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PONTACT PRODUCTIONS NEWSLETTER

JULY 2005


CATCHING UP…..
Since last Newsletter we handled such diverse productions as ….. a Dutch reality show "Mission Kilimanjaro" where, after putting the contestants through various stressful and agonising contests around East Africa, the winner got to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro! We had to find all manner of disgusting and outrageous things for"MTV’s Wildboyz (Jackass)" to accomplish here without upsetting the wildlife or the authorities – now that’s a challenge. The other end of the scale was an " All Faiths Crusade" in Nakuru.


In March 2004, we co-produced several episodes of a Hong Kong mini-series entitled "The Last Breakthrough" arranged by the Kenya Tourist Board as part of its drive to attract more visitors from the Far East. It was a valuable learning curve for the Kenyan crew to work “Hong Kong style”. Our Kenyan Art Department prepared a substantial set in Shaba National Reserve in less than two weeks. The 30-episode series attracted more than 35 million Chinese viewers in Hong Kong and mainland China, even before the DVD is released.


MAJOR FEATURE FILM IN 2004


Constantin Film of Germany arrived in Kenya in 2003 to begin preparations for" Die Weisse Maasai (The White Masai)", already a familiar story to PONTACT PRODUCTIONS as we had worked on it since 1998 with a different script/producers/director who fell by the wayside. It is based on a bestselling book by Corinne Hoffman who married a Samburu warrior and lived the traditional Samburu life in remote North Eastern Kenya.

We constructed the main set in Ngelai, North of Wamba – 8 hours’ drive from Nairobi. In July 2004, we set up a Construction camp, and Andrew Nightingale (Location Scout) was detailed to build roads and level lugga’s.
Casting the actor to play the Samburu husband was reminiscent of the search for Scarlett O’Hara for "Gone with the Wind"! Starting with Nairobi actors, then Masai actors (many), then “just a beautiful Masai/Samburu” (many), then just a beautiful Kenyan man (again, many) … but none were suitable and the director finally found Jacky, an actor from Paris, who was immediately sent to Ngelai to become a Samburu Moran. With an army of teachers, advisors, assistants, an exercise bike and a strict diet the transformation was remarkable. A common sight in the construction camp as the sun rose was Jacky on his exercise bike outside his tent, with an audience of fascinated Samburu kids watching him cycle to nowhere.
Meanwhile, our Art Department scoured the country for old rusty corrugated iron sheets, rusted drums, broken wheelbarrows and the like to construct and “dress” the village and the mission on our main set. Even our own home was not spared – they came and demolished our garage and store, took away the old iron sheets and left us with a horrible shiny version.


Out-take …
Joannah and Hatibu of Props journeyed to the location via Nanyuki and Isiolo, followed by David
in a 3-ton truck, buying old junk en route and loading it in the truck. When they reached Wamba,
David decided to take a break for some nyama choma (roast meat) and the others went ahead. Later,
driving fast through the night, he was unaware he had a group of Samburu passengers hitching a ride on the roof-rack. They arrived scratched and bleeding having left a trail of shuka’s and bits of clothing on the thorn trees along the route … but still seeing the funny side of it.

 

Shooting went ahead on schedule, 10 days in Maralal then 5 weeks in Ngelai.
Conditions were extreme – heat, dust and wind in a “tent city” of about 70 tents.
One day a dustdevil came up the valley, picked up the office tent and plonked it in a mangled mess 30 meters away, leaving everyone clutching their laptops Fortunately noone was injured – and yet another lesson was learnt through experience.


Out-take …
The Samburu workers homed in on the leisure tent like bees around
honey – learning to play pool whilst we were all on set. They sat
rivetted to the satellite TV in the evenings and, watching an old western
one night were fascinated how horses were used to round up and steal
cattle. They wanted to know “Are the Pokots watching this movie?”
The Unit moved from Ngelai just as the rains set in, to a soggy week of shooting in Nairobi and finishing off at the Coast.

The "White Masai" will premiere in Munich on 8th September, 2005.


March 2005
ANOTHER GERMAN FEATURE FILM


d.i.e. Film, also from Munich, sent the wonderful "Winterreise (Winter Journey)" script to me whilst we were shooting "The White Masai." Budget restrictions made shooting Nairobi for Lagos difficult, and so the script was changed to a fictitious African country. This also gave us artistic licence to show the dramatic scenery of Kenya. This was a low budget, 13 days of shooting, small and cheerful crew (they had been shooting in the coldest winter in Germany for 30 years) and we were really lucky with the weather. This film deserves to do well. Great script, wonderful cast, and spectacular scenes.


And "The White Masai" has left a good legacy behind. Just as "Nowhere in Africa" built a road up the escarpment for the Pokots of Mukutani, Constantin Film GmbH have built a school for the kindergarten kids of Ngelai so that they don’t have to walk too far. And the crew have sponsored 12 kids in various schools in Wamba, Maralal and Meru. They are all children whom we can identify with, having either worked with them or their parents during filming in Ngelai. Jurgen, the Line Producer, is working on setting up a Foundation but in the meantime, Pontact Productions is doing the coordination and school fees etc. All the children will be sponsored up to University level. Pontact is also assisting a young Samburu man from Barsaloi – the village where the original story takes place – to finish his degree at Nairobi University, as his father cannot continue paying the fees because his cows got sick.

KENYA FILM COMMISSION


At last, after more than 15 years, the efforts of the industry stakeholders have paid off and the Kenya Government has allocated funds to form a Kenya Film Commission. The Minister for Information and Communications, Hon. Raphael Tuju, appointed five Board Members and we are very pleased to announce that one of the five is Jenny Pont (PONTACT PRODUCTIONS). There is a mammoth task ahead.


OUR OFFICES

Email:
pontact@africaonline.co.ke

Pontact Productions EPZ Limited
Rafiki EPZ Industrial Park
Outer Ring road
P.O. Box 64918
00620 Nairobi,
Kenya

Telephone Numbers

Office switchboard +254-20-8562386
Office direct landline:  +254-20-6752166
Office mobile  +254-720 030870
Jenny direct +254-20-8561463
Office fax +254-20 8562133

Cellphones

Jenny  +254-733 602431 or +254-722 221179
Joram  +254-724 334110 or +254-735 836560
Maggie  +254-720 796998 or +254-737 227037
Michael Karanja +254-727 107700 or 0735 107700
Yusuf  +254-722 213667
Naomi  +254-721 884749



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In a Better World
Kidnappet
The White Massai
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