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Comments on "The ABC of ROFFEKE" Screenings (September 2015 at iHub)

I liked all the films especially the one for Superman [“This is Joe”] and the last one which was longer [“ Frontman ”]. I look forward to at...

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Review: Sustainable Futures, Survivor Girls

ROFFEKE is honoured to welcome Rahma Rashid as a new intern. She graduated from Egerton University with a Bsc in Natural Resources Management. Rahma's personal statement can be read after her first ROFFEKE review below.

Director: Nicole Watson
Duration: 8 minutes 44 seconds
Location: Kolkata, India.
Reviewer: Rahma Rashid

Sustainable Futures, Survivor Girls is an inspiring story of hope and resilience, directed by Nicole Watson. It focuses on the issue of human trafficking and the contribution that people can make in societal matters.

India is a heavily populated country with not enough consideration on SDG 10 which focuses on equality. Economic status, caste, color etc... inequality in India - just like in many other countries - is a major issue. For a society existing within strong cultural morals, it is indeed a shame that man uses this as an opportunity to sexually exploit the girl child. The most painful bit is that this is done to a minor, using what would seem to be very 'righteous courses'. An 8 year old who has not even attained puberty! It angers me as much as it makes my heart weep.

In Nicole's short documentary, we also get to see how a centre like Sanlaap, commendably contributes to the rehabilitation of these girls and SDG 16. In a world where praise and support is granted to unworthy politicians, people do need to get their priorities straight and show support where it's due.

The film talks about the use of solar power as a form of renewable energy and its advantages, like it's facilitation in the accessibility of clean water, thereby contributing to both SDG 6 and 7. At a time when the world is mourning the loss of the Amazon Forest, it's a good assurance that people are paying attention to the environment. And hey, for anyone who didn't get the science behind the working of solar panels, this is your chance! A briefing of the same is made in the film! You are welcome.

All in all, it is amazing to learn that good still exists in this world. For women like Nicole, Sindhura, Indrani and Priyanka, we learn that aid comes from a single soul. It starts from the little input one gives. Let's not be ignorant of our surroundings. Just like the Survivor Girls, no situation is permanent, we all need a stretched out hand to give us hope where there is none.

***

RAHMA RASHID'S PERSONAL STATEMENT

Rahma is a result oriented female interested and ready to transfer her academic knowledge and professional experience into a challenging work setting while contributing to her own personal growth. She has a background in Natural Resource Management that makes her better understand the principle of sustainability to achieve the set sustainable development goals.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Dr. Robert David Duncan on improv acting, collaborating and giving back

ROFFEKE: This collaboration begun with your status update:

“I like to make myself available as an actor to one or two indie projects in the summers as a way to give back and say thanks for all the support I've enjoyed with my own projects. If you have a part you'd like to write me into or have me consider, do feel free to be in touch and we'll see what can work out. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm5399017”

How important is it for actors to “give back” and what are the advantages of doing this?

ROBERT: In the indie no-budget film world, we are almost always begging favours and hoping people can help us, often for free. That's an unfortunate reality of the work, and even if we have a tiny bit of money, we can never pay people what they are worth. So the art of making indie films becomes a lot about trading favours, and that's where "paying it forward" is a good habit to get into. For my part as a producer-director, I can help by giving people a good experience on my films. I try to keep the days short, with an eye to efficiency and respectfulness. I'd like people to go home feeling good about the work so that they will help someone else some day. I can also help by making sure people get IMDb credits right away, and by doing my best to have the films get out into festivals and beyond so our work gets out there. I also like to offer people their "one-up" position as much as possible, which was a piece of advice I got from a director who was very helpful to me early-on. What this means is a supporting or character type actor can get a shot at a lead role, a background actor can try out having some lines for a change, a person who hasn't done sound but wants to learn can hoist a boom and get a bit of field experience with the recording gadgetry; basically it means that people can try out the next level up that they are aspiring to. For this reason, i see my productions as training vehicles for people, and we treat them as educational opportunities, creating a culture of sharing knowledge and taking chances on people so they can grow. So when I look back on all the goodwill people have extended to me, I like to give back by offering to help others when I can. For me, the most fun way to do that is by offering my time as an actor, since it is what I like to do most, and making my own films and being responsible for the work of others can actually take me away from acting for the pure joy of it!

ROFFEKE: The project required you to improvise. How does improvisation help actors to improve their skills/craft?

ROBERT: Improvisation turns accidents into gifts! A table that gets knocked down on stage unintentionally by an actor can turn into a hilarious moment or a great character reveal. It's all in how you handle things. By training in improv, an actor gains a great sense of being present in the moment with maximum flexibility and a willingness to say "yes" to all sorts of things that happen. It creates a great framework for fun story development with a spirit of playfulness. One of the improv games I like is one where an actor says something, and the other actor says "Yes, and..." and then adds another little bit to the story, passing it back or on to someone else who says "Yes, and..." There are various versions of that kind of game, but they all create a sense of positivity that keeps something growing and building, and each person comes to realize that they don't have to say something totally amazing, but rather they just have to be accepting of what is sent their way and build on it a little bit. I love improv and I encourage everyone to try to take a weekend workshop or something if they can or get a book from the library and try it with a few friends, or watch some YouTubes to see some good improv games. It's fun, and will help your acting immensely!

(Robert was gracious enough to avail "The Dance of Collaboration", an excerpt from "Improv to Improve your Business". Interested in checking it out? Send an email to mildandred@gmail.com).

ROFFEKE: In this project, you went the extra mile; researching how we say hi in Sheng, putting the Shenganiguns logo in the background. What are some of the ways that actors can go the extra mile?

This was a fun project! I think it is important for actors to understand some key things, such as where their part fits into the overall story, who their character is and the function of the character in helping get the story across. It's often said there are no small parts, but actually there are, and the size and importance of the role to the story should to some extent guide the actor's preparation. A role like the one I just did for the Shenganiguns was not intended to be a major role or one of the sustaining characters responsible for carrying a lot of the story line. I saw it more as being like a single piano chord: "bom!" and you're out of there as the story moves on. A bit of funny counterpoint to whatever is going on in the main story, perhaps to illustrate the growth of the band's fame and increasing global reach. So for a character like that, I feel it is essential just to hit that one chord and not hold back. So in preparing, what I like to focus on is who the character actually is, in the sense of what type of person. I knew from the production team that he was the president of the Canadian fan club. Given my age and look, I tried to picture this guy - the kind of person who in middle age is a total fanatic for a new band. Once I start picturing the character as a whole being inhabiting my physical self, I try to isolate one main quality or trait the person has. In this case, I decided it was enthusiasm. So that is my main play - enthusiasm. Then I spice it up with a secondary trait, and I settled on fearlessness as in the sense of being without fear of trying new things - the kind of guy who would learn a few words of Sheng and Swahili and just put them out there with a big smile on his face! From that point it gets easier once you have made these first few choices. I then searched out some key phrases in Sheng from the web and lucked into this site ( https://answersafrica.com/kenyan-slangs-meanings.html ) which explained to me what Sheng was and gave me some ideas of a few words I knew I wanted to work into the scene. From that point on, I was confident that this guy's enthusiasm and willingness to try new things would carry the scene. I think that's a good tip to remember - the simpler your make your character in terms of their primary and secondary behavioural traits or makeup, the more straightforward it is to play them and there's less risk of getting bogged-down in over-thinking. Just go in and play your main notes, and play them to win!

(Check out how Robert played to win as the president of the official Canadian fan club of The Shenganiguns! Watch here)

For a more complex role, like "Dunc" in the feature film "A Legacy of Whining" my preparation was more involved. The story takes place over a single evening between two former high school friends who haven't seen each other in 30 years. I was given the direction that Dunc's main function was to burst every hopeful balloon that the other main character, Mitch, floated out there. So basically I was to be the permanently mean-spirited downer and pessimist in the face of Mitch's persistent (if unrealistic) hopefulness. But this was a feature-length film and I was one of the lead actors, so how do you sustain that kind of negativity without some kind of internal justification? So the work there became one of creating a believable set of past circumstances, personal history and worldview that would allow me to play this one kind of attitude through the whole film. The secret there was in the back story I created for my character, as to why he was there in the first place and why he is so irritable. I gave him an occupation, a justification for being in town, a triggering incident, and some reasons to be irritable and negative. Having made those private choices for myself, it became a lot more straightforward to play the character in a more textured way without forcing it. I had the luxury of time with that film because we had plenty of time to rehearse and think about things. For many projects you have to move a lot faster, and there isn't enough lead time to do a lot of work, so I focus on that one primary character trait, the one secondary trait and as much backstory as I can quickly put together. It's important, I think, to make those choices quickly and then just start stepping into being the character right away and getting the lines down.

Robert as As the darkly sarcastic Dunc in "A Legacy of Whining"

ROFFEKE: You gave back in this project. Who are some of the people that gave back in your projects and in what ways did they do this?

