This legislation is inhibitive and not facilitative to the sector. The Kenya Film Classification Board has recently sought to expand its mandate in order to limit free expression and artistic freedom. This should be contested at all levels.
Promoting the Recognition of the Importance of the Film and TV Industry to Kenya
The contribution of the film and TV industry cuts across various sectors and has had such a significant multiplier effect making it a significant contributor and economic pillar. The Film and TV industry contributes significantly as well to revenues in the Tourism and Transport industry. The domino effect of a vibrant film industry is yet to be fully appreciated by policy makers.
Draft Film Policy & Film Bill
There are steps to reform the policy and regulatory framework of the Kenyan Film and TV industry through the proposed Film Policy and Bill. It is expected that these pieces of legislation will strengthen and enhance the regulatory framework to make it more comprehensive, consistent and flexible for Film and TV industry development. This process should be completed. It has taken too long.
Reducing the Cost of Film Production
Local filmmakers have raised concerns on the high costs of film production. This is in regards to both the cost of equipment purchase, hire or import, and the cost of employing competent film professionals.
Due to the lack of a one-stop shop, there is also a long and tedious process in authorizing film activities in the country which is often a challenge to new and upcoming film makers as well as international film makers. This is due to the fact that in addition to the film license, there are various other levies at the County level, immigration, Kenya Wildlife Services etc. with some counties levying very high fees.
We are aware that the Kenya Film Commission has been exploring ways in which the high cost of film equipment, film production; and film making processes can be reduced in partnership with other Government agencies such as the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Immigration Department, Department of Film Services (DFS), Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB), and County Governments among others. But this process should be fast tracked.
Promoting the Development of Local Content
The number of locally produced films has been increasing over the years and it is important to know the number and types of films being produced, especially by Riverwood, as well as how they are received. The quality of these films generally needs to improve so as to capture both the local and international market. Broadcasters should air local content from independent producers in line with licensing requirements. News and Talk Shows do not constitute loval content.
Limited skilled film professionals
Kenya does not have an adequate pool of trained film professionals in areas such as script writing, directing, acting and production among others. The main concentration of many media training institutions is in journalism or video production. These courses have many times been theory based meaning that a large percentage of graduates have not been production ready. There is need to invest in capacity building and operationalizing the Kenya Film School.
Promoting screen culture
Though Kenyans watch films, the screen culture is not deeply rooted. It is therefore often difficult for filmmakers to market their film products locally as this particular type of art is yet to be appreciated to the level where many film makers can earn a comfortable living from it. It is important to know the effect of the digital revolution and the consumption of film through DVDs, the Internet, personal devices, Pay TV, web series and forth on screen culture.
Adequate film archiving
This is a key challenge to the film industry in Kenya as a whole. The film material on Kenya is scattered in different places from the museums to the Archives to private collections. It is therefore not easy to access Kenya’s history on film and in film making. We understand that the mandate of the Commission has been expanded to mitigate this challenge.
Promoting information on film
The film industry in Kenya has the potential to contribute in excess of Kshs.40 billion to the economy. However film statistics are not easily available due to the number of different organizations involved in various aspects of this industry. Some of the authorities involved in film licensing, activities or tax remittance own different facets of information on the film industry. It is therefore difficult to consolidate this information for economic planning purposes.
The Kenya Film Commission should establish a clear process for continuous data collection and dissemination by establishing linkages with data sourcing organizations that include Industry Associations, DFS, Communications Authority of Kenya, KFCB, Export Processing Zone (EPZ), KRA, Immigration Department and Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).