Joshua Waiswa had a dream to work with the camera and although finding his dream involved defying his parents, he stood up for himself.
What is your name?
My name is Joshua Waiswa and I am into audio and visual media work.
Did you study this kind of profession or did you just jump on the bandwagon?
It is a little bit of both. I started when I was 15 years old but eventually managed to get a chance to study later on.
When did the urge to do film professionally kick in?
It became serious in my A-Level when I was 17 years old. I used to watch lots of documentaries as a child and those are things you do not expect a child to be interested in. I was 16 when I first shot a clip of Norman Blick playing basketball and when he put it on his Facebook, it went viral. It was then that I realised I had the potential to be great.
I started hinting it to my parents but they told me to concentrate on my studies. It was not until the end of my Senior Six that I became really serious about it.
Did Norman Blick pay for your services?
It was a sample clip. We are friends and he asked me to shoot random stunts of him on the court. He was also surprised after it went viral. We just did it for fun.
Who helped you edit the clip?
I did it myself. That was the second time I was using a camera and because I knew the basics, it was not that complicated.
What happened after the Blick video?
I returned to school for my A-Level and towards the end of my Senior Five in 2009, I met Prophet Elvis Mbonye. I did not know about him but he came to our church during one of the conferences and when he spoke to me, he said he saw me in a production house with many screens around me. I was intrigued but I did not want any distractions in my Senior Six. When the results of my Senior Six came out, I had only seven points because my parents had forced me to do a combination of their choice.
So what was your next step?
My parents asked that I repeat A-Level but I refused. I told them what I wanted to do but they were in disbelief. They argued that there was no film industry in Uganda, that the industry does not make money and that my results could not help me. They were so mad and almost threatened to disown me. All I wanted was to follow my dream as a film maker.
Did that dream come true?
Around March 2011, I started looking for film schools in East Africa and later Uganda and boom, I came across Kampala Film School. I went there and the sight of the big filming studio intrigued me. It was what I wanted. A guy called Denis Onen took me through things at the film school and he told me that I needed to do an entry course for six months but they were already halfway. I asked him to give me a chance but they turned me down. It was after I showed them the Norman Blick clip that they let me in.
What was your parents’ reaction?
My mum was intrigued but my dad was not buying it. My mother gave me Shs800,000 and my brother helped me too until we came up with the tuition. My dad only came around in the second semester.
What happened after the course?
Before I completed the course, I received a phone call, telling me that Prophet Mbonye wanted to see me. I met this person, who then checked out my work at the school and was impressed. It was a miracle. I have been working with Mbonye for five years now.
What exactly do you do for Mbonye?
I lead the technical production team. Both on set production and post-production.
Whose camera did you use to shoot Norman Blick’s clip?
It belonged to a church that I was praying with at the time. I had access to it and it was one that used mini DVD tapes.
From where did you get the experience to edit clips on a camera?
Actually the Norman Blick incident was the second time I was holding a camera. I had some basic skills and when I joined A-Level at Aga Khan, I was able to gain more skills. It was at this school that I met Malcom Jemano, one of the best film makers.
Tell us about you education background
I attended Greenhill Academy for my O-Level, Aga Khan High School for A-Level and then Kampala Film School.
What are some of the videos that you have shot?
I have shot Kings and Queens by Lagum, God DNA by Ruyonga and Always, which features Ruyonga and Kamanzi, among other documentaries. Besides videos and documentaries, I also did some camera work, including for Raising Voices, and some adverts.
Do you sing as well?
I tried my luck on the Always track and I was surprised that I could sing. Many people loved the track, but I think I am a better videographer.