Working with sound: Adnan Ssenkumba has been working as a sound recordist for 10 years and has been part of several award-winning films, radio dramas, documentaries and television commercials. Ssenkumba, who has worked on productions such as the Mr Google Sir advert, Mistakes Girls Do, Coffee Shop, The Girl in The Yellow Jumper, Mpeke Town, and Disney’s’ Queen of Katwe, has made a name as one of the most prolific sound recordists. Gabriel Buule caught up with him.
A few years ago we saw you trying out comedy and acting. What happened?
Life is a journey, comedy and acting were just one of the steps that I had to take. It was part of my future plan to get into film directing because I believe understanding acting and all other film elements shapes you as a great director. The time I was acting, I was in school and that was the time I was still discovering who I was as an artiste.
During my acting days we had no film directors and you will find that most of our directors then cared more about the picture quality than the story or what the actor was doing.
All they did was direct the camera instead of the actors. I was bored and felt like I was not growing.
You have several big projects to your name, do you feel like you have arrived as a sound recordist?
Hahaha, I would not want to measure my success basing on projects I have done or been part of. Having worked as a sound mixer/recordist for close to 10 years, my sound career has just started because I have bigger dreams. My goal is to become the greatest sound mixer Africa has ever had. I want to get to a point in life where I live, eat and drink sound.
What kind of productions are you into?
I am always working on film and humanitarian projects. If I am not on set, I am either doing post-production sound design or ADR for other films and commercials. Sometimes I do editing because I love visual storytelling or advocating for a stop to human trafficking. Currently I am writing a script titled Mugabi, a film based on the life of local afro-soul singer Kenneth Mugabi.
I have produced a series titled Psycho and a film called Circles which I hope to finish by the end of August. As one the founding directors of Arts for Change Centre, I have created programmes where we skill peers in communities. During the programme, we invite internship students and share various film-related skills.
How would you compare Uganda’s film industry 10 years ago and now?
The film industry in Uganda has grown and so many things have changed. Film elements such as sound, light, make-up and set design, which were being ignored then are considered highly now. Financially, you find that many people are now living off the art unlike in 2008 where film makers never paid crew members and actors. The progress is visible, however, stakeholders are failing to realise that they need to just hype things.
Having worked on many Ugandan films, do you believe Uganda’s film industry is ready for the Oscars?
Ready or not we need challenges as filmmakers so as to improve our work. A filmmaker who wants his film to be nominated at a great level will not be told that he needs to record with better picture, light or sound.