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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...

The Indie Bible

Monday, December 19, 2016

ROFFEKE at BFMA 2016, 24th November.

Review by Josephine Koima: Intern

Broadcast Film and Music Africa is a business and technology event that serves the creative content and electronic media industry through a marketing platform. They have held such events annually for 7 years to bring together stakeholders in these three industries to empower them with knowledge that will strengthen Africa’s electronic media future. This year’s BFMA was held at the Kenya National Theatre and targeted TV broadcasters, Radio Broadcasters, Film and Music Production companies, Animators, Pay TV companies Advertising and Marketing agencies and many more.

Roffeke was invited and in conjunction with Kenya Scriptwriters Guild, they showcased the progress in the Film industry by their various representatives.In particular, Roffeke’s screenings focused on short films and music videos whose themes centred on particular Sustainable Development Goals. These goals were adopted on September 25th 2015 by a set of countries that desire to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by the year 2030.

Films scheduled for screening were as follows,

SDG 1: No Poverty

1. Blurred Memories. A Canadian film directed by Joffrey Saintrapt.*
2. October Horse, Directed by Pedro Santasmarinas from Portugal.
3. An animated film for the music ‘Fairytale’ by El Sobrino del Diablo, from Spain, directed by Josep Calle Buendia..

SDG 2: Zero Hunger
1. Meat is Murder, directed by Elodie Despres and Stephane Elmadjian, is a film featuring a rock musician James D. Lee..*
2. The World is Dancing- Directed by Stefano Bertelli from Italy.*

SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
1. Grandpa – Directed by Medhat Maged.*

SDG 5: Gender equality
1. An Angel’s Tale by Sara Boix Grau
2. Superfama by Olga Osorio
3. Rock is not an Attitude by Xiaoxiao Tang

(*Due to time constraints, we were unable to screen some of the films)

Apart from these screenings, the session involved a brief introduction to screenwriting, undertaken by both Jackline Emali, a representative from Kenya Scriptwriters’ Guild and Roffeke founder, Mildred Achoch. The discussion centered around the basics of scriptwriting, , the dyanamics of a good story , how to mould characters, types of conflict and the structure of a professional script.

It was encouraging to see the huge turnout of young people interested in film, and hopefully, their enthusiasm will continue building the Industry.

Friday, November 11, 2016

ROFFEKE Screening: Sustainable Futures - Survivor Girls by Nicole Watson

I am so excited and honoured to screen the short documentary "Sustainable Futures: Survivor Girls" directed by Nicole Watson. Here is the link to the programme:

About the Speakers

Nicole Watson is originally from Vancouver, Canada and grew up in the small town of Castlegar B.C. to parents who both immigrated from the UK as children. She is now based in Los Angeles working in film and is interested in international stories and productions. She is the co-founder of the LA based production company 'Blak Dot Productions', and the Founder of the 'econic earth foundation' a 501c3 non profit focused on environmental and wildlife conservation around the world. Nicole speaks English, French and some Spanish and Thai.

Narissa Allibhai is a feminist, activist and creative who identifies as a modern Pan-Africanist. A Master’s graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, she now works for International Rivers leading their East Africa program. She has recently founded the #SaveLakeTurkana Movement and will be launching her documentary on the lake next month. Passionate about rights, nature, and positivity, Narissa is involved with several arts for social change and pan-Africanist movements. She blogs at and tweets from @NarissaAllibhai, AKA the “nature_pagan.” Her favourite activity is to meditate on rocks with beautiful views.

Wangari Kabiru is an Educationist specializing in Transformative Education & Education Design. “School-kids are powerful agents for any agenda and protectors - especially when they learn early. Introduce #green fingers now to schools.

Maryana Munyendo is the founder of Simba Safe Kenya.

Benedict Muyale is the founder of Green Sun Cities.

Alexander Nderitu was the first Kenyan to write a digital novel. Born on William Shakespeare's birthday, rock and rap music were the soundtrack to his life as he sought recognition as a writer. Since 2001, he has authored three e-books, six stage plays and three non-fiction papers. Some of his writings have been translated into Swedish, Japanese and Arabic. In 2014, his poem ‘Someone in Africa Loves You’ was picked to represent Kenyan literature at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland. He is currently the Deputy Secretary-General of PEN Kenya Centre and an arts promoter. Nderitu's works are available at

Stella Ninah holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy with IT from Maseno University. She enjoys being part of nurturing startups and seeing them grow. She has worked with various Child Rights Advocacy NGOs in Kenya since this is her passion. Her life’s desire is not just to build a career in the field of Children’s Rights but to make a difference in the lives of the children she interacts with. She is the Kenya Program Manager for Art and Abolition.

Supreme Media is a Media& Communications Agency that offers services& Products in Photography & Video production, Event Planning ,Branding, PR, Outdoor Advertising, PA Sound systems& Marketing consulting we have been in Existence for the last three years.
To be the next big wave in the Media industry in East Africa that will focus on social, economic, political, environmental issues and bring in innovative entertainment & informational packs for the whole family.
To maintain quality service to our clients through sustainable ways

Excerpt from "Carbon Diaries" by Saci Lloyd - page 25

…Stacey, the drummer, hurled her sticks at the garage door – but instead of bouncing off metal they bounced off Adisa’s mum’s chest….His mum is Nigerian and she’s got presence, if you know what I mean. She breathed deeply and muttered something about white people’s music.

At the end everyone made a vow to give up 10 points a week to power up the band. I felt dead emotional when I said my vow. This band’s my lifeline. I don’t know how we’re going to keep going, though – a screaming, Straight X punk band isn’t anybody’s idea of important right now.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Interview: Mike Messier, writer of "Hail! Hail! (Rock 'n' Roll)"

MILDRED: Hi Mike! Thanks for submitting Hail!Hail! (Rock 'n' Roll) to ROFFEKE.

Mike Messier: Hi, Mildred. Thanks for the interview and acceptance into Rock 'n' Roll Film Festival, Kenya. This is a a great opportunity for my film to meet new audiences through film! Although, unfortunately, I can't make it to Kenya to meet you, your colleagues and your fans in person, I hope this interview provides some insights into the creative process behind Hail! Hail! (Rock 'n' Roll).

ROFFEKE: Let's get right into it. Of all the topics in the world, why choose a controversial one? Isn't this risky in terms of higher chances of being misunderstood, not being "marketable" or even being banned?

Mike Messier: The level of controversy around our film seems to be generated mostly from the choice of two female lead characters. James Russell DeMello, a friend of mine who I've collaborated with several times, asked me to write a simple two Actor, one location, five minute film. James asked for a quick turn-around so I wrote the script about a struggling rock 'n' roll dude and his wavering - but loyal - girlfriend rather quickly. I left the rest up to James and his crew. James cast the two Actors Anna Rizzo as Robbie and Jessica Rockwood as Roseanne. James felt these were the best Actors for the piece because they are very talented and are good friends beyond the camera. I agree with James's choice and I was intrigued that he cast two female Actors. James then assembled a great crew that he had worked with many times, and that he knew would execute a solid - and artistic - example of everyone's talents. James also chose the song Mr. Suitcase by the uniquely named artist sun@ndmun.

