Shooting on a Shoestring



Remember when Steven Spielberg was the only director worth his weight in celluloid and the thought of producing and directing your own full length documentary on a camcorder was as laughable as Jack Nicholson losing an Oscar to Pauly Shore?
So thought the Boomers, the Xs and the earliest Ys but fast forward to Generation Z and you will find a bracket so comfortable with looking and expressing themselves that they do nothing less.
That is not to say that Vilho Nuumbala, director, producer and star of Restyle, a DIY documentary, is typical. Far from it. Indeed, while the 23 year old’s friends in film wait for funding to fall like E.T from the sky; Nuumbala, with the grand total of zero Nam Dollars, edits, jump cuts and pans his way through Windhoek and Swakopmund zooming in at the quirkiest angles to explore local fringe, rock and skater culture in an off-beat montage of life through his lens.
“There are so many people waiting for paradise to open and provide but that’s not going to happen so I have to do it myself,” says Nuumbala who shot his entire film on an over-the-counter camcorder whose battery life and disc space allowed him to film for just an hour at a time before having to recharge.
“DIY filmmaking is about taking what you have and producing something beyond it and I hope my film inspires people to do same.”
Like most of his generation who have the soundtrack to their lives constantly thrumming in their ears, Nuumbala documentary was inspired by music; particularly the sounds of P.O.D, local band, Multisonus, and the Deftones.
Nuumbala also cites viewing local creative, William Sengdara’s, film “2009” as a point of inspiration in as much as Sengdara was doing something so different from the local filmic compositions Nuumbala was used to.
As getting people interested in his project was a challenge, Nuumbala decided to manage and execute all aspects of the film; a feat that took him three years but is all part and parcel of the slick composition and savvy cinematography his documentary presents today.
“It’s like no one is really willing to help each other,” says Nuumbala. “It’s every man for himself and I decided to do this alone and make the slogan OneManArmy because people are always busy with something else and it wasn’t going to happen if I didn’t.”
To many Nuumbala is a familiar face that can often be seen zooming by on his skateboard, seemingly aimlessly, but understanding will dawn when one views Windhoek from every angle imaginable and otherwise.
“You may think I am just skating around aimlessly but I am actually searching for something,” says Nuumbala. “I may look like someone you always see around doing nothing but I am actually scouting locations and people.”
And what a scout he is, as his film zips from the Windhoek show grounds to the municipality to the ghost house to Katutura to Independence Avenue to Swakopmund and Maerua Mall in stunning, well thought out and suprising compositions with the main action flitting from one corner to the next, coming from behind then above and any which way he can imagine.
Though the film suffers from a lack of plot with a short bit about local skaters petitioning the city for a skate park so they can stop being harassed by the City Police, the hectic, random and energetic mode of the skaters and performers seems to forgive what would normally be a glaring oversight.
Nuumbala is currently distributing free copies of the film and if you are into art, music and the righteous in the random then this is certainly for you because despite zero budget and Nuumbala’s lack of filmic training, Windhoek has never looked this cool.
As for the future, Nuumbala “wants to tell Namibian stories and feature Namibian people in a more concept driven and structured film”.
And in terms of the viewers and before the screen fades to black there is only this: “It’s a beautiful world. Today is yours, get inspired. START SOMETHING!”
For a free copy of Restyle, Nuumbala’s DIY film, add him on Facebook or request one on the Restyle page.