The ups and downs of being a Production Manager in Tanzania

20th of February marked the beginning of 4 years of dreaming, 2 months of pre-production planning, 2 weeks of rehearsals and 18 days of shooting to produce the next Kijiweni Productions feature “T-junction”. The first days are normally the most hectic and pivotal as that’s where you find your bearings. East Upanga was the first of one of our many locations for the production, which consisted of a wide range of cast members, large crew and a lot of drinking water, and I mean a lot!

Once all the departmental stations from the camera department to wardrobe have been setup, actors are dressed, the boys from the grips department have setup the necessary lighting, sound department have their batteries and the roads are blocked, then begins the work of capturing the magic.

T-juntion production management

As a production manager (PM), my job is to deal with logistics consisting of planning, expenditure, coordinating the collection of the cast and crew, organizing the meals and running the set. I normally work alone, fortunately this time due to the large array of logistics, I had a partner in crime to share the workload of production managing.

Digna Kimario, a veteran in the Bongo movie industry jumped on board with the project from the beginning which sparked our PM relationship. We worked like two PM’s on the same wave length, our work synergized and although some days were rough we managed to take shots to the chin and complete the objective. We were always the last to sleep and the first to wake up. Take note, during production sleep is your best friend, who you will not see for a sometime, so when the opportunity presents itself…take it.

The responsibilities as a PM are endless, each and every one’s problem becomes your problem and it comes down to you to formulate a solution. Problems ranging from dealing with the sick to dealing with the police, who seemed to have a serious fascination with showing up on our set, numerous times. When the all mighty short arm of the law did show up, that’s when I would tag my partner Digna into the ring to sort them out. Knowing all too well that with my sexy Swahili, more questions would have raised then solutions formed.

Kijiweni Productions being the professionals that we are, meant if we were to block roads, we had to do it the right way, with permits. Having to deal with numerous bureaucratic entities to get what we needed. So while I was holding down the set, Digna was waging wars and battling with dragons at the municipality for us to get the correct and authorized permits to block various roads in DSM. We apologize for the inconveniences we caused a lot of you during that period, buy hey, it was for a good cause…no a great one.

Night shoot was my favorite time to shoot….nope, that’s a lie. I hated them! Those are the worst. You could find yourself shooting past the break of dawn, as if you just walked out of the club after a crazy Friday night. Just as in life, not everything goes as planned, but what can we do, the show must go on and we have to work with the schedule. “In the face of adversity we strive on forward”…some great said that, can’t remember.

But the bonds and friendships forged through this production between the cast and crew is something beautiful that turns sad knowing that at the end of production we have to say our final good byes as we all have to get back to the real world, back to our normal lives. For some back to their fulltime job, for others hustling for the next production opportunity, for myself and Team KP, working on funding for post-production for “T-Junction”.

Thanks to the ups and downs, sleepless nights, uncontrollable weather, the police, the screaming babies from the hospital…the list is endless, but with all these experiences that’s what makes it’s all worth it in the end. Knowing a group of people most of who don’t even know one another, came together and triumphed over all obstacles to give birth to something beautiful, something magical and something… Tanzanian.


Written by Wilson Rumisha

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