We’ve all heard of Hollywood, that western Los Angeles bastion of film, fantasy, and phoniness. Hollywood didn’t invent the movies. nor did they perfect them, but they sure as heck added to movies’ worldwide popularity. Of course, California has hardly been the sole home of the movie industry: there has always been a burgeoning trade in the UK, in Europe, in Japan, in Hong Kong / China, and in developed countries worldwide. With economic growth in India, Bollywood films emerged, their industry’s partly a homage to Hollywood, but also giving a bowing reference to their distinct, local feel.
Not to be outdone, Nigeria, home to over 100 million Africans, grew their own home-grown industry, labeled, cleverly, Nollywood. Well now, all of them can take a step back. Uganda is in the house, and Wakaliwood is where it’s at.
The genius behind this pop-up industry is Isaac Nabwana, 45, head of Ramon Productions and dedicated, imaginative, if non-traditional filmmaker. Nabwana has made some 40 films, each of which he estimates to have had a budget of around $200.
That’s not $200 million. That’s two hundred dollars — around 130 quid, give or take. He manages this insanely low cost by having “amateur” actors who double as film crew and prop makers, all while juggling real jobs. The actors and crew aren’t paid, but get to sell copies of the films door to door and pocket half of the profits (before the bootleggers go black market and kill the trade).
With the help of American fan and film buff, Alan Hofmanis, Bruce U, stuntman and kung fu coordinator, and his crew of Wakaliwood filmmakers, Ramon Studios has begun to get noticed, both via winning awards like the Best Director (action genre) and Audience Award at FANTASTIC FEST 2016, in Austin Texas, and via a 2015 Kickstarter campaign that brought them in some $13,181 when they were try to raise $160 to make a film.
Of course, as a BBC profile points out, if Hollywood gets hold of the story it’ll likely star Alan Hofmanis instead of the Wakaliga, Uganda ghetto residents that comprise Ramon Film Productions ( and perhaps rightly so, since Hofmanis abandoned his life in New York to live and work with Nabwana in their film adventures). But make no bones about it, this is the product of imagination, wit, creativity, and a green screen made of cloth purchased from a local store.
As a sampling of their product, below is the eight-minute opening scene (as trailer) for their film Bad Black. I’m hoping Bruce U did the fight scenes in the flick.
Are you hooked yet? If so, enjoy Wakaliwood’s first action movie, Who Killed Captain Alex, FREE on YouTube. Also, feel free to check out the Wakaliwood website where you can watch of download the film or become a patron of the arts via Wakaliwood’s Patreon page. Check it out! You won’t even need a Ugandan Key!