I've been surprised and even disappointed that our Hail! Hail! (Rock 'n' Roll) has struck a nerve with some audiences as offensive. I don't see the piece that way at all. In a supposed "enlightened" and "progressive" world, this love story transcends gender status. It seems that a lot of criticism towards the film is not based on the quality of Acting or Directing, or even writing (I hope!) but more towards the fact that this is a short film with two females who actually kiss each other. Their kiss is intense and passionate, the way the script was intended. For James to direct it this way was true to the story, regardless of the gender of the Actors. So, really, what it comes down to is the question I must ask of "are these critics offended by the actual sexuality displayed or are they offended by the same-sex relationship?" I tend to think the critics are offended by the same-sex relationship based on the small sample of feedback I've encountered.

But that is the nature of art. The job of an artist is to raise the level of the intellect of its audience, not to placate to its current level. By challenging people's comfort levels, Hail! Hail! (Rock 'n' Roll) is successful already, whether or not the film is actually accepted, understood or deemed marketable by anyone's standards. It's also a short film, so Hail! Hail! is more to provoke than to fully entertain or give anyone a "feel good/ closure" ending that is often formulaic and easily predictable in a mainstream feature film designed to make money. By my experience, making money with a film, a short film especially, is so unpredictable and elusive, it's best to just go with one's gut and make art without worrying so much about the financial benefits, backlash, or circumstances that may follow after the release of the film.

ROFFEKE: How do the two characters a) fit stereotypes b)defy stereotypes?

MM: This is a good question. I'd say that Robbie fits the stereotype of the self-inflated, ego based musician who believes her music is "so good" on her way to "making it" that she deserves to have the whole world - and her girlfriend especially - revolve around her. Robbie's ego is fully illustrated by playing directly to the camera, as if the audience of her home-made video is so "into her" as an artist that warrants such a high demand for her every word. In our current online society of vlogs, blogs and links, where almost everyone has an opinion on almost everything, Robbie is very much contemporary. It's easy to see that Robbie is talented has a "marketable" look, as and, indeed, does look quite "rock 'n' roll" even while playing in a humble basement. But is she so talented that her every move "deserves to be chronicled"? That is what she would have us think.

Certainly, I am basing this character on myself and other artists of all mediums who play to an "invisible audience" that we create in our minds. I have hundreds, maybe thousands, of copies of scripts salvaged and saved, of all different versions and "slightly tweaked" drafts. I also have many videos floating around both my personal belongings and also in the online world that chronicle my adventures. This video and written "journal" of my life is my own ego on display, both personally and privately. So, in this sense, I am "the Robbie" in the piece. I would also throw my own musician friends under the bus with me on this one. I have many musician buddies, most of them guys, who will complain endlessly about their band-mates, or about certain "gigs" and venues that don't pan out for the best or that treat them properly. Many times, I have listened to my friends' and also shared my own kvetch stories of the struggling artist who "can't get a break" or feels ripped off by circumstance or other people. Robbie is a dig at all of us. She represents the talent - but also the ego - of the artist. Having Anna Rizzo play Robbie helps make the character human and likable, but ultimately some may see Robbie as self indulgent. That is the point. She is both self-loving and self-loathing, like many artists, both successful and unknown.

Once again, having a strong female Actor like Anna Rizzo as Robbie pushes the audience. We are used to and more accepting of big time Rock 'n' Roll egos like Mick Jagger, Axl Rose, and David Bowie, Iggy Pop etc. Hip-hop music has Tupac Shakur, Puff Daddy, Jay Z, Kanye West, etc. However, female musicians like Madonna or more recently, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, etc are more likely to get a hard time for their artistic choices, in their lyrics, clothing, and even their sexual presence and body shapes. So to make Robbie a female is a masterstroke by James, in my opinion. As stated, I wrote Robbie initially as a male character. James surprised me with his creative choice and I applaud and thank him for his bold casting.

Jessica Rockwood as Roseanne is a great choice because she plays her character as smart and sensitive while still being unabashed and forward with her sexuality. Jessica is fashionable in real life certainly, but here, she pushes the limits with a sexy style and without compromise. Roseanne represents every private sponsor of a musician, Actor, writer, painter or filmmaker who puts their own ego - and agenda - on the back-burner to support someone else; their dream, their art, their ambition. Ultimately, we get the sense that "the gig may be up" for Robbie as Roseanne is getting sick of supporting her and taking her abuse. But the chemistry of the characters is so intense that they can't get away from each other.

It can be stated that Roseanne is the "rock" to the "roll" of Robbie. Like peanut butter and jelly, they go together. The ultimate test is if the sandwich of their relationship has gone stale beyond the taste of expiration. Or something to that effect.

ROFFEKE: Your story could have been told in any other setting. Why did you choose a rock 'n' roll setting?

MM: Another good question. I believe that a simple basement or any type of makeshift, barren environment where Robbie can set up her guitar and play without distraction represents the isolated nature of an artist. The staircase James uses is the bridge between the two worlds of the outside and the inside of the artist's realm. Ironically, many artists are not social creatures by nature. We expose ourselves, figuratively and sometimes literally, to gain attention, but there is often a shyness and a hurt behind these seemingly exhibitionist actions. This dichotomy is best illustrated here by rock 'n' roll, the ultimate medium of the tortured artist.

ROFFEKE: Cobain comes to mind.

MM: Kurdt Cobain is one of my favorite singers. Same for Jim Morrison. They felt pain, seemingly, and delivered poetry on the highest level. Although I never met either one of them personally, their music and words are so powerful, they deliver a heart-punch of emotion with every listen.

More to the point of the female singer, Janis Joplin demonstrates raw power in every performance. Look up videos of Janis online, as there are many, to see how she conveyed the muse with both love and passion. Courtney Love also had these moments, but more so as rage and reflection. We've witnessed historic performances and enjoyed resonate recordings from Joan Jett, Liz Phair, the ladies from Fleetwood Mac and Heart and all the modern artists I mentioned. People forget - or don't even know - how socially relevant and pained Cher's Half Breed song was - and still is.

ROFFEKE: Say a little bit more about the socially conscious nature of rock 'n' roll.

MM: In 2003, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks made made her infamous remark during a London concert, "Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas." In 2003, this was highly unique for professional entertainers, especially popular female mainstream artists, to speak up like this. As we know, many people, as time went by, would come to agree with Natalie's opinion of the second President George Bush. Although not a rock 'n' roll artist in the conventional sense, Maines has as much - or more - courage than anyone other artist of that post 9/11 decade.

Here are links about the Maines/Bush controversey.

