“I love telling people stories.” Eugene Mbugua Shares On Being An Executive Film Producer

Eugene Mbugua is one of Kenya’s most prolific filmmakers. Since launching his first TV show, Young Rich on Kenya’s K24 at 22 years old, he has continued to grow his profile in the Kenyan film space and beyond.

His production company D&R Studios is behind some of Kenya’s biggest reality TV shows such as Get in The Kitchen, Our Perfect Wedding, Stori Yangu, Sol Family, Being Bahati, Foods of Kenya, Wahu and Nameless’ This Love, and most recently The Real Housewives of Nairobi and Kyallo Kulture. Last year, his productions This Love and Story Yangu scooped awards for Best TV Show and Best Documentary Feature respectively at the prestigious Kalasha TV & Film Awards.

Eugene Mbugua

Even though Eugene Mbugua is popular for his excellence in film, the D&R Founder is also a serial entrepreneur with interests in entertainment, agriculture, and social change. His stellar track record has earned him various coveted accolades which include Forbes Top 30 under 30, 2017, and BD Top 40 under 40, 2014. Eugene Mbugua also seats on the Kenya Film Commission (KFC) board.

Eugene Mbugua spoke to us on his latest release Kyallo Kulture as well as his busy job as an executive producer at D&R Studios.

In comparison to season one, how was it producing Kyallo Kulture season two?

I think it’s getting easier as we do it. The first season was a bit difficult because everybody was learning the camera, learning who they were, and how it related to the show. But it’s gotten easier as we’ve gone along. In season two, you will notice that people are more relaxed, they get more vulnerable, and the team knows what they are doing. It’s a typical case of practice making it better.

Eugene Mbugua

D&R Studios has gained a reputation for reality TV shows, is this the main focus?

No. We do audiovisual content generally – a lot of unscripted TV, and documentaries, and now we are getting into scripted television. So, we are a visual production company generally.

There were some photos of you with Eddie Githegi going around. Is there something cooking?

There is something cooking certainly. We met Eddie and respect him very much for his acting prowess. He runs a production company and is doing some amazing work in the States. We are in discussions to do something together jointly, so there is certainly something cooking there.

Can you share details?

I don’t have anything to tell you right now, but we are really, hoping that Eddie jumps on board with us.

What other projects is D&R currently working on?

Sol Family, a running project with Sauti Sol, and also This Love with Wahu and Nameless. We are always looking and partnering with different people, but you can always expect some interesting. I don’t want to call them surprises, but more of offerings from our production company.

Are there any training opportunities for young film creatives at D&R and how one access them?

The average age of the workforce at D&R studios is about 26/27 years old. So we have a lot of opportunities for young people and upcoming talent. At D&R Studios, we are also always very willing to train and support youngsters who are willing to learn the craft. One can join our team by writing to careers@youngrichtv.com. It’s an open email to which can send in their profiles and someone will be in touch.

How do you juggle between being a creative and an entrepreneur?

For me, it’s one and the same. I am a creative entrepreneur, so I am an executive myself. I sit at a desk all day, and my job is to basically look for opportunities, think in the future, and run the projects in a way that satisfies the team members, the client, as well as the cast. So, I am a creative entrepreneur in that sense. I wear both hats at the same time.

Filmmaking is a very collaborative endeavour. How do you go about delegation in your team?

As an executive producer, I do more of the desk work. D&R Studios has a team of over 60 people – producers, directors, cameramen, sound technicians, and editors, and it’s a full collective team effort. There is also an Administration and Human Resource department, so we are run as a corporate. When you have structures like that, jobs are evolved and delegated and specialization happens as people become better at what they do.

What is your daily routine like?

It is quite stringent. I wake up at 3.45 am, read for about an hour or so, then work out. I report to my desk by about 7 am, after which I work until around 5 pm. Lastly, I go to bed very early at 8.30 pm. All this is just about discipline and ensuring consistency in my work.

What do you love the most about your job?

I love telling people stories, human stories. I love it when someone watches our TV shows and feels encouraged or inspired or even just entertained. To elicit a reaction from an audience is probably the biggest gift of what we do.

Email me at agnesopondo@gmail.com