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Society & Success

Film expert hopes to fill talent gap with school

Cameramen at a press conference. The film industry is growing rapidly, creating opportunities for professionals. Photo/FILE
Cameramen at a press conference. The film industry is growing rapidly, creating opportunities for professionals. Photo/FILE 

As the Kenyan film industry grows, so is the need to hire talented movie producers, photographers, script writers and other professionals.

However, there are few colleges that are training these professionals and this is the gap Wilfred Kiumi, the founding director of Jamhuri Film and Television Academy School wants to fill.

The film school is focused on teaching skills that are relevant to the industry today. “There is a demand for people who are already in the industry; television station and production houses.

They are looking to improve editing, camera work, directing, producing, screenwriting and shooting for film. Some have worked in television stations where they do news and documentaries. Film is totally different,” Mr Kiumi.

He says his aim is to produce students who are technically and aesthetically proficient in all areas of film and television production to a high level of effectiveness, with the emphasis on comprehensive acquisition of core skills.

Mr Kiumi, who has over 12 years experience working in the film industry says his passion is to pass on knowledge that he has gained over the years to the growing industry that relies on training mass communication interns to be film professionals.

This training takes time and money and most production houses don’t have this kind of money or would rather channel it to other activities.

“Lately, it’s become even harder to offer such kind of training in any production companies partly due restrictive budgets. So it’s important for any students willing to join the industry to equip themselves with the right training that will make one easily penetrate the highly competitive world of film,” he says.

When he was started, he was freelancing for companies doing local and international productions. He then opened his own production company, Farsight Productions.

Like other production houses, he was constantly getting students who had graduated from media schools but could not even hold a camera or take good care of the equipment.

Most students were only trained to work for television productions and rarely are exposed to film techniques, he said. Most of the institutions offer a Diploma in Mass communication while film production is a specific art that requires years of training and practice to equip oneself with the right skills.

His hope that is that Jamhuri film school graduates will bridge this gap.

Knowing that there was no curriculum that offers both television and film training, he had to develop one.

Through extensive consultation with industry players, he came up with courses in film directing, cinematography, screen writing, editing, sound design, production design, production, and combines these with English and business studies.

Students are also expected to work on three television and three film productions.

The Institute opened its doors in February 2012 and 15 students joined. Located along Nairobi’s Ngong road, at Shalom House, the school can accommodate 60 students.

To Mr Kiumi, the industry is so young, so one can make it as so long as they know where to look for the funds.

“We tell students that once they learn to shoot, they should know how to fundraise and how to execute ...then that is the perfect combination.”

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