By Shadrine Taremwa
Amakula Film International Festival was blessed with top panelists Joshua Ssali Sentongo – Film Tourism Expert, Moses Serugo – Journalist/Film Critic/Film Publicist and Satish Guna – Century Cinemax MD/Film Exhibitor who provided their expertise on how Ugandan film can be marketed hence film makers benefiting from their work in a panel discussion presided over by Polly Kamukama, the Amakula International Film Festival Curator.
Satish Guna – Century Cinemax MD/Film Exhibitor on why it is hard for why Ugandan movies to show at most cinemas in the country, he said the initiative to start Century Cinemax was to help promote Ugandan film but the problem they have faced is mainly with the quality of some of the movies they receive from producers, marketing of the movies by the film makers to the public whom they wish to see their product and lack of marketing of the Ugandan films by the producer, the exhibitors incur losses. Satish further said over the five years they have invested over 1.1 million dollars which over time they would wish to see some investments in-return.
He also said film makers ought to have business strategy for their films if they are to succeeded, he also said if they were many local content providers partnership are needed rather imposing restrictions on exhibitors, more exhibition screens are needed in the country since Uganda has 10 screens which are used by over 20 million people as compared to other African countries that have over 100 screens. Such impositions will lead to exhibitions people shutting down since they wont be making any profits because of restrictions. Film makers should look at their movies as their product rather than blaming cast for not making a great movie n exhibitions not showing the movie.
Joshua Ssali Sentongo – Film Tourism Expert on whether Uganda tourism has failed to market Uganda film with wildfire. He said there are certain things that can be done to market Ugandan film. Film as a marketing tool for Uganda has been proven, he said the Queen Of Katwe movie sold Uganda more than Pope’s visit in the country. He further argued film markers to make film that will keep the Ugandan map vivid to the world since we are blessed with vast scenery which we ought to utilise so as to have our stories told the right way.
Joshua said strategy development is the best way to promote and market film even though they don’t have a big marketing budget he sighted an example of Devil’s Chest if it had gotten strategic development partners like UDPF since the film was about the Kony and LRA wars, it could have been bigger that what it was. Marketing and publicity collaboration also is needed to kill the “I can do it all by myself” attitude.
Ugandan film makers have to find ways to get demand of their product since demand of the movies seems not to be there yet their product and content is available but not being marketed.
Moses Serugo – Journalist/Film Critic/Film Publicist
When asked if media has led to the downfall of film in Uganda, he said film makers should go a step further to get media coverage since there are many stories that are running in the media and not all can get front page at ago. He argued film makers to use social media to its full capacity since people see news first on social media first and get affirmation from television and radio and other mediums follow. He also said trailers, posters and cast should be fully utilized so that the film can get the required attention, he said film makers should improve their trailers since some lack efficiency and the film makers have to rely on their cast for publicity which could backfire.
He suggested workshops for media critics especially during festivals where they should take in the criticism which helps them push for better film products. On film festivals impacting on film marketing he said yes and no because different festivals have not curated that strength to influence film marketing.
Online platforms can be started where a user is supposed to pay and be able to view Ugandan content there in film and they also help you reach a wider market as you follow different mechanisms and regulations governing the country.