Camera, lights, action: For a guy who started out as an actor, it would be easy to tell where Kim XP’s passion for filming and videography came from. Today, he is one of the top music video makers in town and now he shares the story of his journey.
Kim XP is a cinematographer whose name is credited to high-flying music videos and his creative mind has given birth to videos, some of which have spurred his growth.
His first music video, Yegwe by singer Aziz Azion was not expensive but introduced him to audiences. Lengela Embaata, which he did for gospel artiste Wilson Bugembe opened another door for him, in the world of gospel artistes, who became clients.
Bobi Wine’s Mr Katala was controversial and got music lovers asking who Kim XP was.
This exposure got Kim XP more work because from then, he went on to shoot Nategedde for Eddy Kenzo, Pressure Ya Love for Walden & Chozen and Walumbe Zaaya remix for Gravity Omutujju. He has since shot hundreds of music videos, movies, wedding footage, documentaries, adverts and promotional online videos.
Kim XP, real name Hakim Katongole, started his journey in this industry as a young actor, working alongside big names such as Hajj Ashraf Simwogerere, Paul Kato Lubwama and Abby Mukiibi.
His father, Wilfred Ssenyondo, was an actor and a contemporary of the three honchos in Black Pearls of Omugave Nduggwa, one of the robust 1980s theatrical groups.
When he died, Simwogerere, Mukiibi and Kato took on the caretaking role.
When Simwogerere switched from stage theatre to filmmaking, Kim XP followed him and used the opportunity to learn as much as he could.
In the filming genre, he got to learn from Sam Kikere, Cathy Kiwanuka and Bashir Lukyamuzi (Badi Films). Today, he uniquely stands out for his storytelling skills, a craft he probably picks from his main guardian, Simwogerere, who is quite the storyteller.
For them, the catch is in making a music video that can connect with home audiences.
“Locations are like a nice art piece. Whenever I travel to a new place, my eyes appreciate beautiful scenes. That is how I end up choosing my locations,” Kim XP says.
Another thing Kim XP is keen on is the fashion choices in his videos; he likes to promote local designers.
In Uganda, filmmakers and videographers like Kim do not have to buy equipment since it is expensive and technology is changing at a fast pace, so they opt to hire from the likes of Solomon FX, Grips and Sparks, Kent, Grips and Cam, among others.
Making a music video
The process of making a music video is a journey because first thing is that the crew has to listen to a song, then create a concept and agree on the story with the client.
Among the things they will discuss is fashion, location, cast and price before the day for the video shoot is agreed upon.
The footage will then be stored on multiple discs, ready for post-production that includes editing, logging and grading. The client then looks at the work and make additions or subtractions, if any.
Each project needs special time. According to the videographer, depending on the complexity, it could take between a fortnight and three weeks.
When asked what consumes much of his time, Kim XP said: “Editing the story to perfection because I could shoot up to six hours of footage yet I will need only three minutes.”
In his opinion, a good music video has seven elements: balance between the narrative and performance, use of good transitions that are not exaggerated, good location and use of proper set, proper use of frame rate in different degrees such as balance between slow motion and real time to bring life on screen, use of motion and hand held shakes for impact as well as flexibility with the cast and proper colour grading.
In gauging his fellow videographers, Kim says some of them do good work and indeed have brought the game to the top, for instance Darlington, Meddie Menz, Sasha Vybes, Nolton and Saint Jude.
He says he likes the works of Menz, the colour grading of Saint Jude, the motion cameras of Sasha and Nolton, the editing skills of Darlington, the colour pallet of Marvin and Musoke and production rate time for Jahlive.
He adds that they all need to strengthen their storylines to bring more creativity in stories that sell Ugandan art to the world. “The videographer should leave a memorable and impactful effect on the viewer,” Kim says, adding that working with artistes is a learning experience.
“Some artistes are creative, others are not, some are patient, others are not. I have learnt a lot from them because they are more exposed. For example they travel abroad to perform and sometimes they ask to travel with me to have a different experience. I have gotten connections with some well-known producers,” he explains.
Talking of some of the challenges he has encountered, Kim recalls a time he was arrested by an artiste who was not satisfied with his work.
“In such instances, I keep calm and imagine myself in their shoes because they are under pressure to release music videos. I treated the arrest like an occupational hazard.”
The other challenge is the unstable rate card for videography, which keeps changing from one producer to another.
His biggest earning yet has been from a video he shot in Namibia for 30,000 rand (about Shs8m) and a commercial for $20,000 (about Shs74m).
On his wish list is starting a film school.
“I am trying to sell the idea to those that have the capacity to invest but most of them do not see it as lucrative enough, so I guess I have to save slowly to realise this dream.”
Away from work, Kim describes himself as a simple, down to earth person who is very social and loves children.