Film Can Be Economic Driver – Experts (allAfrica.com)

Film can be a major contributor to the economy if government puts in place the necessary infrastructure needed to propel the sector forward, experts have noted.

Speaking at the financing forum for the Uganda Film Festival at the National theatre last week, Martin Mhando, the director and founder of the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF), said film had the potential to even bolster other sectors of the economy such as tourism, transport, hospitality and construction.

Mhando, also an associate professor at Murdoch University in Australia, who has secured a 10-year $10 million sponsorship package with Zuku TV, was in the country to sensitise film makers on the different avenues for securing funding for their film projects.

“In Nigeria, film is only second to oil in terms of contribution to GDP. This can also be achieved in Uganda. The money may not be there now, but putting in place relevant infrastructure like a film commission, can help drive the film industry forward,” Mhando pointed out.

He also explained that a film commission has many advantages that come with it, such as ease in securing funding for movie projects especially from the film fund, and better bargaining power with foreign directors, who come to shoot their productions in the country.

Jim Muhwezi, the minister for National Guidance and Information, recently hinted at the possibility of a film commission being formed, and asked Godfrey Mutabaazi, the executive director of the Uganda Communications Commission, to continue consultations with him about the issue.

Phillip Kalibbala Nyanja, the assistant registrar at the Uganda Registration Services Bureau, also noted the immense potential of film and said government had stepped up efforts to put in place the copyright law so that film makers can reap from their projects. He also warned film makers to register their works so that they can be protected by the law.

Donald Mugisha, the director of the movie Boda Boda thieves, revealed that he had got grants worth $225,000 for his project, and advised local film makers to target not only local, but foreign avenues of funding as well.

With the global film industry estimated to have a revenue potential of $600 billion, according to a 2010 Price Waterhouse Cooper report, Uganda can get a good fraction of that if government heeds the advice of people like Prof. Mhando.