Sneak Peek: Freeman Makopa
THE local film industry is experiencing tough times due to shortage of foreign currency, causing many in the industry to seek greener pastures outside the borders.
Despite the challenges, one local filmmaker, Marc Mandisoul, has been making frantic efforts, trying to reap profits from the sector. Mandisoul, has produced notable films and series like State of Malambia, which premiered on national broadcaster ZTV and is also set to premiere on a United Kingdom platform next month. NewsDay (ND) Life & Style reporter Freeman Makopa caught up with Marc Mandisoul (MM) and below are the excerpts from the interview;
ND: You are currently working on your new project, House of Stones, after successfully releasing State of Malambia. Can you tell us more about this forthcoming project?
MM: House of Stone is an action drama series created produced and directed by Marc T Mandisoul and Entertainment Afrika Media, the production house behind the movie State of Malambia. This is a series based on Trans-Africa Holdings, a company owned by the rich and wealthy Mabhena family. The business is founded on underground organised criminal activities, but they have branched into showbiz, football and multimedia as a form for their Mafioso style activities and are under investigation by the Interpol and Anti-Corruption Unit.
ND: How many episodes does the drama carry and which markets are you eyeing?
MM: The drama series has nine episodes and is similar to other global productions like Empire, Power, How to Get Away with Murder, among others. It is packaged into seasons for local, regional and global distribution on ZBCTV, Africa Magic and global streaming platforms. House of Stone will be on ZBCTV for local viewers without a doubt, but we are not limiting the viewership to Zimbabwe because as a production house, our vision is always to export our products and as for the last project, State of Malambia, it was premiered on ZBCTV on Christmas Day and is set to premiere on a United Kingdom platform this April as we continue to take it around the world. There is much to expect for the movie on global film festivals and more.
ND: Do you think House of Stones will have more impact than your previous works?
MM: House of Stone series will have a huge impact because it’s targeted towards a global audience in terms of broadcast platforms and we are shooting it in 4k format to meet all international broadcast standards. This is my biggest project yet.
ND: Any collaborations with international filmmakers on your next productions?
MM: There are a number of filmmakers in Nigeria, South Africa and the United States we are currently discussing with for collaborations on a feature film project that we will start to work on in July, upon completion of House of Stone season 1. This project will also include international actors and is a huge production.
ND: What are some of the challenges you are facing as a filmmaker operating in Zimbabwe and how do you envisage to address them?
MM: The challenge in Zimbabwe is always financial and structural support from people who control key facilities like buildings, hospitals, air space for use, among others. I love to shoot outside homes and the usual bedroom, lounge and kitchen sets that are the norm on most local productions, it would be great if banks allow us to shoot robbery scenes in their banks too, but they think it gives a bad impression to their brands, but you see that in global movies all the time.
ND: Is the local market supportive to your works and is it profitable?
MM: The local market responds well to local productions, but the economic situation makes it hard for most Zimbabweans to go and watch movies in cinemas, hence the decision to feature State of Malambia on ZBCTV and generate income from sponsored advertising. We are set to broadcast the movie on United Kingdom, South Africa and Nigerian television platforms this April to June, so it is profitable given that we own the project and can sell broadcast rights to anyone.
ND: How do you intend to penetrate the international market?
MM: House of Stone is targeted towards Netflix, the global streaming platform. The technical elements that are basic necessities to be on this platform, these we are meeting with this project and have really invested heavily in our technical department to ensure we deliver a world class product.
ND: State of Malambia has been nominated for an international award, can you shed more light on that?
MM: State of Malambia was the first movie to premiere on national television similar to the way Steven Spielberg launched Jaws via television; it was new to Zimbabwe. On the award nomination, we do not want to pre-empty the process regarding awards as we await official announcement on a number of international awards we have submitted and been shortlisted for, including the biggest awards on the African continent.
Next month, the movie will be making inroads into regional and global markets. I am a mainstream commercial filmmaker and I push everything at mainstream commercial level, so you will hear all about State of Malambia across the globe.
ND: Do you have other projects other than House of Stones that you arecurrently working on?
MM: In July I will start work on Jahunda Village — Legend of the Witch Hunter, my next production in collaboration with two international production companies.
ND: Your partying words
MM: I just want to thank our viewers for the support they have shown to our projects and also the actors who have shown much passion in the production of these projects. We are looking forward to have more projects in the future which will hit the big screens. I can safely say we are on the right track and towards a breakthrough. We will continue to promote brand Zimbabwe through the film industry.