In the slums of Wakalinga, on the outskirts of the Ugandan capital of Kampala, there is usually no electricity for four days a week. But that has never stopped Nabwana Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey, the man who has quietly amassed a cult following online for his no-budget, VFX-heavy action movies and the ‘industry’ he created, known around the world as Wakaliwood.
This is a story that just has to be shared. His videos frequently pop up online, much to the joy of those already familiar with his work, and garnering new fans along the way. This time is no different. At 44, Isaac is still going strong.
A few years ago, a trailer for one of his films, Who Killed Captain Alex, made the rounds online, accumulating millions of hits.
Isaac made this film on a budget of $200, teaching himself how to edit by trial and error, using his house and his slum as the set for his ambitious action. In the years that followed, he became a one-man-industry.
“You need determination and work. It takes action to make action,” he told The Washington Post recently.
“We made them to make (the villagers) happy and so they can hear their own language and locations they recognize,” he continued. “Even their friends could be in the movies.”
Isaac’s films are cheap, the budgets never exceed the standard $200. Sometimes, they’re even as low as $60. But he has the ambition of any Hollywood blockbuster director handling a budget a million times more than his.
He is inspired by the action movies of Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Woo. Take a look at the trailer for Operation Kakongoliro! The Ugandan Expendables:
For us, these movies might look like one of those sweded trailers that are so popular on YouTube, or maybe something Jack Black would’ve made in the movie Be Kind Rewind, but for Isaac, there is zero irony in his films.
“Western and Nigerian movies are popular but here but we have to teach our people to watch Ugandan films. People don’t believe our films can be good, until we show them. Now even universities are sending their students to do internships here,” he told CNN.
Isaac, a former brick maker, has made more than 40 low-resolution films featuring epic action, kung-fu and gunfights in his career. They’re calling him the Ugandan Tarantino now.
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