Buni Media is a multimedia company based in Nairobi, Kenya and Los Angeles, California that seeks to use a variety of innovative media techniques to tell thought-provoking, modern stories that challenge the status quo.
Buni Media was founded sometime back but was registered in 2009, however, it had started with the XYZ show which was a concept that came before Buni media and was initiated by Gado Mwapembwa. This was a show that targeted to produce satirical shows that depicted the social and political issues that the country was going through at the time. The organization was registered as a vehicle that would produce this show. Buni media produces several other things but the core is on TV production, audio visual (film for commercial PSA and all audio visual platforms. We also do animation and audio platforms that do work that goes primarily on in audio platforms. We also do sculpting where we are well known in this we do set design and production of content.
The XYZ show is a political satire show that we are well known for in Kenya and which has made us win in awards locally and internationally. We are also involved in a show in English called Ask Dr Pamoja which targets children and seeks to give information around COVID-19 and how to stay safe. We also have a similar project for the Somali market and that is in Somali language. We are doing a short film called once upon in Africa that was released in 2020 which is a puppetry series and that is currently doing rounds in Festivals. We also have a short film called the Tempest that is also doing rounds on festivals and which is a dance short film which means we are also working with dancers. We are very excited about Katiba which is a comic book version of the Kenyan constitution which comes on the background that not all people will read the constitution and this book brings fun and entertainment to the reader to have fun while reading the constitution.
Buni Media is really exciting since there are a lot of things going on there that you may not find anywhere in Africa. Our puppet studio is advanced and unique since we make foam and latex puppets, props and a robust arts department that enable us to build on set props. This makes us bring unique people together.
Kanyi, the puppets dresser reiterates that her department works to ensure that all the puppets are dressed like the real guy in the public glare. “This means that we need to work hard and ensure they look like they are in the public spaces in terms of their outfits” Kanyi.
Zili is a puppeteer and a voice manipulator. He does this for the love he has for puppets.
In the production set departments that are there just like the normal film production sets. We have a director and continuity department, Camera department, lighting and grips, puppetry department, wardrobe department, editor department, animation department, sound department and voice talent department. Apart from this we have the management department that works with every department to ensure that all work is delivered as expected.
We are excited about new ways of creating puppets and props and puppet manipulation. In the last season we were able to make full size body puppets. This is changing from the past where we had puppets that were half bodies.
When you watch XYZ shows one cannot imagine the amount of work that goes on in the background to produce a show. This is actually a very long process. Firstly, it starts from the writing which is done week by week which leads to the content. Secondly, the voice team records the voice. The team then goes to the set production that is like the normal film production. they use the pre-recorded voices to guide the puppets. The work then goes to the post production process which will involve all aspects in normal post production. since most of the production is done on background screens, then the animation team will put background animations to create a good background.
The XYZ show has gotten feedback a lot since when it was started. At the very initial there were efforts from the people in authority to stop the show from airing since they felt its satire had gone to the next level. This was even after the Redyculass show aired with similar challenges. However, as time went many people also came up to support the show. Several prominent persons have come to the show and taken photos with their puppets whilst a majority are also sharing the content on their social media. Amidst all this there are people who have shown willingness to support the shows.
There has been a shrink in the media space for freedom of expression. There are few media partners who are willing to show our content where content from people like us gets stopped at the gate. This is because there is fear in many people who when they hear about this kind of content that talks about our society they fear so much. The good thing is that social media space is growing b8g and one can post their content there and still get to reach their target market.
We aspire to do more and bigger in the coming days. We are introducing more projects with new partners that we are continuously seeking to partner with, Currently, we are partnering with Tsunami which is an animation company and Project Hands up. In 10 to 15 years we anticipate a much scope of work and in different disciplines. We hope to see the African society become accountable in civic spaces and directed to having an open and accountable African society.
We are based in Kenya but our work is designed for a global audience.
There is a need to have a like-minded community to come together and support each other’s initiatives and create a unified voice and not a solo voice.
There is a lot of growth in the creative space. However, there is still more space that suggests room for growth of more conscious content.