Posted on May 16, 2016
Jinna Mutune is a film producer and director that I’m proud to know. She is passionate about telling stories that inspire, educate and motivate society by using the glamour of film to mobilize people towards humanitarian causes. She is a multi-cultural filmmaker who has directed and produced films, music videos and theatrical plays both in America and Africa. She is the founder of Pegg Entertainment, the company that produced ‘Leo’, a well-crafted film that depicts an insightful, positive view of life in Kenya as seen through the eyes of a Massai boy who wants to be a superhero and live out his dreams in his Homeland. Jinna majored in film as a director, writer and producer at the prominent South African Motion Picture and Live Performance School (A.F.D.A) in Cape Town, South Africa, and completed her internship at Rifkin and Ebert’s, a film company in Santa Monica, California. She has also screened her work in major film festivals around the world. Apart from creating films, Jinna has also produced work for major global brands such as Coca-Cola and her work has been acquired by key broadcasting agents such as Africa Magic (MNET) , Emirates & Mtv America. Currently working on her 2nd film project ‘Chep’ (which I’m happy to be a part of) I recently caught up with her, my curiosity focused on what makes this amazing woman tick…and this is what she had to say. Please dig in!!
1. So Jinna…you are a native of Kenya, brought up and raised in Eastlands Nairobi. Looking back, how did your childhood experience shape you to be the person you are today?
My childhood experiences created a foundation for my Art. Growing up in a middle class house, as the fifth child was exciting…I’m the last child among four siblings who studied abroad, so when they came back from their university breaks they brought back their global experience. As regards business, my parents’ retired early and started their entrepreneurial journey, seeing them start young inspired me to dare my journey in film. Kimathi was also a very vibrant community, it was a melting point of many cultures.
2. And what would you say are the greatest values your parents instilled in you that help you navigate through life and its challenges?
Stay committed ..have faith…failure is not fatal and the value of putting work behind your dream. On unfair criticism, the eyes of a bullfrog don’t stop the cow from drinking water.
3. Lets now turn to your passion for creating films. Of the many art forms out there, what made you choose filmmaking as your avenue to telling African stories? Are there other art forms you’ve pursued?
Well let me say purpose. I discovered it was one of my life’s purpose after a lot of soul searching. Other art forms (In my pre-teens) I was singing in a girl band called Asante until I finished high-school.
4. Then you did your first project Leo that catapulted you into Kenya’s art scene. What are the key lessons you learnt from this project? Feel free to also share your frustrations and how you dealt with them.
So here are some of the lessons I learnt from Leo.
a) Commitment. This means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in has left.
b) Overnight success is a myth.
c) The value of team-work. We’ve had more than 100 plus crew in the LEO journey and it’s their effort that has made LEO successful.
As for the frustrations, it has to be the length of time, persistence and effort its taken to get global distribution doors for the film.
5. And needless to say, after a successful run of Leo, there was pressure to start your 2nd project that you are currently working on now, CHEP. Give us the context of how the CHEP idea evolved to its current status.
I needed to have my second film (www.chepthemovie.com) ready, so I consulted with my executive producers and they were more inclined to the marathon story. I also discovered that out of the 20 fastest marathons run in the world, Kenyans have won 17!! We literally run the world!!
6. I really feel like CHEP will be a successful film…mainly because Kenya is referenced as an athletics giant all over the world. What is Jinna’s gut feeling about this 2nd project? What kind of impact do you hope this film will make?
Well, my gut feeling, like every other project, is that Chep becomes successful. Is the end goal winning awards? I think its more than that. Its to share a story to a global audience of the struggles and the triumphs of a woman and hopefully inspire them. The impact I hope Chep creates is to make people laugh, be inspired, entertained and that people will begin to see that Kenya/Africa has a rich heritage.
7. What’s your favorite part in the movie making process?
Working with the actors. I think just the idea of the written characters having life through the actor’s is magical!
8. Why do you find it crucial to cultivate a global perspective in telling African stories? Is it because it makes business sense owing to the fact that home grown talent is appreciated more outside our borders?
Why a global Perspective? I’ll give these three reasons:
a) Because film itself is a global tool.
b) The nature of film is that anyone can understand a good story told through the medium of film.
c) And lastly, Africa’s film culture is slowly taking shape.
As for Business Sense, it’s simply because global cinema has a more seasoned cinema culture as opposed to the burgeoning film industry in Africa.
9. Fundraising for films is probably the hardest, non-glamorous part of film making. What has been your approach and what tips can you share with aspiring filmmakers who are currently in this difficult stage?
Stay passionate about your project, consult on business plans, pray and always remember that money follows good ideas. Start with what you have, start trembling, they will never been ideal time to start the journey.
10. What’s your take on the current status of the film industry in Kenya? And according to you, what do stakeholders in the industry have to do in order to see significant change in the coming few years?
Let me say that the Current State of the film industry in kenya is hopeful. There more creative eco-systems developing as more people specialize in different art forms. The role of stakeholders in my opinion is to create policies that create a conducive environment for film business, educate awareness among people of the importance of having a cinema and strengthen the overall creative quality of film production.
11. One of your main objectives in creating films is to offer inspiration to people out there. Question is, where do you draw inspiration yourself?
My Christian faith, people, experiences and nature expeditions. There’s nothing more magical than standing in-front of the ocean alone!
12. Human beings in the universe have a purpose that’s unique to them. It’s their mission in life to find out what this is and do it well. How does someone begin this journey of discovering what and why they exist?
I guess be true to yourself, what makes you come alive? When you do a lot of soul searching and pray, you’ll find that one thing, but also, if it looks like a fish, smells like a fish then…it is a fish
13. And finally, take me through your philosophy of Dreaming, Daring and Believing.
Dreaming: I usually start by seeing myself in an ideal situation where all things are possible and conceptualizing the dream at the stage.
Daring: This is going out, beginning to make the plan towards the bigger picture.
Believing: This means staying with the dream as you re-strategize over and over again for solutions to the obstacles in the dream.
1. Is this attractive, accomplished, young woman taken…or is she single…and is she willing to mingle? ☺
She is taken
2. Movie Director you look up-to or perhaps would love to work with is?
Steven Spielberg…He’s been my all time favorite
3. In your own words, why is Kenya a superb filmmaking destination?
They are rich stories; rich landscapes and the supporting systems for film are growing
4. Any good reads you would love to recommend?
The famished road: Ben Okri
The help: Kathryn Stockett
Their eyes were watching God: Zora Neale
5. Batman or Superman?
LEO especially when it comes back in 3D
6. Most embarrassing moment?
We were in a live broadcast and one of the chairs wasn’t stable, and so as the interview progressed the chairs kept going down and we were live on air, so it looked liked the other guest was sinking, I couldn’t stop laughing.
During the last quarter of 2015, Jinna worked with boy band Sauti Sol, Producer Jaaz Odongo and writer Fena Gitu on this soundtrack for her latest film project Chep. Press play and have a taste of this amazing track that will leave you wanting to break that leg. If yo can, break it!