Edijoe Mwaniki is a Kenyan screenwriter, director and actor. He’s the writer of the highly acclaimed Kenyan film Lost in Time, a psychological thriller that deals with mental health. It scooped five Kalasha Awards in 2019, and nominated in the continental Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards 2020. He chats with Nailantei Norari.
What was the inspiration behind Lost in Time?
Around the time before starting scripting the movie in 2017, I had been home and in between jobs for a couple of months.
I felt that as the man of the house, I was ‘letting my family down’. So, I started thinking of mistakes men make, some not on purpose and how they need to accept the grace of God, forgive themselves and move on. Enter Lost in Time.
Have you written other screenplays?
Yes. I have over eight short films and I am, especially fond of Njamba, one feature film among the eight that helped birth Lost in Time.
I am currently working on two feature films that I hope will be produced soon.
When did your fascination with film start and what first drew you into the art?
My dad loved films. He offered me my first cinema experience in the 80s when he took my brothers and I to watch King Solomon’s Mines.
We watched a lot of films, mostly James Bond as well as Clint Eastwood and his Westerns.
From there I guess my love for film and storytelling begun, and who better to tell a story than a writer?
As an actor, what acting roles do you love?
People say I come out as a soft guy. I enjoy doing ruthless characters though. Granted, I have only had four or so chances to do so, but I once played a gangster leader in a local series that has never aired and that was one of my best times on set as an actor.
I enjoy being an actor, screenwriter and director, but if I had to arrange the roles in order, I would go for writer, director then actor.
Who are the filmmakers that you look up to?
Internationally, I have Christopher Nolan. He writes most of his screen plays then directs them.
He has a way of a certain mystery. Locally, we have many talented writers and directors; I owe a lot of my growth to Cajetan Boy who ruthlessly, but masterfully helped me understand what it means to be a screenwriter.
Mona Ombogo, Damaris Irungu Ochieng’ and Brian Munene are awesome writers too. Gilbert Lukalia, Victor Gatonye and Likarion Wanaina know their directing.
A big shout out to my Boy Peter Kawa he stands among the elite in Kenya.
What are the challenges that you have encountered in the film industry?
Ownership and pride. We as a country are yet to accept and come out in support of our own. Until the day we become consumers of our films, we shall continue to struggle.
Funding is also an extreme challenge. We need to come up with ways of funding the concepts into production.
Product placement is one of the ways to go. Businesses will get a good platform to advertise.
How does the Kenyan scene rate compared to others?
I was privileged to appear in a charter of an international film shot in Morocco and I saw the professionalism and investment placed in the film. Kenyans, especially in the film industry, are hard workers.
If given half the support that people out there are given, we would wow the world.
What would you tell young filmmakers who look up to you?
Stick to the grind. Hold on to the path. Do not expect instant results. Keep at it and eventually you will get to where you want to be. Consistency and humility is key.