Though the Malawian film industry is not as developed as in other countries, there is a lot of young talent.
While the industry continues to struggle due to, among others, finances and lack of equipment, there are people who are making progress such as Khama Mbaula.
The 25-year-old filmmaker runs a company called Afritix Pictures and he says the inspiration to join the industry came from his friend.
“I used to do hip-hop music at first before starting to shoot videos. So, it happened that we shot a music video and I was there when the editor was starting to edit.
“After this incident, I went to see a friend and found an editing programme called Windows movie maker on his computer. I tried doing what I had seen from the editor and from there the passion grew until I decided to take it up officially as a career,” he says.
Apart from being a filmmaker, Mbaula is also a cinematographer, script writer, photographer and director of photography.
“I can say I am a self-taught filmmaker. However, I have some formal training in television production. Because of the reason that there are other established filmmakers, there is need for one to prove oneself that they have style. As such, I have attended several trainings on how to shoot, direct and write a script,” says Mbaula.
As he progresses into the future, he observes that lack of equipment remains one of the biggest challenges facing the Malawian film industry. He adds that this, in a way, is worsened because people are unwilling to spend more on video production.
“People don’t want to pay for the good quality of work you have done for them. As such, it becomes hard for filmmakers to progress and get new equipment,” adds Mbaula.
He therefore suggests that there is need for filmmakers to put in much effort and join hands with actors to help Malawi shine like Nigeria and Ghana which are currently dominating the African film industry.
“My vision is to see this happen. I want to see Malawi getting awards at international events and this can happen only if we put in more effort. I always imagine what a great thing it could have been if the Malawian inspired Hollywood film The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind was shot by a Malawian film producer,” says Mbaula.
On his career since 2011, he states that it was not easy to be where he is as people did not believe in his works at first.
“Even now, the market is still adjusting to take videography and photography professions seriously,” Mbaula states.
However, since he started his career in filmmaking, Mbaula has been decorated with various awards.
For instance, Fish, one of the short films he produced won several awards at the Lilongwe Short Film Festival last year.
Fish also won the short film award at this year’s National School Youths Arts Festival (Nasfest) in February.
So far, apart from producing Fish, Mbaula has produced films such as Letters from the Future and Silent Angel.
“Currently, I am about to resume the production of Moyo Wathu–an entertainment Chichewa drama series with English subtitles. I am also looking at the possibility of shooting two short films before making a feature,” says Mbaula.
Describing Mbaula’s work ethic, one of the actors in Moyo Wathu Kelvin Ngoma describes him as ‘exceptional’.
“Most filmmakers produce a film for the sake of producing it or just because they have a camera. However, Mbaula is an enthusiast who is passionate about filmmaking.
“He works hard to bring out the best even if it means spending a lot of time on the thing,” said Ngoma who is also one of actors in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. n