BY PASCAL MWANDAMBO
Most students in secondary school have to rely on their parents to give them money to spend as pocket money. Very few if any use their talents to supplement what their parents give them.
However , Voi youth Bill Otieno aka Bill Hoods, 23, managed to raise his pocket money while in school. This happened while he was in form two at Taru Secondary School in Kwale County, when he made his first documentary film titled Memorable Moments.
“I made only 70 copies of the movie using a small digital camcorder which my dad bought for me at Sh 30,000.The documentary which talked about school life sold all the copies I had made earning me over Sh 10,000. This was a big step forward and since then I have been feeling the urge to direct movies” Bill told i-mpact news during an interview.
He says he got backing from an American film enthusiast called Brent Hayes who helped him produce promotional T-Shirts for the schools’ journalism club.
Hayes was also to be instrumental in the formation of the Taru Audio Visual Club that was formed towards the end of 2012.
The aspiring movie director says he has been inspired by the legendary Mohamed Amin who despite his average education made history by capturing the most memorable moments in history through camera lenses.
Bill says at one moment while in form 1, his teacher had asked them what they wanted to become in life and he blurted out, “Film director”.
“The students looked at me with a strange curiosity while some laughed at me but I brushed them off since I felt they did not understand what I was talking about,” he says lightheartedly.
“Everything in life begins with an ambition and a vision and for me I want to join movie directors such as those of Nigeria or even American Hollywood,” says Bill.
The aspiring movie maker said he received basic training on movie making while in form 1 from an American known as Caroline Keita who used to train students from the school’s journalism club while on a visit to the country.
“Keita served as my first mentor and encouraged me to take filming seriously, both as a hobby and a career,” he says.
He says Keita was introduced to the school journalism club by an organization called Kenya Keys which mainly dealt with issues of identifying talents among disadvantaged youths such as orphans and the disabled.
Bill later joined a one month technical training course with Media E Trustees based in Nairobi.
In 2002 he got hooked up with another organization Digital Opportunities Trust which trained him on business management and Information Technology(IT).
In 2013 Bill made a major break by directing two movies “Ambition” and “Made in Mombasa”.
Both movies deal with issues concerning the youth. “Ambitions talks about how youths can change careers from what they have been trained on to do other lucrative jobs that they had not even intended to do in the first place”.
On the other hand “Made in Mombasa” is both a talent show case especially on music and art and a well set out piece with didactic themes. The movie talks against the danger of drug abuse which eventually lead youths into prostitution and other anti- social habits that could ruin their lives.
Currently, Bill is working on another documentary movie on road safety titled “Road death Trap”, being filmed in Voi.
“Hundreds of Kenyans are losing their lives on the roads and as artistes we should educate and warn Kenyans against traffic offences such as speeding and drunk driving that could lead to carnage and loss of lives,” says Bill.
And what future plans does Bill have? “This year, I am planning to direct another movie “Dark Arena” which still pursues the issue of youths and drugs”, he says.
He says some drug barons use youths to traffic drugs and make huge sums of money but leave the youths poor and at times even end up being arrested and jailed while the barons escape the long arm of the law mainly because they are filthy rich and can buy their way to freedom.
Bill says he is particularly grateful to his father Jared Abuoga who has constantly supported and urged him on.
“My father supports me in everything I do and I feel gratified for this, unlike in some cases where parents choose careers for their children which they may not even be talented in” he says.