ROBERT: Wow, so many people have given their time, talent, advice and other support to me over the years I could never thank them all sufficiently. This includes people who catch one of our films at a festival and say good things or people who watch on YouTube or other channels, festival programmers like you, Mildred, and others like my Patreon members, even people who were willing to walk around our little movie sets with a smile. If you check out the cast and crew for "It's About Love" and my other films, you'll see a lot of familiar faces! My successes are the product of a ton of goodwill, and I hope I can give back also through my books, festival, support, time, advice, teaching and other ways. I think it's cool if you look at my IMDb and trace the interrelationships among people and see the many times I have worked with other people, you can definitely get the sense of there being a real film family or families there. As an example, Ross Munro wrote the part of "Dunc" in "A Legacy of Whining" with me in mind, and I then wrote Ross a lead role as "Rick" in "It's About Love" because I enjoyed working with him and knew his work ethic. I met cinematographer Ron Heaps on "A Legacy of Whining" and we have all worked together several times since, and so it goes, spinning this cool web of connectivity, and each person also brings their own network of goodwill with them and it grows. Now I've worked with you, Mildred, and it would be cool to do that again some day!

Robert with co-star Teresa Laverty in the forthcoming movie sequel "Still About Love"

ROFFEKE: Advice for aspiring actors?

ROBERT: Make your own stuff! It's the single best piece of advice I can give to an actor. Turn your smartphone on yourself and speak for a minute on all the frustrations and joys of your day as an actor. Stage a simple scene with a friend that has a funny twist or a cool life lesson. Have fun! If you don't know how to edit video, ask someone who knows editing to help you edit that piece into a one-minute film with beginning and ending titles. Load it up on FilmFreeway or other similar sites and submit it to a festival, or better yet, five festivals. Maybe you'll get into a festival! Eventually, you can put it up on YouTube or Vimeo or similar sites and reach even more people who can see and appreciate your talents. From that point on, you are a creator, instead of being someone who waits to be chosen for a part by someone else. You are now a writer-director-producer who also acts, and that is a much more powerful place to be in your career. As you learn and grow your skills you will get better at all aspects of your craft and your projects will get more complex and interesting. Plus, filmmakers love working with actors who know how to make films, because they bring a lot of knowledge that improves their acting, things like understanding continuity between takes and other insights into the process of filmmaking.The years will pass anyway, and are gone for good, so do you want to spend that time auditioning endlessly for others or making your own stuff? If you keep making stuff and you will stay in the driver's seat of your own career. You can still audition all you want, but you are operating from a position of power, and it is your choice.

Robert on the set of "Spinoza Hotel". Learn more about this fascinating experimental short film here


Links:

IMDb page: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm5399017
Patreon site: https://www.patreon.com/robertdavidduncan
Udemy course "Acting Skills for a Better Life" https://www.udemy.com/acting-skills-for-a-better-life/
Udemy course: "How to Make a Feature Film with No Money and No Car" https://www.udemy.com/how-to-make-a-feature-film-with-no-money-and-no-car/
YouTube link to "It's About Love" full movie https://youtu.be/VSSO1VjdHA8
IMDb for "A Legacy of Whining" with trailer https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3766040

Monday, July 8, 2019

Review: Songs of Injustice

Reviewer: Mutendei Writes

Songs of Injustice is a film that can be summed up through an anecdote of my own creation; “a seed planted in soil produces a plant that blooms in accordance with the properties and characteristics of the soil it germinates in.”

Songs of Injustice is a film that captures the emergence of Rock music or Metal within South America, focusing on the organic adaption of a foreign musical genre, and its transformation into an independent art form with a unique purpose and significance to the people of Latin America.

Every art form and artist seeks to establish an independent identity and Metal in Latin America is no exception. However as Songs of Injustice narrates it’s about the journey and not the destination.


Metal in Latin America is undoubtedly a tool of resistance against decades of past and ongoing political oppression, marginalization and dictatorship, the very soil in which Metal, planted as a seed grew into something organic and independent of its point of origin.
This by itself is a success in its own right when evaluated on the basis of the opening credits quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the 1982 Nobel Prize winner for literature.

“The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serves only to make us ever more unknown ever less free, ever more solitary.”
Metal is not constrained by the original valueless form of rock, inapplicable to the environment of Latin America. A fact that the documentary film alludes to, highlighting the reality that music cannot be removed from the life it exists in.

The style and tempo of the documentary focuses more on the reasons and motivation behind the music and adopts a mostly historical focus when discussing the featured musicians throughout the featured Latin countries, Peru, Mexico, Argentina and Chile.

This focus, while positive is also a bit of a downside as it doesn’t showcase the artistic development of the groups, their background and personal bios and with them the organic music within Latin America, outside of the messages around which their music is constructed.
How they came together and how they began to associate are vital segments that the film misses and either excludes intentional or unintentionally.

Because of this the film beyond the halfway mark of its one hour and thirty minutes run time starts to feel very repetitive. In addition, Songs of Injustice as a documentary film would have been better segmented, by clearer demarcation between the switch of focus from country to country, perhaps by use of the different names of counties or their flags as a transition.

It’s clear that Metal is to Latin America what Reggae is to Jamaicans, however it also misses the opportunity to get the reaction of the fans to the music and provide a perspective on the inspirational aspect to everyday persons, who are not musicians; everyday persons living in the environment that the music and its messages stems from and seeks to create awareness and historical education.

Given that the term “Aguante” which characterizes the musicians’ motivation to create metal, stands for “strength, resistance, support”, and a “yes we can” attitude, songs of resistance fails to provide a voice to the fans who the music is made for and sung to.

Despite missing this segment, the documentary film Songs of Injustice is a body of work that cannot be overlooked when seeing to understand the purpose an value of Metal within Latin America and the heavy history it is tied to.

The film closes smartly with a call to attention encouraging people to be aware or by modern lingo, “woke” to the reality that there is a vital need to pay attention to and embrace Metal as a form of resistance and means to be in tune with the reality of the day.

(Written in March 2019).

Mutendei Bio

Mutendei Writes (Elias Nabutete) a Kenyan writer, with Kenyan & Canadian life experiences, writes & performs under the penname Mutendei Writes. As an artistic writer, using original, creative & structured writing, covering unique, genre inspired material, moving beyond the limiting modern day mainstream spectrum of content has been Mutendei Writes. Interweaving modern & cultural inclinations, with vivid storylines, Mutendei Writes artistically creates written & Spoken Word Poetry, along with short stories. With four unique books; The Poetry Express, The IdeaBankisms, Shadow Walkers & Everything Mutendei. Mutendei Writes has also maintained monthly website releases on mutendeiwrites.wordpress.com, adding to his works, while enabling others to pursue their literary goals.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Reviews: The Riveters by Kate Felix

On 13th and 14th May and 20th and 21st May, I was privileged to conduct a Basics of Screenwriting Masterclass at Talanta Institute. On the 13th, we covered Differences between screenwriting and other types of creative writing, types of protagonists, types of antagonists, the logline and S.M.A.R.T goals. We went through the students’ loglines and critiqued them.


On the 14th, we begun by watching #ROFFEKEOFFICIALSELECTION2018 “The Riveters”, which was written and directed by Kate Felix.

"Fed up with her 'lame duck' status, The Upstart decides to face The Patriarch in a 1940's feminist throw-down"



DIRECTOR STATEMENT

"We have created this film to explore the barriers, historic and contemporary, to women making films. It was written, produced, and edited by an all-woman crew. All women, only women, start to finish (with the exception of the two male actors!). With it' s short run time and powerful, unapologetic message, this film would be an ideal piece to introduce or conclude a shorts program.

This is the Director/Screenwriter's first film. She is a mother of 3 with another full time job who still somehow manages to get awesome ideas on to the screen. All of the women in this production collaborated both in and outside of their traditional professional roles to make this program a success. This film is a testament to what women can do when they give themselves permission to go out and kick ass."

We used "The Riveters" to recap what we had learned on Day 1. I later asked the students five questions related to the short film. Below are some of their answers:

1.What did you like about the short film?

It was short and precise, straight to the point.
- Edminah Kanana M.

It was Clear and precise ,the protagonist, antagonist and goal was clearly brought out.
- Fredrick Kimani.

It was brief and to the point.
- Moses a.ka. Pinto.

I liked the short film on how they managed to tell the story in less than two minutes.
- Denzon Mau.

There is the protagonist, antagonist and one is able to know the goal because it's clear.
- Carol Kanyora.


2.What didn't you like about the short film?

They did not show us what next, what she planned to do when her proposal was rejected.
- Edminah Kanana M.

The suspense it left me with.
- Moses a.k.a Pinto.

I didn't like how the film ended. If one is not keen enough he/she may not know the protagonist’s final decision.
- Denzon Mau.