In my lifetime, the biggest illustration of the courage and relevance of a singer's singular political or social action is Sinead O' Connor's appearance on Saturday Night Live back in 1992. Just starting a commercially successful rise, Sinead ripped up a photo of the Pope to protest sexual abuse incidents and other atrocities in the Catholic Church as she saw it. This is the famous and infamous "Fight the Real Enemy" incident which some of your readers may be too young to even know about. O' Conner, who had a very successful commercial career at the time, was the featured musical guest on the show. She covered Bob Marley's song "War" with her tweaked lyrics about child abuse (instead of Marley's original lyrics protesting racism) in an inspired - and methodical - attack on injustice as she saw it. In subsequent interviews, Sinead bravely revealed she was a victim of abuse herself and declared that child abuse was the source of all evil in the world. Many, if not most, of her statements seem to make common sense in retrospect, but this was all apparently mind-blowing and thought provoking at the time. And the ensuing controversy, more or less, "ruined her career" in some ways, or at least stigmatized it for the general populous.

If possible, I'd refer your readers, Mildred, to these links about that incident to illustrate how powerful musicians in the public can be.

Watch all these videos. The truth of Sinead's 1992 story is much more interesting than I can describe here in words. While cyber-clicking, this thread of videos and articles is probably the best thing anyone reading this will see today. At the end of the Madison Square Garden performance, two weeks after that recent SNL, Sinead exits the stage after delivering an intense and combative performance to thousands of people; a mixed group of both the hostile and the understanding. The fact that she's singing at a tribute show for Bob Dylan, the very master poet and protester being honored, seems lost on the audience. Sinead leaves, Kris Kristofferson hugs her, and this leaves Willie Nelson alone to deadpan: "Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Neil Young". The legendary talents of Nelson, Young, Kristofferson and even Dylan himself were quickly shadowed by young Sinead's courageous actions, at least for that moment in time.

Does our Robbie in Hail! Hal! (Rock 'n' Roll) have that same potential to effect change, create chaos and challenge the accepted evils of society in her own reality? We can't tell from just this short film. Robbie would have to overcome her own limitations of finances and obtain a position of power with a large following to even "be heard" when she truly finds her voice and focus. Roseanne may continue to support Robbie, or split from her, or even become adversarial. Is Robbie in it for art, or simply to be "rich and famous"... or both? With the advances in social media marketing, Robbie has advantages that her predecessors do not in terms of the ability to quickly build and reach an audience. Certainly, to push Robbie towards a position of cultural influence in the rarefied air of Sinead, Natalie, Madonna and Cher would be a huge writing challenge. I'll give it a shot.

MILDRED: One more question, and this is what I struggle with as a screenwriter. How can one learn to let go of their baby? I don't know if I would have lauded the director if he had cast the male character in my script with a female actress. Grudgingly accepted, maybe, but not applauded him :-) In "Hail, Hail", the director did a pretty good job and his casting choice actually adds new layers to the story. But do you have any war stories of how your script was "butchered" or how your initial idea was misrepresented or misunderstood?

MM: Trust is the key word in letting go. For a baby to walk, the baby itself must be trusted to stand and move. Others must help the baby. The baby must be free.

I'll share some behind the scenes info on our process, as it may be of interest, to both film aficionados and those looking to make their own work.

As per the casting, I know of Anna Rizzo's abilities and talents from working with her intensely for what became the Distance from Avalon Teaser. That project is what Anna, James and I all got to know each other under highly unusual and challenging circumstances. I've also seen Anna's poise, professionalism, and capabilities in auditioning for other projects. So, I had great trust in her also, and excitement with what she could do as Robbie. I did not know Jessica before this shoot, but I was told very good things by James, and I knew that she and Anna are friends in real life, so it seemed like a good fit. I might have raised a curious eyebrow at first, but I never objected to the casting.

Upon seeing the finished piece a few times, I noticed that James had edited a bit of banter at the beginning of the script which were now superfluous once the setting had been established. I had also written one "button" line at the end of the make-out scene where Roseanne states "You're never gonna make it, Robbie". This line was relevant to me when I wrote it, because it brings home the point that Roseanne is still in love even though commercial success for Robbie has become hopeless. So this line indicates that Roseanne might be ready to move on, or perhaps, she is just "stuck".

As it stands, Roseanne's straight to camera glance that ends the film says a lot without words. There is a certain sadness in her eyes, but also a joy, sexiness and mystery. We don't know quite what she's thinking or what her next move will be. However, it can be said, that Roseanne has "taken over" the scene. She is on top, both figuratively and literally. So James ends the film on a metaphorical question mark, rather than a period, which is actually keeping with my style as a writer and filmmaker myself. James understands that is my style because we've worked with each other intensely on other projects, such as the footage that became Distance from Avalon Teaser, also featured in Rock 'n' Roll Festival Film Festival, Kenya.

The title got abridged on the end credits as just Hail! Hail! with the words "Rock 'n' Roll" edited out. I personally would have kept "Rock 'n' Roll" in the the title to indicate the fun and backdrop of the piece and to avoid confusion with a more political statement. So, I've taken the liberty of making the title "Hail! Hail! (Rock 'n' Roll) as our festival entry official title as a creative compromise.

I would use the term tweaked about the Director's choices and I fully understand and appreciate the creative collaboration necessary, especially under time constraints. A Director must be trusted with the material. Script edits happen during film, especially independent film, quite a bit, by my experience. There is often simply not enough time to shoot every desired shot or written line of dialogue, so decisions must often be made on the fly, on the set itself. In the film medium, the Director often has much more leeway and the final word, than in the theater, where dialogue is often the key component. Writers for the stage enjoy protection of their words through certain agreements and contracts. Not so much in film, at least in my independent film world experiences. So, as a screenwriter, one must accept and even embrace this.

Of course, in bigger budgeted films especially, things can get even more "interesting". Producers, financiers and other interested parties, such as distributors, may also be part of this "creative process", often to the chagrin of both writer and director. These contributions - or interference - can be great or disastrous depending on any particular project, team or circumstance. I've read about such complicated situations with recent big budget films such as Fantastic Four and Suicide Squad and the stories are not pretty. So, bigger budget does not always equate to creative freedom for the actual writers or directors. And for a combination Writer/Director, or aspiring or established auteur, these collaborations may be frustrating and/or heartbreaking.

In the end, if a film is made, that is usually much better than it just being a stack of black words on white paper, collecting dust in the bottom of a closet.

Overall, I trusted James' direction on Hail! Hail! (Rock 'n' Roll), especially because he initially requested the script with certain parameters, and was ready to "rock" with it, so to speak.

As a writer, it's great to see one's words come to life, in a colorful and passionate way. The time and energy everyone put into the piece has reached a great audience and looks to open a dialogue and bring an important conversation to the good Rock 'n' Roll and film fans in Kenya.

Thanks for the opportunity, Mildred! - MIKE



MM: While all artists are represented by their work, the rock 'n' roll musician, especially a lead singer, is also represented by their appearance. How much time do musicians spend going into "their look" as opposed to a writer, for example? Compare Britney Spears to Stephen King for a quick illustration.

