Meet Arnold Mugisha, one of Rwanda’s top video producers

Arnold Mugisha (left) and his team go through a video at the set. /Courtesy photos.

We all have all those oldies that we love, ones we can still sing along from the start to the end. There are songs like, ‘Amaso ku maso’ by The Ben, ‘Si inzika’ by Dream Boys, ‘Igikomere’ by Faysal, ‘Mfashe inanga’ by Simon Kabera— ‘Ikinini’ by Kitoko and Spax, and more that emerged from around 2008. 

There is also 26 Iron Pictures or Arnold Films, the same label, that is responsible for producing all those cool tracks. But how many of us know the guy behind these mega hits? Well, The New Times does.

Arnold Mugisha, 32, is the firstborn in the family of eight children. Some of his siblings are also prominent video producers in Rwanda. 

Mugisha started learning about video production when he was still in his fifth year of high school. 

When he was a youngster, Mugisha used to write plays and comedy scripts. He would hold cinemas and the entry fee was chew gum leaflets that had soccer players’ pictures. He was also a drummer, and karate master in his class in high school, as he would teach his fellow students.

‬The 32-year-old is‭ ‬arguably one of the best music producers in Rwanda‭. ‬‭/‬Courtesy photos‭‬

When he joined secondary, he had two main purposes; ‘to study and eat’. But he also trained the girls’ Basketball team, where some of his trainees are now professional big stars.

Mugisha learnt of the Internet in 2000, when he was finishing his primary school studies. He learnt how to open an e-mail account, how to visit sites, and then decided to learn more of it.

When he was in senior five, he learnt that there is more than websites on the Internet, like audio and video production.

“I remember the first software that inspired me. It came with what was called ‘windows movie maker’. I entered my names and the text bounced. I then thought that I got it.”

“I then developed interest in visual production, and started editing videos I downloaded. I would change the audio and insert text, which I started to give to people, like DJ Bob, DJ Kay.”

In 2008, he was confident enough to start a career in production. He started with a crew called Red G, where the famous Diplomat and other hip-hop stars used to sing, in their song ‘Birashoboka’. His then specialty was ‘special effects’.

 ‬Mugisha shoots a music video‭.‬‭/‬Courtesy photos‭

After his first video, he met Alexis Muyoboke, who was then managing Tom Close. They then collaborated on the project called-‘Sinari nkuzi’, featuring The Ben. The effects that thrilled the audience of their music then were falling rocks, reflection of people on water, and the ring that Tom close throws, among others.

He later teamed with The Ben on ‘Amaso ku maso’, ‘Uzaba uza’ that he featured Roger, and more.

Mugisha co-produced a music show on RTV called, ‘The Beat’, and later became an event coordinator. He coordinated a number of album launches including ‘Isaha ya cyenda’ of Mani-Martin, ‘Isaha ya munani’ of K8 Kavuyo, ‘Amayobera’ of Meddy and ‘Amahirwe ya mbere’ of The Ben (The Ben didn’t get a chance to sing in his own concert because it was cut off by the Police before he could sing).

“I coordinated album launches that would be ranked in the top five that ever took place in Rwanda”.

After coordinating events, Mugisha went to Uganda for an internship at Fenon Records for around four months.

He came back with new ambition— and worked with several artistes like Dream Boys on their song ‘si inzika’, Mani Martin on ‘ideni’, Ganzo on ‘Karumuna kanjye’ and ‘ndi umunyarwanda’, and more.

Mugisha, other than producing videos, he sometimes directed them, was the cameraman, designed the costumes and he would even lend his best clothes to some artists, just in case they needed that kind of help, all at once. He even shot some of the videos from his room at his parents’.

“I used to be a model back in 2005. So, I was connected to Dady de Maximo, a Rwandan prominent fashion designer and model. If I wanted to borrow some of his designs for the artistes, he would gladly lend it to me.

“When I first thought of video production as a career, I wanted to make films. But then I found it very hard, and decided to make music videos,” he recalls.

The first camera he used was his friends’, and he used it ‘for a very long time’ that his parents gave him money for what then was his first equipment as a producer. “I then bought a camera, laptop, and rented a studio for myself.”

He thinks his parents’ support not only benefited him, but the artists too, because sometimes he would make them videos for free, one of the reasons being that his then clients were more of friends to him.

“If I showed you my clothes in videos I made, you would laugh so hard, because we (video producers) want the video to be great. So, it is a win-win. And some artistes are more of friends than artistes.”

One of Arnold Films then masterpieces until now, was ‘Inshuti’, by Knowless and Danny Nanone.

“In 2015, paused a bit on making music videos. I had done so much, I also had taught what I had to some people. I decided to try something else, and that was documentaries.”

Mugisha then worked for Igihe, and a couple of NGO’s before he partnered with Adolphe Banza, a prominent cartoonist on various projects.

Currently, he is working under subcontracts with different companies, and intends to produce more music videos in the near future.

His message to the youth is to use what they have effectively. “You don’t need miracles to know how to make things.”

“The youth have cameras in their hands, their smart phones. They also have computers in that phone, because you can film, edit and upload with it. What matters now is content”.

Mugisha once recorded his friend from the internet café. “He was under the chair, and I would say ‘keep it low,” he said as he was saying that this generation is lucky.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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