From October to December last year, Jah Prayzah and his team went on an expedition to shoot his “Jerusarema” DVD that took them to various places as they put together visual scenes for their popular album.
The five videos on the DVD have maintained Jah Prayzah’s prowess as a talented script writer although the title track, “Jerusarema”, has been in copyright storm after he was accused of taking the concept from a Tanzanian musician.
“Jerusarema”, which was the first video to be shot, was done in Vumba in October and the last video in the production line was “Tiise Maoko” that was done in December in the same Eastern Highlands tourist destination.
What critics cannot take away from Jah Prayzah is that he is good at making videos and he has done exceptional productions since his “Gotchie Gotchie” video became a hit. His producer, William “Slimaz” Magombedze, has always been on top of his game.
And the current DVD has been in the limelight since its release with “Eriza”, “Jerusarema” and “Hello” — a bonus video — leading the list.
The cast and locations of “Jerusarema” DVD have also attracted interest and many music followers have been eager to know the faces and sites of the exciting production.
In an interview last week, Jah Prayzah’s manager Keen Mushapaidze took us behind the scenes of the making of the DVD.
On a misty October morning in Vumba Mountains, a cast of about 20 people went on set for the shooting of the first video of the DVD. The multi-racial cast followed a script of a young black musician who is fighting to win the heart of a daughter of a white King.
The scenes take place at an old Castle in Vumba that was built in the 1940s and belonged to the Seymour-Smith family that constructed Leopard Rock Hotel in those years. The castle is now a functions venue and an important tourist attraction in the mountains.
Members of the multi-racial cast came from Harare and Mutare and it took three days to shoot all the scenes because the script followed certain whether patterns that gave the video spectacular visual effects.
Ammara Brown, who is one of the directors of the video, was the main selector of the members of the cast.
The ancient regalia, shields and swords for the King’s soldiers on the video were bought in the United Kingdom during Jah Prayzah’s tour in August last year as the musician had already written the script.
Mushapaidze maintains that they did not copy the concept from the Tanzanian video and claims the similarities are coincidental.
It was the second video to be shot and was done in Harare and Chitungwiza. The cast comprises Jah Prayzah’s band members and a few guests. The main site of the shooting was at a Chitungwiza industrial site warehouse that once housed the popular entertainment joint known as ‘The Warehouse’ a few years ago.
Now a shabby manufacturing and store house, the place was apt for the movie-like criminal scenes, especially drug-peddling, that make up the video. Other ‘criminal’ scenes were shot at a junk yard along Seke Road while the part when Jah Prayzah and his team are behind a prison fence was done at Junction 24 open-air entertainment joint.
The video was shot over two days and Jah Prayzah’s personal tailor did the prison garbs worn on set.
The script is centred on drug peddlers and armed robbers that end up in prison, regretting their past and asking for God’s intervention. The song has a gospel inspiration, contrasting crime, repentance and prayer. The script is aligned to gangster movies and Mushapaidze says it was the most surprising script that Jah Prayzah created for the DVD because they were expecting something simple but ended up doing something close to a short film.
Jah Prayzah and his team took advantage of their tour of Kariba and Chirundu in November to shoot the exiting video in the waters of Lake Kariba. The bonus video of an all-white boathouse party indeed inspires a party mood.
About 15 ladies from the same social circle were bused from Harare for the video shoot. (But the selection of the ladies for the classy video leaves a lot to be desired). Other ladies from Kariba volunteered to be on set as the team prepared to shoot the video. “Hello” was done in one day and the men on the boat are Jah Prayzah’s friends and members of his management team.
The boat house was hired from a reputable hospitality company in Kariba and, unlike most videos that had sponsors, Jah Prayzah funded the whole production, but Mushapaidze could not disclose the figure. Most of the all-white outfits on the video were imported from Dubai.
The manager said they have included bonus tracks on their last two DVDs to give fans something new beyond the audio album. He says the bonus tracks are picked from various other songs that would not have made it to the audio album.
Inner City Café in the city centre has become a meeting place for Jah Prayzah’s fans that call themselves Team JP. Every Tuesday night they meet at the joint to have fun while the club DJs mainly play Jah Prayzah’s songs.
This was the main reason why club scenes for “Chiname” video were shot at Inner Café, a joint that is part of Big Apple club at the corner of Mbuya Nehanda Street and Nelson Mandela Avenue.
Most of the people that appear on the video are members of Team JP, including the lady with a leopard print tights (sisi vakapfeka mbada) who showcases serious dances in the club.
It was shot on a Wednesday afternoon although the lighting makes it appear like a night clubbing session.
Scenes showing comedian Mabla 10 and his heavily-built wife (played by Team JP’s Letty) quarrelling in their bedroom were done at a cottage at Jah Prayzah’s offices in Belvedere. The video is one of Jah Prayzah’s traditional comic productions and, as usual, Lloyd “Mabla 10” Kurima plays the main roles on such videos.
Mushapaidze said the video was mainly done to celebrate with fans that have previously complained of being left out of the productions. He said the support they get from Big Apple management also inspired the setting of the video.
Probably the most popular video of the DVD, “Eriza” was done on two locations in Harare. The video is mainly popular because of the main character played by vivacious dancer and musician Lady Storm.
Jah Prayzah and Lady Storm have worked together for a long time and her choice for the role was almost automatic.
To give a different flavour, Jah Prayzah chose a school setting and bought 13 male sets and two female sets of school uniforms for his band members, Lady Storm and her friend who has a cameo role in the video.
They also hired four traffic police officers for the roadblock scene and six anti-riot police officers for the scenes at the market where Eriza showcases her dance kills to a crowd.
The school scenes were done outside Jah Prayzah’s office premises and Lusaka Market in Highfield was the choice for the ‘market’ scenes. The team went to Lusaka Market in the afternoon when there was less traffic of traders at the place, but they still got a big crowd as people from Highfield suburb gathered to witness the DVD shoot. The school teacher role is played by actress Fortune De Souza, who is part of Jah Prayzah’s marketing team while the man who appears towards the last part announcing that the police has dispersed a crowd that had gathered to watch Eriza is action, is another Team JP member called John.
The video has brought Lady Storm to limelight and also inspired the school uniform crazy among Jah Prayzah’s fans. It was shot in one day and also shows Jah Prayzah’s creativity with the script.
Jah Prayzah returned to Vumba Mountains in December for the last video of his DVD. The video is done on the lines of “Soja Rinosvika Kure” where the main actor meets various distractions on his way to victory.
However, Jah Prayzah chose to be alone on the scenes in the mountains as the video suggests an individual struggle against adversity.
Jah Prayzah went through the same set paces for eight times to come up with the final scenes. They only needed two cameras for the shooting but the scenes were tiresome as they involved a lot of energy and Jah Prayzah had about three hours of climbing up the trees and running up and down the mountain.
The video is enhanced by sleek computer effects that give it exciting colour and motion distinctions.