Relatively unknown in Kenya in the past, the Film making industry is on the rise and Ishmael Azeli is spending the most valuable days of his life making films and documentaries. His work often explores the many things that make up the human race and his recent nomination for Uganda Film Awards is a testament for a person set for greater heights. He met Yahya Gondosio, for VarCity Kenya and discusses his life in film making and the virtues of being a young person.
Tell us about your job, what you do.
I’m a freelance multimedia journalist, meaning that I tell real world stories in images and video. I enjoy the freedom of my profession, how it both stimulates and engages my curiosity, how much I learn about the world with every project. I produce, I shoot, I edit and I also try to market and publicize my work, although that last part still escapes me. I also do field and associate production work on feature-length documentaries. Let’s just say I am so much into the film industry.
Why is documentary important – why should we make documentaries?’ How would you answer that?
It’s not something I ask myself because I get so much good from doing it. I think that I do it because I can’t think of a better way to explore the world and be engaged in the world outside of my own little circle of friends and daily life – it’s such a great passport to the world around us. I think that we live in an increasingly mediated world where our connection to one another and the outside world is mediated and, paradoxically, documentaries and films helps us to connect with the real world.
You were nominated for the Uganda Film Awards, tell us a bit more.
I was nominated for the best Cinematography 2015 for a film I shot in Uganda –Hanged for Love. Out of the 152 Films submitted, ours was among the four nominated. It was a moment of pride and it shows how immense the industry is growing. Sometimes as filmmakers we make sense of things in our own lives through our work. Do you feel you do that? Yes. Film is part of our daily life. Whatever we make is out of our own lives.
Besides Shooting the movie ‘Hanged for Love’ who else or what else have you worked on?
I have worked for so many productions. Some of the companies I have worked for include a New York based film firm – Mermaid Productions, Bluesky Productions, Ginger Ink Films, Fat Rain Films, Creative Hub Quite Bright Films who I’d call the mother of all productions. And some of the projects include Niko Na Safaricom TVC, Royco Fuata Flavor currently running on NTV among many others
Do you have any tips for young filmmakers who don’t have a great deal of resources?
I was, and continue to be, one of them… As cliché as it may sound, I would say follow your passion and intuition. If you think or feel a story needs to be told, you owe it to yourself and the world to tell it. Don’t let anyone dissuade you or get you down. There are so many tools nowadays both in terms of affordable gear and financing or co-production opportunities. Finding an experienced producer to work with can really make a big difference. So when you do, take your chance. There is a lot of money in the film industry.