Filmmaking in Africa

Posted on September 5, 2015 12:01 am

Kenya’s Javelin sensation Julius Yego who won the gold medal for Javelin in the World Athletic championship in Beijing last week has proved that no need for a big budget to become a sensation on YouTube. Yego taught himself how to throw javelin using YouTube.Yego is a fascinating dude. His performance at Commonwealth games in Scotland last year was on how far he has come since he started using YouTube channels to learn the sports.Julius Yego has demonstrated how ­converged communications advance the digital sports for all those aspiring to be sportsmen and women.His win in Beijing is a a result of convergence and digital Inclusion. Yego, who primarily watches ­Javelin videos on a variety of techniques has given aspiring athletes tips on how to get started on making videos.“Just go to the YouTube page and click on the sign up button and learn any sport including football. Yego who says that to this day he still isn’t a technology-savvy YouTuber, his first video was made using a laptop’s webcam although I cannot independently verify that. Since teaming up with Orange Telkom in their commercials, however, his videos have been ­getting better not just in terms of script but from a technical ­standpoint as well. Yego was quoted by a Scottish newspaper after he won commonwealth gold medal in Javelin saying that the first ­misconception that most people have when starting their own video channel is that they need a lot of expensive equipment like microphones and studio lights.Not so, Yego said, as one of the early videos he made was filmed without the ­benefit of sound isolating ­microphones.

Yego worked around the problem by not using any of the audio ­captured by the camera, and instead opted to use only voice over and music, thus eliminating the problem.“ Having a good audio system is important but you can work with what you have. All you need is your brain. Don’t try to do a shot with heavy visual effects on the first try,” Yego added. In fact, it wasn’t until two years ago that his management team invested in studio lighting for videos before this all videos were shot using natural lighting.What I can learn from the Kenyan sensational Javelin athlete is that the potential for YouTube filmmakers in Africa is to start doing videos of what they love, whether it’s about tech, sports like Yego, food, ­movies or makeup to mention but a few. So what drives people to make ­videos? Me thinks the forte is in complaining about things and many of videos are essentially rants about all kinds of topics that irk people on a daily basis.However, YouTubers should not forget that no matter the topic it must be something that their target audience can relate to. If it’s for sports consumption like Yego, it must be something that individual sport fans can identify with.Consistency is also important as Yego has proved. As film maker, one need to know how many videos one can make and upload in a month.There is no doubt getting YouTube videos up on a regular schedule helps to build an audience much like a ­regular TV series.

A friend of mine who owns a cinematic production house and lectures on film and filmmaking at an Australian University in Melbourne, shared with me tips three days ago on how to work around having little to no budget for equipment.The easy going lecturers who is in his late 30s says apart from starting with a strong script, one should make sure that production values are kept up even on a shoestring budget. For example, if the script calls for an young person, one should always get a person of the appropriate age instead of trying to fake it by dressing up a young person to look young. Nothing is more jarring in African films for the audience than having the illusion shattered by taking shortcuts.African filmmakers should look at locations with fresh eyes.They should also not look at problems as problems, but rather as challenges to be ­overcome. I also saw an example of Nigerian films where the production team did not have a vehicle rig to attach a camera to film actors in a moving vehicle. The problem in a films that was being shot in outskirts of Abuja was overcome by having people from the area rock the vehicle to ­simulate motion and using ­smartphone flash to mimic ­street lamps flashing on the actors’ faces as the car “moves”.Africa film industry can indeed flourish with frugal film making processes.

Contador Harrison