I didn't get know if she became a filmmaker.
-Fredrick Kimani.

Nothing. To me it's perfect.
- Carol Kanyora.


3.What does this short film remind you of?

The film reminds me some of the challenges that some film makers go through because not everyone especially the parents appreciate film as a career.
- Denzon Mau.

The day I told my parents that I wanted to engage myself in acting, out of the love I had for it. I wanted to be the next Natalie Portman (world famous actress) but they wanted me to be an engineer. It was a hectic time to convince them.
- Carol Kanyora.

My friend whose parents chose an engineering course for her, and that was not her passion. She did the course and took the certificate to them. She started hustling to help herself study for art and design.
- Edminah Kanana M.

There must be a protagonist,antagonist and a goal.
- Fredrick Kimani.

The lecturer on Act 1
- Moses a.k.a Pinto.

4. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very poor and 10 being excellent, how would you rate this film?

8/10...very good.
- Edminah.

On a scale of 1 to 10 I give it 5 because it was fair
- Denzon.

A 9
- Fredrick Kimani.

5
- Carol.

8
- Moses a.k.a Pinto

5. Any other thoughts you would like to add about the short film?

They should at least have shown us what they were going to do next now that the man had refused.
- Denzon Mau

Even though we can predict through her smile what will happen next,they should have shown us what happened maybe.
- Carol Kanyora

Act in 21st century style, to make it more attractive, capture attention.
- Edminah Kanana M.

It was interesting.
- Fredrick Kimani.

I enjoyed it.
- Moses a.k.a Pinto

'The Riveters' touches on SDG 5



Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Review: Solo Una Vita

Reviewer: Mutendei Writes

Solo Una Vita is a captivating film from start to end, its small production mishaps notwithstanding the film’s overall quality.

With a smooth introduction of a captivating mystery into its opening, the film immediately establishes who its main characters are within the first opening scenes.

With the mystery established, the mystery morphs into an artistic dissection of what community is all about, and exemplifies that community is not necessarily about the size of a group but the connections between them.

Connections that grow between the three main characters, Gea, a struggling but ambitious songstress or singstress as the movie captions her; Elvira, the aptly wise grandmother and landlady of the story and lastly; Nicola, the movie’s mystery and most damaged genius.
As an odd community, the three characters heal themselves by assisting each other with their uniquely specific problems, with the aim of overcoming their challenges, fears and losses.

The result is a rock (soft rock) movie dedicated to the positivity of art, without the assumptively assumed negatives associated with Rock music like, drugs, transactional sex, violence or mania.

If the movie was to be redone in the constructs of the English language, its title may have well been “The Fault among our stars.” However that title is already taken. Not that there is any need to worry or consider an English remake as the Italian (with dashes of Sicilian) music movie clearly establishes its own unblemished and standalone identity.

Identity becomes the back bone of the film and the central theme discussed through the interactions of the cast. In respect to the identity of the film, as mentioned by some of the audience members that watched it at a ROFFEKE event on February 13th at the August 7th Memorial Park in Nairobi, it seems to have been copied by another big budget Hollywood release that also focuses around struggling musicians; an opinion which should encourage you to be the judge of this for yourself.

While it starts out as a music film, it grows beyond that to be a film that covers the discourse and dynamics of art as a whole; the film is so well developed that any other genre of art could be swapped in for music and still have the same effect.

This allows different artists to step into the shoes of the musicians portrayed on screen and embrace the similarities, if any, of human artistic challenges they face.

Using music as a medium, the film explores art in its entirety as an exposition of human nature and not an escape. It presents art as an instrument of healing and coping mechanism for the failures of society and challenges of human existence.

Art is a tool for the exploration of the human condition and art is a home that the artists can be proud of building and developing their souls and talent within.

The film explores many metaphors relevant to human life and focuses on facets that everyone should consider.

Everyone plays different notes and everyone sings and writes differently, a reality that the film uses to highlight the fact that your problems are not bigger than the next person's, and should be considered in the same weight one assigns to one’s own burdens.

Elvira the wise grandmother and landlady, embodies this as a practice, through her own art of Kitsugi, a Japanese practice developed with the belief that “we are better when we fix our broken parts with better things!”

Without Art, we lose ourselves and our humanity.

Solo Una Vita clearly establishing art as a worthy undertaking. The film also explores what we give up for our art and the price we pay. What is the price of pursuing one’s dreams and can the price ever be too high?

Art is about hope. Art begins in Chaos and ends in harmony.

While the film fantastically succeeds in its exploration of art and the human condition, it is not without shortcomings which were alluded to at the beginning of this review.

The film’s transition from credits to first scene is a quick cut in and counterproductive in respect to establishing the film’s mood.

The film does have several errors in its subtitles either due to translation or truncation errors.

In addition to this while the film runs its course, some of the camera angles result in blurred focus and poor character tracking.

With quality of photography being a key consideration in any film, the film also seems to go overboard in cut aways and scenic landscape fillers that do not necessarily further the film and story’s agenda.

The film would have also benefitted from including flashbacks of the loss suffered by Nicola, to give more weight to the character’s burden and better connect the audience to his condition.

These downsides however, are a far cry from outweighing the good of the film, and by its strengths the film is a great investment for one and a half hours of your time.

Mutendei Bio

Mutendei Writes (Elias Nabutete) a Kenyan writer, with Kenyan & Canadian life experiences, writes & performs under the penname Mutendei Writes. As an artistic writer, using original, creative & structured writing, covering unique, genre inspired material, moving beyond the limiting modern day mainstream spectrum of content has been Mutendei Writes. Interweaving modern & cultural inclinations, with vivid storylines, Mutendei Writes artistically creates written & Spoken Word Poetry, along with short stories. With four unique books; The Poetry Express, The IdeaBankisms, Shadow Walkers & Everything Mutendei. Mutendei Writes has also maintained monthly website releases on mutendeiwrites.wordpress.com, adding to his works, while enabling others to pursue their literary goals.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Interview: Javier Lozano Sánchez - "Better Whole" director, writer, producer

ROFFEKE: When you were 6 years old, you started drawing comics based on your favourite movies from the eighties. What were some of these eighties movies that inspired you?

JAVIER: My first comics were based on the movie King Kong (1933) I drew several sequels. King Kong never dies in my comics. By the time I was 13 I had already drawn comics based on Ghostbusters, Robocop, Aliens, Terminator, Batman, Darkman, Star Wars, Mad Max, and many more. My first stories were almost copies from those. I think they taught me how to tell a story. It's something I learned very young, so I really feel comfortable writing stories. After those amazing comics I started to develop my own ideas.

ROFFEKE: You made your first short film with a hi-8 camera when you were 13. What was the short film about? How long did it take you to make the film? What did you learn from the experience?

JAVIER: It was about a mouse from outer space. A boy (my little brother) finds it and then the mouse turns into a kind of gremlin. It was like a home invasión movie, but with a gremlin. The gremlin was a puppet of Ernie (Sesame street) we really customized for the occasion; it even danced in a scene!

We made the short in a week. I had to edit on camera, so I recorded and watched and then we repeated again and again. The short lasted almost 15 minutes.

I learned that it's more difficult to make films than to imagine them. It was an incredible experience, I had no idea about making a short film. There wasn't youtube to look for a tutorial!

ROFFEKE: What lessons did you learn from doing the Better Whole music video?

JAVIER: I learned a lot about visual effects, especially about 3D compositing. It was the first time I used a green screen with actors (musicians in this case). But everything turned out ok. Better Whole is a first step for more ambitious projects.

And I realized again, like in all the projects I'm involved (especially in short films), that it's very difficult to get that incredible image you have in mind. I think images and emotions are mixed in your mind, so they are almost impossible to reproduce. You need to deal with that and try the hardest to get something similar to what you imagine and feel.

ROFFEKE: If you had a budget of 1 million dollars, what would you do different for the Better Whole music video?

JAVIER: I think it would be better technically, and... well... honestly, if I had a million dollars I would not spend it on a music video or a short film... I would probably finance my humble film production company. .. Maybe I'll end up doing the same, but it will take me a lot more time without 1 million to start.

ROFFEKE: If you had a chance to go back in time to meet your 13 year old self just before you made your first short film, what advice would you give him?

JAVIER: Make the short film, make more, and do not doubt about what you really want. I'll tell him: As soon as you finish high school, go do what you really want and forget about everything fucking else.

And after that, I'll visit Doc Brown.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

"Alone" joins the ranks of films with rock-fueled end credits

The Matrix had it. Dogma had it. Fight Club had it. And now Alone has it.

