Zim film industry has potential: Griffin Hammond

UNITED States-based documentary and filmmaker Griffin Hammond

UNITED States-based documentary and filmmaker Griffin Hammond, who is famed for his award-winning documentary titled Sriacha, says the Zimbabwean film sector has a lot of potential and if managed well can be visible around the world. 

The filmmaker said through the interactions he has had with Zimbabwean filmmakers and getting to see their work for the first time revealed how much great potential the sector has. 

“There is not a lot of visibility of Zimbabwean films globally and my primary experience with films and filmmakers here was through the art exchange programme and what I can say is there is a lot of talent here,” Hammond said.

“Most importantly what is needed is more support from the government and less restrictions in some cases, which opens up more artistic possibilities.” 

Hammond facilitated a two-day workshop hosted by Bustop TV at Moto Republik in the capital where he got to interact with film akers and journalists. 

“A lot of filmmakers at the workshop mentioned how economic challenges get in their way of even finishing up small projects and aspiring filmmakers were also talking about how the same problem got in their way to becoming relevant in the industry,” he said.

Due to economic hardships, many filmmakers in Zimbabwe have resorted to networking and collaborating in order to come up with finished work, however, Hammond advised against too much collaboration as according to him, it creates problems.

“People need inspiration that you can make a documentary by yourself, I am a one-person crew which is rare in the industry,” he said.

“I think sometimes too much collaboration can be a problem because you will have too many creative minds and not every project needs collaboration.

“I have always encouraged people to tell shorter stories because if it becomes long it means you need more resources and if you fail to get those resources it means you can no longer finish it meaning it never existed.”

The United States filmmaker and journalist also took his time to visit the Zimbabwe International Film Festival and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe offices.

He said the issue of visibility came out a lot as filmmakers were comparing Zimbabwean and South African film industries when it comes to visibility.

“Through my visits it sounds like there is a lot of government support in South Africa,” Hammond said.

“The government there gives tax breaks, when a foreign production company comes into their country they are required to give some of the proceeds to hire locals who then go back into the industry and it sounds like Zimbabwe does not have some of those incentives.”

Hammond applauded how passionate and talented Zim filmmakers are.

“I have been in the industry for 10 years now and in that time I have gotten older and less energetic and I feel like I have lost some of the hustle that I had earlier on, but being in a room filled with these filmmakers that I have seen and interacted with through the workshop has given me energy and more motivation,” he said.

“I have had assignments whereby I had to do projects in other countries and I have not yet had one in Zimbabwe but if I do, I would love to work with some of these filmmakers I met.”

He advised filmmakers and anyone who is into creative arts not to focus more on audience size.

“Sizes in the industry are always getting smaller by the day, be it you started with a large audience of the US or a small audience from Zimbabwe all audiences are shrinking. Any artist that is motivated by numbers or viewers is always sad,” Hammond said.

 “I have always felt that one should make work that they are proud of because if you do so it could not be a huge amount of people who get to see it but it could be the right amount that leads you to great opportunities. 

“Tell stories that you are passionate about because there is always the right viewer out there who is passionate about the same thing.”


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