“Why film a movie on a mobile phone?” That’s what Larry Madowo asked me, when I appeared on his NTV show – The Trend – with the cast and crew from Jongo Love. “It’s about possibility,” I told him.
The truth is, in Kenya today, just about anyone can film a movie on a mobile. If they have the passion, the talent and enough commitment, it really is possible.
The story of the movie is of course, a love story. But it’s also a thriller. It’s about young urban Kenyans living in Nairobi’s Jongo slum, doing what they do. Hooking up, breaking up and making up. Dancing, hanging out and, of course, hustling. It’s about making enough to get by, relying on your friends to help you out and returning the favour when you can. It’s about the consequences of unplanned pregnancy, dreaming about a better future and keeping your head down when the heat is on.
Our research tells us, that when you have your foot on the bottom rung of a ladder that could lead to somewhere better, your perspective changes, because you’re looking up. The movie also is about changing your perspective.
Our hero, Bea, flees her home Manyata, in Kisumu after her mother attempts to sell her into prostitution. As she flees, she grabs a phone. But not just any phone. This phone carries a secret. A video that exposes a conspiracy. It’s a phone that powerful people want found and that means finding Bea, by any means necessary.
The phone becomes one of the main characters in the movie. It is used to film a dance video by the crew who take Bea in and offer her help at her time of need. This movie, filmed on a phone, becomes a movie about what young Kenyans can do with a phone. It’s about possibility.
As well as NTV, the cast and crew have also appeared on N24 and the BBC. The movie has been featured in The Star and even The Times of London. It’s available to watch for free, via YouTube. And Well Told Story has distributed it on DVD to over a thousand video shacks right across Kenya.
At Shujaaz, we know what our audience want. Because they are constantly telling us using social media and SMS. And we are always listening. Because we don’t just make media, we co-create it with our fans. This, Kenya’s first ever M-Movie, is just the beginning. We did it because we could. And by doing it, we showed it could be done. Jongo Love is all about possibility.
Paul Ekuru is Producer at Well Told Story and was part of the production team on Jongo Love