The Matrix
“Wake Up” by Rage Against the Machine

Very fitting because: “By the end of the film, Neo literally wakes up from the technology induced slavery…”



Dogma
“Still” by Alanis Morissette

Very fitting because: “The story revolves around two fallen angels who plan to employ an alleged loophole in Catholic dogma to return to Heaven after being cast out by God;”

I am your joy and your regret
I am your fury and your elation
I am your yearning and your sweat
I am your faithless and your religion

I see you altering history
I see you abusing the land
I see you and your selective amnesia
And I love you still
And I love you still



Fight Club
“Where is my mind?” by The Pixies

Very fitting because: “No song has better captured the tone, mood and message of a film quite like this classic…”

With your feet in the air and your head on the ground
Try this trick and spin it, yeah
Your head will collapse
But there's nothing in it
And you'll ask yourself

Where is my mind
Where is my mind
Where is my mind





Alone
“Mental Power” by Simply Tomas

Like Fight Club, “Alone” deals with matters of the mind. “Mental Power” by Kenyan rock artist Simply Tomas is simply, a perfect fit.

I cannot understand
The need to live like this
I want to take control
Before I lose my mind

Bridge:
Siwezi kuu-kataa
Kuna shida kubwa
Siwezi ku-kataa
Shida ni lazima

Chorus: X 2
(But) I’ve got mental powers
Working with spiritual powers
Even in the crazy hours
To keep me from self-destruction



“ALONE” SYNOPSIS.
ALONE is a psychological drama set in modern day Kenya.

EUGENE NJOGU 28 (Mwaura Bilalal) a hardworking, timid desk police officer with mild bipolar and OCD wants to earn his father’s approval and admiration by getting a promotion to a police spokesperson but his father PAUL SENIOR 61 (Ian Mbugua), for reasons not immediately revealed, gives him an ultimatum to either quit his job or risk being cut off from the inheritance will.

With the assistance from his happy go lucky artistic leaning brother MARTIN (Brain Shikhuyu) he has to navigate a series of extreme challenges from his boss Chief Inspector Malonzi (Clara Alitsi) and his father; leading to a grand revelation of their shared love and bond.

This is a story that touches on the sensitive issue of mental health and the family, hope, redemption and self-discovery.

#AloneFilmKE

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Reviews: The Neighbor (#ROFFEKEOFFICIALSELECTION2018)

Writer - Zain Ashar
Director - Reinaldo Garcia
Producer - Ricky Cruz
"Luke" - Zain Ashar
"Joe" - Willem van der Vegtkey
"Landlord" - Lucia O'Brienkey

Review by Mutendei

Right off the bat "The Neighbor" shows that a neighbor sometimes is the exact opposite of the word's meaning. Neighbour highlights that we sometimes can get more than we bargained for in the selection of habitation and that people just as much as space and amenities impact the quality of our living space.

"The Neighbor" opens admirably with a good pan acting as a neat transition into the first scene. The cut-aways in between the dialogue of the first two characters we see, hints at unwelcomed company and the cringe worthiness that the lady landlord runs away from. Just because someone hooks you up, doesn't mean they are doing you a bigger favor than the one they are doing themselves.

Having been hinted at being cringe worthy, Luke, the unwanted attention giver, in this case doesn't disappoint in playing his role, opposite the new guy, Joe who as yet unfamiliar with the irritancy of his neighbor, accurately and believably portrays a human response to his indoctrination to the neighbor menace.

From a technical production standpoint, "The Neighbor" moves at a very good pace giving a balanced view to the developments as the film progresses, one scene not losing its relevance to others, either before or after. The film however does not resonate extra emotion in the well-acted and scripted scenes due to the lack of a soundtrack, which is completely absent and a downside to the film, whether intentional or as the result of an omission.

In summary the film aptly explores the boundaries of human interaction linked to habitation and related social dynamics. In exploring this, "The Neighbor" cinematically expounds two truisms of human nature, the first being that familiarity breeds contempt and the second being that "birds of a feather, flock together" indeed.

I believe the overall point of "The Neighbor" is a question, which it internally debates rather well, a question which we all face day to day in some way: do we own our own space?

Audio Review by Wanjiku Francis



Audio Review by Chacha Rich



Audio Review by Kimathi Geoffrey



Mutendei Bio

Mutendei Writes (Elias Nabutete) a Kenyan writer, with Kenyan & Canadian life experiences, writes & performs under the penname Mutendei Writes. As an artistic writer, using original, creative & structured writing, covering unique, genre inspired material, moving beyond the limiting modern day mainstream spectrum of content has been Mutendei Writes. Interweaving modern & cultural inclinations, with vivid storylines, Mutendei Writes artistically creates written & Spoken Word Poetry, along with short stories. With four unique books; The Poetry Express, The IdeaBankisms, Shadow Walkers & Everything Mutendei. Mutendei Writes has also maintained monthly website releases on mutendeiwrites.wordpress.com, adding to his works, while enabling others to pursue their literary goals.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Spinoza Hotel - A short film by Robert David Duncan

I was quite captivated by the poetic narration in Spinoza Hotel. Below is my transcription of the first 1 minute and 30 seconds of Spinoza Hotel.

I channel it all
It’s an unbroken thread you see
It’s that line, that line that comes down
It has come down and I am it, you follow?
Everything that is here that exists here that has ever existed here
And there
Is still here
And there.

There is this thread
Call it madness, call it genius
That travels throughout history
Throughout the universe
And universes, multiverses, multiple verses, you get me?
I like to think of it as this little puddle, like mercury
And it flows around and settles, coalesces, like a bubble of mercury.
If it lands on you or even a bit of it lands on you
Lets say it’s splashing around coz the universe has got bumped or something
And a bit of it gets on you, or a lot, then you got it, you are part of it
And it will flow through you
And you will think and do cool things.
Like weird things even, magical.
Spinoza, for example, he got some.

Spinoza Hotel is #ROFFEKEOFFICIALSELECTION2018

Monday, December 10, 2018

ROFFEKE at MV Fest

On 30th November, ROFFEKE was privileged to be a part of MV Fest, organized by Olamart Creatives. The venue was the beautiful and serene Oak Place Hotel and Conference Centre. The workshop, titled "ABCD of Screenwriting", was attended by actors, screenwriters, film students, models, a music video producer, an artist and a teacher. I used various short films and music videos that were submitted to ROFFEKE to illustrate the basics of screenwriting.

ANTAGONIST

"The antagonist (not the protagonist) must have the greatest willpower, which makes him or her the most powerful character in your story."
- Michael Tabb.

Screening: THIS IS JOE



The protagonist can be his or her own worst enemy.

SCREENING: RITA



BACKSTORY

One of the many things that Backstory helps a writer to do is identify conflict. "Conflict is the fundamental element of fiction, fundamental because...only trouble is interesting. It takes trouble to turn the great themes of life into a story..." - Janet Burroway.

Screening: ROCK IS NOT AN ATTITUDE



CONFLICT

Three types of conflict:
Man versus self (intrapersonal)

Man versus man (interpersonal)

Screening: ON THE FLOOR


On The Floor from Georges HH on Vimeo.


Screening: TAP



Man versus environment

Screening: WALL OF DEATH

Synopsis: "A meteorite flies to the earth and threatens to destroy an open air rock'n'roll party. Through the power of a "Wall Of Death" the festival visitors can save the party!"



DIALOGUE

"A good film script should be able to do completely without dialogue." - David Mamet

One participant wanted to know what the screenwriter's role was if no dialogue was used in a movie. I explained that the screenwriter is the one who writes a lot of what will appear on the screen.

Screening: THE SOUND OF ROAD



Screening: MEASURE OF A MAN



(Check out the interview with Measure of a Man director and actor here)

I ended by asking the participants: What are the ABCDs in RED OMEN?

Screening: RED OMEN

Synopsis: "Award winning Canadian singer songwriter Ed Roman along with animator extraordinaire Nelson Diaz from There Be Dragons Creative Media in NYC have created an exquisite animation to the title track of Ed Roman’s latest album Red Omen. The message is for awareness of Dyslexia."



(Read ROFFEKE Volunteer, Zafrica Hasaja's review of Red Omen, here)

We ended with a short discussion on the challenges and opportunities in the Kenyan film industry.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

3 Reviews by Zafrica Hasaja

ROFFEKE is honoured to have a new volunteer, Zafrica Hasaja. Zafrica studied Theatre Arts and Film technology at Kenyatta University. He has worked as a video editor at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation and was an intern at Royal Media Services. Below are his first three reviews:

RED OMEN BY ED ROMAN

Animated music videos are slowly becoming like an in thing and when I saw the video for red omen by Ed Roman I was curious to watch it till the end. Well let’s unwrap ‘red omen’. This song first of all, is an amazing track. I liked the hook and chorus; it’s catchy but you have to listen to the whole song to get the gist. The video is awesome. I loved the concept of the toy theme. It reminded me of when I was young. The guitar was a standout factor, wow! This is one track that should be on your playlist; even kids will enjoy this tune.



