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Yiata Pictures: Working to Promote the Eritrean Film Production Industry

Yiata Pictures is a young film production company that specializes in creating Eritrea-related films and clips. Working as photographers, editors, and film producers, the company’s founders, Zemenfes Tesfazghi and Siem Alaa’zar, share a passion for filmmaking and they are united by the vision of putting Eritrea’s film industry on the international map. They are also using their talents to encourage beginning artists and help youth change their lives through art. Today, Q&A welcomes Zemenfes and Siem.

  • Welcome, Zemenfes and Siem! Tell us a little bit about where it all began for you.
  • Zemenfes

Back in Germany, I worked as a photographer and filmmaker. I got into photography when I was just thirteen years of age. That was just my hobby back then. After I took various courses, I started working as a filmmaker and producer. I used to cover various YPFDJ events. However, I have always had the desire to come here [to Eritrea] and contribute something through my profession. That is where it all begins. I had the dream to someday share my knowledge and do a little which can be useful in the advancement of local film production. This is the goal. Nonetheless, in order to accomplish that there are many things that have to be done in the process.

  • Siem

Zemenfes came here with a vision. He wanted to help develop the local industry. He met with many other professionals prior to meeting with me. However, not many people understood what he was trying to do. Here, we are interested in how much money a video can get us. That is against what he is here for. When he shared his idea with me, I was 100% ready for it since it is for a good cause.
He came with many video tutorials and documents. He also conducted many courses which were very enlightening.

  • What makes Yiata Pictures unique?
  • Siem

At the moment, we have few staff members. We have to keep in mind that it has only been six months since the birth of Yiata Pictures. However, we have completed a number of short video clips, music clips, and advertisements for various institutions. One of the main things driving us is that we want our productions to be as different as possible. That is what we stand for. We try to introduce new faces to the entertainment industry. We have many talented young artists who haven’t been discovered yet. This is one of the many reasons why we don’t see much progress; we see the same artists featured in different videos. Also, this is Zemenfes’ idea. We try to provide a platform for undiscovered artists who may not have opportunities to follow their dreams. These artists do not have to pay for anything since we do all the shooting and pay the studio fees to make music videos. That way, we introduce new artists who can contribute to the field and make changes to their lives.

We also have worked on short pantomime videos. These videos try to tell stories with just actions and no sounds. We can often transmit clear messages with just actions. Remember that Chalie Chaplin didn’t make the world laugh with his words.

  • Zemenfes

We want to tell Eritrean stories. Regardless of whether it is music, film, or a photo, we can do it all. But in order to do that, we need to have talented and qualified artists. Unfortunately, not all of them have the requisite opportunities or support. I want to look out for those people. That way, we are changing an individual’s life and helping to develop the industry. We work hard to produce quality work.

When people ask us how we do our jobs, we are more than happy to discuss and we don’t hide information. We want to share all that we can with all those who are interested. That is the only way that we can achieve our goals.

  • Siem, how have the courses and materials from Zemenfes helped you?
  • Siem

I was working as a composer in a music studio. I was also working as a wedding photographer and video editor. However, despite my years of experience, there was still much that I had to learn about photography, shooting, cameras, and editing. The courses and tutorials have helped greatly. I have tremendously improved my skills, even though I had already spent considerable time in the profession.

Also, we need to have qualified professionals in order to reach the targets that we have set. We are trying to see the bigger picture here. As I told you, during these past six months, we have done short videos and clips. We need to expand our work and conduct larger projects. That is why we are beginning registrations for video shooting, editing, script writing and film directing classes on 1st December 2018. They will be set at a fair price which we expect that everyone who is interested in the field will be able to afford. That way, we all can benefit in achieving our vision.

  • If all goes well, what do you think your impact will be on the industry?
  • Zemenfes

There is a saying I’d like to share: “if you try to light an already lit candle with another lit one, it won’t blowout, it will only get brighter.” If we all believe in coming together as professionals and work for the advancement of our industry, I don’t think that there is anything that can stand in our way.

  • Can you compare local film production with international film production?
  • Zemenfes

This is just my opinion, but I don’t think we are even close to being compared. Many factors could be the reason. However, at the end of the day, we are still able to do great things with limited tools, if we have passion, desire, creativity, and work ethic.

The question is how much time do you invest? On average, the general standard is that a minute shoot requires one day. We don’t do that here. We do ten minutes for a one minute shoot! What can we realistically expect from that?

What we don’t see here is the bigger picture. Instead, we rush to complete our video and upload it to YouTube. We are preoccupied by the number of views and subscribers.
So for us, what we try to focus on is investing as much time as possible on our work in order to produce high quality.

  • Siem

Also, teamwork is important. Most of all, however, the field requires that a professional be disciplined. To get your work done properly and professionally, we need to be committed to our jobs. Again, as professionals, our competition shouldn’t be local, it should be international.

  • Thank you so much for your time. Good luck with everything!


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