Feisal Malik is a Kenyan filmmaker extraordinaire and is the Secretary General of the East African Film Network. He is the man behind most Hollywood productions in the country and was nominated for awards at the Festival International du Cinema et Del and the 16th Zanzibar International Film Festival. Asian Arena caught up with him for a chit chat
Tell us a bit about yourself
I love the outdoors, wildlife photography, camping and just communing with nature. If I had my way, I wouldn’t be living in Nairobi. I am fun-loving, but a perfectionist who takes his work seriously. On a lighter note, I love cats, have four of them as a matter of fact! I like to think that I am sociable and easy to get along with. I like meeting people and making new friends.
What did you study in school?
I have a degree in wildlife filmmaking and international business administration.
Film and TV is an unusual and interesting career. How did you end up in this field?
I always wanted to be involved in TV and film production. Unfortunately, when I was still a student, the industry was not as vibrant. So, I was discouraged from pursuing a degree in film production. My mother encouraged me to get into theatre at the age of six. My father bought me a basic video camera when I graduated. Put the two together and you would be mad not to get into the industry.
Do you prefer being in front or behind the cameras?
My doorway into the industry was in front of the cameras. I was spotted by a casting agent at a play I was acting in and assigned a role in the series, Better Days. Later, I appeared in the Sasini advert (I was the muhindi sipping tea from a saucer). I gradually worked my way behind the cameras, where my heart was, and I love every bit of it.
What is that one thing people don’t know about you?
I am very camera shy. I seldom come forward to take photos, I don’t like the limelight. In fact, I have never taken a selfie.
What’s the most adventurous international project you have ever worked on?
In 2013, I spent a month filming in the last rain forests of Nigeria. We camped in the forest, had no electricity, no hot water, no gas, no mobile phone network, no internet and no charcoal. We cooked on open fires. It was a primate conservation story in the Roko Rain Forest. Driving through the forest, we got swept off a bridge and into a river by heavy rains. It was quite an adventure, but we did make it to the camp in one piece, and the film gear was not damaged.
Is it true successful actors and producers are snobs?
With success, arrogance is bound to kick in, unless one is cautious. We are constantly in the limelight and we are deemed to be arrogant.
Anyone special in your life?
I am happily married. My partner is quite special to me, and she does get involved in my productions.
What can we expect from Feisal Malik in years to come?
Wildlife film making is my forte. I am currently working on proposals for two wildlife productions, and I would like to partner with international producers. Fingers crossed on this one; let’s see where the road leads us.