Friday, September 16, 2016

ROFFEKE Screening and Networking event at We Create Kenya on 17th September 2016

Below is a link to the original programme for the event but a few hours ago, a lady asked me whether the films would be appropriate for her nine year old daughter, who aspires to be an actress. Obviously not all the films are appropriate for children. This IS a rock 'n' roll film festival after all :-) But I am passionate about encouraging the youth to pursue their dreams so I am going to change the program slightly to accommodate the nine year old girl. The first thirty minutes of the event will feature the following child-friendly short films and music videos:

1. Rock is not an attitude (5 minutes)
2. An Angel's tale (3 minutes)
3. Underneath (2 minutes)
4. The girl with the red balloons (1 minute)
5. Song no.23 (5 minutes)
6. Banned Band (10 minutes)

Check out the complete program here

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review: "Rita" - Music video for song by Tsenzura

Review by Josephine Koima: Intern

Director: Yuzefovich Valery
Category: Animation
Duration: 4:09 minutes
Music: Tsenzura

Rita’ is an animated film adapted from a song by the same name, done by an Israeli Band (Tsenzura). Tsenzura’s music can be described as hardcore punk/rock. as It is about a young girl’s struggles and need to indulge in alcohol and drugs, the things she tries to run from. Perhaps hoping suicide will end her anguish, she gets into a fantasy world, for a few minutes, and realizes that it is scarier and threatening compared to her reality.

Since the song forms a big part of the film’s narrative, it is essential to dig into the lyrics and meaning of what the band represents. ‘Tsenzura’ is Hebrew for ‘Censorship’, most of the song/video contains elements of drugs and sex. These young singers integrate the issues they have grown up with and around into their songs, and the character brings the song to life. There are sexual connotations in Rita’s fantasy that also depict her struggles as a woman i.e. the doctor telling her that ‘she has girl problems’ and suggesting a disgraceful and demeaning ‘cures’.Color has been used to reinforce elements of the story ;Yellow representing the alcohol, red for her kidney that’s apparently damaged because of her abuse of drugs, and interestingly, it has been used as a gag in her tormenting fantasy, the multicolored vomit as she had too much to drink as the song says ‘She can’t learn to drink’

The film makes use of fast-cutting or fast-paced editing where actions follow each other in quick succession, so the viewer gets to absorb much more information, and it also shows chaos e.g. In her fantasy, Rita gets through a lot after taking a pill from the doctor, we see the impact of that action-her distress is magnified.

The song is also a form of criticism; against the many people who tend to associate rock n’ roll to sex and drugs. In another instance, they talk about social issues of democracy and injustice.

It is interesting to learn more about the band, with a name that raises curiosity as ‘Censorship’ and an even more daring choice of genre as rock, one will easily enjoy the diversity that the Israeli music industry can offer.

Interview: Kenyan Rock band "The Seeds of Datura"

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Review: An Angel's Tale (ROFFEKE OFFICIAL SELECTION 2015)

Review by Josephine Koima: Intern

Director: Sara Boix Grau
Country of origin: Canada
Category: Animation
Duration: 2:43 minutes

I personally really love animated films because they defy almost everything we are used to as being ‘normal’ and ‘ordinary’ For example ,characters in such films can stretch, tear, melt, explode, fall from very high places and still remain alive, creating humor in the process.

An Angel’s tale is of such a nature. An angel is kicked out of heaven, quite literally because he creates a disturbance among the other angles. I know that for most of people, when we think of heaven, we think of mellow, preferably exquisite harmonic sounds, beat-less melody and therefore any instrument far off from an electric guitar like the harps used by two angels. Then comes this different angel, who enjoys hard rock music. He is thrown out of heaven by an irate fellow angel and falls to earth, and then tries to find his way back.

This fallen angel is different, and not just his choice of music. His wings are shorter, not sturdy as with the other angels. Perhaps this is why he cannot easily fly back to heaven. Or when he tries to, he cannot leave behind his beloved guitar and amplifier.
Sara Boix’s character is true to the spirit of rock n’ roll; expressing sheer joy and energy to what he likes, and remaining non-conforming. This film teaches one that, there’s nothing wrong with being different, and not being ordinary.

Bluegrass is greener in Kenya!

Thanks to the Friday 29th July episode of The Trend hosted by Larry Madowo, bluegrass has begun to grow in Kenya! Henhouse Prowlers, a bluegrass band from Chicago, performed a wonderful cover version of Sauti Sol’s “Sura Yako”, complete with the trademark bluegrass instruments: upright bass, acoustic guitar, banjo and mandolin. The only instruments missing were the fiddle and washboards :-)

Bluegrass is a close cousin to country music and Kenya is no stranger to country music. The very popular Sundowner show on KBC has for many years featured country music greats such as Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Skeeter Davis and Roger Whittaker who was born and brought up in Kenya.

Roger Whittaker’s 1975 song “The Last Farewell” was number one in 11 countries and the king himself, Elvis, recorded it. “His drummer told me that, when they were preparing to record anything, Elvis would play my version of The Last Farewell about 20 times over to people in the studio, and he’d say ‘and that’s how we should make records…’ “ Whittaker says in this article

I got introduced to Bluegrass via Voice of America’s “Roots and Branches” (hosted by Katherine Cole) and my passion for it was further fueled by “Under the Radar” (the home of gourmet music). So which are my top 5 bluegrass/bluegrass-inspired songs? I’m glad you’ve asked! Below are my top 5:

5. The Big Reprise by Catie Curtis.

The church went down and it didn't go gently
The burning steeple fell right onto Main Street
The old stained glass exploded
Pieces of Jesus at my feet
Molten broken Jesus at my feet

Sample it here

4. “Barbed Wire Boys” by Claire Lynch

3. “Redemption Day” by Sheryl Crow (covered by the great Johnny Cash!)

2. "He ain’t never done me nothin’ but good" by The Isaacs

1. “Build your Kingdom Here” by Rend Collective

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Review: Microphone

(Microphone was screened at the Samosa Festival in Nairobi, Eastleigh.)

Review by Josephine Koima: Intern

Producer: Kareem Ghafour
Director: Kareem Ghafour
Screenplay: Kareemok
Duration: 9:10 minutes

This short film takes place in a Kurdish society, whose inhabitants are Islamic. A woman and her son are seen walking on a street and the young boy runs to the bathroom in a mosque. The woman isn’t allowed to go in. Worried that her son may be lost, she forces herself in, though after a brief confrontation with the gatekeeper.

It is interesting to note that although the gate keeper is a mute, he and Kamo’s mother are able to communicate and he evens helps with finding the boy. The boy, Kamo, runs off with a microphone that he uses to sing and equally chant a prayer as he had heard before. He’s reluctant to give it back, perhaps realizing the ‘powerful’ tools he’s laid his hands on. The innocent child is simply excited to express himself, and it’s thrilling to know that almost the entire town can hear him due to the microphone’s connection with the mosque’s speakers. This is one element that gives meaning to the film.

