The Story of Ntombikamama Moyo: The Bookworm Turned Storyteller Creating Magic and Setting The Creative Scene Ablaze…

The title ‘writer’ would be an understatement. A talented woman born to be a creator would be a more suited description. A creator who formulates words into extraordinary stories to entertain, stimulate and enlighten the world. An Author and a Filmmaker, Ntombikamama Moyo discovered her passion for writing through her love for reading fiction. From writing her own version of fairy tales and reading them to her peers at boarding school to creating outstanding NAMA nominated productions that have been premiered on Zambezi Magic, her path was preset to tell stories and she’s doing it big! The entertaining novels, the thrilling films, Ntombikamama hasn’t put an end to her outstanding works on her way up to the biggest international stage. This is her story……

Tell us about Ntombi growing up as a young girl? How was that like?

I grew up around girls as the youngest of four. My name Ntombikamama means “mommy’s girl” and true to my name, I was pampered a lot and got away with being a cry baby. I was a book junkie from a very early age, reading Sunrise Readers like my life depended on it, and later on fell in love with the Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley and Enid Blyton Books. I did very well in school and was a 3-time prefect (primary, secondary and high school). I nursed dreams of being a pathologist, lawyer and journalist in that order but life had other plans. I loved old school music then and I still do – all versions of Endless Love carry memories of my childhood.

Back when you were in school, were there any teachers or educators who inadvertently nurtured your writing dream?

All my English teachers were phenomenal women but I absolutely adored my A’ Level Literature teacher Mrs Mutsiwa from Eveline Girls’ High. That woman was constantly pulling greatness out of me, handing me opportunities on silver platters and treating me like there was nothing I couldn’t achieve if I put my mind to it. She was a blessing to me for those two years in high school.

Where does your passion for telling stories come from?

It definitely comes from my love for reading fiction. The more I read books, the more I realised that I had stories of my own I wanted to share with the world. When I realised that I loved writing and was quite good at it, I began writing my own version of fairy tales and read them to the girls who gathered around my bed to listen back in boarding school.

You’ve written and published three books, In 30 DaysDear CrushAnother Wedding. What inspired you to write the novels?

At the time I wrote Dear Crush, I had an intense and ridiculous crush on someone and it was kind of fun to fictionalise my feelings and write about them as a way of dealing with all the love I had inside.

Another Wedding was a collaboration with my friends from varsity. We wanted to see how four different writers would treat a woman who wanted to be loved. Let’s just say the four of us had very different ideas on how the story should go and the results were quite interesting – I felt bad for the poor girl by the end of the book.

In 30 Days was my passion project, which started on my blog as a daily entertainment post and ended up as a full-fledged novel. I wanted to explore the meaning of time in relationships so I had a woman whose 9 year relationship had unceremoniously ended try to make it work with a new guy in 30 days. The twists and turns!

Let’s talk about Ntombi The Filmmaker, how did it all begin?

The thing with film is that I honestly never saw it coming. I mainly write novels and short stories, so screenplays were never part of the plan until Mr Kudzai “KC” Chikomo challenged me to give it a shot and I did. He had previously published Another Wedding and he believed that I could write a script if I put my mind to it. I had to “google” my way through the entire process of course, but I guess that’s what being “self-taught” means. Whilst it was refreshing and fun, it also required hard work, discipline and giving up at least three times before completion. That script gave me a lifelong passion and I can definitely see myself writing more scripts and advancing as a screenwriter and filmmaker of note.

Who is your role model in the film industry?

I look up to Mr Tyler Perry a lot because of everything he has achieved. He tells stories on his own terms and is in complete control of his work. Tyler Perry Studios is a testimony of what hard work, believing in yourself, faith and prayer can do for your dreams. He may have set the bar very high, but he is also proof positive that anything you want to achieve in life is achievable if you dare to try.

You’ve written screenplays for many marvellous works, including $400 and Gold Diggers, both films which were premiered on Zambezi Magic. Tell us about your experience working on the two projects?

My work on $400 was mainly to write the script and hand it over to the producer. The first time I watched it as a completed project, I was blown away because I couldn’t believe how well the words had translated on screen – well enough to score a NAMA nomination! I had simply written the screenplay but the cast and crew made sure. But with Gold Diggers, I had to be hands on and deal with the pressures of set life as 1st Assistant Director, Line Producer and an extra (I pulled a Stan Lee). I had to deal with the early mornings and late nights. The girly side of me was star struck the entire shoot because of the famous faces on set. I had an amazing experience, a nice time and learned some valuable lessons about working in a team set up and what it would be like to commit to the industry full time.  I’d definitely do it again. And again.

How did you come up with the storylines for both films?

I worked closely with Mr KC on $400, a film about a down and out IT graduate who turns to crime to fend for himself and his sister. He had the storyline down and asked me to work on the script – which was fun to do because it was a storyline completely out of my comfort zone. I had to become a totally different person to write it and I grew to like and appreciate that side of me.

I wrote Gold Diggers as a way do away with the idea that only women can be gold diggers. I created a world where a man was the gold digger and the lengths he would go to secure the bag. I threw in a formidable protagonist who would stand in his way of getting to the money, a side kick who would act as a trap and a gorgeous knight in shining armour waiting to save the protagonist and the day should the plan fail.

In your opinion, how can the Zimbabwean film industry advance to a greater level?

I strongly believe that Zimbabwe has got talent and with the right mind-set and resources, we can be unstoppable. I also think that we should collaborate more as creatives as there is power in numbers and filmmaking is all about teamwork.

Any works in the making?(novels/films)

I’m currently working on productions with filmmakers from both Bulawayo and Harare – and there’s been a lot of non-stop writing from my end. I’m also outlining my next novel which I hope to publish by the end of 2022.

As a writer, do you occasionally get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Writing is fun until it is not. I try to write as much as I can when I’m in the zone so that when writer’s block comes for me, I can walk away and pursue other interests such as baking, reading fan fiction and drooling over the Springboks – until I can return and write some more.

That one movie you love so much that you can watch it again and again, and tell us why you love it?

I’m a sucker for old classics and I absolutely love While You Were Sleeping starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman. It’s a funny and cute love story; it’s cheesy in all the right places and absolutely timeless. If I were to choose how I fall in love with someone, it would be the way their characters fell in love – unexpectedly. And I really love the last line of the movie “Peter asked me when it was that I fell in love with Jack – and I told him – it was while you were sleeping.”

One filmmaker you would love to work with?

I’d give anything to work with Ramsey Nouah. I mean, his movies raised us. He was that gorgeous actor who was the leading man in everything back in the day. I like how he’s transitioned from notable actor to formidable Director. It would be cool to create something together for Zimbabwean and Nigerian audiences to enjoy.

Your vision as both an author and a filmmaker?

To see my books and films hailed on international stages for their quality storylines and excellent execution.

 

By: Chido Kakora

 

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