The Kenya Film Commission (KFC) looks set to revolutionize the country’s film industry by accelerating a process that will see the institution give financial support to local film makers.
Speaking recently at a media briefing session with journalists at the KFC offices in Jumuia place, the CEO, Mr. Peter Mutie, acknowledged that there are many talented film makers in Kenya but the biggest constraint they face is finances, hence the need for the commission to provide a solution as a way of facilitating growth in the film industry.
The KFC undertook a study to establish a film fund that aimed at;
a. Providing information on sources of funding for film making, whether loans or grants, and if loans what sort of interests and repayment periods applied;
b. Examining the possibility of a revolving film fund providing loans or grants for the local film industry;
c. Providing information on the possible risks involved and mitigating factors;
d. Providing information on profits made from film making;
e. Providing information on the workings of a film fund contextualized to the Kenyan film industry.
Investors have traditionally shied away from the film industry in Kenya, a factor that the study attributed to a lack of knowledge by the finance providers about the film market and how it works as well as limited government support to the sector.
According to the study, having a better organized industry that thinks and speaks about issues in a more coordinated manner, would play a key role in driving higher profits in the sector, and as the film regulatory body in the country, KFC is keen to devise this.
LOTTERIES TO RAISE FUNDS – SH500 MILLION TARGET!
Citing inadequate government funding as the biggest challenge the commission faces in order to execute its mandate, Mr Mutie mentioned that the commission has applied for a lottery license from the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) to enable it to start raising funds for a revolving kitty.
Through the lottery, the commission intends to raise Sh500 million annually, which it would then loan to local film and television producers at rates lower than those financial institutions offer, so as to boost the growth of local film productions.
The government’s allocation to the commission in the year 2010/2011 stood at Sh102,895 million, with almost 84 per cent of the money going into salaries, leaving the balance for development of local films.
200 HECTARES IN KONZA CITY FOR A FILM FACILITY
“We have asked for about 200 hectares in Konza city, for the construction of a fully fledged film facility with complete infrastructure. This is in the second phase of the Konza city development which will be completed in the period of the next 5-10 years” said Mr Mutie, adding that it’s not very far, and preparations are underway. The announcement on the ground breaking Konza development was given by President Kibaki just a few weeks ago.
LOWER TAX BARRIERS
Mr Mutie also maintained that the Kenya film commission would negotiate with government entities in order to improve the regulatory environment. This would involve lowering tax barriers, reviewing the 40% local content guidelines in order to cushion the industry and make local content more attractive; orchestrate the joining hands of the currently fragmented and divided stakeholders, overseeing the purchase of a simple set of quality equipment along with a simple location in order to ensure that quality pilots can access wider funding as well a setting up a fund that would provide seed funding for early stage films.
The fund is said to start working in the next 3 years and the target is between 200 million and 1 billion.
KENYAN FILM INDUSTRY SUCCESS
The Kenyan film industry has recently come of age with locally produced films and actors winning international awards eg. Nairobi Half Life, The First Grader and Shattered, among others. Kenyan actors are now in a position to earn sustainable wages from the industry, whilst in the past even getting transport to a location was a hitch!
KFC has faced a lot of criticism in the past for misappropriation of funds, and for not doing much to promote growth in the film industry but now with a much more open and better restructured commission it’s our hope that the Kenya Film Commission will execute its mandate to revolutionize the industry and take it to greater heights.