“Upcoming filmmakers should initially relegate money to the back seat and instead learn the skills of trade first” – Christian
Christian GAKOMBE is experienced cinematographer currently working for the Rwanda Cinema Center. He is a common face at many profile events in Kigali. His unique video footage has been used by different international media houses like CNN and Aljazeera. The hillywood press team caught up with him on his return from Chicago where he had gone to cover the annual Rwanda Day celebrations in the USA.
First the team wanted to know if he knew hillywood.
CHRISTIAN: My names are Christian GAKOMBE a.k.a. ‘the Lion’. I believe I am currently the top Rwandan Cinematographer. I joined hillywood in 2005. From my point of view, hillywood is a voice of sharing stories in Rwanda through an inflatable screen that goes deep into the country side to meet some peasants who don’t have access to TV. The best films, in local language are screened free of charge to enthusiastic onlookers.
RFF: I understand that you sums up as a filmmaker, how far have you gone into the filmmaking?
CHRISTIAN: I come from the village and I had a privilege to work in various film productions in Rwanda. I was the location scouting manager for ‘Sometimes in April“, Assistant Director for ‘Ezera‘ by Newton Aduwaki, ‘Operation Traiguoise‘ by Alan Tasma, Assistant Director for ‘The day I walk away’ by Philip Vanleu, I worked in “A new home’‘ a documentary about Congolese refuges, I was a cinematography mentor at the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) Filmmaking Workshop in 2010, Director of Photography for both Rwanda Police and RPF documentaries. Last year I got a huge opportunity not only for making money but also working for the Aljazeera as a cinematographer during the Rwanda’s 2010 Presidential Campaign. This year I got yet another opportunity to work as the director of photography for Agaciro documentary film that was screened at the Rwanda Day celebrations in Chicago where I accompanied his Excellency the President. This was to shoot another documentary film about people in Diaspora who attended the event and harbors solid intentions of coming home. To crown it all, I have also been selected to present Rwanda at the prestigious annual FilmAfrica workshop in the heart of Nairobi this July. While there, I will learn how to use the Red Camera.
RFF: Whowhat inspired you into filmmaking industry?
CHRISTIAN: When I was a small boy, I used to enjoy watching movies. In 2003, an opportunity stroke and I found myself on the film set with a team of professional filmmakers. This was to become my defining moment. It was very fascinating and that experience inspired me to join film industry as a cinematographer. A profession that currently moves in my veins.
RFF: Where do you see yourself in seven years from today?
CHRISTIAN: I have a vision of sharing my camera skills with the rural Africans. I have realized that my rural brothers and sisters have many stories to tell but they don’t know how. I will start with my country where there is need for more cinematographers and then proceed to other neighboring countries. As you know, Rwanda is the heart of Africa and everything begins with the heart. It is against this backdrop that I believe am not only cinematography ambassador for Rwanda but also for the entire continent.
RFF: Tell us how filmmaking can affect your relationship with people both positively and negatively?
CHRISTIAN: Positively, filmmaking exposes you to traveling where you meet many different people and learn much from them. However, there is a problem of being tied up with a given project thereby failing to have enough time with the family and friends. This might led to being branded as antisocial.
RFF: How do you think film can promote sustainable development?
CHRISTIAN: Film is a big business in a new trend of economy known as social entrepreneurship. In addition, film is a powerful marketing tool for a country’s image. One film can led to a country discovery by foreign bodies and this boosts foreign investments leading to sustainable development. Again, filmmakers can accelerate the need for more TV stations and hence creating the much needed jobs.
RFF: What piece of advice do you give to upcoming film makers?
CHRISTIAN: I advice upcoming filmmakers not think about money first when they join film making. They should persevere walking long distances, missing food to learn filmmaking. For this to be possible, they must have a passion in films. They should learn how not to complain and instead of providing problems they should learn how to provide solutions. They shouldn’t be like eagles whose mothers teach how to fly and after learning they forget the bridge that helped them cross the soaring river. They should have discipline and always remember people who opened their gates for filmmaking.
RFF: Wow! What a strong piece of Advice! Thank you for giving us your space and time?
CHRISTIAN: Yeah, that is me. I have learnt from experience and I am still learning. To me, learning stops at death!
RFF:Great Christian. Now we know why people call you Lion.
CHRISTIAN: Thank you. Be film, be me.!