The saying, ‘hard work pays,’ is the true definition of filmmaker, Jonas Munyaneza. The 29-year-old recollects developing a passion for filmmaking at a tender age – while in primary school – every time he watched a movie. READ ALSO: Why local films struggle for public screening He didn’t just want to produce movies just for the sake, but to spread messages that would impact society – those that educate and inform to influence positive change. Growing up in a humble family background and being the firstborn out of eight children, he notes, there wasn’t sufficient money to cater for everyone. Munyaneza started paying his school fees from senior two using the little earnings from part-time jobs such as roasting and selling meat as well as carrying heavy loads of sand at construction sites. After senior six, he did not have enough money to pay for his university fees. But nor did he throw a pity party. “The gigs paid me just peanuts, which I started saving. In 2017, I approached one of my friends who was skilled in filmmaking to offer me basic knowledge in the field, which he did. “I visited shooting sets to gain the artistry of acting, holding the camera, designing sets, searching for the best camera angle, and light and so forth.” At the time, the now up-and-coming filmmaker continued with his side hustle, laboring at construction sites in and around Kigali, where he earned Rwf 2,000 per day. This, he said, didn’t deter him from saving every little penny that he could. He denied himself some basic needs so that he could afford to make his first movie. In 2020, Munyaneza founded his first film company, The Mirror, and he was also able to release his first movie, ‘Urwakibyeyi Ruganza Gito.’ The movie highlights the improper parenting habits of mothers mistreating their children, and how to curb the vice. “I spent Rwf 200,000 on the movie. I borrowed some cameras and other equipment from colleagues and I didn’t pay actors and actresses as we negotiated to give them meals while on set. They really understood my situation.” He spent some of the money on costumes and set locations. Once one has a creative mindset, money can’t be a limiting factor to fulfilling their dreams.” A year later, he pursued a four-months course in filmmaking and video production at Kigali Special Pictures (KSP), a production company that trains cinema professionals. Since he had already written his second movie script, he raised funds from friends to support its production. His second movie, Honey Without Bees, released in 2021 portrays the ability one could have beyond their physical disability. It cost him Rwf 500,000 to make the movie. It took three months to complete the movie because he did most of the tasks, like scriptwriting, directing, and producing, single-handedly. Munyaneza took on more tasks himself because he could not afford to hire many people. Soon after, he embarked on the journey of creating a series, Mr Kali, whose every episode has a unique storyline. There are episodes on drug abuse, human trafficking, laziness, and much more. So far, he has produced eight episodes. Although he got someone to fund his most recent series, buy some more equipment, Munyaneza is still limited by lack of enough money. It is tough Starting a company with less expertise challenged him since he couldn’t produce high-quality work, especially in his first movie. “It is tough. I am unable to afford professional actors for now but I am hopeful. Amateurs take a long time to train, and at times, don’t exhibit their movie characters as they should. Worse still, starting up with no idea about copyrights, he shared his movies with YouTubers who released them without paying him. “Rwandans haven’t fully embraced local movies and most of them prefer Hollywood movies, and those that don’t speak English, buy interpreted ones. The lack of support from our very own community is one of the reasons the local movie industry is still dormant.” “It’s been difficult gaining financial support because I am not well established yet and don’t have enough followers on YouTube. Investors want to invest in movies that they are sure will acquire profits.” Nonetheless, Munyaneza who now has a YouTube channel called Nyakaliro TV is not deterred. He envisages starting a training centre where he will equip actors with professional acting skills, and assist them to get jobs within east Africa. He has a number of projects in the pipeline. “It is high time I earned from my efforts,” he said, noting that he is eager to start advertising and selling his yet-to-be-released projects.