Emmanuel Nturanyenabo, the managing director of Teebah Film Village, a company that deals with videography and photography in Kimironko, enlightens us on the condition of the film industry in Rwanda, his urge to employ youths, and tips on what you need to start your own film company.
He had a chat about this and more with Sunday Magazine’s Joan Mbabazi.
Tell us about your journey into the film industry.
I treasured photography and videography since I was little, though I had no idea about the whole process of shooting; this impelled me to pursue Filmmaking courses at Kwetu Film Institute, Africa Digital Media Academy (ADMA), Almond Tree Films and Maisha Film Lab in order to acquire the expertise.
Since Rwanda is faced with poverty, unemployment, and family conflicts following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, I wanted to give different organisations a simple and powerful tool to share their work and attract new partners by tackling these problems.
In 2012, I became a film producer although my company started officially last year. I started solo, but after some months the work load was too much for me, so I hired another three employees.
The genesis was a bit tricky since I had a simple camera and one laptop where I installed editing apps; this was slow as it wasn’t designed for editing. After ten months, I was able to rent video and photography cameras.
Each video camera was rented for Rwf 20,000 to Rwf50,000 per day, while photo cameras were rented at Rwf10,000 to Rwf20,000 each per day, depending on the quality of photos the camera captured.
With time I was able to differentiate between cameras since I had used a variety of them, which guided me on the exact cameras to buy.
What exactly do you do?
We cover documentary films, events, fiction films, music video production, among other productions.
Most of our movies center on character, heroism, and history which strengthen the Rwanda society. My company helps Rwandan NGOs and social enterprises gain partners overseas; and positively impacting the economy.
We mainly target organizations whose work would develop Rwanda; we consult them, produce powerful videos, and ultimately showcase their work to the world through storytelling. In doing this, we help these organizations grow and find new partners.
Tell us some of the movies you have produced so far.
I directed IKOROSI TV pilot, Stereotypes, Wooden pillow, Bonds, Inheritance short movies. I also worked as a sound-person for Female Fighter, and Little Skater. I have made several documentary films for clients like Christian Action for Reconciliation and Social Assistance (CARSA), Rural Development Initiative (RDI), Business Development Center (BDC Rwanda), Artists and wedding couples.
What are some of the challenges you encounter?
Our equipment are expensive and yet some of our clients want cheap products, which sometimes puts us in a position of rejecting them to shun working in losses.
We work tirelessly to produce high-quality images and nice sound by investing in quality.
The film industry in Rwanda is still virgin, so instead of watching and supporting our own movies, most people prefer watching international movies, and this hinders selling our movies worldwide which sometimes makes our work tricky.
We ought to pick a leaf from Nigerians; they watch their movies and this has improved their economy.
If we support our local films, Rwandan film producers will win many awards in international film festivals and our films will sell in many countries, it starts with us. So far, there are Rwandans who are making it on international level which proves that Rwandans are talented.
Nturanyenabo shoots a video. All photos / Joan Mbabazi.
The company generates income and offers jobs for the youths who are gifted, skilled and talented in storytelling, photography and videography. We also attract donors and a number of clients and partners increases daily.
Out of 150,000 Africans from 114 countries, we were among the lucky few selected for Tony Elumelu Fellowship in March; this fellowship gives advanced entrepreneurship trainings, mentorship, worldwide network with other entrepreneurs and capital of $5,000. This was a milestone for us.
What does it take to be a film or video expert?
For you to be a film producer, director or start a film industry, you have to be skilled; this is art and a creative industry, therefore you need to be a creative artist.
You need to choose what you want to major in: whether documentary, fiction or docu-fiction (this combines the two). You can also operate cameras - this requires sound design, lighting, directing. Understand what film is and who are the players in the industry, as this will give you a position in the film industry.
For those who want to start a company, know your target market and ask yourself these questions: what is the problem you are solving, and whom you are solving them for? How much do you want to charge your customers and why? Will your target customers be able to afford your products?
You don’t need equipment to start a company, if you have the skills and expertise, you can rent the equipment as you save to buy the essential items. Alternatively, if you have money, buy a video camera and a video editing computer, then just start working.