The murky waters of film production, RIRIKANA

By Kenneth Jura

It was a chilly Sunday morning ready to head out to shoot a short film. We converged at Kencom waiting for the location scout to lead the cast and crew to the shooting location. This is not the Archer’s Post kind of shoot where you are far from the target like in the military but rather very close to the subject but without a firearm. You are only armed with a camera, everything else is harmless and end up creating a masterpiece shots.

Some minutes past 6 a.m. cast and crew had made their presence known, every soul armed and ready to go and shoot in Ruai. I had never been to the place; excitement was being suppressed by the chilly morning. Loud church public address system welcomed us to the location throwing the sound team made up of Brian Munene and Mwikali Mutune into fits of rage. They questioned the rationale for choosing this particular location for the film and why of all days, a Sunday. The location scout explained his choice by pulling them aside in a bid to explain and after their chit chat smiles indicated agreement.

The van dropped off the crew and went back to collect the cast. I should point out that the latter were waiting for another van, which simply went AWOL on us. We had everything all prepared; two vans and two drivers but alas they all did not show up. Yes, that is how unpredictable some shoots can be.

After the cast’s arrival some minutes past 8am the director called the team for a short brief of what he anticipated. By this time, the makeup artist had already made the cast look awesome and ready for the shoot. The cast members included Shirleen Kemunto as Tumiso, Anita Njeri as Noni, Mukami as Cucu among others who had previously rehearsed and memorized their lines.
“Camera 1 ready?”
“Camera 2?”
“Sound?”
“Lights?”

ACTION!! The director shouted while issuing thumbs up gesture signifying commencement of the shoot.

Silence on set
Silence on set

The shoot went on well till midnight with lunch break at around 2pm. In between the shoot the cast waited in turns for their roles, at one point Tumiso was too fatigued to continue acting. It was her first time.

The real drama started when the film director made the last call “CUT”, the clock’s hands shy of 1am, yet the following day we were to be back on the same location by 6 am. We boarded the van ready to head home after an exciting though exhaustive shoot. We snaked our way past the dusty all weather Ruai road to Kangundo road where we drove faster and finally into Caltex petrol station to refuel.
After refueling to join Outer Ring Road the van could not come to a halt because its brakes had failed. Pandemonium ensued with petrol station attendants and passers-by shouting “Moto Moto” while running towards our vehicle. Most of the cast and crew thought a grenade had been hurled into the vehicle and hence the shouting. This was happening at a time when the country faced numerous grenade attacks by terrorists.
I was fast asleep at the back of the vehicle only to be brought to my senses by a Good Samaritan who was banging at the rear window in an attempt to notify me of the impending danger. The other crew members were safely out of the van.

The rear left wheel was in flames!

Several buckets swallowed sand and water and vomited them on the burning wheel to muzzle the flames. After several trembles, teeth gnashing and grief stricken faces, the producer Bramwel called in several taxis to ferry the crew home. However, before we left, the question on everyone’s mind was whether the call time was still 6am?
“Ladies and gentlemen the call time still remains the same, 6am despite what has happened” the producer told the crew who had gathered around him.

They could not hide their joy
They could not hide their joy

Moving on, the following day by 7:30 am both the cast and crew were on set but unfortunately there was power rationing in the area; we therefore had to get a generator for the shoot to proceed. We had previously contracted a company to bring generator on location, nevertheless, after several calls they responded that it was too early for them. They could only come after an hour, they eventually came and the shoot went on uneventful.
When the film director Soko, called the shoot to a close it was some minutes past 10pm. Exhaustion had crept in long ago and agile bones had become too weary. After the cast had left for home, the crew ran into police who wanted to know more information because the van had able bodied men with all sorts of production equipment unknown to the police. They were six armed policemen, G3 rifles hanging on their shoulders giving them courage like a stethoscope on a doctor’s neck. They asked Bramwel what they were doing at such an hour with all that equipment.

“Mnataka kulipua wapi, bomb iko wapi?”

Just before he responded, he was mercilessly whipped leaving an indelible mark for supposedly taking too long to respond to their queries.
Each time we remember the challenges we encountered while shooting “Ririkana” we lift our glasses in honor of Bramwel, who indeed took one for the team, quite literally.

Watch Ririkana trailer here 🙂