By: JOSEPHINE MOSONGO
How long have you been a creative cinematographer?
It’s been six or seven years. There’s really no good college that teaches it locally, They usually teach mass communication and journalism.
What I do is creative cinematography rather than documentary-type filming, which is what local colleges teach. I was so interested in animation, music and video production that I enrolled for a college course when I was in Form Three using my mock
results. One week after the KCSE exams, I was in class in college; that’s how much I love this.
What attracted you to music videos?
I grew up in the ’90s and that was the best era for music videos; then they were more authentic. I kept asking myself how the West made theirs better than ours.
Why do you think artistes run to video directors abroad yet you guys are here?
It’s a showbiz issue. I’ve talked to a lot of artistes who have shot with South African directors. It’s the showbiz factor; they want to appear to have a lot of money to spend, yet most of them regret having gone there because with the amount of money they
spent on tickets and visas, they could have made a better video here. But I don’t take it personally.
Is it like saying Kenyan directors are not good enough?
No, there are some really good directors here. it’s the same question as, why would Kenyans go and throng the Carnivore to see a Nigerian artiste perform but not when a local artiste who does good music is performing? But you have to give them a reason to come to you. Yes, it’s tricky, and I don’t know whether it’s a Kenyan thing. If a South African artiste like AKA were to go to Nigeria, they would throng the place. I don’t know, it’s complicated.
Which music videos have you’ve directed that you are very proud of?
That’s a tough question.
And don’t say all of them.
I do love all of them. How about from two or three artistes that I’ve worked with?
“Exponential Potential”, it was my first music video.
He gave you a chance to experiment with his song?
It’s because I had worked with him on a different project as an animator and editor so he knew my standards and gave me that chance. I’m really proud of that video because it was my first attempt from production to post-production and it was above par
compared to other videos that came out at the same time. Thanks for pointing that out.
The second one?
The second one is “The Prep” track by Xtatic because it changed a lot in terms of how I looked at music video production. It was a low-budget video with the most impact because it had everybody talking and got her signed to Sony.
And it also made me realise how much of an impact my work has. It made me concentrate more on who I make videos for and what I want to portray.
I don’t want to be these cliche directors who just put anything on the screen. I want it to have an emotional attachment to all my projects, not just the wow factor.
Nowadays it’s all about the bling and cars. Yes, there are some songs that warrant those types of videos but I’m more sentimental.
The third is “Unajua” by Gilad. This guy is detailed in what he wants, and he doesn’t want to be seen as just a performer but as a musician who communicates with fans across the board.
Do you have to be a child at heart to be an animator?
Yes, but a mature genius at the same time. It’s one of the most technically difficult careers to undertake because you need to understand mathematics, physics, biology we call ourselves mini-gods because we create characters out of nothing.
That’s like blowing your own horn.
Because it’s true. Take a movie like the Smurfs; to create that and make him breathe like a human being, you have to understand the calculations that go into things like how a human being breathes. You have to be very patient.
A five-minute animation can take up to three months. The Faiba guy can tell you that one of those 30-second adverts he does takes a whole month to make. He’s an engineering graduate, most animators are A students.
Who are some of the best artistes you have worked with?
Of course Xtatic.
You passed the test.
(Laughs) I want to have a place to go to at the end of the day. Others are Juliani and STL. She is good to work with. She takes her music seriously. For her there’s no margin for error.
What else do you do?
I’m the animation director and producer at Buni Media for the XYZ show. It takes a lot of my time. It is a tough show to produce.
So that’s a 24-hour job for you?
Yes, when it’s running, it’s pretty much what I do. When I’m there the music videos take a back seat; they are passion projects.
You are about to embark on a sci-fi project, let’s talk about that.
I want it to be a short film that is fully Kenyan, it is a personal project. Wanuri Kahiu made the first Kenyan sci-fi short film and it was a milestone for us. Although it was produced in South Africa, she was the one who wrote and directed.
I want to see if I can do a fully Kenyan production. It’s the planning stage.
How long have you been engaged to Xtatic?
Does she write rap romantic lyrics for you?
Oh, I’m going to put her on blast. (Laughs) She writes, but not romantic ones. She’s very poetic, though. If she wants to do something romantic for me she won’t rap. She’ll write an actual poem and send it through a text and sweet stuff like that.
She’s really artistic and she had a big influence on my doing music videos.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION