Now, I wouldn’t go as far as to call Jenny Kandenge a Jack of All Trades (that’s scum, leading to bad quality of work) but this writer and director have consistency and determination that one needs to last in the Namibian Film and Theatre Industry.
The award-winning playwright’s talent and determination to excel should serve as motivation to many who want to dig in on the pie that is Namibian entertainment industry. She has staged about 4 theatre plays at UNAM and one at the National Theatre of Namibia assisted in directing the upcoming feature film ‘The White Line’ and recently launched ‘Untitled’, a web series she wrote under the direction of Lavinia Kapewasha.
Kandenge recently came back from a 6-month long Film Workshop in South Africa (she also wrote and directed a short film there) and Namib Insider had a talk with her on all things theatre, film and all the quirky details that make her unique.
Talk a bit about your experience at the Workshop you attended in SA earlier this year?
It was life-changing, stressful yet exciting. I wouldn’t trade those 6 months for anything because I learned so much about the film industry. The ups and downs made me stronger and the SA hustle taught me that you have to fight for your dreams.
During the workshop, you worked on a short film. What is it about?
It’s a romance film, very different from most of my work but it was a challenge in itself. The film portrays two different sides of a failed relationship, you see the past and present. I always struggle to explain my work but the film is like Blue Valentine.
What is your greatest achievement in the film industry to date?
I started a film last year but my greatest achievement would be ‘Untitled’, the web series which was recently screened under my production company with Lavinia Kapewasha, Dark Crown Productions.
Which particular filmmaker has influenced you the most?
Issa Rae (America) and Mmabatho Montsho (South Africa).
Would you say your filming style is influenced by them?
No, not really. I’d like to believe that I have my own style and that it is still developing.
Do you have any advice for young filmmakers like yourself?
Do the research and find a mentor, I was fortunate enough to have one of the best directors as a mentor in both film and theatre. Don’t be afraid to fail. I’m still learning myself.
Are you working on more film scripts right now?
Yes, I am. I have a little surprise planned for later in the year.
What projects you are currently working on? Which project is going to release first in the coming days?
I have a play coming in October, nothing anytime soon but I’m excited about that one.
What is it about?
It’s a thriller, of course… It’s about revenge, sisters, poison, murder, kidnapping and it has a major twist. That’s all that I’m saying right now.
What are some bad habits that you’ve seen actors develop that you’ve had a hard time dealing with?
Actors thinking that they know everything 🙄 you never stop learning.
Was there ever a show you directed that was miscast? In other words, have you ever regretted casting certain people for certain roles? Or have you been pretty spot on in your casting?
So far I have been pretty spot on in my casting, I would rather spend a month getting the right actor to play a character than just cast the next person. Thank goodness I don’t have any miscasts to date.
Difficult as it is, what is your favourite play?
‘The Nut House’ hands down.
This ‘n That
On what do you spend the most: clothes, accessories, perfume, underwear, or anything else?
Food and notebooks, I have a weird obsession with buying notebooks.
What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?
‘500 Days of Summer’ by Marc Webb and ‘Closer’ by Mike Nichols. Yes, I like romance movies, you’d think it a would-be thriller.
What’s wrong but sounds right?
I don’t know, I’m gonna pass that question.
What’s the best/worst practical joke that you’ve played on someone or that was played on you?
When I was on ‘The White Line’ feature film, one particular day, one of the producers called me, being all serious. The entire time I was panicking, thinking I had done something wrong, turned out he was trying to freak me out. I’m yet to get them back for doing that shit to me.
Who do you go out of your way to be nice to?
No one. I treat people the way they treat me, but generally, I try to be respectful to everyone I meet.
What “old person” things do you do?
I love drinking tea even in the heat. I knit sometimes and I’m very forgetful, the reason why I have so many notebooks and sticky notes to remind me of things I have to do.
Should kidneys be able to be bought and sold?
What’s something you really resent paying for?
Contact lenses, glasses, pads and tampons. Like why?!
What was the most unsettling film you’ve seen?
‘Blade Runner’ by Ridley Scott. I had to watch it four times before I completed it. I couldn’t understand it, yet I kept watching.
When was the last time you face palmed?
I do that every day… so today?
Which of your vices or bad habits would be the hardest to give up?
Overthinking, stressing and I have this thing of biting my lips when nervous. This is not a good thing when I have lipstick on…
Where are you not welcome anymore? Why?
I’m welcome everywhere or so I think.
What fashion trend makes you cringe or laugh every time you see it?
I don’t keep track of fashion trends honestly, that’s a full-time job.
So, did you like answering my long list of questions?
They were a lot, but it was fun answering them. They were very random though…
(Kandenge with ‘Trauma,’ her first novel)