmmakers

Q

: How would you describe the local film industry at the moment?

A

: The film industry is making big strides compared to any time in the history of the country.  Our products have represented the country well during international fora. We have seen more films from Malawi winning awards internationally. We have seen some film projects on platforms such as digital satellite television [DStv]. The country has also witnessed the growth of the television industry which has been a catalyst for development in the film sector.

 

Q

: Lately, we have seen a number of local actors and filmmakers coming on the market with their productions. How would you describe the quantity and quality of the work?

A

: While it is interesting that we have more productions at moment but the country has not succeeded in making exceptionally better quality films which can stand out on international platforms.  Most of our filmmakers are still learning the ropes. This has an impact on the quality of films produced.

That is why Fama is working with Multichoice Malawi in support of training programmes that can uplift the burgeoning film industry.

 

Q

: What are some of the challenges stifling the industry?

A

: There is indeed a great enthusiasm as well as potential among filmmakers in the country. The biggest impediment to the growth of the industry is lack of requisite skills on the part of film makers in the country. Lack of money and other resources are other problems that are affecting the growth of the sector, but this is a factor that cuts across all sectors of art.

 

Q

: You have often complained about lack of support from both government and the private sector. Don’t you think, it is time you explore other means of sourcing funding? 

A

: The alternative to funding from government and private media is something that is called crowd funding. It is not new in other countries, but certainly a few people know about it. This is where a producer has an idea which is then sold to the people through online means or any other ways. The idea is then supported in that way. I am sure it can be done.  We have seen people fundraising for great causes in this way

 

Q

: How would you describe the response Malawians accord local film productions that come on the market?

A

: The response has been good. But I expected more considering that we still have a lot to say on the film sector.  But clearly, this is also food for thought for filmmakers. They need to come up with ideas that can engage the public and influence them to buy.

 

Q

: How do you look at the level and depth of the knowledge that our local filmmakers and actors possess?

A

: The level of expertise and the depth of knowledge is indeed a limiting factor. To an extent a majority of people involved in film making are only being driven by passion not necessarily the professional know-how. Very few are making attempts to attain the professional qualifications in various film attributes. This is unfortunate.

 

Q

: What is your assessment of the outlet channels for the local productions?

A

: The country lacks the enabling infrastructure to support distribution. Other than the DVDs, which are an outgoing mode of distribution, the country does not have functional cinemas. The television industry has been quite exploitative to deal with too. n

 

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