Emute is determined to build film industry

Sunday August 11 2019

Emute supervises as a colleage paints another

Emute supervises as a colleage paints another actor. PHOTO BY GABRIEL BUULE 

By Gabriel Buule

Film is a business of collective efforts that at the end of the day if one department fails to offer the best, it will be reflected in the final product.

In the past, many local film had failed to appreciate all the departments of the art, something that always affected the end product.

On a good note though, the Ugandan industry is greatly improving thanks to filmmakers that are choosing to pay attention to the various departments.

How she started

Since 2015, as a student of Kampala Film School, a subsidiary of Kampala University, Grace Emute Nabisenke has been focusing on branding herself as a writer and a special effects make-up artist.

Emute’s prowess as special effects specialist was ignited in 2015 when she was offered an opportunity to be part of the school project.


She says even though the project was never released, she never stopped paying attention to makeup, which had become had fast become her new love.

“The project was called Hunted Soul, being my first film project I felt a bit frustrated but I never stopped dreaming and it gave me courage to look for more projects,” narrates Emute adding that even when most females in class had feared blood and wounds that made a big part of the effects created, she persisted.

Nurturing career

Even-though she had acquired literal skills in class, she says she wasn’t ready since she had not been on a set as a make-up artist.  In 2016 though, Emute got her first project with celebrated but critical playwright and director Judith Adong.

She says that working on Adong’s theatre production Ga-ad gave her the courage to look further for more projects.

Role model

Her participation on the award winning film Kony Order From Above under Michael Wawuyo Snr’s mentorship exposed her to many things in the business and inspired her to continue pursuing the makeup art.

“Wawuyo didn’t only mentor me but introduced me to people and encouraged me to step up,” she reminisces.


To grow, Emute needed money and equipment.

Her prayers were answered when she received a make-up kit from Wawuyo as payement for her role on the Kony Order From Above project.

With kit in place, Emute used Shs300,000 to boost her business; she had saved the money from her previous gigs with the film school.

Big projects

In the due course, Emute has got the opportunity to work on well paying projects that include Emmanuel Kawooya’s Long Way to Go.

Her efforts have started paying off, last year her student finalist film, Idi Amin’s Boat was named the Best Student Film during Uganda Film Festival.  The award came with a Shs3m prize, she received another $500 (Shs1.8m) from Ghana after the same film was recognised in a festival there. “I reinvested the prize money to grow my business,” she reveals.

Her rise has attracted several projects that include a television series Mpeke Town directed by renowned actor and playwright Philip Luswata, Midnight Drum a music video by A-Pass and also a beverage commercial where she was the make-up artiste alongside Zimbabwean wardrobe stylist Bee Diamondhead.

Emute was also the assistant producer of the Dfcu  Bank Battle for Cash season 2 and the famous Musawo Angella a television commercial on family planning.

Big dream

Even though Emute fails to get gigs once in a while, she says film make-up pays her bills.

However, she is not always moved when she fails to get jobs because film is a seasonal business.

“When I don’t have projects, I do tutorials online and practice. Sometimes I work on weddings as well,” she says.

Her dream is to open up a film make-up studio in Kampala.

Four years after joining the film industry with almost nothing, Emute is finding her footing. On average she earns Shs200,000 in profit per day.


She says that just like in other business dealings, some people take long to pay and some defy the agreed terms.

“If there is an industry with potential to grow, it is the film industry. But there are many challenges some of which are actually caused by us the practitioners.”


Emute believes the lack of skills among the current crop of actors and actresses is affecting the industry’s growth.

According to her, most people get into the film industry thinking it is a route to easy money.

“They have the passion but in this industry, skills come first. You can’t just wake up and decide that you want to be a photographer and you have never been in the class of photography,” she explains.