Daisy Masembe is a 26-year-old Ugandan director, scriptwriter, graphics designer and editor living in Kampala. She loves the arts - music, painting and poetry. She deployed her talent to tackle COVID-19 misinformation through the Multichoice Talent Factory, a film academy set up by MultiChoice Group that is collaborating with the UN’s Verified initiative to help people access credible information and stem the flow of fake news. She produced a short movie focused on sharing information via social media.
Africa Renewal: Was misinformation, something you’ve experienced personally and was that the main motivation behind your interest in producing a Public Service Announcement (PSA) for the “Pause Before Sharing” campaign”?
Daisy Masembe: The thing about this day and age is that almost everyone has the ability to share information on anything by just a click of a button on their mobile phones. That is what makes it extremely dangerous. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s almost no way of regulating who spreads what information, yet the subject matter is very serious. It has made me more intentional and aware of the information I share.
I always, almost intuitively pause and think before I forward information now. I want to believe that even the people who have seen my PSA do the same.
The story in your PSA/film is about a boy. Can you tell us more?
I once heard someone say in a podcast that “every man was once a little boy that hung a towel around their neck and pretended to be Superman.” That hit home. Looking back at my own childhood, and growing up with brothers, they always strived for strength. If it wasn’t Superman, it was Power Rangers, the Hulk, or Spiderman. Even for us girls, it was the Cat Woman!
So, I chose to tell the story from a relatable point of view, seeking to “save the word” and equating it to the “strength” that comes with the maturity to verify information and save the world!
Was it easy to cast the actors? Were they paid or did they agree that it was for a good cause?
The cast was auditioned, selected and paid. But what made it special for me was that the young boy, Kyle Jeremiah, who plays the main character, is truly fascinated by comic action figures. So it wasn’t so hard getting him into character.
The fun fact is he really was frustrated in the scene where he lost the arm wrestle. He wasn’t just acting; he really was frustrated. Those who haven’t watched the film yet need to go see that shot. We decided to go with that cut because, luckily, the camera kept rolling and the emotions were so raw and so real. We had to calm him down later, but that moment painted for me the power of a relatable story!
Where did you film this and how did you choose the location? Was the setting important in shaping the message?
We filmed the main scenes at my late father’s house, and it allowed me to relive the memories of my brothers growing up there and dreaming of being superheroes.
What challenges did you face and was it difficult to show through action rather than use
dialogue to convey your message?
The challenges we encountered were more technical than artistic. Things like power outage, generator breakdown, curfew and things like that. But as far as executing the story as envisioned was concerned, that wasn’t hard. I had a great crew and cast.
What kind of impact do you hope this film will have on young people in your community?
I hope that people will begin to see sharing of information, especially on social media, as a serious issue that they ought to take responsibility for, lest they lead to loss of lives.
Besides the overall message about COVID-19 what do you hope that the audience will gain by viewing your film?
Responsibility. Even in our day-to-day lives, before spreading information, we need to pause and think.