By Hassan Saleh
Entertainment and tourism have over the years collaborated developing a mutually beneficial relationship that has seen their paths cross that the two cannot be separated. As intertwined as these two sectors are, each of them still stands out on its own. Like tourism in the past, the entertainment sector in Uganda is currently undergoing a resurgence. Projects by local Ugandan content creators are starting to gain traction and international acceptance or recognition and in so doing introducing a side of Uganda that is not often seen to an international audience that is hungry for unique content. The surge is starting to yield fruit as local filmmakers are getting recognition for their projects beyond the local awards and film festival circuit while the things that tickle people's fancy about Uganda, without doing a random Google search, are unfolding right before their eyes through cinematic storytelling.
As an art, film is a vehicle through which Ugandans showcase local cuisines, style of dressing, music and culture in general. On the surface, such imagery might seem normal but in terms of reach, these films tell people more about Uganda than a 3-minute advert showcasing popular Ugandan destinations would. For this reason, the demand for content from Uganda is more than ever before. The need for tourism to be marketed is enormous. However, for less effort and money, the entertainment industry has the potential to be an able substitute.
Film for example is a cost-effective avenue in which the marriage between tourism and entertainment can be leveraged to sell a destination. Films create more curiosity about the locations in which they are shot while putting the limelight on these places. Shots of historical locations, monuments, and iconic places in history are examples of how storytellers can showcase this beautiful country. The mere mention of Kampala in the setting of a show will make people want to know more about or travel there. A key factor in this movement to promote the image of the country through local content is the lengths that creators are willing to go to produce quality content.
Even with the smallest of budgets, Ugandan content creators have learned to bide their time to build partnerships that can help elevate their products. Multichoice Uganda in positioning itself as a leading pay-tv provider in the country opted to invest heavily in its local content offering by launching 3 dedicated channels where they air over 25 licensed and commissioned local productions that are broadcast daily to audiences all over the African continent.
Furthermore, MultiChoice has redirected its attention to nurturing and growing the film industry’s talent, a gap that required filling. With funding for initiatives centered around skilling local film makers in both theoretical and hands-on skills like script writing, cinematography, editing and audio post-production. Many of the graduates of this program, return home having attained first-class skills and are absorbed in the sets of the various local productions which contribute to the industry’s improvement.
It is here that they are tasked to put this expertise to the test and if some of the content that is being churned out is anything to go by then the industry will be in good hands for years to come. Ugandan shows are slowly starting to gain popularity beyond their borders and so is Ugandan culture. It is no wonder Ugandans in the entertainment industry are gaining recognition on the international scene where many have started to earn top recognitions and awards for their works. A clear indicator that content in Uganda is garnering the kind of mass appeal that will have a ripple effect on Tourism.
The writer is the Managing Director of Multichoice Uganda