Martin Nyakabete is a freelance film script supervisor/continuity person who enjoys nothing better than telling great stories through films that not only entertain, but also change the way we view the world around us.
1. Explain to me like you would a newbie, what continuity is.
Script Continuity is ensuring a film makes continuous visual and verbal sense. You do this by making sure the film does not contain distracting continuity errors to the viewer when different shots/takes and scenes are finally edited. TV series or movies are shot entirely out of script sequence, therefore, a Script Continuity person is key when filming. He or she is also the editor’s representative on set as most editors are not present during initial filming.
2. What skills does one need to do what you do?
You need to be very observant and pay attention to detail, be organised, have good communication skills, think fast and respond quickly to challenging situations. You also need to have a solution-oriented mind, great teamwork skills, have stamina to remain alert during long filming days, oh, and be aware that this is the least liked department in film because we’re the ones that identify the mistakes.
3. There are lots of roles in film that one does not hear or know about unless one is on a set – one of them is continuity or being the 2nd AD (Assistant Director...
You’re right. Relatives and friends who are not in the film sector do not know exactly what I do. I heard about this role only because when Makutano Junction, (Local TV series that debuted in 2007) were filming season 12 and 13 back in 2012, I was an intern there. There are so many departments in film which require different skill sets. All you need to look at is the end credits of any production.
4. Which is your favourite local production? And an international one?
I never take up a project if I don’t think it is great, so each production I’ve worked on stands out in its own amazing way. I would have loved to work on Shuga, Nairobi Half Life and Katikati though. Internationally, it has to be the short film, WATU WOTE. It being a Kenyan story and deservedly produced by Hamburg Media School and Light Box Africa makes it an international production, right?
Honestly, filming in Nairobi, Mwingi, and especially Magadi was not easy, so I’m proud we’ve won many international awards for this one.
5. Did you know that the film you worked on was going to make it to the Student Academy Oscars? Can you usually tell when a production is going to be great?
Winning the Student Academy Awards caught me by surprise - I woke up to a message from one of the producers thanking us for all our efforts in the film. Film director and actor, Gilbert Lukalia, once told me that the future of Kenyan film is in telling our own Kenyan stories.
That win confirmed his words. Yes, you can tell if a film is going to be great. It’s plain and simple: a great production always starts from the story (the script) and trickles down to pre-production and hiring the right people for the job.