Uganda’s film and television industry is often overshadowed by that of its neighbours Tanzania and Kenya. For Ugandan MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) Academy student Casey Lugada, this doesn’t mean that ‘Ugawood’ plays a lesser role in the continent. Much like its neighbours, local TV and video content is king in Uganda, but numerous challenges keep it from growing at the rate it should.
“The thing Uganda is getting right is quantity: (we) really put out a lot of local content. But the issue is the content put out. The quality and standards are really quite low, but people enjoy it. With this new age of creatives and our generation coming up, there’s a need to fill this gap. I feel like we could come into play there quite nicely,” says 18-year-old Lugada, who is mission is to ensure that he takes back home what he has learnt during his tenure at the academy.
A quick glimpse on Lugada’s Instagram profile and the first thing you can pick up is his eye for capturing candid moments and light, as well as an ear for the perfect soundtrack in his short films. It’s no surprise then that his aim is to perfect his filmmaking skills and establish himself as a film director.
Soon after completing high school, Lugada found a job as a junior editor and production assistant at a media production house, where he got to work on projects such as Dance Off Uganda. It was in that time that he also applied to the Nairobi hub of the MTF Academy, where he was accepted as one of 19 students representing East Africa.
At home in Kampala, Lugada is the middle child, with an older and younger sister. His family has been a continuous support system for him and his path towards becoming a film director,
“I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to study in university, so it was sort of like a good thing that I got into this because it was something that I was interested in and it also gave me time to figure things out,” Lugada explains.
The academy curriculum saw Lugada do an immersive six weeks at SuperSport, on the set of hit TV telenovela Selena as well as in Riverwood, Nairobi’s low-budget local movie hub. Lugada and the academy students also had the chance to meet the filmmakers and behind-the-scenes creators of internationally-renowned and awarded films Rafiki, 18 Hours and Nairobi Half Life. This level of exposure to some of the most seasoned professionals in Kenya’s filmmaking industry isn’t easy to come by, and essential for the next generation of TV and filmmakers such as Lugada.
“The people we met are considered to be the best in the industry in what they do, so they’ve worked on a lot of these major projects and films that come out of Kenya. In that sense, it was really good to have a reference work to go back to that was something that was internationally recognised. It’s been quite good,” he adds.
In addition to the internship, the candidates were also a part of MTF Masterclasses, which are aimed at developing the technical skills of developing and established creatives in cinematography, audio and storytelling. Some of the Masterclass experts included Vikram Joglekar from Dolby India and South African director of photography Jonathan Kovel.
The MTF Masterclasses are powered by various MultiChoice Africa industry partners, and form part of the MTF’s other two shared value initiative’s touchpoints, namely the MTF Academy and the recently-launched MTF industry networking portal.
For Lugada, the chance to interact and learn from seasoned film and TV professionals is fuel for his plans to study film further on a university level after his tenure at the academy, and thereafter to ultimately share his knowledge through collaboration.
”I plan on going to university after I’m done [with the academy], by the time I’ve gone out and studied Media and Communications or whatever I end up doing, I feel like it’s important that we come back and invest into our local communities and make sure that the investment that MultiChoice has put in goes the extra mile and goes all the way through,” says Lugada.