Lunch with Tithes and Offerings
Why were you interested in picturing a fraudulent pastor?
A few years ago, a local TV station in Kenya conducted an investigation into a very popular televangelist who was running a “miracle” scam. He would cast out demons, heal diseases and turn water into wine. It turned out that he was doing this only through hired actors and using sodium carbonate for the wine. I thought this man was fascinating. He was both charismatic and morally bankrupt. I began to wonder how he came to be this way. What was his life like before he became successful? What drove him to treat vulnerable people this way? Tithes & Offerings was born out of this curiosity.
Did you do research on real preachers and how their services are handled?
I grew up around a lot of worship services such as the one seen in the film so I drew from those experiences. The scam itself is based off of reports from actors hired to perform in the miracles.
What is your favourite movie genre and why?
My favourite movies tend to be ones that blend genres. They’re a lot more like what life is actually like – hilarious and tragic, political yet farcical. I really admire directors who are able to do this well – Bong Joon-ho, Abderrahmane Sissako, Roy Andersson. Their movies are hard to classify and almost fable-like. I hope to be able to do this with my own work too.
How much are you interested in the question of faith and do you have further projects on this theme?
I’m very interested in questions surrounding the idea of faith. Could faith be a logical position to hold? What does it look like when a person of faith trusts God for something and doesn’t receive it? Does faith produce a life any happier than one without it? I get very bored when the answers offered on screens are simplistic (The priest is good, the churchgoer is a bigot, etc). The nuances are where the story gets good.
Could Tithes & Offerings be part of a larger film or do you have further projects with this character?
It definitely could. I love the characters and the world the film is set in and I have some idea of what the expanded story would be. I’ll be putting the script together later this year.
Would you say that the short film format has given you any particular freedom?
Absolutely. There’s a lot less at stake with a short film than with bigger productions. Less money, less time, fewer people. With a short film, I can try something new without being worried that the risk of failure means that I might not get to make another film. It’s a great way to learn by doing and by making mistakes and growing from them.