Is this the future for Kenya’s Riverwood?

Hello Creative Kenyan. Welcome to future reflections.
Information (read: technology) is undeniably the asset of the future. It will build economies, generate wealth, employment and enhance societies. Hollywood in California is a beneficiary to the creative branch of this information asset. Bollywood too, has nit been left behind. Most Asian economies are focusing on the creative industries as a major source of income. China and Japan have long histories in exploiting creativity for national gain and individual enhancement.
Nigeria’s Nollywood is already grooming itself for global influence. What happened to Kenyans?

So, where’s Kenya, really?
In the landscape of creative economy Kenyans are, beside being very creative, also very disadvantaged. This trend has been buoyed by two main factors: individual approach to the creative process (we have film makers who are the script writers, directors, even actors and editors of their own films!). And, two, lack of necessary training and facilities. How many Kenyan artists today know how to use the latest technology in design and film making?

However, this post is all about empowerment in just one single area: digital competency and its creative application. I have been reflecting on the quantifiable influence of technology on creative production. And my opinion is that it influences over 90% of the process. Think of a simple exercise like composing music. If you have a professional software, you would be better placed in terms of available resources when ti comes to creating your music. Because you have greater flexibility over those who do not have such extensive software. Of course you will not benefit from these resources if you are unable to tap into them – you have to know how to use the software, for instance.

In Kenya’s film industry today, there is a glaring handicap in terms of technology. Not just in the cameras we use to shoot movies (and how limiting these sometimes are!) but also in the manner in which we think and imagine our stories. I am just curious why not many professional movies are being made using for instance, visual effects?

The last time i was sharing my reflections with friends in the industry, most were even unaware they could create stories which touch on the realities outside our daily experiences. Because, in the industry, to create even a realistic fire effect in a movie is a nightmare. When will we start blasting windows, smoking hair, jumping cliffs, flying in the air, or splitting trucks with a kick?

The answer, I guess, is: when we start imagining that ti is possible to do so!
There are professionals who know and have the potential to train others about these possibilities. But, wherever they are, they are quietly musing and observing. Well, Shall they please wake up and start us off?

Finally, I would love to observe that Riverwood (as Kenya’s film industry is proud to be called), is a sleeping giant. Sleeping not from choice, but from starvation. The industry is starved of technology, of training (skills), of support (implementing policies) and of massive dormant-ideology.

With the advent of the digital broadcasting in 2015, Riverwood will be a suffering giant. Suffering because despite being starved; it will be looking at opportunities to feed itself unto full strength. Many TV channels, broadening markets, consumer demand for films and creative products…. these are the things which will bring tears to our sleeping hero and possibly, drive him crazy with longing. But longing is not sufficient unto itself, because opportunity which is not utilized is just a source of regret and misery. The time to reflect on and awaken the giant is now. So is digital empowerment and creative holistic training the road to the future? Well, it’s something we better think about.

And whoever will open the cage of opportunity and empowerment into this new world will be the life line to our sleeping giant. Perhaps, Kenya Film Commission will now walk down and take a closer look at the sleeping giant. And by the way, that’s all is lacking – right now.


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