…MultiChoice Zimbabwe vows to work more with local content producers
MAKING history does not require one to only do the most complex of feats but in some cases it is just about having the guts to step out of your comfort zone and following your dreams against all odds, then let society be the judge end of day. This best explains the bold character of little known Ignatious Matope better known as Igi, a Mutare based film director and founder of Pikicha Africa, a media and advertising company.
The youthful and ironically media shy film producer born and raised in the eastern border city of Mutare is currently basking in glory for his latest film production ‘Goodman’ that was wholly shot in the eastern border city of Mutare with a locally based amateur and semi-professional cast and crew. With just nine-years of experience in Zimbabwe’s shoestring budget film industry, Matope seems to be leaving no stone unturned when he puts his heart and mind on a project, but what is most striking is his belief that he can make it from his home town, instead of packing his bagpack to relocate to the capital city of Harare where the ‘big players’ are. In a One on One interview with Matope after his recently held movie showcase at a glamorous event held at Manica Skyview Hotel in Mutare in partnership with MultiChoice Zimbabwe, Matope opened up about his career in the movie industry, achievements and challenges.
The 90 minutes romantic drama film that was premiered last year on December 15 left many invited guests at the showcase moved by its touching script and captivating scenes, whilst some even shed a few tears. ‘Goodman’ is an unfolding romance about how the life of a decent and honest man changes overnight after a corporate party when he wakes up with a lady-of-the-night on his bed and the woman later blackmails him with pregnancy. When he discovers that the sexcapade was part of a conspiracy it is too late and there is no turning back. Among the main actors are Farirai Clarence Borerwe who plays the central character of Simba (the good man) who is in conflict with Tapiwa Marahwa who plays the antagonist character of Jeanette. Borerwe is a film and theatre graduate from the University of Zimbabwe while Marahwa is a beautician and Media Studies student at Zimbabwe Open University. The duo also featured in the previous short film production by Pikicha Afrika ‘Baba the Joys of Fatherhood.’ Below is the interview with Matope:
Qn: How many years have you been in the movie industry and how has it been like to breakthrough as a young producer?
Ans: I have been in the film industry for nine years now, producing documentaries, commercial adverts and infomercials, television programmes and short films mostly. I won best short film at the Zimbabwe International Film Festival in 2015 for a Mutare produced short film called ‘Fatima’, won Best film at the Chinhoyi Film Fest in 2017 for a short film called ‘Baba the Joys of fatherhood’. The film ‘Baba the Joys of Fatherhood’ was again in 2017 screened at the Silicon Valley African film festival (2017) in Califonia USA and last year it was nominated for a National Arts Merit Award (NAMA). Some of my documentaries have been screened internationally in Africa, Europe and South America.
Qn: Why did u decide to shoot ‘Goodman’ in Mutare?
Ans: I decided to shoot ‘Goodman’ in Mutare because it is home and I wanted to promote my hometown. I feel there is a lot of untapped talent back home it just needs exposure. The scenery and the ascent of the Manyika people also drew me to produce it in Mutare because I wanted it to be unique.
Qn: What are your aspirations in the film industry?
Ans: I really hope to make my mark in the industry through competitive productions that have an international appeal and at the same time telling our Zimbabwean stories in a way that Zimbabweans can relate to.
Qn: You partnered with MultiChoice Zimbabwe for your movie showcase on the 25th of June. That was a milestone achievement. How do you feel?
Ans: The support I got from MultiChoice was overwhelming. I believe it’s the first time that MultiChoice Zimbabwe has shown such kind of support to a locally produced film especially when that film was show with an amateur cast with no big names. It was extremely awe-inspiring. It shows that you don’t necessarily have to migrate to the capital city to be exceptional. When Liz Dziva (MultiChoice Zimbabwe publicity and public relations manager) told me that she has worked with different films from the region and non has moved her so emotionally the way ‘Goodman’ had done, I was so overwhelmed. Indeed the partnership and endorsement by MultiChoice has opened a door for us for more opportunities.
Qn: How successful can we rate ‘Goodman’ in terms of DVD sales and has been screened or televised elsewhere?
Ans: The film is not yet on DVD. We have an experimental release model that we are stringently following. The film is only available through mobile community cinemas. We want to screen it around the country and film festivals around the globe before we can sell the rights to TVs and put it on DVDs.
Qn: How long did it take you to shoot ‘Goodman’ and how much did it cost you.
Ans: The film took us over five years to produce, and by production I am factoring the script writing and development which took the longest time. This was because it was a self funded project and we had very little resources to work with. The cost I am not at liberty to put a figure to it but it is very expensive and taxing to produce a quality movie of such kind. Many thanks goes to our understanding Pikicha Africa production team and various stakeholders who availed their facilities for the production of the movie.
Qn: What’s your take on Zimbabwe’s film industry? Is it developing since the eras of ‘Neria’ and ‘Yellow Card’?
Ans: I think the film industry is still struggling to really take off though local filmmakers are really trying to step up. It is now better than before because film equipment is now cheaper to buy and access, but there is more that needs to be done to help prop up players in the industry. Our government must step in and help us through special incentives such as duty free imports for our equipment, help artists more in the ongoing battles of piracy to protect our intellectual property rights among other things. We have the talent but it’s the operating environment that has been the major shortcoming for us to step up to the levels of the South African film industry or Nollywood in Nigeria.
Qn: What sort of camera’s and equipment did you use to shoot ‘Goodman’ to give it the picture quality it is being credited for?
Ans: The film was shot with a semi-professional HD DSLR camera. For sound we had to do Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) at our company offices. We really used every useful editing trick to give the film its beautiful cinematic look.
Qn: What major challenges did you face shooting ‘Goodman’?
Ans: Much of the challenges had to do with limited financial resources. Occasionally I felt if I had more money to hire equipment and travel to the locations we wanted, we could have done a lot more. But we approached the film with the mindset that we will only use what we have and try to do the best that we can with what we have.
Qn: Who is your role model?
Ans: My role model mmmmh, I don’t really have any. I think there is an imaginary ME that I envision, a type of filmmaker that I want to be and I look up to him and say I want to be.
Qn: Are you working on any projects at the moment.
Ans: Currently I’m working on two documentaries, a TV series and I am writing the script for my next film.
On another note, MultiChoice Zimbabwe publicity and public relations manager Liz Dziva said going forward they want to work more with local content producers to support the local film industry.
“One of MultiChoice’s main objectives is to work with and support local productions and we are confident that the movie Goodman will be appreciated and enjoyed by viewers beyond Zimbabwe through or local content platforms such as Zambezi Magic,” said Dziva.