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Zach Braff and the Emerging African Filmmaker

Guest article by Donald Giesen.

Zach Braff inspired me.  While everybody else was debating whether his very successful Kickstarter campaign was besmirching the good name of crowdfunding, I saw the light.

Far from trying to compete with the Zach Braffs and Rob Thomas’ of the world, my goal was to help those who felt they were talented storytellers to get their first film made- specifically young men and women in Kenya who have no support to do so.

Micro-Budget Films

Dubbed “100 Films and Counting”, this project has the goal of funding 100 films by mostly first-time filmmakers in Kenya.  The films will definitely be shorter in length  and will be funded at an average cost of $75.  We are not expecting to produce the next “Slumdog Billionaire”.  This is a quantity over quality approach to give an opportunity to the maximum number of young filmmakers.

It can be hard to fathom, but many of these young people  have almost no access to even a consumer level camcorder.  Their family doesn’t have one, their friends don’t have one and their school doesn’t have one.  Same thing with a computer.  Making equipment and basic training available will be the first step in releasing the creative and technical abilities of these young Kenyans.

Untapped Talent

And you would not believe the talent that lies within some young people here!  Almost on a daily basis I am approached with an idea about a narrative film, documentary or news story from an eager young person.

Of course I am the Director of a media training college here in Kenya so this can be expected.  But many of these people are not even students at our school.  They are unemployed youths from the slums, high school graduates that live in the villages, freelance journalists trying to make a living- all with a passion to tell stories.

100 Films and Counting

100 Films and Counting will provide a young filmmaker with basic training, equipment and continuing support to make their movie.  The great thing about this project is that we do not have to build everything from the ground up.  The East African Media Institute will be supporting this project and has the structure and teaching staff to house “100 Films”.

With the money raised, we will be putting together several very basic filmmaking kits that will be used by the project participants.  Since many of the filmmakers involved are living at or close to poverty levels, the project will also help pay for simple things like transportation and food during the shoots.

Finally we will help the filmmakers to distribute their films locally and to get them exposure in local film festivals where appropriate.

So Look out Zach Braff!

We look forward to the day, maybe 5-10 years down the road, when one of our Kenyan filmmakers, and not Mr. Braff, will be catching hell for being too successful.  That will have proven that all these talented young people needed was a little support to explore their potential.

You can find our Kickstarter project here.  We welcome your support by either contributing financially or spreading the word.

Donald Giesen is the founder and Director of the East African Media Institute, a media training college in Nairobi, Kenya. Donald has been involved in media production and training in Kenya for over 10 years and in development work for 15 years. He can be reached at director@eamikenya.com and the EAMI website is www.eamikenya.com.

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