Monday, February 7, 2011


      A friend and fellow actor Nick Mutuma inspired me to write this after I read his post on acting. Over and over again, I have received emails and texts and met people who tell me they too are interested in acting. This warms my heart but the funny thing is that they think I can make their dreams come true. The fact is that I cannot. IT STARTS WITH YOU! I never had it easy getting to where I am and I did not get favors either. I am where I am due to hard work and determination. I acted in theatre while at Namasagali College in Uganda and that is where I was sighted by the Obsessions (a then popular music,dance & drama group) and was asked to join. I watched them for a year and joined in 2001 then all I wanted to be stating unfolding from then on. We don’t have acting agents here yet and it will take a long time before that starts I guess. Acting agents sight talent and make you a star, if I may easily put it-- or at least they should. 
I   If you know you have something you really want to do, go for it and try to make it happen. 

       It is not easy and it is not a by-the-way. 
  It is a profession, a job in which you have to put your time, effort and commitment.  In a feature film, documentary
 or TV series, there are timelines which are things in the
 script that determine time of day, date and weather. There are day scenes, night scenes, rainy scenes and so on depending on what is in the script and this cannot all be shot after 5pm like the young woman above hoped.  
 That is why actors/actresses spend more time on the set working!
  • Acting takes patience! It can be monotonous and strenuous because you act for hours and hours and may repeat the same scene more than once in order for the Director of Photography-D.O.P. (locally known to many as the camera man, but in film, this is his title which comes with a lot of professionalism and experience) to take shots of the scene in different angles if one camera is beng used. If they are different cameras avaialble, still you will do more than one shoot of a scene.
  • Acting needs time: If you will not commit to the time schedule, then do not waste yours and anyone else's time by taking on a project you will not be able to be on time for or complete!
  • Acting requires discipline. Know your lines and the story of your character so you are on cue while acting and in sync with your co-actor. Keep time. Respect your fellow cast and the crew. Respect yourself too. Avoid alcohol or partying if you know you are to be on set the next day because this will show on camera, and it might affect your performance and professionalism.

  • Acting opportunities in Uganda are still minimal so the projects are seasonal but the industry is slowly growing. The filmmakers we have invest a lot into a project and sometimes are lucky if they are funded by a sponsor production house abroad or a local company. You as an actor should make your payment negotiations with the people concerned before you take up a role. If you are not comfortable doing it, then don't because you will waste everyone's (cast & crew) time including yours. 

  • Acting is a talent, it should come naturally and if you really feel that you can do it, watch a lot of films, documentaries and biographies to learn more about the actors/actresses' experiences, acting and anything to do with this field. 

  • Maintain a good working relationship with directors, co-actors and everyone on cast and crew team because our film industry is small and word goes around first if you are a real pain in everyone's a**. I am not saying suck up, No! Let your voice be heard but do it in a professional manner. 
  • What you should do to get started:

 §Research: Read Newspapers, magazines and watch film programmes that host actors and film makers. Look out for anything that talks about film as you could find some useful information. Research the acting techniques {Meisner, method acting etc}, watch clips of how to do them on You tube. Also take part in plays & have people who will be honest with you assess your performance.
 §  Notice boards: Always check the notice boards especially at the National Theatre for any info to do with film or theatre auditions. The more acting experience you have on your CV, the better for a film career.
§  Attend film premieres and film festivals: Here you will get to mix and mingle with film makers, actors/actresses and you might get an opportunity to hear of a new project that you could audition for. Film festivals are usually free. In Uganda, we have the Amakula film Festival, Maisha Film Festival and the German-French Film festival so far. 
      Premieres most times are invite-only and/or may require you to buy tickets but the range is usually between USH 10k-30k (regular) to 50-100k (VIP) depending on the organisers. If you really want this, you will make an effort to attend. 
§  Auditions: Go for auditions. Every actor/actress should go through this before attaining any role. Don't worry, being nervous is normal. I can never get used to it. :) But give it your BEST! Ask where you do not understand. Sometimes though, an established actor/actress will be called upon and given an offer of a role in a certain production but this happens after most of his/her work has been seen by filmmakers and they know his/her potential. Auditions should be free, if you go somewhere and you are being charged a fee to audition, then that is strange.

§  Take acting classes: This is a little tricky because acting classes aren’t available in East Africa but Maisha Film Lab at the National theatre is one film company I know that helps nurture acting skills, camera, script writing and son. You can go there and find out more. I have not been a part of Maisha before but I believe they can help get you started. There’s a lot you can get off the internet too but be careful because the sources may not be so credible. 

  • Modelling agencies: These days, most production companies contact modelling agencies when they are looking for models/ actors. Unfortunately a few individuals have identified this as the new get rich quick scheme so be careful, some of them are scams or use only a handful their ‘best’ models.

  • Stay in shape or get into shape: Most of our local celebrities in East Africa gain weight after they start making bank. Nobody invests in their body, be one of the few & you will have an edge over the competition. some roles will require you to be fit and in shape so work out. ;)

  • Facebook: Where would we be without it, huh? Make use of facebook too. There are many film groups but you need to search them up and see if any info suits you.

  • I wish you all the best! :)