‘Disconnect’ film director in tiff with German editor over Netflix series

David Gitonga an award-winning filmmaker and Director of Nairobi Life and Disconnect

David Gitonga an award-winning filmmaker and Director of Nairobi Life and Disconnect during the interview at Nation Center, Nairobi on June 9, 2022.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Kenyan and German filmmakers are scuffling over a Netflix project that could become the subject of a nasty legal suit. 

The German film editor, Christian Kramer, has taken on renowned Kenyan film Director David ‘Tosh’ Gitonga over his new feature film trailer titled Volume.

Kramer claims Tosh tapped on his expertise to edit the Volume series trailer but has since refused to pay him his dues.

Through a demand letter by James T. Makori Advocate seen by Saturday Nation, served to the Disconnect film director, Kramer issued Tosh with a seven-day ultimatum to pay him 4,400 Euros (Sh650,000) for the work he did on his new feature film trailer.
The German accuses Tosh of using his expertise to obtain funding for the Volume movie project from Netflix while leaving him on the fringe.

Kramer claims, Tosh, who burst into the limelight when he directed Nairobi Half-Life in 2012 becoming the first Kenyan film to gain entry in the Oscars Academy Awards (85th edition), reached out to him through phone calls with a proposition of a job offer in 2021.

“Our client instructs us that you are the producer and director of Primary Pictures Limited. That on diverse dates in the year 2021, you reached out to our client via phone calls while he was in Germany seeking to engage him for his professional services as a world-renowned film editor… You needed him to edit the Volume series trailer so that the same could be used to pitch for Netflix funding for the production,” read part of the letter dated May 23, 2023.

Tosh’s Primary Pictures company confirmed receipt via their official stamp on 24th May 2023.

With the agreement on course, Kramer says he took eight fully working days to edit the film before sending it to South Africa for colour correction to make it fit for purpose and the project was later on sent to Tosh.

According to email correspondences, text messages and WhatsApp chats, upon receiving the project, an exhilarated Tosh promised to retain Kramer in his next sequel project, Disconnect: The Wedding Planner, which premiered on Netflix on January 13, 2023.

The first Disconnect, a Kenyan romantic comedy movie starring Pascal Tokodi and Catherine ‘Cate Actress’ Kamau, premiered on Netflix in December 2022.

“…As consideration for our client’s work on the trailer (Volume), you proposed that you would retain him to work on a feature film by the name Disconnect 2, a sequel which was due for production or in the alternative if Netflix approved Volume, our client would be the one to do the editing of the series,” continues the letter.


Tosh would then inform Kramer that the project had been approved by Netflix for funding and it is at this point that the film editor claims the Disconnect director started being elusive.

“We are informed by our client that the trailer was approved by Netflix and you were so elated and that’s where things started taking a different direction. First, you told our client that you felt that it was only fair that you gave Disconnect 2 to the same film editor who did the first one as she was underpaid for the initial one and you morally felt obligated to give her the second part for editing in all fairness. Our client, being a reasonable man, agreed to this after all Volume had been approved by Netflix so he knew that it definitely would be the one that he will be getting for editing.”

Karmer alleges Tosh thereafter became evasive. 

“In the twists and turns you had all along planned to use our client without paying him in any way. When our client started following up on the production status of Volume, you started acting cold, bust, distant, bothered and aloof,”

At this point, Kramer says through his networks and connection, he began his enquiries of the production and that’s when it dawned on him that Tosh was out to swindle him. “Apparently it was a lie all along, the film editor who ended up editing Disconnect 2 was a different person from the one you had indicated as the one who had been underpaid in part one,” reads the papers. 

Upon revealing this, Christian claims his efforts to reach out to Tosh through calls, texts and emails were futile.

“At some point, you came back up from your bunker only to tell him that you had not promised him any work or payment in return and all you wanted was to see the quality of his work before engaging him and so the trailer was a ‘test’.”

Kramer maintains that it is because of his reputation and expertise in the international market that Tosh sought his services in the first place.

"To claim that our client worked on the trailer for the Netflix pitch without receiving any compensation was the deal, is obviously a blatant lie. It is at this point that we would like to make it clear that this is not a movie as our client has invoiced you twice before in Euros and Kenya Shillings just in case you had conversation issues,”

Christian says he has already learnt that the production of Volume is currently ongoing.