Professional capacity missing in film industry

Despite Malawi having an association of film makers, there have been very few productions over the recent years. The film industry itself refuses to grow. In this conversation with Film Association of Malawi (Fama) president, Ezaius Mkandawire, our staff writer AYAMI MKWANDA speaks to him on a number of related issues.

Mkandawire: The film industry has a number of challenges hindering its growth

: Do we have a film industry in Malawi?

A

: Malawi has what we can call a budding film industry. We have an industry that is still a baby.  The associations are just some of the important stakeholders that can help improve the industry. An industry or a motion picture industry comprises the technological and commercial as well as social institutions of film-making. These, for example, are film companies, film studios and film festivals, among others.  To complete the value chain is film pre-production, production and post-production.

 

Q

: Is Mollywood the name of Malawi’s film industry?

A

: Some people have chosen to call the developing film industry in Malawi Mollywood, whatever that means. It is not for one person or the association to decide what this film industry should be called. I personally do not have a problem with people calling the country’s film industry Mollywood.

 

Q

: The coming of more television stations would help film producers showcase their work. However, we do not see more locally made films. Why is that the case?

A

: The making of films, unfortunately, does not depend of the multiplicity of television stations. These television stations to an extent have exploited the growing industry by charging very exorbitant fees in order for them to broadcast films that are made in Malawi.  More television stations in the country have not been able to open up to production houses to provide content. When these television stations start to open up channels of distribution for film makers then we will say that the television stations are complementary.

 

Q

: Multi Choice introduced Zambezi Magic on DStv. To what extent have Malawians exploited this opportunity?

A

: Some film makers have been able to have their projects on Zambezi. However, it has to be noticed that the fewer numbers are representative of how big or small the industry is. Of which right now I would say that the industry, being in its infancy stage, there cannot be a lot of films produced by Malawians showing on Zambezi Magic.

 

Q

: What are the challenges facing the film industry in Malawi in terms of marketing, quality of production, technical knowledge, directors and actors?

A

: We do not have spaces of distribution in the country like most developing industries in the world do. Malawi only has a single film festival that is struggling for money to have a meaningful impact. The country also has very few cinemas. Tailor- made spaces to market films are non-existent and this is hampering the growth of the industry.

 

Q

: Can you elaborate further?

A

: Malawi still has an issue with low capacity in terms of professional skills that are associated with films. The same is also true about the small number of film productions that is made so far. These films are exhibiting low levels of experience on the part of directors, actors and producers. This shows there is little technical knowledge on film productions. The directors and producers have little knowledge. The script writers, too, produce poor materials which make bad movies in the end.

 

Q

: What about the actors?

A

: Another aspect is the actor. I cannot say that Malawi lacks talented actors but it’s a matter of not having proper training in the field. Many actors fail to interpret their character roles. This is evident in many films that are produced locally.

 

Q

: How much does Malawi stand to benefit from the industry in terms of economy and entertainment, if the film industry was vibrant?

A

: It is a known fact that the industry encompasses more art disciplines than types of art. That means that the film industry can support a large base of employable personnel as well as other related businesses. These would be hotels, car rentals, security firms, photography, cinematography, production, music, script-writing, acting, and many others.

 

Q

: How does Fama gauge acceptability of films locally and internationally?

A

: We have seen Malawian films get international recognition. That is a clear testimony of the quality of the local films. We have also seen how many people are currently accessing local films. The country’s television stations are also showing some very popular local television series like Choices on the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).

 

Q

: Is support from the corporate world the answer to lack of funding? Will that not compromise some aspects of the industry?

A

: The improvement of the local industry cannot depend on one individual neither can it depend on the government alone. The industry should thrive well when more players are supporting the industry.  Questions of integrity can only be answered when there is a finished product and they are merely ethical and not necessarily financial. n

 

Share This Post