A Cameroonian Movie Directing Soliloquy.

Whenever I watch a great movie, I feel my desire to do cinema increase.Mind you, I try as much as possible not to use the word ‘great’ loosely.
The title of the movie I just watched is: “The Art of Getting By”. It is the story of George – a high school senior (played by Freddie Highmore…the kid from August Rush) – a depressed, misanthropic, obnoxious and rude young man. He wonders why life should be fun since eventually… we all die.
He eventually ends up a) falling in love b) completing a year’s worth of homework in three weeks and c) expressing love in the most amazing( but cliched) way- a beautiful painting of his crush (Emma Roberts).
I did not cry while watching. This is strange for me because most of the movies I consider great always well tears upon me ( this brings to my mind the last but one scene of “ When Harry Met Sally”- the new year’s eve when Harry runs miles to finally express his true affection for Sally after years- literally years- of ‘friendship’.
I have no idea if “The Art of Getting By” won any awards. I even wonder how many people reading this post have watched the movie. But I strongly believe if such a movie is made in the Cameroonian context –and with good actors- it will be a blast.
Some months ago, I spoke with a Software Programmer/Movie writer and director (weird profession right?) and his theory was simple…you will probably concur this:
“If you want to make movies…get out there! Shoot a movie for crying out loud! What do you need school for? Start and keep practicing until you become a master” Literally in french: « C’est au pied du mur que on connait le maçon ».
Another kick-ass graphic designer –William Takor-once told me: “ Most of these people who ‘teach’ cinematography or movie production are not as good as they claim to be”. He suggested one should get mentors- get people whose work you admire – and follow them to the ends of the earth. “Work with them, get the knowledge you need and most importantly act on it”.
However, in my community, you could agree with me that:
1. It is difficult to get the equipment to actually shoot. I don’t even want to mention the study material, nor the human resource to work with.
2. Everybody wants to do everything: Is it possible to be a writer, director, actor and camera man? Really? I don’t think even Tony Stark could!
3. Let’s not talk money. People always worry about it. Some even kill for it. Let’s just say everyone needs it and some will do terrible things to get more. But if I can’t pay to use a location, a prop, rent a car, rent a camera, buy food…you get what I mean….
4. Where is our body? What is the Hollywood equivalent for Cameroon. So many names…so little cohesion. Why can’t we work together?
5. Where are our cinemas? How can we showcase low budget movies to ‘the masses’ without an environment that permits movie lovers to sieve and select? You might tell me there is YouTube now and that I could upload videos…yeah…about that….I might have to pay for the audience’s broadband so that they could actually ‘see’ the movie.
Internet here sucks.
6. And the good old bias ” Without a degree…you are nada”. That…has sunk in.
It is not all bad though…recently we had the Sonnah Awards.I won’t say it was terrific but at least someone did something and that alone is really cool. Thanks. I also saw a flyer proposing a seminar/training for anyone interested in movie making at a really affordable rate! I think with such initiatives we are headed in the right direction.
So while I am fighting with insomnia and recovering from a rough day struggling with malaria, I’ll reflect on my writing skills and whether I’ll be the Quentin Tarantino or Spielberg of my generation( notice I have no Cameroonian Director’s name at heart…pathetic …)
I think I’ll watch another movie…or maybe eat…you? What are you up to?

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