As a child, my closest friends lived on pages and screens. As an independent filmmaker and creative, it gives me great joy to create content for pages and screens. I particularly enjoy working on projects that challenge perceptions and encourage creative solutions to social dilemmas; like that one film I directed about a sophomore university student trying to adopt her little brother, or the other one I edited about a percussion group from the slums in Nairobi who got invited to play for Queen Elizabeth II. Editing is my favourite thing. My work has allowed me to collaborate with filmmakers and companies from across the globe- Kenya, America, Germany, China, Estonia, ... soon, the world over!
The Long Bio!
When I was younger I thought I would be a librarian. My mother, a high school teacher, would bring home literal stacks of books that I had to finish reading within two weeks (or else!). My dream was to live in a place where I could be surrounded by books with no due dates (ha!). Later I decided to be a literature evangelist (because Jesus). That didn't last long and gave way to a brief stint after reading Gifted Hands when I thought I would be a neurologist like Ben Carson. Thank God that dream was short-lived (as my patients might have been if I did not kill that dream). When I was done with High School I settled on a News reporter.
I joined university (Daystar University- training sunburnt servant leaders- woohoo!) where I promptly changed my mind about being “Weslie Onsando reporting live…” because I actually wanted to live. Reporters tend to rush toward danger and that wasn't really my style. Besides, if it bleeds it leads and I would much rather focus on more positive things. While at Daystar I received an education in first jobs (call centre: I learned to type- fast) 2nd jobs (Radio Station production intern- still using those sound editing skills to date. Thank you Eric!) and living alone ( I don’t recall a time I was ever so broke, or happy).
I did pretty well in my writing, audio and video editing classes and in the end graduated with a B.A in Print and Electronic Media. After 6 months of hunting about, my 3rd job at a Publishing House found me (books with no due-ftw!).
Storymoja Publishers was my career home for about a year. We were (they still are) in the business of publishing relevant and exciting local literature, mainly for children. There I got to organize and set a national record for most people reading out loud on the same day from the same text (approx. 86,400) and I got to organize two very successful Hay Festivals. The Storymoja Hay Festival is an annual festival of ideas. For four days, Storymoja turns the Railways Sports Grounds into a temporary tented city where art, culture, music and ideas are celebrated through talks, interactive discussions, spoken word, drama, music and dance (can you tell how many times I’ve used that sentence?).
So anyway, through the festival I got to polish up my people skills (you try leading a team of at least 30 university students to do ANYTHING together for four days) and PR skills (I ran the media campaign for the 2011 festival, landed the company prime time interviews on all except one of Kenya’s major local stations, the leading national newspaper and got over 4300 articles/mentions about the festival online- Forbes inclusive). I also got to meet and hang out with some of the, for lack of a better term, coolest writers and orators in the world: Ben Okri, Peter Moore, Beth Lisick, Neil Shah to name, ahem, but a few. Best of all I got to work with and learn from the most dedicated and passionate reading promoters I’ve met in my life. Work at SM didn’t really feel like job, more like a calling.
Storymoja was wonderful but I still had an itch that only the FinalCut could scratch so off to Al Is On Productions to work as a video editor for Mali- one of Kenya's top TV dramas. It aired 3 times a week but I worked hard 5 days a week to make it happen. While working as a full-time editor I was also working as a freelance editor and somehow managed to co-produce and edit my first short film- "Spilled." I wanted more.
Cue film school applications, film school acceptance and consequent upheaval to Austin, Texas from Nairobi, Kenya. 3 years later, my MFA in film and media production is just on the horizon. I have written, pre-produced, produced, assistant-directed, directed and edited my way through the past three years and I am head over heels in love with the process. I love filmmaking. I will probably be doing this until my fingers fall off and I cannot do it anymore. I especially like editing, on Avid, which I've heard isn't usual.