Lights, Camera, Action! That’s all I can say to sum up Amanda Ranganawa’s everyday life. The young filmmaker has written over 15 scripts, some of which have already been sold and produced while others are yet to make it to the big screen. She has starred in several films and dramas such as Broken Lives, Smoking Gun, and All She Wants to mention a few.
Amanda has always been passionate about film, mimicking Nigerian actresses such as Genevieve Nnaji and Patience Ozokor as a young girl. Now she is indeed living her dream, read her full story here. When we published Amanda’s story a few months ago, a skit from a film she was making had gone viral. We’re happy to announce that production for Depth of Emotions is complete and the film will be released soon! Amanda not only wrote and directed the film, she is also one of the lead actresses. I recently watched a sneak peek of the trailer and was compelled to ask for more details.
Tell us more about the film Depth of Emotions. What inspired you?
Depth of Emotions was inspired by a real-life story. I heard that a girl lost her womb due to fibroids and her boyfriend still went on to marry her. That’s as far as l heard. There and then l was hooked and inspired. So, l took it upon myself to tell this love story in my own way with my own version of events.
I felt l needed to write about a strong male character who truly stands up for his woman when she loses something as precious as her womb. I wanted to give women hope that strong men who know how to love and commit do exist. I also wanted to give hope to ladies that infertility is not the end of the world. You still have your whole life to live, and it can be as happy as you make it.
Another important thing that l wanted to bring out was the issue of fibroids which affects women from the age of 16 years upwards. They mostly occur in Black women. If fibroids are severe, they can cause fertility issues. Most times in our culture, we think kuroyiwa (witchcraft) and in our religion, we call it the “spirit of barrenness.” So, l thought l should address this medical condition and help other women in the process.
How was the production of the film?
The film was produced by McLara Multimedia Productions in association with Tatenda Studios and Pikicha Afrika. We shot it in Mutare, my hometown. I had a lot of support from Mutare businesspeople and families.
This is the synopsis:
The film tells a romantic story based on the life of Grace, a young woman who loses her womb due to a fibroids removal surgery that goes wrong. Grace’s boyfriend, Ryan, decides to stand by her and goes on to marry her, much to the dismay and disapproval of his family. Depth of Emotions looks at issues of fibroids, love, barrenness, adoption, surrogacy and our African perspective towards marriage and children in a home. The movie questions the depth of love of two lovers and hence poses the same question to society: How deep does your love go? It stars Amanda Ranganawa, Simbarashe Chapola, Joseph Dereck Hakurimwi, Lynette Harahwa, Everjoyce Mahachi, Barbara Vhengedza and Precious Mzulu.
The major challenge that l faced during production was funding the project from my own pocket. Yeah, that was stressful because everything becomes your burden. l hope young filmmakers like myself get financial assistance to shoot more productions.
What is the best part of the film?
For me, the highlight of the movie was the wedding scene. I wanted to create a real wedding scenario. With the whole wedding gown, suits, venue, decor, fruit cake, makeup, rings, guests, etc. I felt that l owed it to myself as a producer to show a real wedding setup in a film.
How did you feel when the skit went viral?
When the wedding skit which shows the father of the groom insulting the bride for being childless went viral, l was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t expect it at all. I was very grateful because it caused a huge discussion on the internet about infertility. So, l was really happy about that. I pray the film goes viral too, and hopefully women can get free treatment for fibroids.
Where can we watch the film?
There is going to be a red-carpet premiere of Depth of Emotions at Golden Peacock Villa Hotel in Mutare on the 28th of January 2023. The premiere is starting at 4 pm–8 pm. The after-party will be from 8 pm–11 pm.
How do you come up with your scripts? What inspires your storylines?
Interesting question. Well, l hear characters in my head. They talk to me. They approach me and tell me who they are. The characters show me how they speak, walk, laugh, love, fight, eat, sleep, drive, work… everything. Then they ask me to put them on paper. As l put them on paper, they guide me. They introduce me to their physical environment, their social setup, religious beliefs, families, responsibilities, education, moral compasses, etc. When I’m writing, something comes over me and drives me to respect the characters in my head who will be saying, “Hey, put me on paper. I deserve to come alive on paper and on-screen”. As a writer, l have to respect that.
There is a balance between fiction and reality in my stories. All my film scripts are based on reality. They are about what l have seen, heard, read, learned, or experienced. Whereas my stories and poems can be fictional at times.
How much film work have you done to date?
I have written over 15 film scripts, ten short films and five TV series. I produced All She Wants. That was my first film. Then l produced Amwene, a YouTube comedy series. After that Ranganawa Sisters Comedy Skits, followed by Sins of the Father, which I produced with my young sister for ZBC TV. l then wrote Kushata KweMoyo which was aired on Africa Magic DStv Channel 198. After that l focused on producing online TV shows. Smoking Gun, a ZBC TV action series, followed after. Then l produced Depth of Emotions, a romantic film. After that l did Broken Lives, a television series with Nakai Tsuro as the locations manager, and an actress called Caroline.
Would you trade film for anything?
Ummm no. You don’t trade your inborn gift for anything. It’s the spirit in you that God gave you… the seven talents that you were born with. You embrace the gift and make your Creator proud.
Does being a female in a male-dominated industry come with more pros than cons?
Working in a male-dominated industry can be tricky. It has its positives and negatives. The positive part is that some male filmmakers are very kind, supportive, encouraging, protective, loyal and very happy to see you grow and prosper. On the other hand, the negative part is that some men can use you, undermine you, deny you opportunities, refuse to pay you, degrade you and even sexually harass you. So you have to be careful about the type of male filmmakers you associate yourself with. And as a woman, you need to stand your ground and fight for your place in the Arts industry. I definitely encourage women to avoid being taken advantage of by working with other women as much as possible. Learn from other women. Stick with other women. And most importantly build your own brand and make your own projects.
You include women in most of your projects. Is this intentional?
Yes, l do involve women in my productions because l want to protect them from the pitfalls of the industry. They say when you know better, you do better. Well, in my case, when you know better, you protect others.
I think a lot of women are taking up crew work such as writing, directing, producing, etc. The challenge is with those who don’t want to learn the crew work. They just want to act. That can limit you as an artist because knowing how to act isn’t always enough. You need to know how to do the production work, too.
What does the future look like for you?
My plan involves helping the film industry in my city to continue growing. My goals and aspirations are to one day be an international actress, producer and writer.
Phoebie Shamiso Chigonde is a journalist passionate about gender equality, social development programmes and grassroots-based solution seeking initiatives. She has a passion for women and community development. Phoebie is also a radio personality at a regional commercial radio station, a platform that enables her to network with like-minded women, journalists and activists as she continues to document and tell the story of the ordinary woman from the lens of that very ordinary woman.