We need a functional film industry: Detective Chanaiwa

SNEAK PEEK :Winstone Antonio

RENOWNED filmmaker Von “Detective Chanaiwa” Tavaziva, who is the brains behind the action-packed movie Go Chanaiwa Go that used to screen on national television ZBC-TV, says there is need for a functioning film industry if local filmmakers are to enjoy the fruits of their talents. The independent producer-cum-actor believes DStv through Zambezi Magic has forced local filmmakers to up their game for their productions to be screened on that platform. He said the screening of local productions on the DStv channels has created numerous opportunities for producers, who no longer have to solely rely on ZBC to buy their products. Armed with a microsoft systems engineering qualification, Tavaziva’s footprint in the cut-throat film industry has proved difficult to ignore and NewsDay (ND) Life & Style reporter Winstone Antonio caught up with Detective Chanaiwa (VT) who shared his thoughts about the local film industry. Below are the excerpts from the interview.

ND: You have been silent for a while, what has been going on behind the scenes?

VT: I launched my sixth full length feature film called S’mbimbino 3 on September 7, 2019 and the film has been nominated for the forthcoming National Arts Merit Awards. So I am not silent no, but going slowly yes.

ND: S’mbimbino was screened on DStv’s Zambezi Magic. What has that meant to you? And how is Zambezi Magic important to local filmmakers?

VT: Working with no budget and also being the producer, director, writer and editor of a production means an individual is passion-driven. Then, hard as that may be, for such productions to meet required standards by some broadcasters is a great achievement. Zambezi Magic makes local filmmakers up their game. You have to meet certain filming standards and aim for the best.

ND: You are on record saying DStv will force ZBC to up its game. Are you still of the same opinion? What changes, if any, have you seen in that regard?

VT: I have sat on the ZBC content reviewing committee helping to enforce that mindset and as far as I am concerned, we did, and the team is still doing a good job. Independent producers are encouraged and some do go back for re-shoots of bad camerawork or editing. I believe there has been remarkable change as far as the quality of productions is concerned.

ND: Given the stiff competition from regional filmmakers, are Zimbabwean standards in film-making improving? What are the challenges and way forward?

VT: Every production house will aim to impress. No producer wants to come up with a film that flops, but in Zimbabwe our film industry is on its knees. I am not even sure if it exists at all. It’s more like a one-man-for-himself state of affairs. You have to make your own stuff improve and that is very difficult because the economic environment is worried about other matters. You don’t exist.

ND: Most filmmakers always complain about lack of sponsorship and resource issues, what do you think must be done to address these difficulties?

VT: We need a functioning film industry, but sadly, like I said, that is not a priority in our current Zimbabwean situation.

ND: You have been selling your DVDs on the streets as a way of trying to curb piracy, has that been helpful?

VT: No. At one point the “anti-piracy–cats” ended up being on a monthly salary from the “piracy rats.” I personally stopped the practice after realising that a dollar was now hard to come by.

ND: What can the authorities do to effectively deal with this problem, given that the legal instruments are available?

VT: If the industries open, jobs will be created. Not just the industries, but everything else. That guy who sits by the corner waiting to steal my stuff will not find that worthwhile. He or she will be at work and getting a salary and thereafter buying this entertainment that some of us are working so hard to produce.

ND: What is in store for film fanatics this year?

VT: Currently I am in post-production after having shot a drama for a well-known group in the Zimbabwe drama circles. We hope it will be out soon. Electricity problems are the main hindrance here. As for me, yes I am working on yet another action film and shooting will commence early this year. Big challenges and huge learning process. Risking being compared to the masters of Hollywood stands right in my face, but I am not really bothered by that. We will do it our way and I love doing this and I believe my fans will give me a thumbs up.
ND: How can film and television be used to foster national development?

VT: For a start, all communities need to consume relevant content, be it educational or mere entertainment. So television needs to reach even the remotest of places. Instant learning becomes far spread.

ND: Are you happy with the quality of actors and actresses who are being produced in the country?

VT: Zimbabwe has got great talent. I wish I start filming a production with that title right away lol. I know for sure that we do have talented actors and actresses in Zimbabwe.
With our talent you can have a show with different faces daily. This is just me getting excited because I love discovering new talent and making stars out of them. I did that with our star from S’mbimbino 1, Amina Chivasa (unfortunately we lost her in May 2017). Then this time it’s Tadiwanashe Chisvo, an 11–year-old from Norton. I know our film school is also doing what they do best, which gives hope and comfort to our ailing film situation.

ND: What can be done to make them more visible?

VT: Direct that spotlight onto the film industry, put people who understand art, (in my case film) in influential positions, people who would value content as the fuel of the organisation and not those who would think of buying a fleet of useless vehicles using that money meant for content.

ND: What are your thoughts on the future of Zimbabwe’s television and film?

VT: I can’t wait for us to go digital. Simple.

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