A BIGGER MAN BY PAPERFACE
'A bigger man' by Paperface is a creative rock music video. The song not only has an awesome message to it but also there is something special in the chillness of the whole vibe. To all rock fans, this tune captures the deepest part of the soul, sending your mind somewhere to oblivion.Yet again an awesome execution of the video. Honestly I can recommended this song to any one without second guessing. The video is an animated tale that will keep you glued to it till the end. For further understanding (so that it doesn't seem like I am mumbling a lot of nothing) kindly see the video on YouTube and if you like it just like I did, click on the like button and subscribe for more!



MARCH FROM THE UNDERGROUND BY LAST YEAR'S TRAGEDY

‘Last year’s tragedy’ is a Kenyan metal rock group. In review ‘march from underground’ is a fine one with some freshness to it. It has a lot of ‘emo’ to give out with a high tone. The rating for this one is fair. It would be a good composition for a concert. The video done in black and white fuses into the song's theme which was done in memory of one who was close to the group. It is intense and brings out the adventure in the track.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

"Rockstars vs Zombies" - a screenplay by Andrew Ward

Synopsis

Logline - The world brought to it’s knees by zombie hordes.

The hope of mankind is a group of rockstars...If they can stay sober long enough.

Comps – Shaun of the Dead, Airheads, Zombieland


Young wannabe rockstar, Damien escapes the zombies and finds rock legend Christian Blackheart (aka Leslie) to help him stay safe, until a pyromaniac arrives...

The zombie apocalypse is upon us and most humans have already been turned into mindless, brain-eaters. The six-part series of 25 minute episodes will follow the meanderings of Damien and Christian as they hazily shuffle through the hordes of zombies.

They will meet several other (fictional) heroes of rock music on their travels, as well as a few surprise faces. The group comprise of stereotypical rock stars from various eras; aging glam rocker, death metal, female rock star, punk rock, Britpop rock & roller etc.

The reason the rockstars are seemingly invulnerable to the zombie virus is the result of years of drinking and taking drugs. The rockstar’s blood (and brains) are poisonous to the zombies. Zombies are attracted to lights and some noise, but are scared of loud noises, another reason the rockstars are safe.

The group go through several comedic situations (usually involving Damien being in pain, or mocked) and eventually figure out that they will not be killed, as long as they are high, or drunk.

This helps them stay alive, but proves very difficult in getting them to their final destination of an ex-groupie who is a Scientist.

The only stumbling blocks are if the team can remember where they are going and why…

Damien is wilder than the average person, but nothing compared to the rest of the crew and acts as a voice of reason. He tries to keep the band together, helping them through the trip of a lifetime.

In the final episode, they reach the Scientist who is able to create a cure from their blood, but means anyone taking it is constantly high.

Monday, October 1, 2018

What Happens Next?

Two weeks ago, I created a contest on allpoetry.com, inspired by “Rumours”, a short film by Katlyn Cuilla-Martinez. Rumours is “A dark comedy about a young rocker couple who go through a break up at an inappropriate time.” My rules for the contest were simple: “Using not more than ten lines, write a poem about what happens next in this story. I am looking for creativity, humour and use of poetic devices. Have fun!”

Third place went to “Busted” by Hearthrob. The “stash” adds an interesting dynamic to the story! Second place went to “Nightmare Stage Night” by Alexander Boukal. It was a dramatic take on the prompt and was full of lovely poetic phrases.

First place went to “Sour Rock” by Red Head 1. The poem clearly answered the question “what happens next?”. Below is a sample of some of the comments on the poem:

“im an alcoholic...it's hard to iterate...i don't drink anymore...but i feel this deeply…”

“Oh, what a dramtic and gripping story. Your sure are an expert in creating imaginative narration... They sound and appear so possible and natural and yet the element of drama is so entertaining.”

Red Head 1 replied: “My husband is in a band, so some of it comes from second hand experience….But not the alcohol poisoning. Lol”

Director’s Statement:
“When I wrote Rumours, I gave myself the challenge to write something that, with a slight change in direction, could be equally hilarious or tragic. And so it became an excruciating tale of a couple in a moment of complete turmoil. I was intrigued with the raw result. Are Mickey and Nance two soulmates that are victims of a harsh environment? Or are they just two drunk idiots that bring out the worst in each other? We callously laugh at their ridiculous break up, as we are deign to admit that love is not for the faint of heart.”

About the director:
“K.B. Cuilla-Martinez is a feminist writer, director & actor. Known for her fiery personality on- and off-screen, Cuilla-Martinez fuels her work with passion, angst and acerbic humor. She is best known for directing Rumours, a punk-rock dark comedy; and Now Searching, a bleak take on friendship and dating in the modern world. She is currently working on several projects, including a semi-autobiographical series based on her tragic-yet-hilarious time as a Lyft driver. Originally a hippie-punk from Boulder, Colorado; she now assimilates in Los Angeles.”

“Rumours” is a #ROFFEKEOFFICIALSELECTION2017

Read Sour Rock, Nightmare Stage Night and Busted HERE.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Telling Tech Stories: ICT Conference on the Framework for Digital Markets in Kenya

On the 13th and 14th September, I was privileged to attend a conference organized by KICTANET and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS). Venue? The beautiful Tribe hotel located inside Village Market.


The afternoon session on the first day of the conference was a panel discussion titled "Framework for digital markets: in Kenya and EAC region Outcomes of all sessions." It was moderated by Barrack Otieno and was comprised of Rosemary Koech-Kimwatu from Oxygene Ltd., S.M. Muraya the Director of Salte Digital and Wilberforce Seguton of Bunifu Technologies. Wilberforce shared interesting insights from his visit to Germany and talked about some best practices he noted during his visit.

When the topic of telling tech stories came up, I just had to comment:

As a storyteller I just wanted to add a comment on the telling stories issue. I think that a multi-stakeholder approach is needed even in this. Storytellers just want to tell stories and techies can be allowed to just be techies. It’s a matter of collaborating. How can we work together? How can we help each other? As a techie, can you go to a filmmaker and say “let’s do something together”. How can my skills help you and how can your skills help me. So it’s just a matter of working together. Also, innovating the way stories are told. Make films, make reality TV shows, make game shows. Like Lion's Den but for technology. So it’s just a way of finding better ways of getting the story out there and making the story “sexy” so that the kawaida (non-techie) person is first of all entertained because that’s how people learn.



ROFFEKE Tech stories:
Nikola Tesla, Colorado Springs and Jardin de la Croix
Are hackers the new rock stars?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Alien and Alien: Interview - Mariusz Moscicki and Reviews by ROFFEKE Volunteers

"I don't know about you, but I just love that scene from the movie "The Fifth Element" (Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich) when Leeloo learns what [the] word "WAR" means. This inspired me to make this little animation." - Mariusz Moscicki

Synopsis
Alien visited Earth recently. He saw how people treat animals and each other. He got sick because of the air pollution and chemicals in food. He saw war, terrorism and death. Now because of all of that he can be compensated and law firm Alien & Alien is about to help him.

Format:
16:9, stop-motion animation.

Time: 1 minute.

ROFFEKE interviewed the creator and animator of "Alien and Alien", Mariusz Moscicki. His answers were short and to the point, like a commerical, like his animation. :-)

ROFFEKE: How long did it take you to create this animation?
Mariusz: 2 months.

ROFFEKE: What was the hardest part?
Mariusz: House on the rock.

ROFFEKE: Which software/technology, if any, did you use?
Mariusz: None.

ROFFEKE: There are many types of animation. Why did you choose stop-motion?
Mariusz: It's the hardest.

ROFFEKE: Why did you choose to do animation rather than live action?
Mariusz: I love animations.

ROFFEKE: Why did you choose the mock-commercial/ parody advertisement format?
Mariusz: It's a black comedy. I love this kind of humor.

ROFFEKE: Any advice for upcoming animation artists?
Mariusz: Keep your passion alive.

Reviews by ROFFEKE Volunteers

Coming from the perspective of an alien or a creature that is not from earth, this gives an earth resident something to think about in terms of all that’s going on in the world. I love the originality used in this especially the use of candy looking bits to make the characters and most things around them. The camera shots were quite well arranged and the sound is pretty awesome. There were, however, some parts in the commercial that were pretty graphic but I’m sure it was to make sure the message hit home though it could have been executed better without we the viewers getting to see all the blood and dead animals. All in all it was a good short film. - Lesley Gakuo

This video seeks to explain the shortcomings of the society in the World in present time. The law firm is interested in helping in these difficult times. The message being portrayed is very powerful in attracting clients but the quality of animation they used was not that good and was not doing the message justice. I feel like they should have done a better job plus some of the images they used were too gruesome and won't be appropriate to some audiences, for example the ones used to depict war. Overall, I enjoyed the video but I feel they should have done a better job with the animation. - Muthei Muni Nyangweso

I didn't like the video because, first of all the title. From my first impression of the video, based on the title, I was expecting it to be about "Aliens" not a Law firm called "Alien and Alien" so I think they should have chosen a better title for the video. The video itself isn't that interesting too and I don't think being an advertisement it was appropriate to use the picture of the slaughtered cow and the picture of the dead bodies. I don't think it will be comfortable for some audiences. They could have also done a better job with the animation - Ellam Minju Gathendu

"Alien and Alien" is a #ROFFEKEOFFICIALSELECTION2017

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Interview: Kurt No.5 - directed by Aleksandr Kirienko

ROFFEKE: Why Kurt Vonnegut? Why not a Russian author?

