The inaugural Uganda Filmmakers Networking Day was launched in December 2016. Born to boost the market, it will continue to be an annual event that brings the Ugandan film fraternity together. The first event was dubbed The Filmmakers Day of Fun in the Jungle where a short was shot and a means to empower an industry was formed.
Screen Africa spoke to organiser, actor, writer, director and producer Mutebi Andrew Elvis. This versatile filmmaker is putting the Ugandan Film industry into the spotlight. In 2014, Elvis founded Kiss Films Africa with the aim of supplying local Ugandan film content. In 2016 he was selected to attend the Maisha Doen Stichting screenwriter’s lab in Uganda. The lab is run by Mira Nair, the internationally acclaimed Indian director, screenwriter and producer who has put Uganda on the filmmakers map.
Elvis explains that filmmakers met at the Uganda National Theatre, from there they went to Roots Resort where they were afforded a day of film screenings, adventure activities and a competition where someone won three editions of the Harry Potter Collection. Filmmakers then spent the night in tents and cottages. “All departments of film including actors, directors, scriptwriters, editors, production managers, make-up artists, DOPs, distributors, and sound recordists were present,” says Elvis.
Late in the night, two screenwriters Mugabirwe Rogers Matelja and Lydia Nanyanzi came up with the idea for a short experimental film which they had to shoot before they headed to the capital Kampala on the morning of 18 December. “The experimental short Footpath was filmed using an iPhone 6S and nothing else and is credited to around 12 filmmakers who gave in kind craftsmanship,” explains Elvis.
He says the event is for filmmakers to come up with ways of working together and increase the number of film projects. “The idea is to bring various stakeholders in the Ugandan Film industry under one roof in a conducive relaxed atmosphere and map out a plan to increase on productivity as well as learn from each other,” says Elvis. “Ugandan filmmakers lacked an event on the social calendar that brings them together to discuss the key factors affecting the industry, as well as energise and discuss possible solutions in order to overcome them in the new year,” he explains. Claiming that the issues they face are “Issues of distribution, co-productions, and low levels of local film content on local televisions, and mapping out plans to access government funds and logistical facilitation to filmmakers.”
In 2017 the networking event will be held in the last week of November. It is a nonprofit event that Elvis believes will have a significant boost for the local film industry but says sponsorship is hard to come by and there is need to raise funds to facilitate it.
“The fruits of the event where the shooting of a short film, which is to be turned into a low budget feature film,” says Elvis. They already have a follow up plan to see that the feature is produced before the year ends and there will be a new film project at the next event. They are currently developing a website and approaching sponsors for it. The 2017 event will include an extra day for screening of local film content to the general public.