Down an unassuming road in Na-teete you will find a building with “Ramon Productions” embla-zoned on the walls. This is the heart of Wakaliwood – the centre of Uganda’s burgeoning low-budget, action-come-dy film scene.
When “Who Killed Captain Alex” hit the world in 2010 the world didn’t really know what to do with it. A film made in Uganda with a budget of $200 and its tongue firmly stuck in its cheek took the film-loving public by surprise. Gloriously bad special effects, a script cheesier than a king-size pizza and a kill count that would make Quentin Tarantino proud is not what people associate with this part of east Africa.
A film made in Uganda with a budget of $200 and it’s tongue firmly stuck in it’s cheek took the film-loving public by suprise.
Since then, Wakaliwood has produced around 40 films, most following the low budget, action-comedy model and each film getting more views on You Tube and gaining more worldwide attention. Ramon Film Productions was formed in 2005 by husband and wife team Isaac and Harriet Nabwana. Initially concentrating on their roster of Ugandan recording artists Isaac attended the Uganda Film Training Institute to help him with his dream of making movies.
Harriet told me that Isaac’s teacher thought that making an action movie in Uganda would be impossible but Isaac wasdetermined to follow his dream. To this end he built his own computer,taught himself editing techniques and set to work on the script. When the filming of “Alex” started he also found time to direct.
The completed film found an eager audience in the local market, complete with a live VJ providing a humourous voice over. The trailer was uploaded to You Tube and forgotten about. Several months later, Isaac checked the number of views and was astounded to see a number way, way in excess of what he was expecting. With none of the usual publicity moves associated with the film industry, a buzz was happening.
Alan Hofmanis, a veteran of the film festival world in the US, joined Ramon Productions after he saw the Trailer for “Alex”. He is now part of the Wakaliwood family and is helping to promote Isaac’s films abroad.
So what’s next for Wakaliwood? Alan told me that since “Alex”, films have been produced at a prodigious rate. Upcoming titles such as “Operation Kakongoliro – The Expendables of Uganda” and “Ebola Hunter”, the latter featuring KungFu Jesus, hint that Isaac is sticking with his trademark blend of action, improbable storylines and lots of gory, blood-splattered death. Especially the gory, blood-splattered death.
To help support Wakaliwood you can buy tshirts, posters, mugs etc via their website. You can even volunteer to be killed in the next Wakaliwood film. And please watch the movie and find out exactly who killed Captain Alex: