Kuda Jemba bags MTV Base/Capitec

To cap off a breakthrough year in which he directed the new season of Kelly Khumalo’s reality show “Life with Kelly Khumalo”, South African-Ugandan director Kuda Jemba was this past week enlisted to direct a television commercial for MTV Base in partnership with Capitec Bank for their Live etter campaign. The ad features MTV Base VJs Tshego Koke, Hope Mbele and Shamiso. This was the first commercial of the 29-year-old’s career. 

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“I was commissioned to direct the ad by AlternaTV (Nico Nel),” explains Kuda Jemba. “Putting it together felt like a music video, which was fun. I was able to plan my shots and lighting setups and to top it off I had a great cast and crew. This was a big moment for me because after a six year long wait I finally got to direct my first ad. Words cannot express how happy I felt but you can see it and feel it in the work that we delivered.”

Jemba initially found success in the entertainment industry as a director, editor and cinematographer for some of the biggest artists in the country (K.O, DJ Ganyani, Emtee, etc) on their music videos. His production company, Chopped and Screwed, has also consistently been hired by multinational labels like Universal Music, Sony Music and Vth Season over the past few years to shoot non-musical content for their top tier acts. Jemba spoke on the transition from doing music videos to shifting to other formats of directing, which was always his goal. “It was a crazy transition,” he says. 

“In music videos and other filmmaking formats outside of the reality space you plan your camera angles and lighting setups, location scouting and set designing if the budget allows, but in the reality space I was in shock at how much 90% percent of it is guerrilla filmmaking / run and gun. I found myself in the beginning getting frustrated with not being able to plan all these things I was used to but I slowly found my feet and understood why it’s the way it is. You don’t want to spend eternity setting up and planning that you miss the moment.”

It goes without saying that 2022 has been a memorable year for Jemba. “I recently realised that it has been the best year of my life. I’ve learnt so much and been blessed to be in a position to do things I love daily. I’ve been more intentional about how I’ve gone about my day and have practised gratitude for everything that has come my way.” Looking back at Kelly Khumalo’s reality show, which was released off the back of unprecedented public interest around the platinum-selling artist, Jemba explains how the reality show came about and looks back at how it was working with her.

“Directing the reality show came about from a fellow filmmaker called Bongani Morgan that had suggested me for the role to GOAT Originals, the production company that produced the show. I’d sent them my Showreel and they were impressed and set up a meeting! I still wasn’t convinced that I would get the role till we had a meeting with Kelly Khuamlo and I received my contract.”

He describes the experience of directing the reality show as a huge learning curve in long format filmmaking. “I started off on an extreme high excited and all with a bit of naivety, but a month or so down the line reality sank in. When that first trailer dropped it was like damn we are really doing this now and we have to deliver. It was a huge learning curve and a magical opportunity. I learnt a lot from the crew and the cast members. When I started off I thought I was really prepared for anything that could happen but in the reality space a lot of sporadic things happened. I’m glad I had an experienced team to help me navigate a lot of the things.” 

Jemba also says while he was working on the show he was well aware of the drama around Kelly at the time and made a point to stay up to date with everything that was happening. “I was well aware of the publicity surrounding her life and those closest to her. It was important for me to stay up to date with everything to know how to navigate how we go about the content we were producing.” 

Going forward, Jemba will be looking to do more work like this and continue to inspire those around him. “What you can expect from me is to see more long format storytelling and just creating more opportunities for aspiring filmmakers.”

Follow Kuda on Instagram and Twitter: @Kuda_J and @KudaJemba

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