Kampala, Thursday: As the three-day Uganda Film Expo winds up at the National Theatre today, it is worth noting that it is the small time professions that have stolen the show.
A part of the ongoing Uganda Film Festival (UFF), the expo was organised to showcase various products and service providers within Uganda’s film industry, and has by far been one of the major highlights of the maiden festival.
But it was not the big production houses and corporate companies who spiced up the show. It was instead some of the usually sidelined bits of the filmmaking business which emerged as top exhibitors, promising a brighter future for such professions as makeup and costuming.
“Makeup can kill or make a movie, and that is why I have grounded myself well in this area,” film director Igg Nabwana, better known as Ramon, yesterday told guests as he paraded a set of human zombies he had created, complete with disfigured heads, bloodied faces and a devil’s horns.
As a filmmaker who has earned reputation for shooting no nonsense action films, including the unforgettable Who Killed Captain Alex, Ramon has learnt a thing or two about developing his own set of daredevil stunts which he also exhibited.
“The reason why most Ugandans can’t make action films is because they can’t execute professional stunts, which my team and I have developed in plenty,” Ramon said, showcasing his other creation – a self-made jib apparatus that cost him less than Shs500, 000 to develop, compared to the Shs 2m for a brand new one.
Next to Ramon’s stall was Ssedisha Film Productions Ltd, another local production house with top class makeup skills, mainly for the horror genre. One of the company models, Brian Kakande, looked like his eye had been gouged and had a 1ft crew driver stabbed through his heart – a terrifying sight to behold.
The fashion designing industry also had something to offer, with over five costuming firms displaying a range of eye-catching outfits, only seen on international fashion runways and epic Hollywood films.
“I have decided to venture into costuming for film because I believe it is the one untapped area in Uganda. I am always appalled whenever I watch a character with an inappropriate costume,” said Faridha Nassanga Kalungi, CEO Tahusi Costume House.
A film enthusiast and lecturer of fashion at Mutesa Royal University, Kalungi no doubt has a bag of experience and skills to transform Ugawood with her captivating costumes. She nonetheless decries some challenges.
“Majority of Ugandan filmmakers do not appreciate our role because they are not well informed about our relevancy towards storyline development. We also use expensive material,” Kalungi said, thanking Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the festival’s organizers, for giving her an opportunity to market her products.
Records Fashion, a Katwe-based fashion school, also left a mark at the expo by showcasing a range of modern stylish outfits that could make the likes of The Hostel miniseries look more catchy and authentic.
“Film producers should always reserve a budget for costuming because it is the soul of the movie. The cast and crew also need to be specially dressed film premiere sessions,” said Sylvia Nalwoga, the institution’s academic registrar.
The expo’s coordinator and UCC’s Manager of Consumer Affairs, Ibrahim Bbossa said the total number of 82 exhibitors was carefully chosen putting into consideration each one’s relevance to the development of Uganda’s film industry.
By press time, over 1,500 guests had visited the expo where government organs, corporate companies, distribution firms and media houses among other companies also put up a great show.
Meanwhile, tensions are high as the clock away towards tomorrow’s awards night at Serena Hotel. A total of 23 movies – including features, animations, documentaries and short films – are vying for eight awards where winners will walk away with hefty cash rewards, gongs and fully-paid trips to international film festivals. Access to the glamorous ceremony is strictly by invite.