There are mixed feelings from local film directors and actors who were asked to submit scripts to Zambezi Magic for commissioning with one of the country’s leading film directors Shemu Joyah dodging the submission.
Late last year, Zambezi Magic called for professional scripts from filmmakers and directors from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region.
“This stage is for the writers. Once we have identified the scripts we want, we will go into production,” reads the statement that was given to directors and filmmakers in part.
Closing date for submission of the scripts was November 27 last year.
Despite Film Association of Malawi (Fama) stressing that the call had received a positive response from local filmmakers including Shemu Joyah, findings by The Nation reveal that Joyah did not submit any script arguing that the conditions were below his required standards of filmmaking.
Joyah decried that Zambezi Magic’s budget ceiling of $25 000 (about K17.5 million) was not enough to cover production of a film with running time of 80 minutes.
He said: “When I read the conditions, I did not bother to go on with submissions because my script demanded a lot. For example, the Zambezi Magic wanted a script with a maximum running time of 80 minutes, but mine was about 110 minutes.
“I pegged the production of my movie at around $150 000 (about K105 million) yet Zambezi’s budget ceiling was $25 000. So, I just didn’t submit my script. May be next time I [will] work on something to meet their requirements.”
Joyah said had he submitted his script basing on the Zambezi Magic’s conditions, the standards of his film would have been affected.
Actress Flora Suya said she has submitted a script to try her luck.
While describing Zambezi Magic’s opening as a rare opportunity Joyah said:
“I will try my luck next timethe local film industry, Fama President Ezaius Mkandawire said he did not have the exact number of filmmakers who submitted their scripts to Zambezi Magic.
“I know a number of artists that have submitted their scripts, but as an association we do not have database because they did not submit through us. The call was open to individuals who have the right to keep their submissions private. But all in all, the initiative stands to improve the local film industry if all goes well,” he said.
According to the Zambezi Magic Head of Channel Addiel Dzinoreva Zambezi Magic was looking for original and compelling stories that will resonate with audiences.
“The channel wanted authentic hyper local stories that are driven by strong narratives and characters that are a reflection of our diversity. The channel is yet to release the winning scripts,” he said. n