Aleksandr: Kurt Vonnegut is one of my favorite American writers. I have used an extract of a text written by Vonnegut at the beginning of my song "Kurt №5". It is a fragment of his autobiography "Fates Worse Than Death". When I read this passage for the first time, i was very impressed by that. I was born on the bank of a big river too. Therefore it is very close to my world view. It was the main source of inspiration for my song. Suddenly I've got a puppet "Kurt Vonnegut". So I came up with idea to make an animated clip for this song with the puppet Kurt in the title role.

ROFFEKE: What animation techniques did you use?

Aleksandr: I used puppet animation, shooting on location and shooting with a chroma-key. Some of the objects are painted by Vonnegut himself: a stork, a live chicken and a fried chicken, a house, a cow, an air ball, a car and a little dragon. So I've borrowed them from some of his books. The first scene of the movie takes place in Vonnegut's room in New York. Now there is his museum.

ROFFEKE: What parts of the video were the most difficult to animate?

Aleksandr: It was difficult and interesting to shoot at the Baltic Sea in St. Petersburg. On that day there was a strong wind, almost a storm. It was necessary to shoot many shots with Kurt sitting at the seashore, looking at the sea and moving like a real human - turning his head for example. But the puppet was falling all the time because of the strong wind. Despite this, I'm glad that there was a storm that day: it helped us to make a very exciting scene with strong waves, rugged cliffs, gloomy fast clouds and a small plush Kurt - it's very cool.

ROFFEKE: Why a puppet instead of CGI or drawings?

Aleksandr: The puppet itself inspired me so much, that I definitely wanted to make it the main character and I've got no idea of shooting the clip somehow differently. At one film festival in the Russian city of Kirov there was a funny story. It was a festival of feature films. There was only one movie in the animation contest - my "Kurt №5". One of the members of the jury expressed doubt whether it was correct to take my cartoon to this festival. In response, another member of the jury said that the puppet in my cartoon was acting even better than many actors in the feature films. It was very funny, everybody was laughing.

ROFFEKE: In what ways does the music complement the film?

Aleksandr: The main role of my film was played by the puppet Kurt. But the minor role was played by the Water. My video has a lot of Water in its different shapes: the sea, the rivers, the lake, the harbor and even the puddle. I tried to express this feeling of Water in my music. Guitars, synthesizers, voice and even drums are kind of water. Listen the song: all the time it flows, drips, streams and leaks. All water on Earth makes the World Ocean. In my movie, the music and the video are merged into one big sensual Ocean.

Interview: Measure of a Man

Melvin: Hi. My name is Melvin. I was the lead actor in The Measure of a Man short film.
Danny: And my name is Danny Sketch. I was the director, DP, writer and editor of the short film The Measure of a Man.
Melvin: Mil had invited us to come and speak at the screening of this short film but unfortunately due to busy schedules we were not able to make it. So we thought we would do a short video and answer some of the questions she would have wanted us to answer if we attended.

How and why did you become a director?

Danny:

First of all, let me clarify that my main profession is being a DP and not a director. But in the case of shooting Measure of a Man, I knew how I wanted to shoot it and how actors were going to portray the characters. So I figured, since I know all this stuff, let me just direct the thing myself and get it done. As for how, I do not like being in front of the camera.
Melvin: I know.
Danny: I can't act to save my life (laughs). I decided to focus more on behind the camera and technical side of film-making. The artistry of acting and all that stuff, I see it from an outside perspective. I learn how to converse with actors, give them directions and stuff but that's as far as it goes. Most of the times, I'm behind the camera, shooting.

How and why did you get into acting?

Melvin:

Why? I like film. I've always liked film. I'd go to the cinema and I'd watch, I'd think "that's what I want to be doing with my life." I've always liked the idea of playing characters who are very different from me because in my personal life, I'm very reclusive, very boring, so the chance to play people who are very far from my character is really entertaining. And I just like performing and film.

How I got into it. I always had the interest. At first, I didn't know how to go about it. I went for a couple of auditions at Kenya National Theatre but because I guess I was shy and maybe not too confident, I didn't enjoy that process of auditioning. So I thought maybe it would be easier if I just start making my own content so that I can have the chance to try and fail and learn in a safe environment.

What challenges were encountered while shooting the film and did you have any special preparations leading up to filming?

Watch the rest of the interview here:

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Interview: Alec Herron - Producer of "The Music Stops Here"

ROFFEKE: What lessons did you learn from carrying out the Kickstarter campaign for "The music stops here"?

Alec: I learned to allow people to buy into the project, rather than just donate money. By this, I mean we hosted events where donors and potential donors could see the work in progress, feeling a part of an ongoing project that they could see and help progress and be a part of. It's also important to keep the donors updated on your progress, not just take the money and say 'thanks, cya'. You have to remember that were it not for their kind donations, your film wouldn't be going beyond your laptop screen.

ROFFEKE: In the BBC radio Manchester interview, you admitted that you were "losing money" because of this project. What priceless things have you gained from making this documentary?

Alec: This is our first documentary, both for myself and (Director) Adam Farkas. Technically we learned a lot about film-making and production, though this is quite obvious, I guess. From the Star and Garter I learned that culture means much more than anything else in this city. Manchester is a passionate city and at the heart of that passion are two things: football and music. I gained an even greater love for my city and for the people that make it so special; the unique characters, the creatives, the down-to-earth spirits and most of all, the people who keep enjoying the city's nightlife and don't give up on the music.

ROFFEKE: Which scenes would you have loved to be included in the final cut of the documentary?
Alec: There is a scene about the 'Smile' indie disco, which many will claim is the longest running indie disco in the city that, essentially, can claim to have invented indie rock. We just couldn't fit this into the shorter version of The Music Stops Here, but we will look to include this in a later form. There are also some great scenes which go into the local political situation that has led to the due closure of The Star and Garter, which add real depth, but might be a bit too overwhelming for a casual non-Manchester viewer.

ROFFEKE: If the "soul" of the Star and Garter could speak, what do you think it would say?

Alec: "Turn it down!"

ROFFEKE: Advice for aspiring documentary producers?

Alec: Just pick up the camera, find the right story and go for it. Don't worry so much about the technical side. People will forgive some dodgy camera angles or sound glitch, but they won't forgive a boring story. Also, when people say "No" to speaking on camera, try again another couple of times. Some of the best interviews you'll do are with initially very reluctant subjects. Equally, some of the worst interviews will be with people who have too much to say!

(Like Placebo:Alt. Russia, The Music Stops Here touches on SDG 11 and SDG 16: "Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable" and "Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels." Under SDG 11, target 11.4 stands out: "Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world's cultural and natural heritage.")

Interview: Maxime Guérin - Director of "Save Me a Dance"

ROFFEKE: Why did you pick "1789" by Fuzzy Vox for the opening scenes of the film?

Maxime: A friend of mine made me discover Fuzzy Vox which is a "not so young" band from the suburb of Paris. I really loved their music that can be defined as a perfect mix between some pop Neo-punk such as The Hives and the old rockabilly standards. It's pretty bouncy and positive so when they accepted to lend me a few tunes, I immediately thought of "1789" as a very good opening credit song. It launches the movie in a rock'n roll and funny fashion and it drags the audience to the juvenile and reckless teenage atmosphere I was keen on creating.



ROFFEKE: The lyrics of "I'll be Gone" are very fitting for the theme of "Save me a dance". Did you consider the lyrics of the song when you picked it?

Maxime: It actually is a happy coincidence. The scene was horribly missing music and I added this tune to help the mise en scene and the suspense work. One can't imagine how a rockabilly song brings fun to a scene. Since the movie will mainly be seen by a French audience, I wasn't really paying attention to the lyrics. But when I listened to the song a second time, it became clear that the lyrics and the song were perfect for the scene. I hope it will help the movie catch the English speaking audience.



ROFFEKE: My favourite song in the film is "City of Quartz" by Nine Eleven. If you had to pick a song from a totally different genre for that scene, which song would you pick?

Maxime: Your question is really tricky since one of the main bets, if not the most engaging, was to use a dark hardcore song to cover the final sex scene. In a few festival screenings, some people left the room at this moment, missing the end of the short film. I totally own up for this choice of music which, in my opinion, transcribes perfectly the state of mind of these clumsy, furious and genuine teenagers. And to be honest with you, this bias was the very starting point of my project. So I really can't imagine any other type of song for that scene.



