Who is Makere and what do you do?
I am filmmaker also known as a story-teller. I am from Mpharane in Matatiele the home of the long drop toilets. I love it because we save water by not flushing. Tree hugging started at a young age I tell you.
My family is still waiting for me to finish my law degree because they can’t really explain to everyone what I really do for a living. I always tell them I could be selling drugs with all the traveling I do, the silence after I say this is too priceless. One day I will record it.
DSTV is one of our main clients so when everyone finds out that “I work at M-net.” I end up having to look at all the DSTV signal issues during the family functions. I love it though because I get to use big terms like “I think it is offline and we might need to digitize the Beta tape.” If you use big terms one tends to sound very smart.
Tell us about Callback Dreams? What’s your business story?
Callback is a big Dream, a crazy dream sort of like “Inception”, a dream inside of a dream. You see your dream come to life and then you dream more.
All I wanted to do was “run my own business” and now that dream is feeding not only Jobie and I but the people that work with us whether on a full time basis or as freelancers. No one works for us but works with us and we don’t work for anyone, we work with people.
We have been fortunate enough to have clients who trust us with millions to execute their vision. They keep coming back so we might be doing something right. We have a core group of clients who have been with us for years. We really appreciate their trust and loyalty.
Callback Dreams has been running for four years now. We started out when I was 25 years, if you are very good at mathematics, which is a rare skill for us creatives you would know that I am 29 years old now. We have survived many downs and we never really have time to celebrate our small victories with each project as we soldier on to Callback our Dreams.
Jobie is from Uganda and I am from South Africa and our primary focus is to grow Callback on the African continent also known as the “Mother Land” by our visitors from the first world countries. We are investing a lot of energy and resources to see this dream of ours come to life.
We do business in Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Kenya. We have just opened Callback Dreams East in Nairobi, we have an amazing support structure on the ground.
Visit www.callbackdreams.com to get a more info on what we do and check out some of other projects we have worked on. We also publish music for some of the biggest acts on the continent this is under our publishing arm Illiphant.
How do you guys approach projects differently than other companies?
I wish I knew what other companies did or do, I have no idea what other people or companies do we just do us. We tell African stories by Africans for Africans. We are tired of the CNN, BBC outlook on us as a continent and we want to gradually change those stereotypes and perceptions. Our primary focus has shifted from just servicing South Africa but other countries on the continent.
We are crawling, and then will walk; soon we will run, then just spread our wings and fly into a broken sky.
So you have a background with other production companies, at what point did guys decide its time to go solo and how did you do it?
When one wants change at some point one has to stop complaining and realise they are in charge of their life and happiness. The world does not owe you jack shit and you just have to pursue your dreams, persevere, work hard, work smart and be the crazy guy who left a great salary with all its perks. Excuse my French. French is a sexy language like Southern Sotho after all.
What’s one trend that really excites you within your space? Why?
Being unapologetically 100% African, slowly owning our space as African creatives, telling our own stories and how we want them to be told.
The online platform is a powerful tool that the rigid systems will be left behind while they are trying to find ways to control it, but forget to co-exist within it. It’s the Wild Wild West where anyone and everyone has a voice.
What would you say have been your business high lights thus far?
One of our highlights as Callback Dreams is operating in over 5 countries, hosting music video workshops in Malawi for people who came back and told us how these workshops have helped running their operations.
Being nominated for a MOBO, winning two Channel O music video awards, an MTV Europe nomination, MTV Base nominations for music video of the year, wining Ghana Best African Music video over D”Banj, Ice Prince, Tiwa Savage, etc
Stripped Down tv show being in the top three most watched shows across all DSTV platforms and beating shows with budget 20 times higher than what we had.
Pitching for shows or projects with guys we look up to like Gavin Wratten (Idols SA 10 seasons, SAMAS, Face of Africa, Africa’s Top Model, etc) and Basetsana Khumalo.
Catching flights to pitch for high-end commercials in different countries while we can never be afforded the same opportunity in South Africa by agencies or gate keepers. Those hurdles drive us to say we can do it. That is the struggle of the young black storytellers.
We still have a very long way to go and we are aware of the challenges that we face to break down certain hurdles.
Is running your own gig, what you expected it to be?
It is not what you expect it to be, you have to make time for VAT payments, for accountants, HR, firing people, hiring people, being more responsible for just your dreams and goals but lead with an example.
It is liberating and you learn things that you would not learn in confined company structure. We love the fact that we are part of the new bred on the continent and we are shaping how things are done and how they should be done.
What’s in the pipeline for Callback Dreams?
We never want to talk about what is going to happen before it happens but the sky is the foundation to build from. Opportunities are infinite.
What advice do you have for people looking to leave the big companies and start their own thing?
Save for a rainy day, cut out all the luxuries you have in your life. Don’t burn bridges as a gatekeeper because it is real out here. Please build a very strong network, don’t be arrogant.
Be ready for a pay cut to see out your dreams, have a strong support structure around you. Be ready to work over time, be ready to deal with all the mechanics of running your own company from HR, accountants, bond or office rentals, etc. Be ready to roll up your sleeves and work like your life depends on it, because your lively hood does depend on it. Find hobbies to distress, join a gym or a meditation classes, and eat healthy to run this marathon.
Where can we find out more about your business ?