Mhle Nzima and Elliot Moyo have risen to be household names in the film business in Zimbabwe the talented pair have released amazing lately and have been nominated for awards as hard work speaks volumes about the work the two are putting out, with the latest production “The lost letter” set to premier in the royal capital Bulawayo. The red carpet film premier will be at Elite 400 on May 13.
As we build up to the premier of the latest Zimbabwean film urban Culxure Writer Khotso Sibanda (K.S) had a chat with talented writer, director and producer Mhle Nzima(M.N). Who is excited about his latest baby and is leaving no stone unturned to make the premier a success. The star studded production features multi-talented ladies Donna N, Lady Tshawe and fashion designer Annie Maliki.
I look forward to the day when we can have sets constructed to match the specifications of our scripts. That’s when I believe this film business will turn into an established film industry.- @MhleNzima
K.S: What inspired you to write” The Lost Letter,”?
M.N: Just a debate. The people I hang out with have this habit of just starting these stimulating arguments about random topics; so at that moment the debate was over (plutonic) friendships between exes and people of the opposite sex.
K.S: How long did it take you to write it?
M.N: About two months, with a total of four drafts.
K.S: Did you write it with particular actors in mind? If not, what were you looking for in the audition process?
M.N: For the lead, yes. I‘d always wanted to work on a movie with Donna after I did a short film with her in 2014 called, “The Truth,” and a very successful theatre production with her in 2015, “Voices In My Head,” which was written by Elliot Moyo.
Every other character was shaped by the script and it was about finding that IT factor in the actors. Emotion above everything else or rather how well they could convey it. I like flexibility, so I want to see my actors at their happiest and saddest. Elliot, on the other hand, wants to see them at their angriest. He’s crazy like that, but then that’s what makes us the perfect production team.
K.S: Who directed “The Lost Letter,”?
M.N: For me, as a writer, it is always best to be the director as well, because you know best the vision you want to portray. That’s the beauty of independent filmmaking; you’re more flexible to take on the roles that best suit the story.
K.S: Tell me more about producing “The Lost Letter.”
M.N: It was a co-production between Elliot Moyo and me. We have teamed up before in producing plays like, “Voices in My Head,” and “A prayer for Grandma,” and they have been sold out successes. Our most recent animated short film, “All we need,” got nominated for a National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) for outstanding screen production. Our co-productions have been formula for success, so we saw no need to break the cycle.
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K.S: How difficult was it to get funding for “The Lost Letter?”
M.N: FUNDING? “The Lost Letter” was entirely self-funded by rEBEL fILM Productions and Early Entertainment, both independent studios, with limited resources. Our most valuable assets were our swift business minds and negotiation skills as producers. Relationships play a big role in production in Zimbabwe; where it’s no secret that film funding is scarce. So, it’s important to know your environment and the people around it.
K.S: Do you believe we have an established film industry in Zimbabwe?
M.N: I look forward to the day when we can have sets constructed to match the specifications of our scripts. That’s when I believe this film business will turn into an established film industry.
K.S: What do you believe film practitioners should be doing differently to establish or revive the film industry?
M.N: I believe we’re in the process of becoming an established film industry because now we actually have investment into film by the government and we have a growing film trade on a regional level where Zimbabwean films are being bought by DSTV and generating profit and foreign currency for the nation.
Film is no longer an isolated backyard business anymore. Corporates are starting to invest in film, and learning the value of advertising through the medium or getting exposure through it in the form of product placement and the like.
The more crossovers we have with different industries, the bigger we become. Film industry can benefit just any industry; construction, retail, transport, medical. We generate business for them when we book them and their facilities and they do the same for us. Film is also a big employment generator because one film can have up to twenty-five official cast and crew members on a payroll with over ten more industries benefiting through service provision.
K.S: How can the culture of going to the cinema improve in Bulawayo?
M.N: If filmmakers work hand in hand with local cinemas, we can build the local cinema culture and make it great. It’s sad to think that our children might never get to know what going to a movie house is, so I think we really need to work hard before we lose the chance to save cinema. Bulawayo particularly has only one cinema down from five last year, so the sector is under serious threat of completely disappearing. That’s why we chose to launch our film at an actual cinema.
K.S: What do you want the audience to take home with them after watching “The Lost Letter”?
M.N: I just want the audience to enjoy an entertaining film that can inspire them to be true to their hearts. That’s what film is supposed to be after all: Entertainment.
K.S: Thank you Mhle
M.N: You are welcome.