‘Ugandan Tarantino’ shooting $200 action films set to release own ‘Expendables’

© Nabwana IGG Wakaliwood
Devoted self-made filmmaker Nabwana Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey (I.G.G.), who shoots ultra-violent action movies in a slum at the cost of about $200 apiece, and has been lovingly nicknamed ‘Uganda’s Tarantino’ by his fans, says his version of ‘The Expendables’ is coming soon.

Nabwana produces, directs, shoots, writes, and edits his films. Wakaliga, a slum in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, is his action set - and it has already been dubbed "Wakaliwood."

Shot at an average price of $200 US dollars, Nabwana’s films are super-low budget and involve the whole crew in various stages of the process. Some actors play several characters in the same production and wear face masks to look different. Nabwana’s wife has become a pro at special effects: they use condoms filled with water mixed with food coloring to mimic blood. The actors come on set wearing their own clothes and hardly get any pay.

“I like acting because I need to be more famous. Yeah. That’s my dream. So that’s why, you see, I act all the time. The director tell me to do anything - I can do,” actor Kizza Mansuri told Al Jazeera on the set of one of Nabwana’s movies.

An incredibly productive director, Nabwana shoots a new film roughly every month, then edits everything himself on a computer that he had assembled on his own. He uses software from the internet to create graphics imitating gunfire, blood spills and more complex settings involving helicopters and world landmarks like the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben.

Nabwana’s Ramon Film Productions, which got its name from Rachel and Monica, the grandmothers who raised him, rose to fame with the 2011 blockbuster “Who killed captain Alex?” Its trailer even made it online, subsequently becoming an internet sensation.

The plot is hard to follow with all the fighting, but it revolves around the police, drug trafficking and, yes, more fighting. At some stage a decision was made to ditch plastic guns for something more serious, as Nabwana felt the actors needed to feel the weight of “real” ammo. So they started producing their own mock guns from any available spare parts, such ones from a motorcycle. They even created a life-size helicopter prop.

The studio’s next project, ‘Tebaatusasula: EBOLA,’ has garnered over $2,000 US dollars on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, more than Wakaliwood had expected and 10 times more than his usual budget. Filming is underway and anyone can become part of the process: “If you’d like to appear in Wakaliwood’s next action film, Tebaatusasula: EBOLA, no problem! And you can die without even leaving your home. Ask us how!” says the invite to potential participants on their website

The Ugandan Tarantino says he was a fan of Chuck Norris while growing up, and that he sees his films as a blend of African, Asian and American culture. The studio also provides kung-fu inspired classes for local children.

The Wakaliwood team is very productive, regularly putting out fresh videos on their YouTube channel.

Nabwana says his advice to young moviemakers is: “Start it. Let us start.” And so far it seems the world can’t get enough of his brainchild - with some critics saying: “Wakaliwood has got more heart, grit and soul than 1,000 Marvel flicks.”