For the first time in Kenya, a major artery in the city transport system has been shut down for the shooting.
For the first time in Kenya, a major artery in the city transport system has been shut down for the shooting.

Hollywood glitterati brings action to the city

By People Team @PeopleDailyKe

The acclaimed American duo behind The Matrix trilogy, the Wachowski siblings are in Kenya filming their new science fiction drama Sense8. Andy and Lana Wachowski have co-written the much anticipated 10-episode series with Michael Straczynski.

It is set to premiere in 2015 on the video streaming site Netflix, shot in nine cities around the world, with Nairobi being the only location in Africa. It is directed by James McTeigue and Tom Tykwer. Last Sunday, the city was treated to a rare spectacle, with a crowd of 700 people, a battery of 200 cars and a hovering chopper patronising the City’s Globe Overpass, which was closed to the public.

For the first time in Kenya, a major artery in the city transport system has been shut down to allow for Hollywood to do what it does best — lights, cameras, action! And the action continues today at the Globe Cinema roundabout. We are talking fight sequences, car ramming scenes, flipping vehicles, speed racing… the works.

Add to this, a touch of futuristic mystery and geeky tech effects and you have the makings of the much awaited series, Sense8. We caught up with some of the action on set yesterday at Machakos Country bus station and at California Estate in Eastlands. Other picturesque locations for the shooting include Railways Warehouse, KICC rooftop, Kirinyaga Road and Kibera.

The Gikomba/Machakos bus station set was off-limits when we got there, with the yellow line keeping curious bystanders out. Tom Twyker, the director, was calling out with instructions, the make-up artiste was doing his touch-ups, the photographer was busy capturing the busy Nairobi morning with his camera, and the matatu with the ‘Van Damn’ (sic) graffitti, which was involved in the scene, was being prepped for the shoot. The local support crew was also busy helping get it right.

The striking blonde actress Daryl Hannah (Lost, Blade Runner, Kill Bill) sipped on her cup of coffee, a Maasai shuka thrown over her loose-fitting off-white costume dress. And the unassuming British star, Aml Ameen (The Maze Runner, The Butler) seemed calm in the frenzy of downtown Nairobi.

These two are among the titular eight lead cast for the series. Other cast members are Alfonso Herrera, Brian J. Smith (Stargate Universe), Doona Bae, Eréndira Ibarra, Freeman Agyeman, Jamie Clayton (Hung), Max Riemelt, Miguel Silverstre, Naveen Andrews (Lost), Ness Bautista, Tena Desae, Terrence Mann and Tuppence Middleton (Jupiter Ascending).

At California, we walked into a cloud of dust as a double for the ‘Van Damn’ matatu chased a saloon car and rammed into it. The set had 200 extras, and 60 security people and set marshals all from the Calif community. The Wachowski siblings were hands-on directing the action-packed scenes, with a horde of other local and international crew members. The main characters were represented here by stunt doubles who did the chasing, fighting and car ramming, taking the sound and the fury all in stride.

According to a source, Aml Ameen acts a Kenyan named Capheas in the sci-fi drama. He is supported by the Kenyan cast members who include Peter King, who plays a crime lord named Silas Kabaka,  Paul Ogola whose character is called Jela, Chichi Seii playing Capheas’ mum and Lwanda Jawar, a model and actor who plays Githu, the leader of a vigilante gang called Superpower. The next shoot location will be Seoul Korea.

The Kenya Film Commission and Kenya Police Service have been instrumental in getting the logistics sorted out. Reached for comment, Kenya Film Commission CEO Lizzie Chongoti said they were committed to facilitating the movie makers, but declined to divulge any more information.

The cast and crew have also been sworn to secrecy, with binding non-disclosure agreements. Our sources says the Wachowskis were so impressed with the cinematography and the local flavour of another Ginger Ink production, Nairobi Half Life, that they wanted to shoot part of Sense8 in Nairobi. Twyker directed Nairobi Half Life in 2012.

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