Kenya welcomes Hollywood studio to boost local creative economy

Youth Affairs, Creative Economy and Sports CS Ababu Namwamba. [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

Kenyan creative received a big boost when the much-awaited Hollywood Production c-production company arrived to start working on film and TV productions.

The Invention Studios based in Los Angeles California made good its promise to turn around film production in Kenya to international standards by setting a base in the country.

This is hot on the heels of the NBA establishing an office in Nairobi as part of a raft of deals signed by President William Ruto when he toured Silicon Valley last year.

“Everything is planned and is structured. We mean business as we implement The Plan on Page 39 of the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda,” said Youth, Creative Economy and Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba.

Namwamba was speaking on Tuesday at the Ministry Headquarters at Talanta Plaza when the Innovation Studios Chief Executive Nickson Weinstock gave details of the project in Nairobi.

In his address, Mr Weinstock explained that his company will engage Kenyan creatives from the level of scripting to production.

He revealed that at the beginning, 10 projects will be entertained but only a half of that will be produced with funding mainly from American financiers.

“Every Kenyan, who has an interesting story and feels like it can be considered should take advantage of the April 1 to May 1 window to apply and the very best compelling stories will be considered for production,” he said adding that the Hollywood thinking has changed and there’s more interest today for content from Africa.

The man who lived in Shauri Moyo in Nairobi as well as Kabasabet in Nandi 34 years ago, acknowledged that in the past Hollywood has seen Africa as a continent of poverty, conflict and disease, only worthy of Wild Animal stories, the tide today has changed and there’s an appetitive for new creation from here.

The Kiswahili- speaking Weinstock announced that the first five productions will be given to international distributors including Paramount Studios, Sony Studios, Universal Studios, Amazon and the rest for international reach and audiences.

Weinstock was set to meet over 500 creatives for candid and detailed discussions on the project later on Tuesday.

The deal between Invention Studios and the Kenya government includes tax rebates, easier movement of equipment and personnel in and out of the country and unfettered logistical support.

“I can assure you that not a single Shilling from taxpayers will get into the project,” said Ababu  who assured that the project will provide quality drawing parallels with Nigerian productions.

He said Kenyan legend stories such as Lwanda Magere, Wangu wa Makeri, Koitalel arap Samoei, Nabongo Mumia, Mekatili wa Menza and more will form part of the repertoire to be considered for production.

The CS disclosed that the Grammys will be the next to land in Kenya to help with elite studio recording and master Kenyan music so that it can compete with music from any part of the World.

The Youth and Creative Economy Principal Secretary Ismail Maalim Madey urged Kenyans to visit the ministry website and participate in ratifying the Creative Economy Bill as well as Policy Paper that will help establish the framework and structure to better creative economy for the youth and other stakeholders.

Mr Madey revealed that a new Black Tape levy will soon be introduced to help collect more royalties for artistes and has asked Kenyans to support it fully.

“Content Management Organisations have had private arrangements with creatives but that has affected quality in service provision and we are going to have a new Law to introduce the Black Tape Levy to help boost royalties collections,” he said.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) the creative economy contributes five per cent of Kenya’s GDP and with this new impetus it is set to grow exponentially.

The Kenya Kwanza administration has identified creative economy as one of the cornerstones for economic development and for job creation with the Sports, Arts and Social Fund offering critical financial muscle to support this agenda.

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