Nigeria's Chris Odeh tips Ugandans on growing local film industry

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Nigeria's Chris Odeh tips Ugandans on  growing local film industry
Chris Odeh

The 2024 Ikon Awards are happening today and as part of the festivities, the organisers - Reach A Hand Uganda and Sauti Plus Media Hub - have organised a star studded guest list made up of established players in the Nigerian film industry - Africa’s

biggest film market.

One of them is Chris Odeh - a trained mechanical engineer turned filmmaker with almost 15 years in the film.

He is the team lead of Coal360 - a training, consulting and artist management firm who arrived in the country on Tuesday and has been

conducting a series of masterclasses with Ugandan filmmakers as part of the Ikon Fellowship.

The fellowship leverages the lived experiences of experts in the film industry to offer tangible lessons on best practices to young and aspiring filmmakers.

Odeh spoke about the Ugandan and Nigerian film industry and his book - ‘Before You Say Action’.

What is your view of Uganda’s film and TV industry? Are there any projects you’ve interacted with and have stood out for you?

I really am in love with the Ugandan film industry. This is not me trying to be politically correct, but it reminds me of where Nollywood was 20 years ago with all the prospect, structure and all the things required to build the industry. I see a lot of the passion in the

youth as well.

This is the time for an industry that is on the journey of growth. Like I say to everyone here, Uganda is well poised to learn the commercial film market in Nigeria, learn the authentic cultural storytelling skill from the Kenyan film industry, and accept the infrastructural setup in

the South African film industry.

A combination of these things can make Uganda the next power and centerpoint of African entertainment and African virtual storytelling. I have juggled a lot of Ugandan content including series like Kyaddala, When You Become Me and Sabotage. I have also interacted with some

products from Louqman Ali - which I believe is a dynamic and different kind of cinema. I have also seen the Nabwiso’s film - Karamoja. I see a lot of similarities with what Nollywood used to be/or what Nollywood is now. There is so much prospect here and for me its building the rock. I just think it needs the right work frame and components.

Nigeria’s film industry has been on a rapid trajectory of global growth despite having hubble beginnings. What can Uganda’s film industry pick from the Nollywood journey?

As much as Nigeria enjoys a lot of benefits due to its population (we are five times the Ugandan population), I think one thing Nigerians have enjoyed that Ugandans need to learn is that nobody is going to enjoy your content if you personally don’t enjoy your content.

What happens with a lot of African countries is that we accept the global market to accept our content before we even begin to recognise it. The way it works with films is, you shoot your world. Things have happened in China, India, Korea, Hong Kong etc. and these people have made, enjoyed and consumed their content.

The world can see how much they progress. Thats what happened to Nollywood. They saturated the market in Nigeria before getting into Niger, Cameroon, Ghana and up the west coast.

You are here for the second edition of the Ikon Awards happening this weekend at the Kampala Serena Hotel. What do you think of the awards in general and what are you looking forward to during the event?

The Ikon Awards is the biggest award ceremony I have seen in the whole of East Africa. Competing in the whole of Africa because of the class, vision, quality, set up, and the Ugandans who come out slaying. I had a beautiful experience when I travelled here with my wife last year and I still relive the experience occasionally. How the Victoria Hall is being transformed from just a regular hall into an ultra-modern beautiful space for the event is also quite epic.

Thanks to ATC Events, Reach A HAnd Uganda and Sauti Plus, Iam very looking forward to this year's events . I think its going to be a bigger, better experience this year - which Iam all for.

You will also be officially launching your book ‘Before You Say Action’ in Uganda this weekend. What inspired you to write this book and what would you like readers to take from it?

‘Before You Say Action’ is a very important part of my life, because its a book that talks about production and film making, but it captures it from my lens, sweat and experience. It feels like a mother that has given birth to a child. I have spent more than 10 years of my life training people in film. I captured all the desire and lessons from as far back as 2013. I can't speak to everybody or young film lovers. What I

can do is capture my thoughts, voice, heart, intentions into a book, and make it available to read in all languages.

If you are an independent filmmaker, and you have to break a sweat to fund a film, make, sell and recoup your money back, then this book is for you. I want this book to go to everyone everywhere. For every filmmaker that want to be inspired by Chris Odeh.

‘Before You Say Action’ is going on from Friday 22nd March, to  27 and you can get signed copies from me. We shall be visiting universities, film communities etc. The book will be available from  April, 1,  on Amazon. There will be copies available at Sauti Plus

Media Hub in Buziga at $10. The book will also be available in bookstores and you can order your copy now.

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