The distinct sounds draws one’s attention to the narrative- the sound of the mother’s boot, the water dripping at the bathroom, the sound of the gatekeeper cycling his bicycle. I would say that Soram Fahim did a great sound mix and editing. For example, in the scene where the boy is in the bathroom, he reads the writings on the wall, one can hear water dripping, the prayer being chanted at the mosque plus the film’s soundtrack, all at once. Subtle ‘rock and roll’ elements can be heard in form of music. Kamo plays the harmonica for a while before he grabs the microphone. The film music score incorporates a bit of what I would call jazz rock- there’s the distinct sound of a stringed instrument, probably a cello and drum beats.

The title ‘Microphone’ would make one focus on the microphone, hence the majority of this film’s plot focuses on the boy and what he does. However, there are some subtle themes that may arise e.g. there is the white scarf that the gate keeper gives Kamo’s mother, this and the brief moment of touch as she hands over the microphone. They seem to have bonded over the little incident with her son. The phone is a reason for the gatekeeper to see Kamo’s mother again.

Certainly, this film is provocative and refreshingly funny to watch.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Nirvana, Michael Stipe (REM), Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame

Excerpts from Michael Stipe's speech prior to the induction of Nirvana into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

I’m Michael Stipe. I’m here to induct Nirvana into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.


Like my band REM, Nirvana came from a most unlikely place. Not a cultural city centre like London, San Francisco, Los Angeles or even New York or Brooklyn but from Aberdeen Washington...a largely blue collar town just outside of Seattle.


We were a product of a community of youth looking for a connection away from the mainstream. Dave Grohl said: "We were drop outs making minimum wage, listening to vinyl, emulating our heroes - Ian Mackaye, Little Richard – getting high, sleeping in vans, never expecting the world to notice."


Keep in mind the times. This was the late 80s, early 90s. America, the idea of a hopeful democratic country, had been practically dismantled by Iran Contra, by Aids, by the Reagan-Bush snr. administrations. But with their music, their attitude, their voice, Nirvana blasted through all that with crystalline nuclear rage and fury.

Nirvana were kicking against the system, bringing complete disdain for the music industry and their definition of corporate mainstream America, to show a sweet and beautiful but fed up fury coupled with howling vulnerability. Lyrically exposing our frailty, our frustrations, our shortcomings, singing of retreat and acceptance ,of our triumphs,of an outsider community with such immense possibility...not held down or held back by the stupidity and political pettiness of the times; they spoke truth and a lot of people listened.


When an artist offers an idea, a perspective, it helps us all to see us who we are. It wakes us up and it pushes us forward towards our collective and individual potential. It make us, each of us, able to see who we are more clearly.


I’m purposely using the word artist rather than musician because the band Nirvana were artists in every sense of the word. It is the highest calling for an artist, as well as the greatest possible privilege, to capture a moment, to find the zeitgeist, to expose our struggles, our aspirations, our desires;to embrace and define their time. That is my definition of an artist. Nirvana captured lightning in a bottle.


Solo artists almost have it easier than bands. Bands are not easy. You find yourself in a group of people that rub each other the wrong way and exactly the right way and you have chemistry, zeitgeist, lightning in a bottle and a collective voice to help pinpoint a moment, to understand what it is we are going through. Nirvana tapped into a voice that was yearning to be heard.


The potency and the power of their defining moment has become for us indelible.


Nirvana defined a moment, a movement for outsiders; for the fags, and the fat girls, and the broken toys, and the shy nerds and the goth kids...for the rockers and the awkward and the fed up and the too-smart kids and the bullied.


They were singular and loud and melodic and deeply original. And that voice...that voice. Kurt, we miss you. I miss you.


...that voice reverberated into music and film, into politics, into worldview and so many fields in so many ways....this is not just pop music. This is something much greater than that.

Source: Youtube.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: The Day Trippers (2011)

Review by Josephine Koima (Intern)

Director: Pat Comer
Producer and Writer: Keith Bogue
Lead Actors: Dick Tobin, Barbara Seery
Duration: 6:46 minutes

There’s always the secret longing to re-live the younger, more youthful years of our lives, this film offers an insight to some ideas on how to do that. The Day Trippers is unquestionably entertaining, portrayed by characters trying to defy old age restrictions, for example, an old man lifting his crutch when completely lost in dancing.

The story, written by Keith Bogue is simply told, an old couple and friends have an avenue to have fun and reconnect, a secret rave that they alone know. Their choice of meeting, a closed hall that is deserted proves that. Their preferred mode of communication is a text message, where they are given details about the mystery rendezvous.

The sound is a favorable choice, since there is hardly any dialogue in the film, the music gives us perceptive on how the story unfolds. The characters share a love and enjoyment for Rock and Roll. Perhaps, this symbolizes the genre transcending time and age, more so with the use of Tom Newman, (a legendary record producer) performing as an ageing rocker with his band July. My deduction from the lyrics of the song performed is, it forms part of the narrative of the film, e.g. the line ‘regeneration of my generation’ being a catchphrase.

The director uses elements to help in the telling of the story. As the couple drive away from the beach, three cars follow them, they flicker their lights and this shows they know each other and probably heading the same way. The lighting at the rave is mellow, red and tends to recreate the ‘old school’ disco halls that the old timers were used to. This includes the disco bulb that seems prevalent in important scenes; a note is attached to it with a message about their next rave.

It is inferred that the old couple (Dick Tobin and Barbara Seery) are more excited about this rave as compared to the boring and ordinary moments spent on a beach that has little activity. In fact, they interact directly at the dance floor than at the beach. As it turns out, raves by old people are not that different from the ones young people go to, same things apply… secrecy, ambiguity and the objective is always to have fun. This short film could be for the amusement of people who value such pleasures as dance, and may just be an idea for prospective old rock and rollers.



Sunday, June 19, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll and Social Change

Excerpts from "U2: Anthem for the 80s"

“Rock ‘n’ Roll should be escapist, should be just about having a good time…and sure, I think rock ‘n’ roll has always had that. But why shouldn’t it also face what’s actually happening and try to deal with that as well.”

“I’m aware of the contradictions of being in a successful rock ‘n’ roll band and yet at the same time writing about the lack of success in my own contemporaries. …literally the people on the same street as I grew up are having to leave Ireland and go to America to find jobs.”

Dr Garrett Fitzgerald, Irish Prime Minister 1982-1987
“According to the New York Times, U2’s performance in the US has caused the Democratic Party in its approach to the next Presidential election to reevaluate its understanding of how young people in America think and feel.”

Bob Geldof
“In the 60s, Dublin was a very small, pretty European city. Due to corruption and mismanagement and appalling planning, they removed people from the heart of the city out to these appalling ghettos out in the suburbs….When they removed the heart of the city they took its soul with it. Some of the businesses started folding and it became a wasteland. And the city itself became destroyed at the hands of the city management.”

