It’s impossible to talk about the film industry in Zimbabwe and not have the name Joe Njagu pop up once or twice in your conversation. NAMA legend, film producer, director par excellence, Joe is indeed one of the country’s most gifted filmmakers. Since the day film got ‘into’ him, Joe has never looked back. From his debut hit movie Lobola, starring Big Brother star, Munya Chidzonga, to working with renowned South African actor Presley Chweneyagae and former Miss Zimbabwe, Malaika Mashandu, Joe has proven, time and again, that indeed compelling storytelling runs in his blood. His road to fame has been quite the interesting one. The legend himself tells us all about it…
My most memorable childhood moment is actually an interesting one. I think that’s when the film bug bit. I was about 6 years old and they happened to shoot a Surf washing powder advert in our hood. I remember it was this big production with lots of white people as crew. I got cast as one of the kids that runs around pushing a tyre in the video and got to be in the advert. It was an amazing experience for me.
I don’t think you get into film, film gets you. *Laughs* I have always been interested in storytelling and film became a medium to use. Since primary school I used to write stories in essay form. I remember in form 1 I wrote an essay that was so crazy that the teacher Mr Munyaradzi beat me up because he did not believe I had written it. My break in film came when I hooked up with Ben Mahaka and Tatenda Mavetera who both believed in my first project called Bitter Pill which Ben directed and acted in. Tatenda also acted in and produced it. The film aired on Mnet on DSTV and from then I haven’t stopped. I went on to make my first debut film Lobola starring Munya Chidzonga and produced by my partner in crime,Rufaro Kaseke.
I grew up watching a lot of Hollywood films so that influenced me a lot. My role models were big American directors and producers… Christopher Nolan, Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino…
To be honest that was a really big honor that I felt was bestowed on me too early, but I take it as a challenge to work towards being a legend. Or maybe I’m wrong and like a lot of other people, am just used to seeing legends as people that are not young. *Laughs* I must say it is a good feeling though to be appreciated on that level and again I thank NAC, JCMC , GOZ and all those involved in the awards. It’s good to receive your flowers when you are still alive.
That’s a tough one because they are all my babies and they are all special in their own way. When you make something you are always watching it and thinking, I could have done better. Lobola could win though as it was my debut and the big springboard for my career.
2.Rock n Rolla
Well, for starters it has to be an amazing script and then you compliment that with an amazing cast and crew and boom, magic!
Black panther….as his long lost brother who is back. *Laughs
Onset pressure is what drives us. It’s always insane but how you handle yourself is what determines how good a filmmaker you are. You have to have a good team as well. Film is a collaborative process so good synergies are always helpful.
I barely have any, but when I can I love going on holidays with my family. We love traveling and seeing new places around the world.
For one, our industry needs a lot of support from other sectors. The film business is not a stand alone sector; it needs other businesses to collaborate with it. The filmmakers themselves also need to collaborate more. There is this competitive spirit among practitioners and a constant thinking of, “Oh we are competing”. Don’t get me wrong, healthy competition is not bad but I feel at this point we need to collaborate more as we are still developing. Rather have one amazing film that we collaborate on than 20 bad films from 20 filmmakers that could have worked together and made one amazing film. I don’t even think we can call what we currently have a film industry to be honest. It’s still a little film community.
It would have to be Guy Ritchie. He is a master of the craft.
More films from us. We have a new film coming soon called MiRAGE starring Prudence Katomeni Mbofana and directed by Malaika Mushandu. I produced it. We are also working on a TV series. So more work is definitely coming.
Growing from strength to strength. I feel I know my purpose and calling and I am on the right path career wise. My motto is “Positively Changing the African narrative one film at a time”……that is Joe Njagu’s vision so in 5 years I hope I would have pushed more narratives to effect that.
It was from former American president Barrack Obama actually. We had the opportunity to meet him in 2016 during a fellowship I was part of in Washington. He spoke about finding your purpose and he broke it down simply. He said worry about what you want to DO first and that will lead you to what you are going to BE. So if you figure out what you want DO first, what you are going to BE is automatic.