The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Bigaruka Left Football for Filming

In 2007, Hakim Bigaruka, a.k.a Hackman, stormed Mariam Ndagire's Bat Valley Theatre offices with his 'master script'.

Then 19 in S.4 vacation, with a two-page 'well written script', Bigaruka knew he was in for big money.

"I had watched Ndagire's film Down This Road I Walk and I knew that she would buy my film as her next hit," Bigaruka recalls, but he was in for a surprise.

Ndagire read the script in only 10 minutes and when a hopeful Bigaruka saw the smile on her face, he thought it was a done deal.

Politely, Ndagire told the young man, "Your script is extremely short, but [the] good news is, you have a story."

Unfazed, Bigaruka joined Ndagire's Uganda Film Network, marking his journey to the film industry.

How it started

In S.2, Bigaruka visualised himself as a movie actor because he had a creative mind.

"I decided to put these visions on paper and by the end of my O-level, I had written a film, Walking in the Shadows of Trouble,'" he states.

The script did not meet Ndagire's standards but Bigaruka's passion won her over. She gave him a Christopher Kean's How to Write a Selling Screenplay, to boost his writing skills.

"When she gave me that book, I concentrated on it and I made sure that I do not disappoint her," he recalls.

After two months of intense reading, Bigaruka went back to Ndagire's office [this time with more swagg] and presented a 67-paged script titled 'He is Mine'. Ndagire took him more seriously.

Tough choice: football or film

"I was a very good footballer and I had a bursary at Kisubi (St Mary's College Kisubi) for that cause, but I decided to quit football in S.5 in 2008 to concentrate on books and film," he says.

His passion for film burnt brighter than what he felt for football. Now Bigaruka, an Arsenal aficionado, devotes his time to script writing and directing.

Milestones

Since his first script, the second-year Information Systems student at Makerere University has not looked back. His breakthrough came in 2011 when Wilson Kitatta's Pearl Films bought his drama series 'High School', which will soon appear on local TV stations.

Bigaruka has since directed short movies Enyama and 180km, winning him Best Director at the 2010 and 2011 Ndagire Film Academy Awards respectively.

"My biggest achievement was the $1,000 that I won during Ndagire's Movie Furnace competitions as the best director of a movie called Bloody Sunset in 2011," he says.

And there is more. As an actor, Bigaruka has featured in short movies like Victim, High School and Tomorrow.

"My biggest project is the one I'm currently working on with Rwandan director, Joel Karekezi. The film is a pre-genocide act called Pardon to be released later this year, featuring big shots like Michael Wawuyo and Joel Okuyo."

Strong point

Bigaruka is a gifted man with a strong pen, acting and directing talent.

"Four years back, this boy was so green about film. But today, he is a teacher, a director, an actor and he is currently writing a book on screen play - and it all goes back to passion," says Ronnie Nkalubo, Bigaruka's friend.

He notes that Bigaruka's strong point is passion and love to learn.

Rising above the challenge

At a tender age, Bigaruka's family thought he was destined for failure when he started filming.

"My family wanted me to concentrate on books, but they have started appreciating my job and support me."

And he attributes their support to "patience is key".

"I was inspired by people like Abbey Mukiibi, Patriko Mujuuka and Mariam Ndagire and none of them has had an easy ride," he says.

Take on the industry

To Bigaruka, Uganda's film industry is lucrative but some people have not reaped from it because they enter the industry to make money other than passion.

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