Celebrated Kenyan filmmaker Likarion Wainaina famously known for his award-winning film ‘Supa Modo’ has opened up on the frustrations he went through since the release of the film.
The film tells a story of a young girl who inspired people from her village to unite and make her dream of being a superhero come true; it earned him international recognition and was Kenya’s entry to the 91st Academy Awards under the foreign-language category. Although the film was not nominated for this entry,’ Supa Modo’ won 15,000 Euros (Ksh1.5 million) at a different award ceremony but the director did not receive any of it.
In a long post on social media, Wainaina narrates his struggles behind the fame that came along from the success of his film and how the signing off of rights to the film almost cost him his life.
According to the ‘Supa Modo’ director, he was very aware of the terms of the contract which stated that he would be paid 1500 per day for a whole year before signing the deal. It however dawned on him that he had made a regrettable mistake after the film grew bigger.
“Let me first say that I do not own Supa Modo. Supa Modo is NOT my film, at least it no longer is, it is a film that I wrote (the story) and Directed. I signed off ALL the rights to it. IP rights, remake rights, adaptation rights everything.
No one forced me to do it, no one tricked me into it. I went in knowing fully well what lies ahead. The terms of the contract were laid out clearly:- 1500/- per day for a year’s work. After you deliver the final cut of the film that is it. You are done.” he stated
In 2017, Germany-based Rushlake Media announced the acquisition of sales rights for Supa Modo and although Wainaina’s role towards the film was over upon completion of the project, he reveals that how he still pushed himself to attend festivals in Europe with only a few thousand shillings to sustain him.
He recalls of the day he landed from one of his trips abroad only to find his house locked by his landlord; an incident that marked as a wake-up call for him.
“I once landed from a trip abroad where Supa Modo won 15000euros (none of it going to me) I smiled for the cameras, gave my heartfelt honest speech and took the award and I came home to find my house locked by my landlord and I just sat there, on my suitcase, holding that award outside my door for hours trying to master the courage to get up and push on. This film was going to kill me. I couldn’t do it anymore. This wasn’t the life I wanted.” he stated
Wainaina says that he has never quite recovered from the financial strain caused by this film but plans on resorting to TV directing in order to get back on his feet. Even though he describes this as a learning experience, he says he is not sure he will be able to make another film after such a frustrating experience.