State of the Zimbabwe Film Industry

Film | By Rumbi Katedza, Film Director | 22 February 2014

The Zimbabwe film industry, is there movement, is there development do we still have a pulse?
Rumbi: We definitely have a pulse, just sitting here with you today we have seen people in the creative industry coming by, putting up their laptops and sharing ideas, thats very refreshing we come from a very different fil making tradition in Zimbabwe from making celluloid films on a cutting table and physically cutting films we have moved to the digital age like the rest of the world that opens more opportunities for more players to come into the industry and to make more films. We are not quite there yet. We need more training and distribution networks but thats not to say there is not a lot simmering underneath We have young people coming home after studying film abroad  and bringing new ideas, exciting new things and with the internet we have so many more options for reaching audiences, so the future is now, we just have to harness it and Zimbabwe will be exporting culture.

How have you moved along in the industry up to now.
Rumbi: When I came into the industry I was working in production. There were a lot of films be shot here, Hollywood films, European TV series there was loads of work go around so I found myself in the production department first as a production assistant, then as production coordinator then I started managing projects. I got a lot of experience from that working with international crews. The situation became a lot more precarious and we lost a lot of business to South Africa, New Zealand I moved to a more secure job and started doing distribution for a company called Media For Development Trust. They had produced films like Neria, More Time, Yellow Card, so I was going around Africa selling products, which proved to be really fun because it opened my eyes to how other people are consuming their images.

Titles you have mentioned above what were you responsible for each one
Rumbi: When I was working in production it was actually about the day to day running of the film set, the crew, he logistics and the money so you are responsible for everything, working under the producer who is the owner of the product and responsible for bringing in the money and making sure you are coming in on time. Liaising with people on set like the first assistant to the director and so on making sure everyone has what they need and when they need it including equipment, food and whatever. In distribution I was in touch with broadcasters, people who own cinemas so I got to see a different side of film. After distribution I moved into festival management later on I became the director of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival. So I was opened up into the festival circuit and interacting with film makers bringing them in for workshops and also enabling other people to make films under a project called the Short Film Project. So that culminated in me eventually starting up my own production company Mai Jai  Films where we produce independent content as well as commissioned work and now I write I, produce and I direct and I have been around a lot and you know what everybody’s job is on a set. I don’t take it for granted so I think it helps me better to understand the process when I make my own.

Is the film industry benefitting from moving to digital?
Rumbi: Most definitely, I think now that we don’t have to go the older way which was far more expensive, far more labour intensive, you needed many more people to be able to achieve a very small thing. Now you can do it with a smaller crew as long as you have the technical know how, even capturing data, making sure it is captured and saved properly, that is a huge issue, not everybody can do it properly moving into the digital age we have managed to jump from one stage to another of course in Europe and America they went through years to get from celluloid to digital we didn’t wait to climb the ladder we just jumped to the top

What made you get into the film industry
Rumbi: I chose quite early on that I wanted to be in the arts, I think I was 12 when I knew I wanted to be in this industry. I had gone through my stages I wanted to be a marine biologist, to be a choreographer at some point. I realised I would rather be behind the scenes telling people what to do and I figured I could do that. I also liked telling stories watching films from all over the world. So they used to affect me so I’m like really, I can affect people. Once I got to college, although I enrolled for an economics degree, I realised quite early on that it wasn’t for me, then I transferred to do communications and film

What do you have to say to budding artists, is it something you have to be born with or you can get in from school?
Rumbi: You can go to school for it, but what I do believe is that experience is king. With time the more experience you get you need more time to work on other peoples films to be exposed, the different ways to story telling. Some people are born with it, and even if you are born with it you need the requisite skills, you still have to work hard at it, whether its through going to an institution or school or being on set and working your way up the ladder over several years you still have to get that knowledge

Any parting words?
Rumbi: I would like a nice new T Shirt from POVO because I love your designs