Down a bumpy murram road in Nateete next to a small secondary school, are the offices of Ramon Film Productions. Well actually it is more the living room of Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey Nabwana, IGG to his friends.
Inside his dusty office are a few skeleton computers, two monitors and some keyboards and mice scattered across two arm chairs. It is confusing to know which keyboard or mouse goes to which screen. Four young men are seated in the corner, watching IGG as he fiddles with one of the mice.
Nabwana says that not everything works all the time in his “office”, but it is from here that this aspiring filmmaker uploaded the trailer for his film “Who Killed Captain Alex” onto YouTube. Labelled the trailer for “Africa’s first action movie”, the kung fu / shoot em up movie has over 1.5 million clicks on YouTube and other sites, and the number is growing.
And according to Nabwana, this movie is just the start.
Dispatch: Your preview for “Who Killed Captain Alex” has over 1.5 million hits on YouTube and other sites. How does that make you feel?
Nabwana: I do not know but I think its because this is the first action movie made in Africa by Africans. I think that is why it is attracting people from all over the world. Most of the movies like “Shares of The Sun” which are shown in Africa have some parts done in Africa with others in Hollywood. So for us we initiated something new on the market.
Dispatch: Is that what you set out to do, to make Africa’s first action movie?
Nabwana: African has been lagging behind and I think we are late to make such movies. People say that it is very expensive yet it is possible because the Internet has made it possible to link up with the rest of the world.
Recently there was a movie shot in Uganda “The Last King of Scotland”. I see nothing there that I cannot do and it is a pity that they can take away that money to Hollywood to edit such a movie when I can do it. I am a poor Ugandan but I can do that because I have the knowledge to do it. Everything is here including the technology through the net.
Dispatch: Are you aware of other Ugandan filmmakers like you?
Nabwana: No. But in starting Ramon Film Productions, I want to help support the industry in Uganda and the rest of Africa. I have seen Nigerian movies and those from South Africa but I find the action movies more attractive. I do not find the story movies attractive and even here in Uganda when you talk of a film people are more interested in action movies like those by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The rest are just stories. I grew up knowing that real movies are action movies.
Dispatch: So how do you go about making a film? Does somebody come up with an idea and you write the script? How do you find the actors and the crew?
Nabwana: We are registered company with actors who are not paid. As I told you, we are trying to build something on a pilot project in Uganda and we do not get a lot of money because people do not believe yet that we can make such a movie and our marketing skills are still low.
So that is why we decided to put it on the Internet so that we can get international exposure. We are working right now on a film called “Rescue Team” which was given to us by a student of Lubiri Secondary School. We are working to transform it into a real movie. He is not a professional writer.
We gather together and exchange ideas. But personally for me I studied editing and I made a lot of research in editing and I can do anything I want concerning editing. I learned camera shooting and I acquired these computers as you can see them they are not powerful but at least I can get something from them.
Dispatch: Did you teach yourself how to do this?
Nabwana: Yes, I went through a film making training school called UFI (Uganda Film Institute) which is there at Lubaga for one month which was enough for me. I have been doing research since then and all I have attained is out of my research.
Dispatch: How do you select your actors? Do you train them?
Nabwana: We do training from watching movies like those of Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan. Another advantage we have is that my brother is a Kung fu teacher. He joined the NRA sports team sometime back and that is where he learned Kung fu in 1988. We joined together and I left because I was weak.
Dispatch: So what was the idea behind “Who Killed Captain Alex?”
Nabwana: The idea behind “Who Killed Captain Alex?” is different from the way the film was done. It changed because we lacked some of the items we needed at that time but the original idea was about some leader of a gang of thugs and drug dealers who was smoked out of town to the village by security operatives.
While there the security organs followed him and during the process his brother was killed. After the death of his brother he became very mad. The head of the group hunting for him is called Captain Alex.
When I am asked “Who killed Captain Alex?” I cannot answer because he is not in the film. When I watch the film I cannot tell either but when we do part two that is when the question will be answered.
The message behind this movie is that I wanted to tell the public that drug dealers are becoming dangerous. It is a common sight now to find someone smoking marijuana on the streets even the Police has admitted apprehending some of them. In the end these people are going to become a problem to Africa.
Dispatch: What about props and costumes?
Nabwana: I remember one time I had a discussion with police officers at the National Theatre as filmmakers and we requested for permission to use items like choppers and they insisted we are not yet ready to do such a production involving choppers. If we can get permission to use items like that we can make better films to even export. I also think the Internet has showed the world that we can export our movies. I have heard a lot of people all over the world demanding for the film.
Dispatch: What are your favourite movies, actors or directors?
Nabwana: My favourite director is James Cameron.
Dispatch: Who is your favourite actor?
Nabwana: Chuck Norris is the best.
Dispatch: How about your favourite movies?
Nabwana: I like action movies but my favourite is “Terminator” and “Rambo IV”.
Dispatch: What are you goal with these movies?
Nabwana: My major goal is to reduce the number of Nigerian movies coming into Uganda. When people saw our movie on TV, they were shocked to see that in Uganda we could have something like that. But some think that I am a witch because of that movie.
They have been seeing such acts in Nigerian movies and here I am doing a similar production. Now people are starting to come to me to learn how to make movies.
Dispatch: Where do you see yourself in the future? Still in the film industry?
Nabwana: I am making this a full time job due to the growing demand. Many people are looking out for our movies and other local movies which means it is likely to become my full time job. We run a secondary school but I now leave the administration to my brothers and sisters and am concentrating on moviemaking.
Dispatch: I give you a lot of credit for the effort you have put into these productions even though you did not have all the resources needed.
Nabwana: It is quite challenging because we do not have the equipment and the finances but we try.
Dispatch: Do you think the quality could be made better?
Nabwana: Yes we want to make it better but we need more funds and equipment to get there. But we will keep making films.
Interview by Ole Tangen Jr.