“We’re only a number in this country. U2 have a name.”

Bob Geldof
“If over half the country is under 25 you are looking at a potentially vicious explosive situation where you have classic African conditions like urbanization…a city that can’t live up to the expectations of the new immigrants…no jobs for those who have got the gumption to go out and try doing things themselves or for those who just look for a regular job or for university graduates then you have mass immigration again and that destroys the country.”

“People think because I am attracted to people like Gandhi or the Reverend Martin Luther King or even my faith, my believe in Christ, that I therefore am some sort of hero or man of God or peacemaker….One of the reasons I am attracted to these people is because I am the very person who would not turn the other cheek. I grew up with the violence in me and it’s still in me and I despise it."

“There was shouts of “Up the IRA”…. We were an Irish band and they thought we would fit into this version of Ireland and the revolution. I’m very clear on the way I feel about that. I would love to see a united Ireland but I never ever could support any man that would put a gun on somebody else’s head to see that dream come true. And we wrote Sunday Bloody Sunday in a rage.”

“I just set out this story: Broken bottles under children’s feet, bodies strewn across a dead end street. But I won’t heed the battle call. It puts my back up, puts my back against the wall. And then: And the battle’s just begun, there’s many lost but tell me who has won? The trench is dug within our hearts. Mothers , children, brothers, sisters torn apart. How long, how long must we sing this song?”

“I have often thought to myself…maybe we did fail…maybe the song Sunday Bloody Sunday is a failure…we didn’t succeed in making the point that we wanted to make…it has been misinterpretated…we’ve alienated the Republicans who wanted to use it as a battle cry and we’ve alienated the Unionists who only see it as a slap in their face.”

“LiveAid proved that music can unite people towards very specific ends if called upon. …music in the 60s surely contributed to the close down of the Vietnam war.”

“I think we write songs that we believe in. I don’t think we are trying to create a movement or tell people what to think. I think if there’s a message to U2 it’s think for yourself.”

“Amnesty International has doubled its membership as a result of the Conspiracy of Hope tour in the US. That’s real…that’s tangible evidence that the tide is turning…”

“I see that kind of concern coming in waves. I think the early 80s was a particular low point… and LiveAid was the beginning of a new awareness…I don’t think it’s unusual or precedent. I think it’s happened before and it will happen again…

Monday, April 11, 2016

Interview: "Brother" director Captain Chambers

ROFFEKE: What inspired you to write "Brother"?

Chambers: When my Mother passed away in 2012, I came back from Oklahoma after her funeral, and I was at that place where I needed a direction. My Mother was very influential to me in a creative sense, and I had this Pentel mechanical pencil since 1985 that she had given me. I wrote countless works with that pencil, and it even had rust on the clip! I placed that in the coffin with her at her funeral. I bought a new pencil the next day, and the first thing I wrote was the handwritten script for "Brother".

ROFFEKE: Was “Brother” autobiographical?

Chambers: All of my films are autobiographical in some way, and “Brother” has elements of me and my mother. It also has a special place for the lead actor, as he had also lost a dear friend around the same time. We both worked through our own interpretations of this as we progressed through production. This was one inspiration. The other was watching Clint perform one night, realizing how kind and happy he is. I challenged him to be the opposite and he ran with it.

ROFFEKE: Why black and white?

Chambers: Two reasons: it's cheaper, but it also lends itself to a mood, a contrast and a visual expression like none other. I simply love working in black and white.

ROFFEKE: High point and low point during filming of "Brother"?

Chambers: The low point was getting a film transfer done locally and the whites were all washed out. I was shooting with extreme tension in each scene, and I pushed the boundaries of light. The local studio tried their best, but I had to look elsewhere. Eventually, all was well. I was not creating dailies, but I would have developed and transferred film ready by the next shoot, most times. The highlight, aside from watching all these great people, new friends and old friends (one of which passed away this last January) come together and have fun, it was seeing the screening filled to capacity and beyond and enjoyed by all.

ROFFEKE: Which directors/films inspire you?

Chambers: Oh...well, a great many. Kurosawa, Kubrick, Maya Deren, Lucas, Ridley Scott, Herzog...mainly the old guard. Godard, especially. Very few new directors. I like Abrams and his dedication to celluloid. In that same vein, I also like Nolan and Tarantino. Joss Whedon is another. People who are dedicated to the story. My earliest and what is still a big influence on me was science fiction film and television, and I love B-Movies. Roger Corman comes to mind, and John Carpenter, a real indie pioneer, though often forgotten. I love Ed Wood films. There's also Steve DeJarnett, and countless others. Cameron Crowe....really good storyteller. I like people who also have an eye for the visual (Kubrick, Trumbull, Spielberg, Dario Argento). I think Star Wars was the one film that made me want to do the same.

ROFFEKE: Advice for aspiring writer/director?

Chambers: I don't think many of the indie film scenes and a growing number of festivals are there for the filmmaker, and I am certain that people care less and less about "cinema" or "art". It's becoming a popularity contest without honesty, story or integrity, just like the music scene, and people are more focused on what gear is being used. That being said, my advice is, don't give anyone your money, or tell you what to do. Film schools are worthless. Go read, and then do. And do some more. Don't discount the discipline of shooting film, even if the digital world is prejudiced against it. Choose your cast and crew carefully, and I would even say stay away from most "scenes" or groups. I feel Seattle is horribly lacking in film, though they don't think so. And, again, listen to your voice, your heart and your vision. Everyone has opinions. The problem is that everyone wants to tell you about them. A good example is, it IS okay to shoot a film with your friends. Many successes are based on this.

ROFFEKE: In your opinion, does luck play any role in the making of a film?

Chambers: Chance is an opportunity if we have the mind to see it. I don't really take a side on this. We choose what to do, but there are serendipitous moments and we have to be ready. Otherwise, we have to be patient. That is something that many in this tech age do not understand. Everything has to be instantaneous, and so you will miss out on a great deal. I think we, the auteurs and the thinkers and the dreamers are the luck for any kind of creative endeavor.

ROFFEKE: Film by female director that you would recommend?

Chambers: Anything by Maya Deren. I like Sofia Coppola, but not all her films. One director that does stand out is Kathryn Bigelow. I haven't seen all her work, but when I watched her documentary on the making of "K19", she resonated with me when she made the decision to make the film despite what the producers thought, because she felt she needed to make an honest representation of the man and his story, and that this piece of history needed to be told. That is filmmaking. There is a woman in California named Anna Biller. She makes stylized Technicolor-esque films that are brilliant and unique. We need more of that.

ROFFEKE: Why did you choose to submit your film to ROFFEKE?

Chambers: I am growing numb and discontented with the way film is treated all over the world. As a former film festival found, director and programmer, I found it more and more difficult to find good films. Still do. The film may have all the gear and look and sound great, but if there is no story, then what's the point? I like diversity and the "off the beaten path" kind of endeavor, where somebody chooses to do something unique as opposed to the same thing over and over. That is why I chose ROFFEKE.

