What you need to know:
- Famous is a new 10-part music drama and Kenya’s second-ever musical after Groove Theory (2018).
- The film was created and directed by renowned music video director and filmmaker Enos Olik.
In the glamorous yet vicious world of Kenya’s music industry, rising to the top to gain fame and fortune is never easy.
And sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Nyota struggles to rise to stardom as she battles to overcome her sordid past.
Magic, a renowned rapper and producer, who has gained notoriety for his fast life and wealth, tries to take his empire to the top while Nikita, whose successful career is threatened by new scandals, desires for even bigger things.
This is the plot of Famous, a new 10-part music drama and Kenya’s second-ever musical after Groove Theory (2018), which will be released tomorrow.
It was created and directed by renowned music video director and filmmaker Enos Olik and produced by his production company, EOP Films.
Well-known for his music videos for the likes of Sauti Sol, Khaligraph Jones, Vanessa Mdee and H_art the Band, Olik previously worked as a cinematographer on the multi-award-winning film Supa Modo and top Kalasha 2020 winner and Africa Movie Awards 2020 nominee 40 Sticks; and as a colourist for Kenya’s first Showmax original, Crime and Justice, and the Kalasha-winning short film Morning After.
“I started out as a music video director before venturing into other forms of filmmaking and content creation, so music has been a big part of my life and my career. Famous is a story that I personally relate to. I wanted to show an aspirational journey through the music industry and yet make it feel relatable.
“My two friends and I came up with the show’s idea three years ago. And being in the music industry, it wasn’t that long before we did the pilot and started selling it to different prospects. I was especially attached to this project because it’s my first away from music. I call it my baby,” he says laughing.
Famous is the first scripted TV drama that he is doing with EOP films.
Olik says that when he started scripting, he had to first show what his experience in the industry had been.
“It was easy crafting the idea, but it’s not based on any specific persons. It shows what exactly happens behind the scenes in the industry. We get to see what it takes, and what doesn’t, to get to the top.”
The director-cum-filmmaker believes that there are no Kenyan musicals because it takes a lot of time, money and resources to bring out something good. A lot of support and flavour is needed from the industry as well.
The team has been working and reworking with Showmax from the beginning when they first sold Famous pilot.
“They’ve helped us build it and create it in a way that will make sense to the local market. The deal involves us licensing and having the show on their platform exclusively for the next couple of years,” he adds.
The entire production team and cast members worked within a tight schedule of three to four days per episode – each being 25 minutes, and shot in over 20 locations over the period.
“We have an amazing cast of three leads, who are all actual singers and brilliant actors. It was a hard decision to place them into each role because of how good they are.”
Famous stars actor and former Mr World Kenya, Khula Budi, from the show Maria, acts as the troubled rapper and producer Magic, with newcomers Brianna Wanjiku as Nyota and Michelle Trien as Nikita.
Keith Chuaga (Disconnect), Manasseh Nyagah (Uradi), Ciku Shire (The Wives), Morris Mwangi (You Again), Sarah Hassan (Crime and Justice), Brahim Ouma, and Sandra Wambui also feature in supporting roles.
“It really does take a village. Everybody was on their game, or as they say, understood the assignment,” says Olik, laughing.
He adds, “We worked on a very moderate budget but we also relied on a lot of support, favours and goodwill from others – be it in locations or logistics.”
Being a musical means the whole idea of a show or film has to have a lot of creativity involved, something that posed a challenge for Olik in the first stages of production.
“We, however, got an overall writer, Eric Musyoka, who has been brilliant in the show. But some of the challenges are the natural ones we have to overcome everyday like changing weather conditions and electrical faults. (Laughs). All in all, it was smooth sailing because of the great team.”
Olik’s best part of the production was being on set every day. Seeing the actors playing scenes like real music videos was especially special to him.
“It felt like being with someone who already had experience in the music industry.
“Expect raw talent, amazing music and good vibes. I also hope people see the lesson of resilience that’s portrayed in the show. Let’s support local content. I believe that there’s a lot of stories we have to tell- Famous being one,” he concludes.