Author : Martin Kabagambe @cinemaUg
About a year ago
Nigeria which is Africa's giant in movie business reaps over
3billion USD from the industry and also it's among the Top 5 global top earners
from the film Business. The above money from the generated box Office, local
market, and also Tourism fueled by Films.
The above is what is missing in Uganda's tourism industry. Uganda seems to be rich in stories, physical features for shooting locations, and actually, we also have the talent. So what's the real problem?
Unlike Uganda, South Africa offers tax holidays, waivers and even reimburses money when a filmmaker spends more million dollars during a film production in South Africa. Foreign filmmakers are encouraged to hire local South African talent on their production.” This is not the case for Uganda which still lags in harnessing opportunities.
"7 Days in Entebbe" was shot in Malta because it gave the production company tax waivers and an airport that resembled the old Entebbe Airport. We missed seeing our local dressing, aerial view of Lake Victoria, and scenes of Entebbe. Most of these scenes would turn into tourism spots.” Kagwa who sits at Uganda Oscars selection committee told Daily Monitor.
Someone may underestimate the power of Film but the facts will prove you wrong. According to statistics, the Queen of Katwe movie increased the number of foreign Tourists in the slum areas of Katwe and Kampala as a whole.
Let's see how this could have been done.
The movie was screened on the Disney Channel with an average of 1.23 million viewers then, the Disney Facebook page has over 30 million followers not forgetting the rest of the socials. Actors David Oyelowo has over a million followers on social media with Lupita N'yongo with over 5 million followers on Facebook and Twitter combined. This means that Uganda was exposed to the rest of the world and this did not only happen once (during its theatrical time) but also after because movies continue to be viewed even after their Cinema time.
With the shooting locations like River Nile where a Hollywood movie "African Queen" was shot, Queen Elizabeth with a better Savannah climate for Action movies, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Better, Lake Bunyonyi which inspired some features in Black Panther, and many others, the Ugandan physical, cultural and social features can be a big potential for film investment.
The film Last King of Scotland increased awareness (knowledge) about Uganda more than anything else as it attracted all Hollywood and world cameras to Uganda. With the Actor, Forest Whitaker winning an Oscar for the film made even more popular than it's referred to in other Hollywood movies like Grown-Ups and others. The film didn't only bring Hollywood stars to Uganda like Kelly Washington, James McAvoy, and others but also boosted Uganda's Tourism abroad then increasing by 50% each year after its premiere.
That was for foreign tourism. The truth is we may not make it to Hollywood more often than we think but that even calls for more investment in the local film industry as the Tourism sector should now channel its efforts to domestic tourism due to the pandemic.
One of Uganda's most famous locally produced movies "Who Killed Captain Alex" gathered over 2 million views on YouTube for only the trailer. Just imagine if it was shot in one of the best Tourist sites around the country. Investing in the Film industry to promote tourism is way cheaper compared to real advertising the UTB seems to be obsessed with.
Simple Mathematics, an average Ugandan Movie goes for 15000 USD That's over 60 million Uganda shillings, and on average it reaches over 2 million Ugandans. A simple advert ran on NBS (any other Television) can cost over 400 million Uganda shillings depending on time run. The former stays for over years (if not forever) and latter maybe even forgotten after a month of it running.
So how can this be done?
1. Reduce taxes on high-quality film materials like Cameras for private investors to afford them. This will increase the quality in the film industry, restore confidence in the Ugandan film fan base and increase its viewing this is good in boosting Domestic Tourism.
2. Sponsor film writers, producers, and directors to produce films that show the beauty (physical) and culture of Uganda directly by injecting money not only in the film making business but also in the distribution process.
3. Uganda happens to be one of the luckiest countries to have a famous decision-maker in Hollywood but also the worst exploited. Tendo Nagenda happens to be a Vice President of Production in the biggest production house in the world but has only managed to lobby one movie out of Uganda being Queen Of Katwe.
4. If the Tourism sector is to grow, then all forces must be hired but most importantly those in the entertainment industry because it's cost-effective and reaches more audiences than any other means.
Written by Martin Kabagambe for Cinema Ug.