Saturday, July 13, 2024

Abel Mutua: From Tahidi’s Freddie to one of Kenya’s top film producers

Affectionately known as ‘Mkurugenzi’, Abel Mutua has emerged as a distinguished figure in storytelling, scriptwriting and film directing.

With a remarkable career behind and in front of the camera, his talent has propelled him to fame and captivated millions of audiences.

His first upshot was his portrayal of Freddie in the renowned high school TV show Tahidi High. His performances caught the eye and made him among the standout actors in the comedy series.

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Almost a decade later, Abel Mutua became an accomplished film director. In addition, he cofounded Phil-It Productions alongside his fellow Tahidi High cast member, Philip Kariuki.

Some of his works include A Grand Little Lie, Headline Hitters, Celebrity First Encounters, Stories of My Life and the highly esteemed Click Click Bang. 

Abel Mutua started acting at a young age. He’d take part in school skits at the primary and secondary levels. In an interview, he revealed that he was always passionate about entertaining people.

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While his initial aspiration was to become a news anchor, a missed opportunity to enrol in a journalism class led him to the field of camera work and videography. He revealed that he enrolled late for journalism and found the class already at capacity.

“That is when I opted to do a course in camera work and videography. When I did this, my interest in film just grew and I found myself doing it full-time,” he said.

Abel Mutua graduated from the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication.

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His lucky breakthrough came one day when TV agents spotted and scouted him while acting. This was how Abel Mutua came to debut on Tahidi High. He has been featured in several films since then.

“I later did the show The Real Househelps of Kawangware, where we moved the show to air on Maisha Magic, a much larger platform. From there, I continued to direct and produce different shows, including Sue and Johnie, then went ahead to tell stories on my YouTube channel,” he remembered.

Reportedly, the storyteller earned approximately between Sh. 100,000 and Sh. 200,000 between 2010 and 2012 through his camera operation and scriptwriting work.

Speaking about the toughest challenge he has had in his career, Abel notes that COVID-19 took a toll on his business and career.

“Like the proverbial saying, we put all our eggs in one basket. It was a very tough time for us because all our projects were put on hold because of the pandemic, and we did not have a plan B.”

Abel ventured into online content creation at his wife’s suggestion, and that is how he started storytelling on his YouTube channel. Through it, he built more than an audience; a community of people resonating with his shared narratives.

“I must say that the reception has been very good, since this is a community of organic people who truly enjoy and consume our content,” he stated.

His Youtube channel has over 450,000 subscribers. In his first video on the channel, Mkurugenzi reminisced about crushing on singer Sanaipei Tande.

In 2022, Abel Mutua’s movie Click Click Bang made him a fortune worth Sh. 2.5 million. The film was screened to 2,500 Kenyans.

Abel Mutua: Our film ‘Click Click Bang’ made Sh. 9 million

“Everyone paid Sh. 1,000 as an entrance fee. So Sh. 2.5 million already is in the bag.”

Mutua notes that there is still much work to be done in the Kenyan film industry. He notes that while many are starting to consume Kenyan content more and more, there is still a lot of work to be done.

“First of all, as filmmakers in Kenya, we have agreed to work with what we have because there is barely any support from government bodies.”

He advises those who look to venture into film production not to give up due to financial constraints.

“Consistency is key. Do not lose focus or sway during the journey. Just remain focused and you will definitely see the fruits of your labour.”

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