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“Through systematic studies, we uncover mysteries of the past and capture them in books, films,” Eyob

By :- Luwam Kahsay H.

Our guest today, Eyob Habteslasie, mostly addressed as Wedi Techela, started off his journey in arts by writing scripts for plays when he was in tenth grade. He then joined the art club at the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students. After completing his national service, he took courses on writing, directing, and acting under the guidance of Efriem Kahsay, aka Wedi K’uada. He also earned a diploma in Theatrical Arts from SMAP Institute of Education, Training and Consultancy.

Almost all of your works are research-based. Why is that?

For me, the secret of successful work in every field lies in the kind of research done. As we know culture defines a society. So cultural works such as films should be done based on thoughtful and attentive study. If we delve deeply into our society, we find a wealth of interesting and authentic stories. And I believe that this treasure should be transferred to the coming generations through all kinds of works of art such as films.

What sort of references do you consult when you do your research?

My first and foremost reference is the society. I enjoy spending time with elderly people and listening to their amazing stories. I also use books on history and culture as references. I particularly like to refer to books on culture and oral traditions written by writers like Solomun Tsehaye and Bereket Amare and others that I believe have something to do with my work.

 What does a typical research require?

Dedication and budget. Some of the research you do requires going on long journeys to collect relevant data. And sometimes you have to work for years to complete your work. That takes a lot of patience. For instance, the making of Mestenkir Gedam Abune Libanos (the Wonders of Abune Libanos Monastery), a documentary that unfolds the history and mysteries associated with the antique church established before the birth of Christ, required several six-hour trips on foot from Tsorona. This is true for almost all of my work.

It’s really expensive to produce a film. You are often forced to spend all your earnings on the production of one film. Of course, our people are generous and welcoming wherever you go, and that boosts your morale and keeps you going.

 What challenges do you face in production?

The production stage takes as much time to complete as it takes to collect information. Sometimes it may take longer especially when you have to go around looking for suitable settings for filming.

Another tiresome work is teaching the actors to speak in the dialect of the characters of yesteryears. If you fail in this the whole work becomes a waste of your time. This is because a particular dialect reflects a specific identity, time, and situation of a society. Like dialect, the costumes and living conditions of the characters in a story also have to be portrayed in a manner that reflects the realities in which the story is set.

For instance, in filming Ageldim, we had to travel to three regions in our country and that required a lot of hard work and money. The good thing is that it has paid off.

What is special about your television serial Setri?

It involved more than 100 actors and many cavaliers, and it also included ancient scripts. We visited Metera’s caves in Senafe, Debub region, and Asmara museum to see the ancient scripts inscribed on stone.

To make sense of the ancient scripts I met people interested in the field and discussed the subject matter. I also tried to make use of tutorial videos. I consider Setri a launching pad for other works to come.

Messages you want to convey.

We need to understand that we have a very rich culture, and the key to understanding the culture is research. Through systematic studies, we uncover mysteries of the past and capture them in books, films, and other genres not just for preservation but also to share them with our compatriots and people all over the world.

Thank you, Eyob.

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