Hassan Mageye could have been another reporter gathering news in one of the media houses in town but something happened in 2010 that changed the course of his career journey.
One midmorning in September, he was watching a local films on a local TV channel, and felt disappointed with its quality, storyline and general execution. Mageye thought he could do better even though he did not have even the basics of filmmaking.
A graduate of Mass Communication from Makerere University, Mageye set out to watch every Ugandan movie he could get his hands on. Many were not any better than the first one he had watched.
Most of the films had good storylinies but were produced as dramas with no film structures, conflicts and plots; basics of filmmaking. For him, the need for a script, pre and post production were vital.
“Many movies had stories but not scripts,” he observes, explaining that a story is anything imaginary, real or fiction whereas a filmscript is a professionally plotted story for a screen
Taking a plunge
And this is knowledge Mageye acquired along the way because in his disappointment, he found motivation which led him to carry out research on the Internet about filmmaking.
The research led him to putting the knowledge to use through writing his first movie script for Bwekatalijilya in 2010. The script was inspired by the love for his mother. The movie is about a mother and son. The son goes to town to look for better opportunities but when he returns, his mother has passed away. Mageye says it is fiction inspired by happenings.
And for a first job, he could not give it his best. “Bwekatalijilya did not go through all the professional stages because I lacked finances, experience and most of my actors and actresses,” he recalls.
It was a learning curve. He injected Shs3m in his initial project. This was money earned from his side gigs. Passion continues to drive him because he confesses that he has not made any significant amount of money from the 15 films he has done since then.
Some of his movie titles include King’s Virgin, Village Girl, House Boy, House Girl, Invisible Cuffs, Epidemic, Unfaithful, Hard Decision, Galz About Town, Tailor, Cursed Money and Clan’s Wife.
His work themes
“I’m driven by telling the unique African stories, representing my country to different festivals around the world through which I promote my country. Another satisfaction is seeing people watching my movie and understanding it,” the filmmaker says.
I ask him what informs or determines a movie title. He says, “The theme, the mind of the writer plus the hook for publicity and marketing.” His movies are available at popular centres in downtown shopping malls.
He also markets his film through a door-to-door approach. Mageye decries the low commercial success of his movies owing to piracy and weak copyright right law that is hardly enforced to protected creative works of artists like him.
He argues that filmmakers need government intervention in the developing the movie industry by enforcing copyright law, fighting piracy and offering them scholarships as well as creating a film fund.
“It is the film industry that can reduce the unemployment rate in Uganda,” he adds. He continues to make movies because he is passionate and also hopes for a better industry.
For now though, he is steadfast in investing savings from his other sources of income into film. He says there are a great deal of interesting themes to work on, and unexploited talent which once given a platform will surprise the world motivate him. For the love of film, Mageye does not see much life out there. If he is not on a movie set, he is writing scripts. “I usually do not find time for myself,” he confesses.