MY TWO CENTS THOUGHT ON THE FILM STUDIOS/ BLUE SKY STORY

About Blue Sky

Blue Sky Films is a Kenyan company that has been facilitating and producing outstanding film and television shows throughout East and Central Africa for over eighteen years. Our portfolio comprises of a wide range of productions ranging from television commercials to reality shows, documentaries, music videos and still photography shoots, to facilitating production of major hollywood films, such as ‘’The Constant Gardener”, “Tom Raider 2: Lara Croft and the Cradle of Life, The First Grader.

About Film Studios

Since the establishment of Film Studios Kenya Ltd., we have been involved in hundreds of films, which won 11 Academy Awards.
For nearly 30 years we provide lights, cameras, stage, grip and studios for international and Kenyan films, TV productions,
commercials and game shows for the domestic and international markets. The studio complex is adjacent to the International Showground in Nairobi.On the 97 hectares large studio area outdoor and indoor scenes can be inexpensively constructed and shot. Powerful Silent generators, a modern light park and top of the line camera and grip equipment for international and regional films make Film Studios Kenya Ltd. unique in East Africa. We are proud of our history and the professional services we provide for the film industry. Our special thanks for his continuous great work goes to Charles Simpson, founder and CEO of the Kenya Film Studios Ltd.

The above is an abridge description of Kenya’s leading film production companies, Blue Sky Films and Film Studios Kenya as described in their respective websites… http://blueskyafrica.com and http://filmstudioskenya.co.ke.

Reading the websites of both companies one gets to understand their role in the Kenyan Film Industry and one gets to understand that these two companies have a history that is unmatched. In fact, the two companies are older than the Kenya Film Commission. The glaring truth is that both companies offer more or less similar and/or same services to their clients. meaning, both companies are businesses and profit making entities

Let’s be honest.  There’s not a business anywhere that is without problems.  Business is complicated and imperfect.  Every business everywhere is staffed with imperfect human beings and exists by providing a product or service to other imperfect human beings. For all of its faults, it gives most hardworking people a chance to improve themselves economically, even as the deck is stacked in favor of the privileged few. By this I mean that business is business and whatever the case, you must always be willing to fight out dirty to stay afloat.

With this in mind, the last few weeks have been interesting ones for the Kenya Film Industry owing to a report that the Film Studios was up for sale to a South African Comapny. Very many questions arise here and I will try to be very objectrive lest I be mistaken for fueling the fire.

The rumour/word came out that Film Studios was being sold to South Africans or a South African Company was taking over Film Studios. This story/rumour found it’s way to the News Headlines courtesy of Kenya Television Network (KTN) thru reporter/anchor Edith Kimani… Unfortunately, none of the persons who commented on the story is from Film Studios Kenya. The three speakers who gave their insights on the sale of Film Studios are people who have no direct ownership links to Film Studios. Infact, the person who raise the red flag is the owner/founder/ceo of Blue Sky Films which is in real sense, a competitor to Film Studios.

Question One: What does Jim Shamoon the founder of Blue Sky got to do with Film Studios change of ownership?

Basing this article on the report on KTN, the reporter spent 43 seconds talking about Film Studios out of her 2 minutes 26 Seconds story the remaining time was spent talking about Blue Sky, it’s planned project and deal gone sour with the Agricultuarl Society of Kenya(ASK) on some land lease.

Question Two: What is the relationship between the sale of Film Studios and the Blue Sky- ASK show land lease disgreement?

It is shocking that in the story carried out by KTN, no one from Film Studios was interviewed and apart from the cut away clips of the various establishments at the Film Studios compound, there is nothing that really connects the story and proves the rumour right and the reporter ends up spending more time scrutinizing papers at Blue Sky than telling the story of the sale of Film Studios.

Question Three: Who leaked the story to KTN and did Edith Kiamani by any chance seek an audience with Film Studios over the matter?

I will try and be objective and i will try and not get emotional coz some truths will hurt here.

As Anatole France (1844 – 1924) once said ” You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves” I would liek to point out that I read more than malice and crocodile tears in this whole rumour that Film Studios Kenya is up for sale and is the process of being acquired by a South African Comapny/Firm/ Businessman.

Reasons

1. There story run on KTN has no proof of the allegations, no one from Film Studios was asked a thing and the credibility of the story is far much more of a fix-me-i-sort yu out equation.