ROFFEKE: What are the advantages and disadvantages of both writing then directing your own film?

Maxime: This short film was a light project with a crew of friends, a young and vibrant cast and very little money involved. So I don't think it would have been possible and realistic to direct it without having written it first. It took me a very long time to get a final version of the script and to be glad and certain of what I wanted to tell through the characters. And even with all this subtle work I made mistake while directing the movie that gave me a hard time during the editing. So I don't see how the writer and the director could have been two different people for this movie.

ROFFEKE: Advice for aspiring writer-directors?

Maxime: Through the example of this short film I would advice anyone who wants to direct a movie with a strong bias and some fresh ideas to go for it. It's always worth it. A couple of years ago I spent almost all the money I had for this film, nowadays I'm not really missing the money, and I have directed a short film I'm proud of.

Review: Blurred Memories

Review by Joseph Ochieng(Intern)
Band: Shake The Deaf
Production: French Connection Films
Director: Joffrey Saintrapt
Actors: Tyler Parr, Kristi Ann Holt

The story, crafted by Joffrey Saintrapt, is about the life of an old man longing for the early days of his life. Moreover, this music video takes the viewer through a comparison of the then-versus-now of the man's life. The opening montage begins with fireworks then crosscuts help introduce the lead character (Tyler Parr) and the state of confusion he finds himself in. The Montage builds suspense as the viewer keeps guessing, while the events unfold. The character’s world is introduced by a montage of panning and tilting shots while he is still lying on a park bench, owing to the intrapersonal conflict he finds himself in, trying to unravel the circumstances which led to his current status.

The music starts from simple, melodious rock bits which escalate to hard rock as the viewer is thrust into the early life of this character. Joffrey Saintrapt has succeeded in the use of reverse motion during the flashback sequence. The actor enters into something like a daydream as he lies on the park bench. In the dream sequence, he leaps into his yesteryears, while all his idiosyncrasies play beforehand; he is energetic, swings himself at a park, meets with his love, walks in the streets, and goes to nightclubs. The reverse speed helps in getting into the mind of the character, as he is nostalgic about how he spent his youthful moments. In the flashback scenes, the reverse motion is accompanied by high pitched rock 'n' roll as well as the baroque tunes. The close-up shots of the words NO EXIT and EVICTION show that however much the character is on a journey of self-rediscovery, he might do only a little to get the answers he is seeking. Considering, he is aging, and life has reduced him to a pauper, a loner, and a binge alcoholic.

This is a music video that makes you want to pause in between the scenes to ingest every bit of the techniques used.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Interview: YJ Kim - writer/director of Chemical

ROFFEKE: What inspired you to write "Chemical?"

YJ KIM: Everyone needs a second chance in their life since we keep making mistakes unconsciously and continuously. The man in the film is me; he wants to have a second chance from the mistakes he has made so far in his life. The chemical in the film is a fantasy-like symbol of that second chance, as the man tries to re-start the relationship with the woman and in the end, the woman reacts with a smile, even though nothing can be changed for them and I would like to label this chemical as ‘hope’ or ‘second chance’.


ROFFEKE: What were the high points and low points of directing the film?

YJ KIM: High point: Dancing scene is the most powerful & imaginative scene from this film as the man and woman get over their trauma via dancing, which is what I love to show off to audiences.
Low points: I would have liked more balance between both the man's and woman’s stories, however, unfortunately, I could not do this due to time limitation and low budget.

ROFFEKE: "Sofia so far" by Goodnight Radio is such a good fit for the crazy dancing scene! What made you pick this particular song out of many other possible songs?

YJ KIM: "Sofia so far" is my favorite rock music song due to the amazing melody line, modern synth sound, powerful beat and rough voice. Thus, I always wanted to put this song in the most important moment of my life. As mentioned, the man in the film is me and the dancing scene is the most crucial moment for his second chance and there was no hesitation for me to put this awesome song in this film.

(ROFFEKE note: "Sofia so far" is part of the soundtrack for the Oscar-winning short film "Curfew")



ROFFEKE: Any advice for aspiring writer-directors?

YJ KIM: Making films is not easy. You could be depressed and stressed because of low budget, lack of inspiration and staff management etc. and so, taking a break is essential as much as diligence for making the film. A deep and good break will make you say ‘Shit, I need to make my next film because I can be better than that!’

ROFFEKE: Your favorite female directors?

YJ KIM: Zoe R. Cassavetes (It is such a pity that one cannot find even a single work of hers in South Korea as she is the best, no matter of male or female)

You can watch "Chemical" on the ROFFEKE OFFICIAL SELECTION channel, at 9.45pm Kenyan time.


Read Joseph Ochieng's review of "Chemical" here

Review: Chemical

Review by Joseph Ochieng
Director: YJ Kim
Actors: Eunmin Kho, YJ Kim, Juhyun Son

The narrative is about a jilted lover seeking reunion with his ex-girlfriend. The Implied silence at the beginning of the film creates suspense and enhances the mood. A blank screen with the words of two characters having a conversation stirs questions in the viewer’s mind. Are they insurgents, are they chemical doctors, and are they scientists? After a few seconds, the two mates are revealed talking matters love over a drink.

Costume design matches with the initial moments of the story. The silent conversation on a blank screen superimposes the dark clothing of the characters when we meet them for the first time. The plot twists and we realize that the two friends are involved in a discussion about love, its intricacies, and characteristics. How the director wields his creativity to relay the message is strategic. The film pace changes from slow at the beginning to a quick montage in the middle revealing flashback sequence and the thoughts of the characters.

Transition to the significant events in the story is primarily enhanced by fading to black. In the second part, Eunmin is introduced. Her boyfriend calls her, and she agrees to meet him. During the date, the man pours the chemical in Eunmin’s drink. The pace increases again when Eunmin’s thoughts play before her eyes, in a fast montage. The visual effects help enhance the mood of the bar scene. The reality is contrasted with Eunmin’s thought through color correction. The director has succeeded in getting his audience glued to “Chemical” from the point of hitting the “play” to the final minutes. The fading to blank screens enhance act breaks, giving the viewer a moment to internalize the previous acts, and prepare for the next events. However, the fact that dialog propels the plot is the main undoing of “Chemical.” Subtlety and suspense could still be achieved through the thought-provoking actions in the flashback sequences.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Successful Film Festival Management

Happy new year everyone! New year, new beginnings, new intern!

ROFFEKE is honoured to have Joseph Ochieng as an intern. Joseph is a graduate from Kenyatta University. He majored in Screenwriting and Film Directing and minored in Audio-Visual editing, Film Festival Management, Film Adjudication, Sound design and video camera operations. Below is his first blog post for ROFFEKE.


Film festivals are events which bring together various film enthusiasts - both the established and budding film producers, directors, actors, actresses, and cinematographers - to watch a series of different genres of film in one or more cinemas or screening venues. Usually, a festival can be local or global with most being the latter.

For a festival manager, there are specific issues which if not given priority, a festival is likely to go into the gutter.

When putting up a film festival, the organizers should be cognizant of the theme on which all films should be hinged. For instance, ROFFEKE incorporates rock films, that is, films with clear rock 'n' roll themes or films with any theme but with a rock 'n' roll soundtrack. Festival organizers need to specify in time what they need the filmmakers to know about the festival.

The second question to ask yourself as a festival manager or organizer is what type of audience are you targeting with your festival? There could be a festival that is specifically for and about the victories and challenges of women (such as Udada Film Festival). A festival might be set up to address LGBTQ issues in the society or an organizer might want to put up a festival which screens films made to advocate for the rights of the millennial boy child.

Additionally, the success of a film festival depends on originality. Before putting out a festival to the multitudes out there whether it is local or internationally, do in-depth research to avoid redundancies. Every film festival should have aspects of subtlety and ingenuity. The last thing you want to do is ape the previous festival you attended and try to put up exactly that. Implement your own ideas to realize your unique vision.

The screening venue is also an important aspect to consider. Which city’s counties or theatres are you likely to woo the maximum number of the festival goers? Does your excellent venue have proximity to transport system, shops, and accommodation centers or is it near the country’s most polluted area? The superb site will attract more film enthusiasts; the average venue will be filled with only a limited number of people. Consequently, a venue also depends on the theme of the festival. Films which narrate about life in the slums might just reach the target people when screened in slum areas. (Slum Film Festival is a good example of one such film festival.)

A festival manager should source for necessary sponsors, donors, and funders who can avail finances, equipment, tickets, help in the festival advertising and take care of any other logistics. Indeed, even the world’s established film festivals have sponsors who give them necessary assistance during the festival screenings.

It is commendable to provide the information about the festival calendar including official film festival submission dates, the preliminary and final deadlines and the proper screening, judging and awarding days. Locking filmmakers in a puzzle where they are oblivious to the exact festival dates and deadlines is very unprofessional. Clear communication concerning the official festival calendar allows the filmmakers to prepare themselves for doing final touches on their films, hustling for the submission fees and arranging travel and accommodation plans. There is no magic wand required for this, just strategic planning and management.

