Imperial Blue was conceived by two British film-makers, David Cecil (Producer) and Dan Moss (Director), who had years of experience working in Uganda, including at Kampala Film School. The plan was to produce an ambitious feature film with a team of African and European professionals, who would train a group of apprentices on set. Far from being a student film, however, the production would be aimed at an international audience in its aesthetics, concepts and commercial viability.
After an initial draft of the screenplay was completed in May 2016, Cecil and Moss joined forces with Ugandan producer Semulema Daniel Katende and together they launched an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign. Two British companies, the David Game College Group and Artcore International, came on board with additional financial assistance and pre-production began in November 2016.
With assistance from local partners we managed to secure high-quality filming equipment and affordable accommodation in Kampala, ahead of the shoot. Locations were secured in western Uganda, in the city of Fort Portal and around Ndali village in the Rwenzori Mountains. We were both methodical and ambitious in our casting, resulting in key roles for heavyweight Ugandan actors, including Esteri Tebandeke (Queen of Katwe), Abby Mukiibi (Last King of Scotland) and Andrew Benon Kibuuka (Sometime in April). Nicolas Fagerberg, a rising Swedish-US star, took the main part of anti-hero Hugo Winter.
The European crew consisted of the Director of Photography, the Camera Operator, the Production Designer and the Stand-by Art Director; they were sourced through online forums and the Director’s network. The rest of the crew were Ugandan and were attracted to working on Imperial Blue by the prospect of getting hands-on experience in senior roles on an international feature.
Filming commenced in early February and was immediately beset by problems – some predictable and some uncontrollable. Most of the crew faced down the various risks to their health and managed to keep working despite malaria, typhoid, digestive crises, et cetera. The road to the forest and village location was extremely perilous and several times the entire cast and crew were nearly wiped out by careless drivers. Furthermore, setbacks to the schedule meant some very intensive work schedules, culminating in a 48 hour session at the end of the shoot.
While the Ugandan cast and crew were celebrating the ‘wrap’ on this 6-week endurance test in the forest, the European crew travelled to the UK to shoot the London scenes. Thanks again to our wonderfully helpful network, we were able to capture the footage we needed and complete the shoot on schedule.
With post-production underway, we are looking forward to bringing you the results of what has been an exciting, emotional and, above all, rewarding experience. We would like to offer our gratitude to all the cast, crew, investors, crowd-funders, supporters, partners and friends who have helped us to get this far.
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