February 7, 2011 – Judy Kibinge is a star. Why? Because 11 of her movies were showcased at the Geothe Institute over the weekend as a tribute to a journey in film in Kenya, is why.
With ten years experience under her belt and very little love from Kenyan film goers, it took Judy a minute to let the tribute get to her head – and heart.
“They had told me about it last year and three weeks ago asked me to give them about 10 of my films for them to showcase. So this year, about tthey said the show will be on this and this date. But it wasn’t until a friend of mine heard about it and called me, really excited about, that it sunk in and I was like wow, this is really happening,” she tells Capital Lifestyle.
Judy started as a creative in advertising. She worked as the Creative Director at McCann Erickson for about eight years back in the day, before going out on an ‘adventure’ as she calls it to direct films.
And as it is with life, her baby steps were the hardest.
“My first first film was Aftermath. And I remember people coming up to me saying oh its so chaotic, you’re never going to be able to move from advertising to movies, you should just give up, but I didn’t,” she adds.
Soon after came Project Daddy and Dangerous Affair which Judy did together with Njeri Karago.
“Its not always about getting a serious message out there. So I remember the producer that time was like, let’s do something fun, just for people to watch, and guyse loved it. It was meant to kick-start the local film industry and was a huge financial risk for Njeri as producer, but it worked!”
However, whether people love a film or not, in Kenya, making money from it is harder than it looks.
“In fact, the honest truth, I think I got 3,000 bob from Dangerous Affair. There are so many people who come together to do films and you cannot make money if you sell movies at Sh100. It’s just not possible! Actually for me, I do documentaries and that’s what pays the rent,” she explains.
“But what it has been for me is ten years of schooling. And that is invaluable.”
Judy feels that Kenya really needs a proper distributor for films so that they can be able to make money from it. So that being in the industry can be more than a passion, but a career as well.
“Distribution is a problem world-wide and so in Kenya, you just need to read the market well.”
Riverwood on the other hand, does make money says Judy, because their volumes are high and production costs low.
“Its the dramatic films that haven’t paid off yet. For instance for Killer Necklace the budget was good – $100,000, but Appie (the producer) and I put nearly all the money into production and overheads and paid ourselves a token.”
The director is currently working on a documentary about the Wagalla Massacre, and research is two months in.
The highlight of the weekend tribute: Killer Necklace, which is a movie about a man who would do anything to get the love of his life a necklace that she really wants.
“It really tackles issues among the young people in Kenya. Unemployment, crime and things like that.”