Philippe Bresson is an actor and film producer who is notable for local TV shows such as ‘New Beginnings’, ‘Mheshimiwa’ and ‘Changing Times’.
Bresson is also a photography director, editor, colorist, and Director/Managing Partner at Insignia Productions. The filmmaker speaks to pd.co.ke about his craft.
How has your background influenced your work?
Well, I don’t know exactly how my background has influenced my work, but I have always been a dreamer of creating great things.
I didn’t come from a rich family, so I had to dream a lot, and I think it’s this creative dreaming that got me into film.
In fact, everything that I do is self-taught, a thing I find pretty cool.
Who would say is the most interesting character you have ever created?
The most interesting character that I’ve ever created was, Lexxy for the show New Beginnings in 2016, which first aired on Ebony Life in Nigeria and later on eTV in South Africa.
Lexxy was crazy and at the same time you would fall in love with her. However, she had many deep-rooted personality issues with a 360-degree character. It was amazing to write about her.
What inspired you to create the Socialite TV show, considering it’s a female-centered show?
For the longest time, as Insignia Productions, we have been discussing doing a show with female leads.
So, when we started creating Socialite, it felt like it was the right time because of the huge social media growth that has been realised in the country in recent years.
So, we were able to leverage on platforms such as Instagram to build hype and even generate plot ideas.
Have you ever based any of your shows or characters on real-life experiences?
Yes, I’ve based some of the characters according to my and other people’s real life experiences.
The whole point of storytelling is borrowing from real life and you know, there are people and things around us that happen that we can easily translate to TV.
By just looking at them analytically, we are always able to tell that they could tell a really good story.
What was your biggest challenge in starting Insignia Productions?
We set up the production house in 2007 with no capital at all. My parents are the people who helped my business partner and me, by injecting some capital funds into the business.
You can’t really produce a film on debt. But at some point, our business relationship collapsed and I had to re-start the production afresh.
It was a challenging task, but because of my self-belief and my undying urge to realise my dreams, I made it and made it big for that matter.
What are your aspirations?
Besides building up Insignia Productions to a global entity, I want to give back more to the community in terms of imparting knowledge to more up-and-coming filmmakers.
That is one of the things the government needs to be doing —supporting the growth of our film industry by providing learning opportunities for the young talent and setting up strict policies.
What have been your worst and favourite experiences working as a film director and producer?
The major one has been working with people with difficult personalities to cope with. The industry deals with people who are just so hard to work with; the ones who can sabotage a production.
My favourite experience, however, has been the fact that two years ago Insignia was on a project with the acclaimed Cartoon Network, a move that cemented the belief that our production had come of age.
That really makes me so happy. Working with global brands and testing our skills on that level 13 years on, gives us the impetus to move on.
If you weren’t in the film industry what would you be doing?
I think I would be in the music industry because I had also given music production a hand as a producer. Alternatively, I would be in real estate. Hahaa.
What advice would you give to a young person with dreams to have their own production company?
Don’t expect profit immediately after setting up your company; it takes time. But be persistent, build networks, be good at what you do and you’ll be good to go.