This week Baze meets up with the multi ward wining film producer Edith Luseno. We discuss her success and also get her view of where Kenyan production is heading.
Baze: What are the strengths of Kenyan production in recent times compared to 10years ago?
Edith: There more freelance producers and good production houses that have come up in recent years. Young people have started taking production more seriously with lots of parents wanting their kids in the media industry. With media houses on the rise there are more outlets for local production.
Baze: Is it possible to make a living from Kenyan productions?
Edith: Yes though you need to work very hard as compared to our counter parts in Nigeria. You need to be in many productions to make a comfortable living and that means you need to know who is who in the industry. There are few good productions in Kenya though they strain to make it, because broadcasting houses are not as receptive to independent productions. The corporate world needs to get more involved as the more they are involved the more comfortable the pay will become.
Baze: Where do you see Kenyan production heading?
Edith: It can only go up as it can’t go back from the point we’ve reached. We are ahead in the East African region so the next step would be to compete with Nigeria. We are yet to start valuing our own artists, as very few people would opt to buy a locally produced DVD as compared to the cheap pirated western movies.
Baze: How did you get into production?
Edith: I’ve always loved creating, imagining and organising things hence my childhood nickname Editina. I love creating something out of nothing and seeing it happen.
Baze: What are your greatest productions?
Edith: I produced Sultan Barghash, which was about the Omani sultans who ruled Zanzibar. It was shot on film and I won an award in 1982 for Best producer during the Journalist Awards. I also did Susi na Chuma a story based on Dr. Livingstone’s faithful servants which also won an award. Into tomorrow was also another production I did, that revolved around two kids one urban and the other rural. It showed how similar their goals are and it was just circumstance that differentiated how they went about achieving their goals. It won the Prix Jeunesse International Award in Munich in 1992. Know your animals won Best Producer Award, in TV for Young People Awards. KTN kids’ news was nominated for the Emmys.
Baze: Which productions have you headed in recent times?
Edith: Scrum Down, which is currently on Citizen TV, Shikamore which used to air on KTN and, We are the future.
Baze: What do you think ails Kenyan productions and what can be done to remedy it?
Edith: Scripts! We have very good actors but the kind of scripts we get don’t tell of our stories. Good filming equipment is not readily available and when available are expensive to hire, and to get good funding you need to have certain themes like HIV/Aids.
Baze: Does copyright infringement hinder new entrants from the industry?
Edith: A lot of new entrants in the industry especially the young, approach media and production houses with their ideas, and make one big mistake. They leave their proposal with the media houses, which at times land in the hands of unscrupulous people who if they like the proposal will steal the idea, change bits and pieces, then run with it. One should know how to protect their intellectual copyrights especially in entertainment industry.
Baze: Kenyan TV stations have been flooded with foreign productions. What’s your take on it?
Edith: It’s a challenge for Kenyans to wake up. They have had their airwaves taken by outsiders and it’s up to them to take it back with even better productions. They should copy and learn from the shows being aired. It’s sad to see Mexicans, Nigerians and Philippines’ dominating our airwaves but I don’t mind as it’s a chance to train and see where we can improve.