Wednesday, February 8, 2023
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ArtProducing, promoting Ethiopian films: breaking down barriers

Producing, promoting Ethiopian films: breaking down barriers

Abel Mekasha was fascinated by movies and TV shows from an early age to the point where he would act out scenes and imitate characters he watched on VHS. Although he had a passion for the arts, he often found himself sidetracked by the myriad demands of childhood. Others, like his teachers and family members, saw his latent artistic talent and encouraged him to develop it.

It wasn’t until he saw the production of “Men in Black” that he realized he wanted to be a filmmaker. “I was shocked to learn that the special effects were produced using computers and other technologies, and I understood how they had deceived us into believing the building had blown up or something similar,” Abel recounted. “That piqued my interest and convinced me that I had to go into the film industry.”

He began learning more about visual effects as a result, which led him to pursue a career in filmmaking. Abel and his friends produced the short film Omnipresent, his first official production, almost seven years ago, after working on other small projects and advertisements.

Abel claims that despite having his idea and writing the script, they had a tremendous amount of difficulty making this film. They had to use equipment and materials that were rented, which was difficult in and of itself due to the paperwork and worry that they could damage them.

They were rewarded by Omnipresent’s ability to be included in numerous film festivals all over the world, despite the fact that they did end up breaking one of the pieces of equipment they had rented. They struggled to complete the filming process, which, in retrospect, was relatively simple, according to him.

Omnipresent was chosen and screened after its 2019 release in numerous festivals, including the Silicon Valley African Film Festival in the US, the CineFantasy festival in Brazil, and others. The fantasy psychological thriller “Superno,” Abel’s debut feature film, was then released in 2022.

The film was promoted by the Chilean film industry and registered as an Ethiopian-Chilean film. It was also nominated for several awards and shown at many festivals.

It won eight awards and was nominated for an Oscar in 2022.

Abel, however, believes that the wisdom obtained from his experiences is more important than his international acclaim.

The knowledge he was able to gain about the movie industry market, licensing laws, and how the market can grow through the involvement of people in the business world and investors, is what he valued most.

“I am very grateful for all the recognition my work has been receiving, but what I appreciated more was the knowledge I was able to get,” he said. He clarified that creating films that are both marketable and lucrative is his main goal for the Ethiopian film industry. Abel says that it’s hard for most Ethiopian filmmakers to promote their movies once they’re done, especially on a global scale.

Abel has more ambition than just producing and promoting films. Along with making films that can be commercially marketed to the international market, he also hopes to work with other Ethiopian filmmakers to integrate the Ethiopian film industry into the current international system, which will enable Ethiopian films to break into the global market.

Through TikTok, which he recently launched, as well as other social media platforms, he aims to begin sharing his thoughts and knowledge about the global movie business and the film industry.

As a matter of preference, Abel stated that his films are fictional but that he is willing to make films in any genre as long as he is inspired.

Ethiopia has a lot of benefits when it comes to filmmaking and has a lot of promise in the film business, Abel says. “The advantage is increased and job opportunities are created by the fact that it is relatively cheaper to shoot movies locally.” He believes that in order to expand the market, Ethiopian films should compete with other international films as well as domestic ones, due to the contemporary globalization of the film industry.

As a result of his success in the film industry, Abel has established a reputation for himself, landing him a four-year deal with a Chilean film distribution company, Ondamedia. The new short film “Colorful Places” that Abel is currently working on will be made accessible on his YouTube page, Abel’s Filmography, soon.

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