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'Our local music videos have a long way to go'

By Vision Reporter

Added 9th August 2013 11:18 AM

We have had our artistes’ music videos nominated for continental music video awards like MTV Africa, Channel O, MOBO and Kora Awards. And some like Bebe Cool (while still with East African Bashment Crew) and Keko have bagged a few accolades.

'Our local music videos have a long way to go'

We have had our artistes’ music videos nominated for continental music video awards like MTV Africa, Channel O, MOBO and Kora Awards. And some like Bebe Cool (while still with East African Bashment Crew) and Keko have bagged a few accolades.

By Steven Odeke

We have watched them and thought our artistes are doing brilliant work churning out video after video for their hits.

We have had our artistes’ music videos nominated for continental music video awards like MTV Africa, Channel O, MOBO and Kora Awards. And some like Bebe Cool (while still with East African Bashment Crew) and Keko have bagged a few accolades.

That shows our music visuals are growing in leaps and bounds, right? Unfortunately no, according to the Club Music Video Awards (CMVA) judges who have watched, sieved and worked on so many video projects everywhere.

The judges, Ugandan-born Leslie “Lee” Kasumba (Channel O Africa manager), South African Matthew Stonier (Film Maker and Partner Mustard Post Production), English-born Jasmine Dotiwala (producer and director) and Nigerian Philip Nwankwo (talent and music manager from TRACE TV), who were brought in by CMVA organisers to sieve through over 800 submitted videos.

But after going through them, without bias since they did not know the artistes, their opinion is that we have a long way to go before our artistes can grapple with the best on the international market. “From what I observed, your music video industry is still young and has a long way to go,” said Dotiwala, a former senior producer at MTV.

What is keeping our music videos poor? Do we just have untalented artistes? Do we have poor directors? Are our artistes misled by poorly trained choreographers? Is it poverty that drives these artistes to shoot make-quick-bucks videos?

Kasumba criticised the way artistes ignore the small things that speak volumes in music videos: “As a lady, I look out for something small as the make-up artistes wear. And I have watched many videos here that have female artistes with poor make-up. I will be honest, it is a turn-off.

Stop imitating Americans

Dotiwala said she got confused when she saw one artiste copying American singer Usher Raymond’s choreography. “Musicians need to be themselves. It does not make sense to come here and an artiste reminds you of Usher Raymonds instead of telling his own story.

Nwankwo wondered why Ugandan men in music videos tend to be shy: “You watch them trying to make love on the set, like all those music videos they have watched and then shy away from the real act. Go for something you can do.”

Stonier advised such Ugandans to know their audiences before they shoot such videos. “Your local musicians should start producing two versions of videos  like most international artistes do — one clean version can play during day when a moral-grounded audience is watching and the dirty version plays in the night. Some videos offend your audiences.”

Who says you must have a big budget to shoot a video?

“Who says you need a lot of money to have a good music video?” asked Stonier. “It is quality that matters, not quantity.  Some artistes lack a bit of truth in everything they do. They fail to portray what they are singing and focus on shooting bigger budgeted videos.”

Can we start telling our stories?

Dotiwala says many years ago English musicians were lambasted for telling more American stories than theirs. The English had to adjust and start producing music that portrayed the English culture. “Of the videos we watched few portrayed the Ugandan culture,” she said.

Lee said at Channel O, they consider videos “originally of African genres that can easily be translated by other markets.” Our videos are not memorable Trace TV considers videos that have an international appeal, according to Nwankwo. “We look at the strength of the song and the video on the international market.

A song like South Korea’s PSY’s Gangnam Style, few of us knew what he sung, but the song had an impact on us. The likes of Nigeria’s D’banj, 2Face Idibia and others always produce videos that can appeal anywhere.

The Technical aspects

Stonier dared us to mute most of the local songs’ videos and pay attention to bits like lighting, camera angling and the set-location. “Many things determine the technical aspects of a video.

In a video we look at how strong the song is, how passionate the artiste is in his video;  how lighting refl ects the mood of the song and how camera angles bring out the subject.” Dotiwala said at international scenes like MTV, it is the storyline and visual qualities that come fi rst before other things are considered.


 

‘Our local music videos have a long way to go’

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