By Alex Roberts

Making a film is a complicated affair at the best of times- but in this delightful age of the pandemic, productions have spiraled into a Kafkaesque nightmare. One production in Uganda has held it’s head up through all of this however, that of Black Glove. The Kampala set film has been chugging along through pre-production and initial filming, ahead of a summer scheduled full-steam ahead to finish the film and start on post-production processes.

The EA Scene caught up with Douglas Dubois, the mind behind the upcoming film Black Glove to learn more about the film, its importance and what movie-making is like during the COVID-19 crisis.


 

EA Scene: How did the idea for Black Glove first come about on your side?
 
Dubois: Black Glove was developed on the background of challenging the “western gaze” on Africa and changing the negative narrative about Uganda. I wanted to produce a film that celebrates our rich tourism, culture, fashion, the diversity of our people and Uganda’s beautiful back faces. We are more than just bad politics, or poverty. I’d first written the script in 2018 but knew I needed to improve my screenwriting skills and get more resources in order to successfully complete the film. I wanted the highest quality possible, so I took training and film courses. I reviewed the script in 2019 and approached Ugandan artists I trust, and found creative partners including the Director and Co-Producer SOLOFX.. The story developed and improved throughout 2020 and along with it, we cast the incredible actors.. I curated a team of individuals who are skilled to create the kind of quality film we want to make with Black Glove. It is an authentic Ugandan story with global appeal.
 
EA Scene: What about Ugandan fashion, within the region and the world makes it stand out so much to stand on its own as a global fashion film?
 
Dubois: Have you seen the Uganda Busuuti (gomesi) or any of the traditional dress styles of our almost 51 tribal groups? We are borrowing from that diversity to create contemporary custom made costumes for the characters in Black Glove. Traditional dress styles, like the Mushanana from the Western tribe of Ankole have familiarities with the Indian Sari and Morrocan women’s dresses. Ugandan fashion has that global appeal and Ugandans are quite trendy. Black Glove is fusing these influences and using authentic local fabric like Kitengi, Kikooyi and Kanga. 
  
EA Scene: Why do you think that Black Glove is a necessary project within the Ugandan market?
 
Dubois: The film celebrates things we love about Uganda, our rich evergreen in a thriving industry of tourism. The cast and crew will be shooting in the wild of gameparks, in locations with waterfalls and crater lakes, and the coffee escarpments of Mountain Elgon. Yet all this will be juxtaposed with affluent homes and highrise architecture in Kampala and other parts of the country. We often forget this too is Uganda, and the best way our film market can change how the rest of the world sees us, is by showing positive images of our country. We are also creating partnerships with the hospitality industry (hotels and travel agencies), small scale textile businesses run by women for our fashion and costuming needs. The film is bringing together everything Ugandan. Top of the list for us is Tourism agencies who understand the need to promote Uganda as a destination. Now with locally made cars, Uganda Airlines and the Kayoola Bus, there is more advancement that our stories can showcase. Our film diverts audiences from narratives of poverty, disease, war and hunger, and I encourage other filmmakers to do the same.

I also write a lot from personal experiences and experiences of affecting real people. The film is dedicated to women in Uganda who have been violated, abused, and disrespected in the workplace, at home and in community. In a way, lots of my work in women empowerment has been dedicated to my mother who is a survivor of intimate partner violence. As an advocacy artist, my work highlights challenges of marginalized communities, and  Black Glove is a tool that starts conversations about the place of women and the role each of us plays in empowerment. 
 
EA Scene: The cast and crew of the production have really been a highlight here- everyone seems to really be bringing their ‘A-Game’ can you speak a bit about what everyone is bringing to the table?
 
Dubois: Each of the cast and crew are rising to the challenge of producing film during the pandemic. It has proven challenging, moving dates around and extending timelines to accommodate covid precaution and health measures. But everyone is committed to getting the work done successfully. Actors are investing time to improve their characters, many are going to gym to stay in shape and the production is supporting some actors with paid for acting masterclasses. Remember these are actors who are already brilliant, but they want to do more, to be better. The crew have worked on major international projects, they are seasoned, tried and tested, but they too remain humble. The Director has offered resources for the cast and crew to improve their craft and they’ve poured their hearts into reading, research and rehearsals. Through Sebamala Arts’ artist development workshops, we’ve examined our skills, created samples of visual elements to test the quality of film we’re producing and dived into questions regarding the vision of the film.

EA Scene: So lastly, the big obvious question, it is always hard to shoot a movie, a TV show, a documentary- essentially anything on film is a mission- but this production started in 2020- obviously with the pandemic and all of the craziness, how mad has it been to try to make Black Glove with all of these extra circumstances?
 
Dubois: Knowing how the pandemic has affected each of us financially, physically and psychologically, Black Glove is our recovery project. It is giving artists jobs, and drawing us out of unemployment depression. It has brought over 50 artists together in a community that supports each other, and the vivacious spirit of making art has kept us together. During pre-production, everyone committed to keeping up with wearing masks. That devotion to what is required even as we return into full production to complete the film this year. We took the IPOs from Hotel Arcadia and they abound by them. We shall be taking similar measures at all locations we’re shooting, even in game parks where we might be surrounded by wildlife. We’re living through hard times, and despite Uganda low Covid cases and deaths, we are still maintaining precautions and following safety guidelines. It is hard for actors who are supposed to interact with each other and perform, to avoid being in contact, but we’ve had to think creatively to manage this. We’ve done major developments virtually, and have tasked the crew to devise practical measures that fit filming during a pandemic.

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