By Ogova Ondego
Published August 15, 2016
Five years after the film he made as a student was screened and discussed at Nairobi’s premier critical movie platform, Ian Kithinji returns to Lola Kenya Screen film forum (LKSff) with INDULGE ME, an award-winning short film, during the 95th LKSff at Goethe-Institut in Nairobi on August 29, 2016.
It is nice to see you again after a long while. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Ian Kithinji, 27 and I’m a filmmaker living and working in Nairobi, Kenya. I write, shoot direct and produce films. The film sector in Kenya being what it is, does not make it easy for one to specialise in a specific department early in life. I dream of writing and directing films but I also do other jobs like assisting in directing, producing and operating the camera. The ability to do all this is an advantage as you get to know as many aspects of filmmaking as possible.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with a double major in Electronic Media and Advertising from Daystar University.
And how did you get to be making movies?
Since I was young, I loved moving images and thought I should have a career in movie-making. I love movies and I naturally wanted to learn how to make them.
But you studied Electronic Media and Advertising.
I did an internship at a local film company called Cinematic Solutions after university. I was thrown into the deep end on a feature film shooting. I fell in love with film.
So what have you been doing since falling in love with movies?
I have since been working on documentaries, corporate videos, TV commercials, and reality shows. I have also been doing my own short films so that I could hone my skills as a writer and director.
Your student film—CONTROL—was shown and discussed at the 47th monthly LKSff on June 27, 2011. It went on to compete for the best student film award at the 6th annual Lola Kenya Screen movie festival two months later. What else have you done since then?
I have done short films like BLINDSIGHT, SPILLED, ROLEX, POOP and, most recently, INDULGE ME.
I remember BLINDSIGHT and SPILLED that were also showcased at LKSff. Say something about INDULGE ME; it sounds interesting.
INDULGE ME is the film that has won me most recognition as a writer and director after emerging as the best film in a competition organised by the inaugural Machakosfest film festival in eastern Kenya’s Machakos County.
And INDULGE ME is one of the five films from your group of filmmakers lined up for screening at LKSff on 29.08.2016. What challenges do you encounter in the filmmaking sector?
The major challenge for me, and I think many young artists, is getting the opportunities that would help me grow my preferred skill set in my chosen field. For a person who wants to be a director, one is forced to prove it on his or her own own before anyone can trust them professionally.
So what solution do you propose for this challenge?
A few close friends and I have been teaming up from time to time to make films on our own terms and dime. This has indeed helped grow us in our lives as filmmakers and as friends.
So this is how your group, Mizani/Hamba Production, came to be; what are you focusing on?
I dream of making television content and films that are competitive on the international front. I dream of telling entertaining, informative and challenging human interest stories that will make Kenya get known as a source for great world art.