Mugabo Hassan Bienfait, is a young Rwandan emerging filmmaker who, with his family immigrated to US in 2009. At only 22, in his emerging filmmaking career, he is working at 20th Century Fox, one of the world's biggest film production companies.
Hassan Bienfait is working in office as a Production Assistant and on set in Camera Department on new upcoming Fox’s TV Series, “Shots Fired”, an event drama series which is set in his state of North Carolina centered, according to Variety, around racial tensions and police shooting incidents which have spurred tensions in US. Created by wife and hubby pair Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood, it stars an ensemble of Sanaa Lathan, Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephen Moyer, Will Patton, Jill Hennessy, Tristan Wilds, Clare-Hope Ashitey among others.
In interview with Inyarwanda.com’s reporter, Hassan sums up on how he broke through the steel door of Fox, the chance that every young filmmaker dreams of. “Well, I made connections! Hhah, you know, when I finalized my high school, I began working on occasional contract works every time there were coming small company to shoot Commercials or Reality Shows. And that helped me to make some connections. And here [in US], when you make some connections, the chance is that they pass your info around and people call you for more gigs.”
Hassan's chair in the production of Fox's Shots Fired. Photo Courtesy
Hassan Bienfait Mugabo was born on November 12, 1993 at CHUK Hospital in Kigali. His family was at the time residing in Kigali’s Nyamirambo suburb in Biryogo neighborhood, where he grew up until in 2009 when they moved to US. In 2012 he graduated from High School in US and he enrolled in college at Arts Institute of Charlotte in North Carolina studying Digital Film & Video Production, where he majored in Directing, Screenwriting, Shooting and Photography.
How Hassan Bienfait broke through the Fox’s doors
I got a job in summer last year, where the evangelical association called Billy Graham Evangelistic Association came in my state to shoot a TV Program and a music video for the Gospel band called 'Tenth Avenue North'. I worked for them, and at the last day I talked to the woman in charge of the production whom I told my dream. She told me that she will find me a job. She took my contacts, and we became friends.
Early this year, she contacted me telling me that there are people coming to shoot a TV Series in my state. She connected me to them, and those people happened to be Fox. And they gave me the job.
I began by working in the office as a PA, but my boss told one of the producers that I want to be a film director. From then, they arranged that I go to work on set, in Camera Department, to learn how the director works with the cast and crew. So, this is a very good opportunity for me to get in Fox, because it opens doors to more opportunities in the future.
On set of Fox's Shots Fired, Hassan Bienfait posed with Tristan Wilds (Adele's Hello music video, 90210 TV Show), one of the Show's cast. Photo courtesy
Hassan Bienfait studied filmmaking because…
…I always have a passion of telling stories. You know in East Africa, we have so many stories, but we don’t have filmmakers to tell them. And I really don’t like the way the Americans or other filmmakers come to make films in Africa and they tell our stories for their own motivations. They only care about money, and they make our stories the way they please. They don’t care about our stories or other important traits like our cultures and tradition which we always want to show the world.
You know, people don’t know Africa. In fact, many people have this perception about Africa as one country. If you watch their films about our continent you see how they change the mood and atmosphere, they’re using lots of warm light and orange feel to the scene to show how dirty and deserted Africa is. They show lots of poor people, huts… just to show how Africa is miserable. Basically they show us all of the negative about our continent and I really do not appreciate that. In Africa, I know there are great filmmakers and they can make great films; it’s just we don’t have the right tools and resources.
My plan is to come back in East Africa, to come back home in Rwanda and collaborate with other motivated filmmakers to make good films. I’m planning to come back this year.