Faith Koli is a film producer and content creator. She has produced several award-winning TV shows including “Pendo”, “Prey and Pray”, and most recently, “Mafundi”, which airs on NTV.
How would you describe yourself to a stranger?
I am a passionate storyteller who believes that we need to tell our own stories in our own language and contexts. I am a mother of a lovely three-year-old daughter called Kezia Rose, and an entrepreneur.
Tell us about your first experience as a television producer
It was during an internship at NTV right after college. The memory is blurry because it was a long time ago — but I remember being very excited and curious to learn how stuff worked. I got to work in various production departments and my favourite role was working as a script or continuity girl.
What is your normal day at work like?
My day begins at 4am with a word of prayer. After that, I spend at least two hours reading or writing scripts. I also write proposals at this time along with doing research. After that, I hold a meeting with production team for a quick run through of the call sheets — this helps us to help trouble shoot and make sure we meet the day’s schedule.
Next, I proceed to meeting suppliers and clients as well as sales pitches. The afternoons are spent planning for the next day’s production including special props, costumes and locations. I also spend time with the editors to check the daily rashes and approve a few things here and there. After confirming that the next day’s work plan is set, I go home to be with family or catch up with friends.
Where do you draw inspiration from when scripting your shows?
Everyday life. I tell stories that are close to the heart and stuff that we experience daily, something that is relatable. It’s encouraging when people tell me “that character Plumber on “Mafundi” reminds me of a jamaa wa mtaa; where did you guys get him from?” I am also quite fascinated by research and so I rely on it a lot when writing the scripts.
What do you love most about your job?
The satisfaction of witnessing the transformation of a concept on paper into a universe with live characters on screen. I am also humbled that these ideas create jobs and opportunities for the casts and crews.
You have hired your mother as a member of staff in your production company. How is that working out for you?
Can you imagine being your mum’s boss? It was not easy but with time we have learnt to create boundaries in terms of work and home environment. However, she pulls the “mum card” on me once in a while, but I oblige because she offers cheap labour (oops sorry mum).
When mum took early retirement from government, I asked her to come and help with the HR and administrative function of the job so that I can focus on the business and creative side. Her expertise has been a great asset to the entire team. She has taught me how to improve on my negotiation and people skills. Also, having a mature person in the team inspires confidence both in the company and even with our external publics.
What is her relationship with fellow colleagues like?
She is a strict disciplinarian with a kind and listening ear. Our work is labour intensive and includes big crews along with numerous actors who mostly consist of young people. She dispenses plenty of good advice to them readily.
Sometimes a cheeky staff member will run to her when they are in the wrong hoping to get reprieved. In such cases, I put my foot down and insist that we adhere to company policy. Everyone calls her mum at work although she prefers to be called Rosebeth.
What makes you great at what you do?
I rely a lot on research and I talk and seek advice before embarking on a project. I also try to make sure there is a commercial value and sense to everything that I do.
What are some of the obstacles you have encountered in your line of work?
TV production is capital intensive and accessing capital to grow the business is not as easy. Most bankers do not understand how a colossal amount once lent ends up in a hard drive smaller than a loaf of bread. We need a mind shift.
We work in an industry where your intellectual property (IP) is your asset so laws and policies that govern it need to be effected.
Do you have a word of encouragement for young women who wish to be producers like you?
Yes. Stop saying I can’t do I can’t. We are now in an age where you can create and produce your content, post it online and it will open doors for you. Trust your guts and instincts. Do not wait to perfect your ideas. Just get the basics right, put them to paper, find a good team plus a mentor and start producing your films.
How do you relax?
My self-care routine is solitude with a good book or a film although sometimes watching TV feels like work! I use any opportunity to hibernate to the village away from the hustle and bustle of this city. Praying and reading scripture also keeps me grounded.
I am working on film project for next year which I believe will be a blockbuster. Also, there is a book in me so I am planning on taking some time off to write it.