The scripts might just be getting started, but our time together is officially over. I had less than two weeks to teach screenwriting and concept development, and so today, we just went over some last minute formatting details to make sure everyone was comfortable using the free screenwriting software Celtx. I’ll be giving out homework assignments for the next few months and expect completed screenplays by mid-February, but basically this was it. The course will continue virtually until then, so there was unfortunately no certificate ceremony (that will come next year). The students did, however, surprise me with an impromptu roast to see us off.
Apparently, I gave them a plenty of material. Everyone surrounded a couple of our students who started into a little performance. Fabrice (the writer of our 2010 hit film Knock Knock Who’s Dead) played me, sitting in front of everyone and commanding the rules of the trade in my distinctly Canadian accent. Then an eager student would pitch “me” their idea for a feature film, which would be ripped apart with my French malapropisms or newly minted catch phrases. “You have to do better than that if you want your certificate!” or, my favourite, “That’s not a story, that’s your schedule for next week!”
The class really came together and will undoubtedly be leaning on each other for the coming months. We’re also going to organize monthly screenings for the students to watch and dissect films together. The biggest news, however, is that we finally decided to pool our minimal resources and rent our own proper office space. More than an administrative hub, it will also be a small and quiet space for the students to work on their scripts. The finances depend on a contract I re-signed with a phone company to finally finish our CinéMobile, so here’s hoping everything comes together over the next few weeks.
As I see what we accomplished this round, and the groundwork we’ve laid for the future, I’m reminded of all the people who made this year possible. Here in Burundi, I once again could not have done everything without our executive Director Papy Jamaica, our Administrative Coordinator Joseph Kapoma, our KinoBu Director Rudy Kimvuidi, our local production partners and everyone who lent us their time and/or equipment. There are also all you people who donated to our IndieGoGo page and made this year, and now the office, possible. Not to mention my wonderful wife Bridget, whose presence in Bujumbura was sorely missed this year (by me and the students!). And finally, my 2012 Canadian troopers who were on the ground, starting with my dad who made the trek and was always willing to lend a hand, and especially Lysandre Leduc-Boudreau who was a great help by my side for the whole trip.
The day ended with a high note when I was able to distribute T-Shirts to all the students that were generously donated (again) by The Sam Group in Ottawa. It means a lot that the students don’t walk away empty handed, and our family photo is always a great reminder of how things can really come together in the end, even if there are plenty of headaches along the way.