There is need to establish a good rapport with film distributors. Do a good background check of the films that your team of jurors has given the green light. Do they have exclusive distributor agreements which your festival should know about? You cannot afford to plan the festival for a whole year then get flagged by a distributor for screening films which you do not have permission from the owners/distributors. Some distributors choose specific festivals for the movie they are in charge of so even if it is the producer or the star who submitted the film, ensure the film is free from lawsuits.

A festival should have a team committed to overseeing successful selection, screenings, awards, advertisements, bookings and extra logistics. As a festival manager, you need to do appropriate staffing for your fabulous event. The festival director needs to have a clear vision for the whole team and work closely with all the departments to ensure the smooth running of the festival. Furthermore, units like advertising, venue bookings, accounting department, licensing, transport of guests, equipment, emergency, masterclasses and workshops, food and any other logistics all require appropriate departmental heads. You need to thoroughly work with the screening department to ensure the projectors are in excellent condition; the screens are working, lighting is okay, the public address has no hitches, the film aspect ratios enable them to be projected on wide screens or cinemascope, etc.

A festival manager needs to have the license to all of the screening venues. Get the permission to use all the places to avoid being at loggerheads with the authorities. Your guests cannot come all the way from their home counties or countries then fail to watch the movies because you did not do your homework by booking the venue in time and paying the required fee!

Finally, how do you store films that the festival will screen to the public? Do you have enough storage devices like large hard drives and computers? You might want to argue that filmmakers need to carry copies of their works, but well, sometimes people don’t want to bring DVDs or flash drives to movie theatres.

Appropriate planning and strategic management should form an integral part of any film festival. Before a festival runs, the managers should do a good job regarding publicity, excellent communication, funds management, transport system and securing of venues. Most importantly, a film festival should be devoid of any a form of favoritism. Awards should be given to the filmmakers who deserve them, not those who paid something extra. Proper management ensures fewer migraines before, during and after the festival.

- Joseph Ochieng(jphochieng971@gmail.com)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Interview: "Fat Punk" director Robert David Duncan

WINNER, MOST AVANT GARDE FILM
WINNER, BEST EXPERIMENTAL FEATURE FILM
WINNER, BEST EXPERIMENTAL, FEATURE CATEGORY
WINNER, BEST WRITER - ROBERT DAVID DUNCAN - FAT PUNK
NOMINATED, BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE FILM
NOMINATED, BEST DIRECTOR - ROBERT DAVID DUNCAN

"A triumph of solo-shot, punk-style D.I.Y. smartphone filmmaking, Fat Punk explores the space beyond life and death, where memories live on even though the world that contained them is long gone. With its themes of love, struggle, loss, coming of age and aging, Fat Punk is a beautiful tribute to the original era of punk, and the special past that lives on in each of us."

ROFFEKE: The opening images of Fat Punk are quite striking. Why graffiti as the opening images?

Robert: I wanted to be able to have a central visual frame or container for the wanderings that the protagonist takes in the film, and the graffiti-filled alleyways provided that. To some extent, he is wandering though the past - both his own, and the physical past of the city where he came of age. He perhaps is even caught somewhere between life and death, which is something each viewer can ponder and decide about, if they wish to. I had fallen in love with the alleyways of downtown Vancouver while wandering around filming other stuff, and I really liked the picture they present of art, anger, hope, decay and a beautiful array of emotions. As the main character, FP, wanders back in his mind through the life-changing summer he had decades before, the alleys seemed to represent a perfect symbol of that journey.

ROFFEKE: What technical and non-technical special effects did you use in Fat Punk?

Robert: Well, one of the first things that the viewer will pick up on is that the film is shot in first-person camera point-of-view (POV), with an unseen main character. I liked this because it meant I could make the main character really larger than life! This meant hand-holding the smartphone camera rig at a height of around 2 metres. I'm already quite tall, so this was pretty easy, and quite fun. You may notice how much everyone else in the film looks up! This also meant I could play the main character as well as the main supporting character Leo. The protagonist is unseen but heard, and Leo is seen but unheard, so it worked with me playing both.

I also faded from colour to B+W early in the film to show the transition from present day back into the memory world that the bulk of the film takes place in. I used a pencil sketch special effect during post-production that gives the film a sort of graphic novel look, which was intended to heighten the dreamlike quality of memory. Are our memories accurate, or are they created in our own minds like a film or comic book?

ROFFEKE: How much of Fat Punk is autobiographical?

Robert: Like most of my films, there is no "me" character in the story. There are, however, elements that I am familiar with, and emotional themes that I feel a real kinship with. For example, I wasn't the picked-on kid, but I was the kid who didn't join a band when I had the chance, feeling more comfortable keeping my bass-playing for home, and being a band photographer instead.

Similarly, I didn't lose my parents young, but I did lose them, and for various reasons I know what it is to feel fatherless. I think so many of us grow up without the parenting we would have wanted, and I do feel that leaves a permanent sorrow that doesn't go away. This is at the root of the relationship between the main character, FP, and his mentor, Leo. Of all the characters in the film, I perhaps identify most strongly with Leo.

ROFFEKE: Who have been the Leos (mentors) in your life?

Robert: Most of them have been teachers of one sort or another! Early on in school there was a special education teacher who took me under his wing a bit and showed me some cool things with music and other activities. I think he may have sensed a lack in my home life, as perhaps did other teachers, who would spend extra time with me, letting me talk with them. I'm still grateful for that, and for how school was a stabilizing influence in my childhood.

The mentor-protege connection is something I enjoy exploring in my stories. I have a theory that both the mentor and the protege have a lack inside them, and they unconsciously or subconsciously seek each other out. The dynamic between FP and Leo is such a positive one, and is almost a story in itself. Hopefully everyone comes across a positive influence like that at some point in their life.

I've been lucky to have other figures who have served as role models and mentors in my adult life. I try to give some of that back as well, by doing talks, teaching, coaching and writing books, sharing my knowledge. As I get older, I realize there are fewer and fewer older people around to be role models for people my age, so it kind of falls to each of us to step up and try to mentor ourselves and others.

ROFFEKE: In Fat Punk, you turned the weaknesses of having no budget into strengths. If you had a big budget, what major changes would you make to Fat Punk?

Robert: The script has gone through so many changes! The original film I wanted to make was set in 1979, a period piece, and would have had actors playing FP as a child, a teen and as a young adult. I was going to play Leo. I realized early-on that it was beyond my capacity at that time to make that film. Believe me, I tried! I did at times also consider sock puppets, shadow puppets, audio plays, a comic book, a graphic novel, a stage play script, even 3D animation which I started but couldn't get the characters to look the way I had hoped.

I started rewriting the script over and over again to try and drive out costs and complications, simplifying the story every way I could. I was getting tired of this failure or "non-success" hanging over me, so I told myself there was no way I was going to carry this untold story with me into the following year. I was either going to do it or dump it, and I think the latter would have been a shame, because I feel it is a beautiful story of love, loss and empowerment.

Around that time I started experimenting with first-person POV shooting, where I was an actor, but also the cinematographer and director. The FotoSafari MoJo-7 rig I have for my iPhone made that quite feasible. We shot my web series "The Four Letter Words" that way, with me playing an integral but unseen character, while filming and interacting with other actors. Around then I must have had the "a-ha!" moment, because I realized I could perhaps shoot "Fat Punk" from the POV of someone my age looking back in time.

It was amazing how quickly the pieces fell into place after that. This story wanted out! I wrote the final script, dropping many of the earlier story elements and some characters, in just a few days. That became the shooting script, and I only ever printed a single copy of it. Actors that I had been talking to about the longer original version were still willing to come out and do some quick cameos, and the rest is history.

In a perfect world, sure, I'd love to be sitting in a cinema or a stage audience someday and see the original period piece, as written, with all the vintage costumes, set decoration, live music and stuff, but for now, I know I've taken the story as far as I need to for the moment and am getting it out there for people to enjoy. Hopefully they like and get something from it. It was made for $500 in the end, so if nothing else, that should be an inspiration!

ROFFEKE: Favourite female director(s)?

Robert: I suspect some of the people I have in mind might prefer to be known simply as directors rather than female directors, but here goes:

Anita George
Jenell Diegor
Lana Read

They are all directors that I have a lot of respect for. I like how they experiment, push boundaries and do great work, while also being positive and supportive influences for other artists. I recently re-watched "The Savages" by Tamara Jenkins and was again really impressed with the awesome telling of such a realistic and human-scale story. I also came across a film from 1971 called "A New Leaf" and was really interested by both the writing and directing of Elaine May. In general, I think writer-directors rock!

***

Robert David Duncan is the author of Microshort Filmmaking