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"MTVs
Wildboyz (Jackass)" to accomplish here without upsetting
the wildlife or the authorities now thats 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
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 luggas.
Casting the actor to play the Samburu husband was reminiscent of
the search for Scarlett OHara 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.
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 shukas and bits of clothing on the
thorn trees along the route
but still seeing the funny side of
||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.
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.
Masai" will premiere in Munich on 8th
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
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 dont 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.
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.
Rafiki EPZ Industrial Park
Outer Ring road
P.O. Box 64918
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
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