ROFFEKE: Tell us about your experiences as a film festival founder, director and programmer.

Chambers: I founded the Blue November MicroFilmFest in 2003. It began in Tulsa, OK, after I made my first film for eleven dollars and spent over a hundred dollars in festival submissions, none of which accepted me. I thought this type of math didn't add up. And being a starving artist, I thought, "people should be able to enter their films for free, and people should be able to experience great cinema for free." So I began a festival, out of my own pocket, that neither required an entry fee nor did it require admission. It was an international film festival with local musicians and artists. It was hard work, and maybe I missed the mark here and there, but I tried my best to support local, support film, and support art in general.

ROFFEKE: Best and worst part about being a film festival director/programmer?

Chambers: The best part is seeing what you can do, and seeing some of the most beautiful visual images you will ever see. The worst part, and what caused me to end the festival after a ten year run, was that people (sadly) began to ruin what made it fun. Those filmmakers that I could find locally were overly demanding and dramatic. The Seattle press and community did not support what I was doing, and the films became less and less astounding. It was like I was watching everything that made cinema great, for me and in general, I was watching it die. So, after ten years, I turned off the projector, and put my screen to bed.

ROFFEKE: Lessons you learned?

Chambers: If I have any lesson to take away from the experience, it is this: people will let you down. I had some great people that worked closely with me, and they are one of the reasons I miss the festival. Find those people and keep them close, cherish them, for everyone else lacks what community really means. Films, even indies these days, are becoming boring and tiresome businesses. There is very little to do with the art. And so films are suffering. Art is suffering. It is a lonely field when you stand alone, but sometimes that is the way of things. But then, every so often, someone stumbles into that same field for the same reasons. Hold on to those people, those festivals and those types of communities.

You can read more about "Brother" here .

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Interview: Alexander Thomas, writer/director of "Beverley"

On 5th March, 2016 (the weekend before International Women's Day) at Pawa 254, Mageuzi Theatre, ROFFEKE will host "Chicks as Crew and Cast", a celebration of short films and music videos by female directors and/or with female protagonists. The main feature will be Alexander Thomas' "Beverley".

ROFFEKE: What inspired you to write “Beverley?”

ALEX: The most honest answer would be my producer, Cass Pennant. The idea of making a film with the 2-Tone subculture as the backdrop to the film was his idea. I was only just born when it was going on, so whilst I knew the music and the bands as it has had such an impact, I didn't know too much about the social and cultural importance of the movement. It was only when I came to research it thoroughly that I realised what an exciting project this could be.

Also having Beverley Thompson involved in the project was hugely helpful. She lived through the period and was a Rude Girl back then searching for her identity as a mixed race teenager. Her life stories and experience were a key inspiration for the film. Finally, there were so many things that period had in common with now: we were dealing with economically tough times; a neo-liberal, highly ideological right wing government; divisive cultural and media messages which were leading to problems around race and multiculturalism; high youth unemployment rates - a genuinely disaffected youth which led to social disturbances such as riots. All of this is incredibly familiar today. We haven't moved on and the questions of British identity which the film poses are just as relevant today.

ROFFEKE: What are the challenges of directing your own screenplay?

ALEXANDER: I think there are more benefits than challenges. You understand what you are trying to achieve from the start. The important thing is to make sure everyone in your team understands your vision and that you thereby enable them to maximise their own skills and creativity to enrich the project further. I think that's probably the main challenge whether it's your own screenplay or not - with filmmaking the key is always to be collaborative - to realise you have a whole team of incredibly talented people and you need to bring out all of that potential creativity to make the film a success, not just try to keep it all to yourself.

ROFFEKE: Highest point and lowest point during the shooting of “Beverley”

ALEXANDER: The highest point was probably the gig scene. We weren't sure how many extras were going to turn up, but we ended up with a really good crowd and there was an incredible atmosphere to shoot in. As well as that, just day one - being on set with the incredible cast I had really felt like a privilege. Low points, there were a few. With a low budget, highly ambitious film, we had to take risks. Sometimes we ran into problems, but luckily everybody pulled together and we always got through one way or another. When it all works out in the end, you kind of forget the problems you faced - so I won't dwell on them now!

ALEXANDER: Advice for writers wanting to get into directing?

Just to go out and start making films. Anything really: docs, fiction, music videos, whatever. There's no lesson like trying something out yourself - you viscerally feel the successes and failures and those experiences are then burnt into you in a way just watching films will never quite equal. You can shoot things on your phone nowadays, so there's no excuse for not having access to what you need. Just come up with an idea that makes use of the tools, places and people you have access to and do it. I started with documentary for that reason. There's endless infinite real life stories out there and fascinating people you cross paths with every day.

ROFFEKE: Film by a female director that you would highly recommend?

ALEXANDER: Frida by Julie Taymor. A brilliant film about a brilliant woman.

Come watch "Beverley" and other short films on 5th March, 2016 at Pawa 254, Mageuzi Theatre. More details here.

Monday, February 29, 2016

United Nations of Rock: Review by Erastus Hinga

The Kenyan film industry is growing fast and young, innovative brains are coming up with amazing ideas to satisfy the thirst for Kenyan stories. It is 30th January; the long dry month is coming to an end. Few people stream into the auditorium of USIU. Notable among them is a lady in all black. Her dressing during the festival tells it all; she loves rock. And in her eyes you can see a vision larger than a mountain.

The USIU auditorium is far from full. Over 20 films and music videos are screened. The most popular film is about Joe [This is Joe], the guy who invented Superman then went ahead to become blind and lose his rights to the character. We also get to see a preview of Mildred’s upcoming short film, "Abso-bloomin-lutely" [inspired by the song of the same name, done by Kenyan rock band Murfy's Flaw].

The aim of the festival is to desensitize Kenyan society on the myths surrounding rock. Come next time, I’m sure you will enjoy.

[The next ROFFEKE screening will be on the 5th of March, on the Saturday before International Women's Day. Theme: "Chicks" as Crew and Cast. See this for more details]

Erastus Hinga is a screenwriter and a member of the Kenya Scriptwriters Guild

Thursday, February 18, 2016

#Freeconfess Metal band from Iran arrested for...just being a metal band

ROFFEKE's motto is "Friendship, Fun, Freedom". Freedom. ROFFEKE supports freedom in any part of the world because when we protect freedom in some place, we protect freedom in our space too.

Here's a link to a petition that every freedom-loving rock fan should sign. Let's help our brothers in metal.


"Help Free CONFESS they were arrested by the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution and are facing charges of blasphemy, advertising against the system, running an illegal and underground band and record label promoting music considered to be Satanic writing anti-religious lyrics and granting interviews to forbidden foreign radio stations."