2, Jim Shamoon’s rasing of a red flag over the issue is more that suspect as he ends up telling us more about their deal with ASK than the real story and origin of the sale.

3. Kenya Filmmakers are the most ignorant people in this continent, no wonder we are lagging behind as an industry. The reason being that the current producers and filmmakers Kenya has are a lot that knows so well that Blue Sky and Film Studios are more that interested in big money and heavy budgeted productions and that the only help they have accorded kenyan film industry is getting kenya internationl films and not neccessary building local content due to their pricing. it therefore beats logic why a kenyan producer would offer him/herself as a hatchet to fight for either Blue Sky of Film Studios.

4. Either one of the two businessmen Jim Shamoon and Charles Simpson is not sincere about this whole story. My take will be that Fil Studios realizes that there will exist more than enough competition if Blue Sky is allowed to continue with it’s plan to build a new studio and media centre. For that reason, they have met a group of corrupt kenyan officials at ASK and decided to help overturned the earlier agreement between ASK and Blue Sky. Blue Sky on the other hand want to play to the public gallery hence Jim Shamoon decided to start a rumor to have a base to let the public know about a deal gone sour.

5. South Africans acquisition of Film Studios will not have any negative impact on the Kenyan Film Industry, in fact it will help those monied producers who bring in entire head of departments crew from South Africa, the producers who go for their post production down South, the producers who fill a pinch in paying an actor 20,000/= an episode but will fell nothing to have a focus puller from a foreign country paying their bills and paying them an arm and a leg just so that their programs will have an upper hand when the names …. Anyone van Somebody in their credits.

With this factors in consideration, I want to put it in simple terms, neither Blue Sky nor Film Studios is a pure local Kenyan Company. For that reason, we all have nothing to loose whether they later is sold or the former builds it’s own studios. it is silly, selfish and juvenile of us to try and dictate to grown up men who have played a major role in both developing and killing the Kenyan film Industry what is best for their business interest because at the end of the day, any average film producer in Kenya will tell you that hiring equipment from either comapnies will cost you more than your life when they divide to be philanthropic and give you an eight of their normal rates….

So, Charles Simpson, you had a vision when you started the film Studios, if you feel like you have achieved your vision and it is time for you to start sitting on a cossack somewhere overlooking at a barren field out there of a greening hill behind you, do your worst, sell Film Studios and retire. We will always remember you for the good things you did for the industry but will always talk about the bad things you did more than the good.

To Jim Shamoon, I really respect you as an individual but of late i have been grappling with the idea of wanting to understand you more… i think you are one petty guy who believes that everything must always go his way or else it is not supposed to be. I say this in relation to my few encounters with you at different fora and believe me not there is more than meets the eye in both your expose to Kenyans about the sale of Film Studios and the ASK v Blue Sky deal. I will be rude here and I will say, deal with your issues, as Jim Shamoon and Blue Sky and don’t try to get public sympathy on matter that don’t really concern them coz whether Film Studios is sold or Blue Sky builds it’s own studios, the people down at Kibera, a few meters from the headquarters of both companies will not feel any effects.

I rest my thoughts…

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3 thoughts on “MY TWO CENTS THOUGHT ON THE FILM STUDIOS/ BLUE SKY STORY

  1. well thought out, honest and very informative piece. did you interview either jim or charles simpson? anyway i found your article very informative as mention i wish to state that this rumour is older than you think i first heard of it two yeatrs ago.

  2. Hello all. I guess by now we all know that supersport has taken over the studios. Also that you have more data about both me and blue sky. You should look up the Constant Garden Charity Trust Fund. Which has built water tanks, 6 bathroom and toilet blocks, a bridge, a ramp, and paid for 6 medical camps all in Kibera. It has also built a whole school in Turkana. We give back big time.
    Blue sky is a production house we produce. Filmstudios is a rental house, they rent equipment. They have ” been involved” in award winning films by renting gear to people like us who actually shoot them.
    Just to set the record straight.
    Jim shamoon….. shamoon@swiftkenya.com

  3. I’m really surprised that the author of an article criticizing the fact that a news item was released without interviewing the parties involved in the story would not bother themselves to interview anyone from either party – Film Studios or blue Sky! What an exceedingly lazy article fillled with “what if’s” and biased unverified subjective opinions. Your guilty of exactly what you are accusing everyone else of. Best proved by the fact that the studios were indeed sold – something Charlie would have probably told you himself that he was about to do if you had bothered to ask him.

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