Q&A with Ugandan scriptwriter, producer & MTF Alumni Cissy Nalumansi

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Africa Day reflections with the MTF Class of 2018: Q&A with Ugandan scriptwriter, producer and MTF Academy alumnus Cissy Nalumansi


It’s been well over a year since the first group of MultiChoice Talent Factory Academy candidates joined the programme! Among them is Ugandan filmmaker Cissy Nalumansi, one of the 20 East African young creatives selected to attend the inaugural year of the programme at the academy hub in Nairobi in 2018. MTF caught up with her to find out what she’s been up to since completing the programme.

When you joined the MTF Academy programme, what was your aim?

Because I am a passionate scriptwriter, I just wanted to better my ways at scriptwriting. I was looking at this opportunity to become a professional. While I was at the academy I also realised that I’m very good at production, so I picked it up. I’ve always been passionate about directing so I’m still trying to understand if I have to give up production and writing for direction, or if I just have to add that to my list. The film Promises, which you and your classmates created and shot, won Best MultiChoice Talent Factory Award at the seventh edition of the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCAs) earlier this year.

How did that feel?

It’s the film that we all loved watching but always winning comes as a surprise. I was working in floor management at the award ceremony on the day, as I was completing my Africa Magic Scriptwriting Internship on a Nollywood Production which was an MTF East Africa award that I won at graduation. So, I had to position myself to work and at the same time be ready to go receive an award in case our film won. That’s exactly what I did! I was working until around 5 minutes before our category was announced, then I rushed, changed and sat back in the audience to see if our film could win. It was nerve-wracking but it was a beautiful experience. When our film was announced it was like a dream come true for us.

What have you been up to since completing the academy programme and winning an AMVCA

Kemiyondo Coutinho, a Ugandan filmmaker and actress based in Los Angeles, started the Fivefor 5 Fund initiative last year December to support five Ugandan women filmmakers with funds for each one to shoot a five-minute film. I entered and my script was chosen! I’m now working towards making the film happen and I’m going to direct it. Can you imagine? I also co-founded Jungle Rains Productions, a production company in Uganda.

Congratulations! Your dreams are fast turning into a reality. However, the coronavirus has put most things on pause, including shooting in the film and TV industry. Does that also include the film that you’re making from the Fivefor 5 Fund?

Not everything is on hold. One of the things that came with winning this award was a MasterClass all-access pass to learn more about videos and directing. Kemiyondo also gave us assignments to help us understand much better how we would like to approach directing our films. Right now, I’m also reading a book she recommended called Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee. After the MasterClasses and tutorials, we are going to start writing the second draft of our scripts. Now more than ever has been a clear testament to the fact that creative film and TV content is very important because everybody now at home due to the coronavirus and tuning in.

From what you can see, how are industry creatives surviving lockdowns and social distancing?

Even in this era of quarantine people are still making content. Some of them are just clips, a few miniseries but they are creating content. This period has even given people much more time to concentrate on their passion projects. I think this is like an advantage to filmmakers. In this time, I’ve even gotten to work on the projects that I had pushed away for so long. I think everyone is excited to show what they’ve been working on after the lockdown.

Find out more about Cissy on the MTF portal: https://multichoicetalentfactory.com/user/332. You can also follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

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