Taking it international

Having worked with some of the biggest names in music, it is plain to see why Undjee Reggie Zaire from Reggie Films is more than just your average video director.

28 June 2019 | Art and Entertainment

We caught up with the hard-working filmmaker for him to share how his hobby turned into something that is contributing to the growth of Namibian music, and his new business ventures.

Like many other people, Zaire polished his video-directing skills through YouTube. He admitted that the moment he made his first music video was not exactly the same time he fell in love with the art of video directing. “At the time it was just for fun and it was back in 2011 – my last year of high school. I took a bit of a hiatus as I had to go to college and pursue a degree in Architectural Technology and Design at Northern Virginia Community College in the United States,” he shared.

His first commercially successful music video was Sally Boss Madam's Natural, a video he says opened up many doors for him in the entertainment arena. In his early days of shooting music videos, Zaire mentioned that on average he used to shoot one music video a month and this gradually increased to three or four per month. “That is when I quit architecture because I started making almost as much as I was earning at my nine-to-five job and it was easy to convince my parents of this decision,” said Zaire.

Zaire pointed out delivery, quality and affordable pricing as the key elements that have catapulted the success of his video production firm, Reggie Films. On charging less for quality work, Zaire mentioned that his rates are affordable because he wants to give an opportunity to every artist, regardless of their background, to be able to afford quality music videos and push their passion to the greatest it can possibly get.

“Before me there was just Desert Films for high-quality music videos and artists did not really have another option.

“I also do not hire a lot of staff, which makes it easier for me to charge less because I have fewer expenses in that regard,” he said.

Zaire added that he has learned something from keeping his crew small, stating that when there are many voices it's hard to reach an agreement that everyone will be happy with. “On set I am the director, the director of photography (cinematographer) and off-set, I still edit the footage that is why I refer myself as a filmmaker,” said Zaire.

Describing his style of storytelling, Zaire said he tries to avoid having clear storylines, the reason being that we have been told about storylines our whole lives and he believes videos with a storyline can be boring sometimes. “What I try to do is take the literal meaning of a song and get creative images that tell the story, instead of having a clear storyline. With my videos I try to do something different from the norm and I am glad to be working with artists who are open to new ideas,” he said. He emphasised that he wants to be able to take music videos in Namibia to a standard where people say, this does not look Namibian. “I love such compliments, they motivate me to always keep improving and refining my craft,” he said.

He mentioned working on projects with MTV, the Office of the First Lady and travelling around the country as some of his highlights of being a video director. He further stated that he was also on set with Nigerian rapper Ice Prince for KP Illest's Energy music video, an experience he said was amazing. “Ice Prince is the coolest celebrity I have met. For someone who has over three million followers on Instagram you would expect him to just come on set do his thing and leave but he was chilled; he was even telling me to relax,” he shared.

On entrepreneurship, Zaire recently launched his premium Za.ir honey bush Gin, a dream come true for him as he mentioned that he has always wanted to have his own alcoholic beverage. Za.ir honey bush Gin is handcrafted with nine ingredients, honey bush being the main ingredient. “This should be the only honey bush gin in the world.

“I wanted to create something that is purely Namibian with great potential of competing on an international stage.”

He admitted that venturing into the liquor business arena was a scary venture, but stressed that fear usually drives him to work hard and attain his goals with less disappointments. “The same drive and passion I have for music videos is the same drive and energy I am investing in my gin because I want this to be one of the brands from Namibia that is recognised internationally,”he said.

MICHAEL KAYUNDE

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