Biniam Bimnet, a man who has dedicated most of his professional life to producing and documenting Eritrean media, is passionate to produce the best and competent works. In the over 30 years of his professional life, Biniam has recorded and produced video films that include feature films, documentary films and television serials. Biniam Binmet, a workaholic, started off his career at a photo studio and finally managed to have his own production company called BIS Video Productions. Q&A talks to Biniam who has done much in the film industry.
- Something to keep the mind off other things “Get him a job”
I started my profession as a camera man in 1988. I just did my matriculation exam and was on holiday. At a time when the youth was emotionally involved in the situation of our country, I remember we all used to stand together in our neighborhood listening to EPLF’s clandestine radio. As many young people used to run away from home to join the armed struggle, my mom was worried that I might do the same. She talked to my brother-in-law to try to get me something that would occupy my mind, and with their help I was able to get an opportunity to take lessons of photography at Adiss Zemen, a photography studio. Having that kind of opportunity honestly was one of the things that made me have passion for camera and become a cameraperson that would dream to achieve more in the field. I was so interested that I wanted to do more with the camera, which is one of the reasons I was able to know a lot about the field within a short period of time.
At the time, I was only a photographer. But it wasn’t long before I decided to rent my own studio. Soon after that, Eritrea got liberated which we celebrated in a way that no one can ever describe. Right after independence I started to really focus on my profession and worked hard to advance our filmmaking abilities since I had many people motivating me to do so.
- What it takes to become a professional camera person “First step, discipline”
My definition of camera is simply; it is the eye. Back when I first started working with a camera, everything was analog, which meant the camera man had to regulate the amount of light, exposure, speed, etc. Those cameras, in which the camera man has to do the job a 100%, aren’t the same as the digital ones today. Discipline is by far the most important aspect of being a good camera man. Not only do you have to be respectful to your customers but a camera man must manage his instruments with respect and discipline. Next is the will to bring better works every time.
- Working on the very first movie “There is more to come”
It was a movie we worked on from a stage drama, Tenkemkem. All the people who participated in the making of the movie only had the will to make something that would enable us to be recognized in the industry. We never thought about getting paid or anything else. We just wanted to say that we came up with a movie that the public would enjoy so that our names could shine. We only had the passion for the profession. After our first movie, we continued and came up with other movies such as Bahay Ngualom and Rigitsegna Aykonkun, part one and two. When those movies were released in Germany, we had all kinds of motivation that helped us to work more in the future. Over the years, we have been engaged in bringing good movies to the public. BIS Video Productions has produced many movies, short films, TV serials and TV programs. They include over 40 feature films and a television series called Sidra (family) that was aired on Eri- TV for nine years. For the last ten years BIS Video Productions has also been producing weekly programs for Eri-TV. We have also been fortunate enough to participate at many national holidays and competitions to capture and document the events. I believe that the film industry of Eritrea has come a long way. We didn’t have the opportunity to study formally; all we could do was learn from our previous mistakes and try to do a better job later. That was what got us here today.
- What is in store for BIS Video Productions? “International map is the dream”
I trust that not only can we present works that would make our company famous, but through working together I believe that we can produce works that would put us on the international map. We are currently working on Hallo Koleu, Kids’ television program with Tekle Tesfamichael, Tekle the Clown, which has now been airing for two years. We also plan to make a tour of the regions and introduce kids with their country and culture in person. Also, we are in the middle of making a television series, Maichelo. Hopefully, just like in the past, we would finalize it and wait for the public’s response. We are going to keep going and work till we make a difference in the entertainment industry.