Crew of One: Barnsley Karim

Do you know anything about Malawi? Frankly, I had no idea until I started corresponding with Barnsley Karim. Barnsley is a multimedia designer in Malawi, and his perspective on production is likely to be quite eye-opening for readers in the West. Here’s a video he did, showing a bit of his home town.

Many readers have probably never heard of Malawi. Tell us a little about your country.

Malawi is a small third world perched neatly in south eastern Africa. We have in abundance one of the most beautiful lakes. We have vast open spaces and the views from the mountains and valleys is breathtaking (this is my endeavor, I wish one day I may be able to have the resources that these guys had to sweep through this vast wonder so that you may see what i see, one day).

I strongly believe malawi has the scenic taste for cinematic glory (shameless country advertising for cinematographers out there wishing breath taking views, guilty).

The people here are peaceful folk and when you get to know their stories they have amazing tales. I strongly suggest a few Google searches will leave you warm hearted. Hint: “malawi is termed the warm heart of africa.”

You have an impressive demo reel. How did you get into graphics & art?

Thank you. My mother is to blame, she has a hand of art built in her DNA she must have copied that strand into me now, I started off with a pen and paper way way back, I just loved the blankness of a piece of paper it has a invitation written all over it to be written upon.

However, as I grew older I fell in love with the trickery of movies and the way they allow you to open your mind to strange and beautiful ways of imagining. It became a quest for me to learn digital tools to merger my traditional art skills. From there everyday is just another day in class.

What is the advertising scene in Malawi?

The advertising scene in Malawi is still primarily print and radio. It makes it a huge challenge when most forms of media aren’t always at the best of their abilities. For one thing, there is currently only one television station (soon to change, I believe by the end of 2013 start of 2014) and not many clients are looking to bring something new to the plate. What this means is most of the clients who want television ads aren’t looking at putting budgets for production. One sad story is I have seen and encountered clients who wish to have a clean, directional,¬†international quality advert (clearly it will take a lot of work) and after exchanging emails on scripts and duration when presented with a costing of just less than US$550 the silent emails begin to trickle through and negotiations begin from their end. That figure soon turned to US$142 which is now basically you are now donating your skills to them, you then get the “we will call you back” email and soon you learn they went and settled with someone who will butcher something together for them for $70 (and good luck to that guy to get his pay which theoretically takes 30-60 days but in reality it has been noticed to no less than 3 months (lucky) to years. And these are companies that reel in roughly $70,000 a month.

Fingers crossed.

By the way, if any of your readers have old equipment, sliders, gliders, lighting, etc. that they wanna get rid of, but aren’t too keen to make money out of them (maybe because they are damaged in some way), ask them if they wouldn’t mind donating some of it. Here in Malawi, it is difficult to acquire even equipment that costs less than 100US$. Therefore I kindly ask for any donations of equipment.

Why is it so difficult for you to obtain camera gear? Is it the expense, or the lack of availability?

Both really, mostly due to the inflation of our nation, its really hard to get funds for most equipment. It’s no easier especially there are no dedicated shops or merchants of this field. maybe one day. This is why i have appealed to anyone who has broken equipment that can be spliced together some how that it would be ideal. It’s better than nothing.

What items are you looking for?

Well, pretty much anything that could work after a few hours in the duct tape department. those heavy duty tripods, lighting gear, mics, I know lenses would be a push, but you never know what people have rusting under their beds. Anything that can get a basic studio setup.

How can people contact you, and/or send you items?

The best way would be to post to me. However there are charges on taxes and so on, therefore before posting anything it would be ideal to communicate before hand so I may know from the customs officer just how much certain goods would cost giving me preparation room for declaring them.

if anyone would like to get in touch hit me an email at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *