On Making Films


A young woman in a yellow dress and a young girl in a print african dress in a scene in a film, staring at something off screen. White walls in the background with a few photos and paintings on it.

About the film collective I founded

Why I created the film collective I picked the name Sisi Film Collective after asking for opinions, including a poll in the fediverse. People liked the sound of Sisi, which translates to ‘Us’ in Kiswahili, because it has a musical feel. Perhaps it makes you think of “Cissy”, or “Sissy” as in sister. So that’s … Read more
A black man in his twenties holding a digital camera, the canon mv890. The camera is in the foreground, hiding his face such that only the eyes are visible.

When Film Imitates Art

I wrote this article in 2013, for an online journal, and well, someone asked me how I started out recently and I promised to give her this article because it contains a bit of my initial journey in film making in Uganda, so I am posting it here. If you are reading this in the … Read more
A film training session, a woman with her back to the camera, holding a Rode NTG-2 Microphone, wearing Sony Headphones

On film training and why I love mentoring emerging artists

I’m celebrating 10 years in film business and marking the moment with a series of blog posts on my journey. In this article I reflect on why I offer free mentorship and training to emerging filmmakers.
A woman using a mobile phone, set on a tripod, to film

Why my film crew is full of women

I’m celebrating ten years in arts business with a series of blog posts, and in this one I discuss why I have so many women in my film crew, and some of the challenges I face.
A close up of a filmmaker, with a camera, BMPCC 4K in the extreme foreground

How I Successfully Grew an Arts Business Over 10 Years

This month, I celebrate ten years in business and I want to mark the moment with a series of blog posts on what worked for me. Perhaps you’ll learn a thing or two that will help you succeed as a creative entrepreneur.

The Great Science in African Divination Systems is not Science Fiction

I discuss the relationship between African divination, hi-tech science, development on the continent.
A CGI art of a robot in a short film, designed to look like an African spiritual mask

Sci-fi Short Film: Kifaro

A scifi short film, about a man who sends a killer robot after his wife and her secret lover.
A digital drawing of a man, close up on face, wearing green kitenge cloth, made using Blender 3D software

14 Free Software For Every Artist

This is a list of free software for artists. I have used them for writing, film editing, photo editing, audio production, visual effects and digital arts
Dilman Dila doing office work

How I quit my job to become a full-time artist

Ten years ago, I quit my job to become a full-time artist. Was it a wise decision, or utter folly?

How to Successfully Become a Full-time Artist

I bought a bottle of wine in Durban, South Africa, in March 2015. It’s cheap, cost about a hundred rand, but at that time I was going through very tough times and wanted something to use in celebration when the tide turns. Today, I’m seriously thinking about opening that bottle. I wonder if it’s still good, for I travel frequently and switch off the fridge to save power. I want to celebrate for 2018 is a ten-year anniversary.

Short Films

I love creating short films, mostly because I can work on them as a one man crew. Film is a complex art. I sometimes think it is not even art, because it requires a lot of people working together to create it, and it relies so much on technology and on money. Jean Luc Godard once said that film will only become an art if the tools of making it are as cheap as pencil and paper. I think it will become art only if it becomes possible for one individual to create it with tools that are cheaper than pencil and paper. We are getting there, as cameras and software get friendlier for one-person-crews, as computing power gets cheaper, we are getting there. In most of the short films here, I was the only crew, doing everything from lighting to camera work to editing. It’s crazy fun

Move-in: My first short film with CGI special effects

https://youtu.be/aMtfeaZGSi4 At the end of last year, I started to learn CGI to improve on the visual effects of my sci-fi and fantasy films. I set out to produce at least four short films this year to master CGI, and this film, Move-in, is the first. It has a simple story, about a couple who move … Read more

How to donate to and support my films

I make science fiction films set in Uganda (East Africa) because we are often ignored in visualizations of the future. When they include us, we are portrayed negatively, or as victims, or our stories are told through their point of view. I want us all to dream, to imagine ourselves in pasts and futures not written by someone else, only then can we take control of our destiny.

Why I’ll Focus on Making Films for Online Distribution

My New Year resolution is to make a short film every month. I started very early, with this scifi/horror, What Happened to Jilted Lovers, and I hope to carry the momentum into the new year. I had this same ambition way back in 2008, the year I quit a salaried job to focus on writing and … Read more

How to Enjoy A Holiday in Nigeria

Everything they told me about Nigeria turned out to be true. They are loud people. They talk as though they are quarreling, much like Indians and Nepalis. I have a theory that a combination of high temperatures, humidity, and eating too much pepper (piro in South Asia, pepe in Nigeria), gives one a big mouth … Read more
A still from the TV series, Love Makanika

Call for Actresses and Actors

Dilstories is in the pre-production for a TV comedy series, tentatively titled The Love Makanika. We are seeking actors and actresses for the lead roles in this offbeat comedy. We will not hold an open-call audition. Rather, interested persons should send us an email (see details below), and we shall then contact potential candidates to … Read more

The Total Agony of Being in Love

A few days back, my facebook status read: Dear God, please help me. I want to be funny, but the only jokes I can come up with have either sex or poop in them. I don’t know why I’m fascinated with the two, but I also do not know why they are taboo. It’s something … Read more
A lady volunteer at the commonwealth short story prize celebration in Kampala

The Liebster Blog Awards

Sometime towards the end of last year, Matt Ewens nominated my blog for the Liebster Blog Awards. Yay! It humbled me, for this guy, Matt, who I hardly know, but who I met in a google plus writing group,  thought my blog is worth a read. You can see list of nominees here. http://mattrobertewens.wordpress.com/ There are rules … Read more

Love Made Me Run Mad

The other day, I was looking through my archived videos of Nepal, trying to decide what to delete to create space in my backup hard drive. I found this interview of Binod, a resident of Saptari district, a man who ran mad after his love affair with an upper caste girl came to an abrupt … Read more
A teenage boy, about nineteen, holding a microphone close to his mouth, rapping on stage in a bar, low lights. TV in the background.

The Troubled Children of Uganda

To continue the story of the pregnant girl and the monster teacher (read it here), I agreed to be her father. She wanted to make money out of a man who had impregnated her, and she wanted me to pretend being her father. She was only fourteen years old, and I battled with my conscience … Read more

Who Will Tell this Tale?

A few years back, I used to have a certain kind of anger against foreigners who came to Uganda (and by extension other ‘poor’ countries) to make films. “Who gives them the right to tell our stories?” me and other filmmakers/artists would ask ourselves in our silly workshops. “They are only going to misrepresent us.” … Read more


I have no words. I once read this story in the New Vision, and I heard a call to make a social action documentary, about how the government of Uganda ignores certain diseases, and focuses on diseases that donors say it should focus on. They pour money into TB, AIDS, Malaria, and now on maternal … Read more

After one week of shooting The Felistas Fable

I already wrote about it earlier, in the post “I suffer to entertain you.” But after one week of trying to make the film, The Felistas Fable, I just can’t help but to write about it again. The pains of film making — you go through a lot of pain to raise money for the … Read more

This is not funny! It’s a horror!

It seems a life time ago, yet it was only 2006. I was nearing my thirtieth birthday, and I had failed to make it as a novelist. I had to rethink my future, my ambitions, either give up on the dream or breath new life into it. I chose the latter. I set my sights … Read more

What Will I Do Before I Die?

A bucket list? That list of things I must do before I die? — I do not remember at any point in my life making such a list, but sometime during my teenage years, an insane desire to write novels gripped me, and this flared into a ridiculous quest to make a living out of … Read more

Open Fly at the Airport

Last week, I got an email from the most important documentary film festival, www.idfa.nl. They accepted my first feature length piece of work, Untouchable Love, in their Docs for Sale section. How I wish I had finished it in time to meet the deadline for the main festival! (I’m reading this in October 2017, as I rework this blog, … Read more

Working like a slave 🙁

Feeling too tired to write anything. Blame it all on this current job. Why do we have to work at all? Why can’t we just lie on the beach and wait for manna to fall from heaven to feed us? Why can’t we just dream and get rich from it? Why do mean people like … Read more

I Suffer to Entertain You

Recently, I got a job directing the NTV Series, “The Hostel.” So far, it is the most demanding job I’ve ever met, so unlike anything I’ve ever done. Honestly, for a moment or two, I keep wondering just what it is I’ve gotten myself into. It is the first project where I will not be … Read more
Two male actors on a theater stage, staring at each other

Strange Stories of Adultery

A behind-the-scenes look at one of Uganda’s most famous short films, What Happened in Room 13. The director talks about his inspirations for the film.

The Secret Life of Adulterers

Add Your Heading Text Here A man sneaks into a seedy hotel room. Moments later, his best friend’s wife joins him. Just as they start to make love, an accident kills her. And now he has to hide the body in order to keep his adulterous affair a secret. That’s the premise of what some … Read more

Happy-sad to be back home

Finally, I’m back home. I don’t know if I’m happy or sad. Maybe both. I returned at a period when the economy is in crisis. Inflation is soaring and the value of the shilling is on free fall. I can’t believe how expensive life is here, how much I pay for transport, for basic commodities, … Read more

My Friend is a Prostitute

This is a goodbye Nepal post. It’s been almost twenty hectic months. Now, three documentaries later, I’m finally going home. Today, I have a screening of one of the three docs, a feature length – my first feature length piece of work – Untouchable Love. Read about it here http://untouchablelovenepal.blogspot.com/ and follow the cause on … Read more

My Favourite Inter-racial Movies

“Mississippi Masala” (1991) I like this one very much. It’s a beautiful story, makes you believe in love, and many say it’s the first time that Denzel Washington undressed and kissed in a movie! I put it at the top of my favorite inter-racial movies partly because it deals with a Ugandan family (and I’m … Read more

Real Life Quoting the Movies

The first time I tried watching Good Will Hunting, I didn’t get past the first thirty minutes. Mostly because I at first imagined it had something to do with hunting and I was disappointed on learning it was some boring stuff about mathematics. But I heard a lot about it, how great a film it … Read more

Is Ejaculate a Taboo Word?

Funny thing I noticed while reading Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame – a book I wish I had read while I was much younger. It’s such fun, with such a sense of humor that I wonder why I have never been encouraged to read it until now? I only picked it off the shelves … Read more

The Return of Uncle Benon

This is a big step forward. I like it. I like the narration. Bravo gentlemen, and I particularly like that they are calling it kinauganda. Best brand name you can ever think of! — You May Also Like: first day shooting the quiet before the storm Read My Short Stories and the edit begins The … Read more

One of Those Gloomy Days

I thought they were gone, but today I woke up feeling real down. After a week of making a ton of grant applications, I can’t help feeling down. The problem with applying for grants is that it makes you feel like a beggar, and for people who have low self-confidence (blame it on the upbringing!) … Read more

Do You Believe in the Love of the Silver Screen?

Well, I watched this brilliant movie, ‘Definately, Maybe’, the other day, and it’s these kinds of movies that make me wonder if love of that kind is found in everyday life. The same people who made it were behind ‘Love Actually’, which is one of my favourite movies, and which inspired me to attempt writing … Read more

The Pains of Documentary Making

Yesterday, one of the young men I interviewed for the documentary, Untouchable Love, called me. I was happy, and wanted to learn a little bit of news from him, since I had not heard from them since October, when I did the interviews. I had tried to call him a few days back, but he … Read more

Operation go Back Home!

Yesterday, we celebrated the end of the winter season, and the start of spring. It is supposed to get warmer, and I thought today there would be some sunshine so I can wash my clothes, but I opened my windows and f!, all gray, with mists hanging above the ground, sneaking between the branches of … Read more

Close Encounters of What Kind?

Just watched that Spielberg movie, and while the first bit was a thriller, the ending was so stupid. Well, I was left wondering why he made the film in the first place, just to show an encounter? Just for this bum to get to go to space? I didn’t like the ending because we got … Read more

Cakes at 3am

I woke up with a burning urge to write a story about a man pursuing a girl who bakes cakes – he is working at his desk when he catches the scent of cakes in the air, and he follows it to the next office where he finds this girl delivering birthday cake to a … Read more

Becoming a Native?

I can’t believe I asked a girl who I’ve never met to marry me! I mean the only reason I have a crush on her is because she is my first ever fan, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, what a great biography it would make!’ When some reporter asks me years later, after I’m rich and … Read more

Laughter Sells More Than Horror

Oh no! Felistas is back in my life! I was kind of hoping I would never run into her again, because I don’t like her story, but she crept back – or rather she jumped straight out of the blue and grabbed my neck and is now strangling me with a promise of success. Well, … Read more

Another Rejection

I woke up this morning with a sense of exhaustion and that feeling you get while watching a soccer match, when the beginning is so intense and so exciting and one team goes three up, and then the last fifteen minutes they start to defend and what started out as a really exciting game finishes … Read more

After the Storm?

Is it quiet? I think before and after the storms, there is always a strange calmness, a moment when silence grips the world like the gentle touch of a lover (what kind of imagery is that? – so crappy) Anyway, you know what I’m talking about? Well, I feel like that now. But I think … Read more

The Quiet Before the Storm

Now I know how sportsmen feel like just before a world cup final! I’m in that place, between inactivity and activity, between darkness and light, knowing something is going to happen, and even knowing what is going to happen, and just biding my time for it to happen. That inevitability of it all. Tuesday 5th … Read more

First Day Shooting

It’s been nearly two years since I had a real shooting day. The last being that fiasco, ‘Listening to Her Voice’, which I know I was doing because this girl couldn’t return the attention I showed her. I made it sort of to vent my fury? Or what was that about? And I’m probably making … Read more