Jayant Maru carries a rare form of optimism as he rolls off his story that has slowly seen him build a career in the movie industry.
His, is a story of determination and self-belief, from which he draws the energy and hope of a better and solid film industry that he says is at a “renaissance stage with exceptional talent and values”.
It’s just about time when full feature pictures, he says, will break into mainstream silver screens.
Smarting in a black T-shirt matched over a pair of jeans and sneakers, Maru towers above me as we enter a dimly light room that doubles as his study and makeshift studio.
In one corner is an overly pampered camera, which as he says, holds millions of shillings just by itself.
The room is a busy affair lined with a lot of cables connecting one gadget to the other.
“This is where I do my things,” he says as we start off his film journey that started many years ago but became a tangible affair about four years ago.
A filmmaker himself, Maru debuted his acting career in Hang Out in 2012 before directing The Route in 2013, a film that details a hugely controversial human trafficking dice.
This was the start of a career that would later see him roll off a number of works including K3NT and KAT3, among others.
Growing up Maru always wanted to act and indeed he did a number of screen faults before meeting Mira Nair at the Maisha Film Lab in 2012, who give him a lush of skills that have propelled him to new heights.
The film industry, he says, has become a new force in a country where creativity has become a virtue thus becoming a new job avenue through which young entrepreneurs earn substantial sums of money as well as building careers.
“Careers in film are an increasingly becoming an attractive option for creative thinkers,” he says, adding that many people have found jobs as script writers, producers and directors with many professionals being offered an opportunity to collaborate creative projects.
Currently, Maru is working on a new movie - Sipi Olympic – that chronicles the life of gold medallist, Stephen Kiprotich, which he hopes, to bring out his creative mind upon which he has built a career and become a role model to many young talents.
He is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science. He had his secondary education at Aga Khan High School before leaving the country for the United Kingdom.
However, he later returned to Uganda to establish TEDx Events, a company that he has used as a vehicle for a number of innovations key among them film production.
According to Maru Uganda’s film industry is currently on the roll and is becoming more diverse than ever.
However, he believes that it can only get better if stakeholders exude a resemblance of professionalism that is consistent with the demands of good standards and quality production.
“Many young filmmakers are lackadaisical with time keeping. When you show up late, even if you have a good excuse, it shows that you lack professionalism, and when it comes to auditioning for other roles, you might not have the luck to be selected because you lack professionalism,” he says.
A believer in young talent
Maru is a strong believer in young talent but he despises young people who fail to adopt the right attitude, a key pillar of the movie industry.
“Film is attitude. You cannot act with a bad attitude. You cannot roll camera if you cannot adjust to what the other people are saying. So even if you are fantastically talented but you have a bad attitude, very few people will want to work with,” he says.
To a stranger, Maru describes himself as an optimistic person, who loves to laugh at anything that intrigues him.
“I do not like talking about the same mundane things everyone else always talk about or be concerned with other people who have no factor or relevance in my life,” he says.
MARU’S CAREER TIPS
When someone starts talking about how the equipment sucks or how the production is not up to r standards, it sends a message that they are not perhaps committed to the project. Otherwise be positive and be part of the team to make things better. According to Maru, even when the production is not going as planned, you can maintain a “glass half full” attitude and, which will give others the inspiration to do better.
The film industry, according to Maru, relies on ingenuity, therefore do not look at your degree as a qualification in the industry. The degree, he says, is only an incentive that will attract trained and professional talent to work with you. “It is not about your degrees, it is how ingenious you can be and how you can roll off ideas intelligently,” he says.
Understand the industry
The film industry is not easy to break through due to the incredible levels of competitiveness.
Therefore, Maru says you must take notes where necessary and expand your network as far as you can reach.
“If you do not have a network, start small and then begin to move up. Knowing how to get started in film really translates into knowing how to network, because without a strong network, your chances of getting a job are slim,” he says.
Choose the right time to make decisions
Making decisions is an integral part of any job; therefore Maru has learnt to make decisions and many of them at that.
However, he has learnt not to make decisions while or extremely happy. His principle is not to make promises that are happy driven. “There must be a reason and a foundation on which you make a promise.”