(words from Metal injection)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Jonathan LaPoma: 67 Awards and Honors for his screenplays

Jonathan LaPoma is an award-winning (67 awards and honors!) screenwriter and a novelist. He submitted his screenplay to ROFFEKE:

“Thank you so much for submitting your screenplay to ROFFEKE. I have read the first ten pages and really enjoyed it. It reads well, is quite engaging and hints at a rock 'n' roll/music theme. Unfortunately, I will have to decline because we are currently only accepting screenplays that are ten pages long, maximum. However, if you are interested, I would still love to interview you for the ROFFEKE blog.”

Jonathan was gracious enough to agree to the interview.

ROFFEKE: What inspired you to write "A Noble Truth"?

JONATHAN: A NOBLE TRUTH was my first screenplay, and it's very loosely based on a road trip I took with a friend after graduating college. While the majority of the events in the script are made up, the tension between the two characters is similar to the tension between me and my friend while we were on this trip. I built upon that tension, and centered the script around the idea that, when we move towards our suffering rather than away from it, we can start to understand our misery and take steps to overcoming it. I wanted to use the script as a means to challenge people into looking at the negative forces inside of themselves holding them back from peace and success in their lives, and to see what the effects might be on society if a large number of people were to do this.

ROFFEKE: How long did it take you to write it?

JONATHAN: I wrote the first draft of A NOBLE TRUTH in about six weeks. I spent the first two weeks reading David Trottier's THE SCREENWRITER'S BIBLE (which I highly recommend) to learn how to format the script, then I actually wrote the script over the next four weeks. I did so many revisions to it over the next few years that I've lost count. The script is almost entirely different now from the first draft, but it took that amount of time to become what it wanted to be. Some scripts come together quickly in a matter of days, but A NOBLE TRUTH required more time to get all of the elements right.

ROFFEKE: Briefly, what's your writing process like?

JONATHAN: When I get an idea for a script, I'll let it germinate in my mind for some period of time where I pick it apart to see if it has the legs to stand on its own as a script. If it passes this test, then I usually write an informal outline with rough sketches of the scenes. Once I have that, I start writing. Sometimes the script comes together quickly (I wrote THE WAY BACK HOME in about five days), and sometimes it takes more time (DELLWOOD took about eight months). Once I have a first draft down, I'll usually try to forget about it for a few weeks, then I'll come back and re-read it to get a better understanding of what it is I've written. I'll then think of what it is I'm trying to say with the script--what important message lies underneath it all--and I'll do some shaping and pruning to better bring this message to the surface. After that, I'll go through it a few more times to make sure I've formatted everything correctly, that there are no typos, that the jokes and/or insights are fresh and original, that I've done my best to accentuate the personalities/journeys of the characters, etc... Then I submit to contests and see what they have to say.

ROFFEKE: "A Noble Truth" features a songwriter. You yourself have written approximately 60 songs. Your short story "A Sacrifice to the God of the Blues" is loosely based on a road trip you took with a friend. "A Noble Truth" features a road trip. How much of you/your life finds its way into the screenplays, songs, poems and novels you write?

JONATHAN: Pretty much everything I've written has been based on some event I've experienced that has had a profound effect on me, whether positive or negative. If something can cause such a stir inside of me, I figure other people will also be able to relate with it in some way, even if they're not consciously aware of it. Some of my stories/poems/songs are very close to real events that have happened in my life, and others are complete fabrications--but even those fabrications are based on real emotions I've felt.

ROFFEKE: You have won numerous awards for your screenplays. What's your secret to screenwriting success?

JONATHAN: Well, the most important thing is to write a great script. While "great" is subjective, if you can write a script with strong, unique characters, a fresh, compelling storyline, and with some insight into the human condition, you're well ahead of the curve.

Once you have a great script, I recommend researching the various competitions out there to see which might be a good fit. If you've written a sports story, look for festivals/competitions that have a sports theme. If you've written a thriller, look for festivals/contests that are looking for thrillers. There are thousands of contests out there, so even if you've written an abstract, inaccessible art house piece, you're bound to find at least one looking for your kind of work. I'd recommend getting on FilmFreeway if you haven't already done so. You can look up thousands of contests and submit to them as well.

ROFFEKE: Advice for aspiring screenwriters?

JONATHAN: Know your story. I think that's the strongest advice I can give to a fellow screenwriter. The screenwriting community is filled with "gurus," and how-to books, and writers groups, and coverage services just waiting to tell you exactly what's wrong with your work, for a fee of course! If you don't know your script, you may be advised into editing the best parts out of it and replacing them with meaningless, formulaic drivel (or, maybe, inspired, insightful moments of genius, but that just don't work for your story). That's not to say that these groups, book, etc... have no merit.

I've received a lot of great advice from other members of the screenwriting community (Jacob Krueger Studio being one of these--I highly recommend checking him out), but that's because I know my scripts and I know what advice will work and what won't. The majority of the bad advice I usually get has more to do with the tastes of the person giving it than it does with actual story/character problems with my scripts.

If you take everyone's advice, you may quickly find that your story is no longer yours and becomes something you never intended to write. I see a lot of other screenwriters who take this advice to heart and quickly make changes without thinking about whether those changes will improve their story. I think a lot of this has to do with insecurity. There's a lot of shame out there, and those who are the most insecure run the risks of being steamrolled by it.

Again, that's not to say that good advice doesn't exist, because it absolutely does and has benefited my writing, but if you don't know your story, you run the risk of never knowing your story.To prevent against this, ask yourself why you decided to write your script in the first place. What about it is intriguing? Inspiring? Original? What about it shows your unique perspective of the world? Hold onto that information and let it guide you when you feel as though you're getting lost in the sea of advice, and it just might guide your script into production some day.

For more information about Jonathan and his work, check out his website

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

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 attending all the rest.
– Angela Nzisa, Actress and Moi University student.

The video of Jonny making a deal with the devil ["Souled Out"] had an interesting ending... I liked the one with the Jazzy feel, the Maroon 5 song Jazz version… I liked the Marlowe song…. The 1980’s group with the underappreciated guitarist was funny [Wild Oates]… Also the one with funny bathroom noises [The Big Pain].
–Jerry Shidzugane, writer and illustrator of Uncle Pedro's Chicken

The most memorable was the guy shooting at cockroaches with a gun [Copula]. Also the rockstar losing his hearing...that stirred something and left a mark."
- Betty Mutimba

“I teared up during this one because, I have thought of all my favourites losing body parts or hearing or sight… or voice. You never know, going into surgery if you are going to come out better or damaged beyond repair, or at all, you know? Live NOW!!! Is what it felt like it was telling me.”, Kenyan female rock musician, commenting on "Frontman"

“The screening was amazing. I saw the poster the day before and decided to come. I would appreciate if I can get a poster for the next event earlier to share with my friends because I'm sure many would be willing to come. We were four of us from Nairobi University and had the news reached us earlier, we would have been more. The main feature [“Frontman”] was awesome and it was great how it illustrated the various relationships the artist had with his fans, daughter and the manager.” – Bedan Mwathi

The ABC of ROFFEKE - 33 short films/music videos divided into 3 categories: Animation, Black & White and Comedy.