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Strategically positioning yourself in the Namibian film industry.

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

Shanine Paulino: Business Leader

Storytelling is synonymous with African culture and tradition. Traditional storytelling has evolved- before it would be families around the fire listening to their grandparents share stories of bravery and mystery, today it takes on a different form. Instead of being limited to sharing your story with those closest to you, you are now able to create an art form and share it with the world. Filmmaking is one of those ways in which you are able to use modern technology and continue the tradition of telling stories.

It is no question that launching yourself as a filmmaker or actor in Namibia is a challenging task. With limited choices for heading in the field, some consider it a dead end. Or is it really? There are a few places where you can get training such as College of the Arts, UNAM and Katutura Community Arts center. And once you have the training, there is only so much happening that you can involve yourself with.

After conversing with Oshoveli Shipoh who is notably one of Namibia’s prolific filmmakers, it is clear that this needs a certain level of dedication that only true passion can bring. Shipoh was able to position himself as a filmmaker by using what he has available, trusting his gut feeling and using his negotiation skills to further himself. According to Shipoh, it does not matter if you shoot on an iPhone, the way to get better opportunities and budgets is to start where you are. Investors are keener on giving budgets once they have seen and trust your talent.

A major misconception we have is that there are no opportunities in Namibia. Shipoh states that ‘’you have to become the opportunity’’. He believes that putting yourself out there is the only way to find opportunities. By following that mindset, he was able to have his films premiered at Ster Kinekor. One of Shipoh’s films ‘Resentment’ was shot with almost zero budget and yet the film was still premiered at Ster Kinekor and got media coverage. At the end of the day, it boils down to effective marketing and making sure that people see hear and experience you.

Shipoh’s latest film ‘Hairareb’ also recently premiered at Ster Kinekor in Grove Mall and Maerua Mall. It is authentic and Namibian yet, despite being so relatable, the film manages to captivate and surprise you. It is an unexpected love story that is set on a farm, but that is as far as we’ll go with details. The film is up for 7 nominations at the Namibian Theatre & Film Awards. That is a clear indication that this is one of Namibia’s best films for the year.

The Namibian film industry certainly has a long way to go, however, this does not mean we should give up. If you are passionate, talented or simply curious; this digital age we live in is your oyster. Pick up your phone or camera, whether you are behind the camera or strutting your stuff in front of it… Namibia is avidly waiting on you.

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