Butita recalls life-changing phone call and secrecy involved in working for Netflix

Butita was just chilling in the house when the phone rang and he was offered an opportunity to become the first Swahili writer and director on Netflix.

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Comedian Eddie Butita has recalled the life changing call that got him a lucrative job as the first Swahili writer and director on Netflix.

Speaking during an interview with Jalang'o on Monday, September 27, Butita said he was at home when the phone rang.

At the other end of the line was a representative of Hiventy, a production company in Kenya.

Butita said he has a feeling that the recruiters called after seeing that he was credited for being a writer on Njugush's Through Thick and Thin stand up comedy show.

"He gave me a brief description of the work and asked for a meeting so that we could discuss it more.

"I kept asking what the nature of the work was and how it would be distributed but they were very secretive. They kept saying the film was feature of video on demand platforms but never made it clear that it was Netflix until I was deeply involved in the project," Butita said.

He explained that his first script was rejected and had to build on his skills to match the quality of work that was required.

They put together a crew of all Kenyans voice actors and started production which was bound by a strict contract that bound everyone to secrecy until the release of the sit-com.

Butita disclosed that even his close friends and family members only found about the film on September 16 when he made the announcement.

The comedian also said that working with professionals opened his eyes to different types of contracts that creatives should sign when dealing with production of their content.

"There are broadcast rights, digital rights, there are contracts for just the performance, contracts for recording and there are also contracts for different territories," he explained.

He recalled that his career as a comedy script writer and director started at Churchill Show where comedian would unofficially ask for his advice before hitting the stage.

As days went by, more and more performers would consult Butita and together they would rephrase, rescript and improve their content.

"The managment at Chuchill Show took notice and offered me a job as a creative where I would help comedians in an official capacity. That mean't that sometimes I would not perform on stage.

"That experience taught me that some people hate you for no reason. Some Kenyans would tell me that my performances were lame and compare me with other comedians. What they didn't know was that I was writing jokes for their so-called favourite comedians," Butita said.

He added that he had written for Njugush, Churchill, Jalang'o, MCA Tricky, Eric Omondi, Chipukeezy, Prof Hamo and many more.

The comedian said that Kenya's creative industry needs to take collaborations more such as in the US where many comedians and musicians have people who write for them.

"Beyonce and Rihanna peform songs written by other people and it doesn't take away from their talent. As Jalang'o, you are always up and about doing many projects, but if you decide to sit down and write jokes, a lot of your work would stop.

"That is why you have a team that can work on the show as you focus on other things, it doesn't mean you are any less talented but Kenyan artists have refused to understand. They want to be the talent, video director and editor," Butita said.

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