Wanuri works on thought-provoking TV show

Multiple award winning director/producer Wanuri Kahiu has made her first attempt at television with a pilot project for Turner Broadcasting.

In a series she started writing in 2007; Sauti is a story of the workings of a news daily in Kenya.

Though it is not inspired by true events, Wanuri says the story is not far removed from what usually happens in media houses.

“I was approached a year and a half ago to shoot the pilot after successfully pitching for it some years back,” she told Capital Lifestyle.

“It is owned by Turner Broadcasting. I’m not sure what they want it for. They commissioned the production of the pilot through Awali Productions, a company I co-own with Rebecca Chandler. We wrapped up the shoot on Saturday (Sept 24).”

Sauti, which was shot over a period of ten days, features a mix of old stars and some new-comers too, such as Kalasha award winner Raymond Ofula and a contestant from KTN’s The Presenter, Jenny Muigai.

“Jenny was amazing, and so was Raymond. In fact the entire cast was really into it. Regina Re who plays the role of ‘Madame’ a lady that runs the newspaper, was adamant that people on set should address her as ‘Madame’ and not ‘Regina’.”

Wanuri says that Sauti is among the first projects to be done by Awali Productions, which is just about a year old.

Former Capital FM Presenter Nini Wacera is part of the cast that Wanuri affectionately calls “Kenyan All Stars”. It is a privilege for the project to be done by Turner Broadcasting, which is a Time Warner Company.

Nini does not play the aggressive and sexy woman this time round, she instead pours herself into a more challenging role of a shady office receptionist with a new boss, according to what she told Capital Lifestyle.

“I love playing this character. It was very challenging for me to mirror a person I think I am nothing like and not the usual sex symbol per se. It was interesting for me to shoot this also because the director was very involved in helping the cast develop their roles. We were involved in the whole process and it made acting more natural because our emotions were not just on the surface.”

“It was gratifying,” agrees Regina Re. “We would be in a better position to understand and challenge our reactions while on set.”

Sauti is designed to address some of the issues that upset the public that they are unable to talk about with regards to the news and news coverage. It cuts across social class barriers, tackling how stories are covered and what the end story is, also touching on behind the scenes politics and manipulation.

“I wanted to address the unanswered concerns, anger and questions arising from stories on the media.”

This is Wanuri’s first time doing a television production and the experience completely threw her off!

“I didn’t know it was going to be so different from film. It’s very different. I’ve never shot with a steady cam before. I’ve never shot with two cameras before… I was learning as I go so that was very interesting.”

Also part of the cast were Sam Madoka, Mugambi Nthiga, Fareed Khimani, Kaz and Patricia Kihoro.

In the meantime Wanuri’s film has also been nominated among three other Kenyan films to feature at the Filmafrica Awards 2011 set for London in November.

“It’s an honour and a privilege, to be nominated,” she said, adding “Its testimony to the fact that African film is coming up, and we as Kenyans should support that.”

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