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Interview & Promotion – Ernest Napoleon – ‘Going Bongo’ – A Feature Film


Posted May 10, 2015 by

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Interview – Ernest Napoleon

Dr. Burger happily lands a job at the prestigious Beverly Hills medical centre in Los Angeles and his eager to impress his new boss. After attending a Gala arranged by his superiors, he “mistakenly” volunteers to go work in Africa for a month at an under resourced hospital.  Leaving his fiancé behind, this American Doctor heads out to Tanzania to follow through with his promise.




Interview – Actor – Ernest Napoleon

1) First tell us about ‘Going Bongo’, what attracted you to the role? How did you become involved with the film?

Going Bongo is a film about an American doctor who “mistakenly” volunteers to work in Africa for one month. The film is loosely based on the real story of someone who came to Africa for a safari and never went back home until 25 years later. I came up with this story when I visited my home in Tanzania after living for many years in Los Angeles, trying to make it as an actor/writer. I co-wrote the film with a friend of mine, Gregory Zymet, and raised money for it from independent sources.

In the film, I play Dr. Lewis Burger, who has started his career as a surgeon at a Beverly Hills medical Center. He has a stunning fiancée, a bit of a social climber, who basically pushes him through life to succeed in her ideal image of life. He seems to have gotten his whole life figured out, even though deep inside he yearns for more out of life. Little does he knows, his life is about to be turned on its head and back.

2) You co-stared alongside Emanuela Galliussi (The Goodbye Kiss), Ashley Olds (ABC Family’s Greek) and Gabriel Jarret (21 Jump Street) – What was it like working with them?

It was really enjoyable to work with these people. Gabriel showed a lot of experience, drive but also humour that was great to bounce off.

One thing that this project has been fortunate with is great up and coming talent.

The two ladies (Emanuela and Ashley) were really great to work with. Come to think about it, the project has really been blessed with great female talent. Be it actresses, our Cinematographer, Editor, costume designers, make up artists, Foley Artist, animation team down to our gaffer. You can feel a really strong female touch at every angle of this film.

3) Tell us about the role you play in the film, how has it differed from other characters you have performed in the past?

I seem to be attracted to roles that are very different from me in real life. The character that I play, Dr. Lewis Burger, is one of those. In real life for example, I have a phobia about doctors and hospitals in general. I can never watch any TV shows that show surgeries or guts and blood. And here I am playing a surgeon and performing surgeries with conviction!

This character is also naïve about the world, especially about the world away from his immediate Los Angeles surrounding. But as a person I am very well travelled and relate to people from many different cultures that I have lived in from East Africa, United States, Europe and Middle East.

4) What are your influences as an actor & how did they affect your performance in ‘Going Bongo’?

This is probably a very long passionate topic for me. But in short, I have studied, continue to study and “steal” from a lot of actors. One of my biggest influences is legendary actor Michael Caine.

Years ago, I saw his Acting Masterclass DVD and it really changed the way I approached acting. Dustin Hoffman is another actor whose style I really like. There is something very humane about each of his performances that I try to capture as much as I can.

But I am influenced by a lot of actors for a lot of reasons. Denzel Washington for his tenancy, Angelina Jolie for her presence and substitution techniques and even someone like Ricky Gervais for his simplicity touch.

I have used bits and pieces from all these great actors where I saw fit.

5) ‘Going Bongo’ is soon to premier in London, are you looking forward to the event?

Yes, very much. My producer and I, Nick Marwa, showed it in Tanzania where the film was shot. Also, our producer Brian Ronalds showcased it in Phoenix, United States. To my surprise, the film has been well received by people from all walks of life (young, old, white, black – whatever). So I am very excited to showcase it in London, which has a great mix of people. There is something about London that is very appealing to me. It is one of my favourite cities in the world. Especially in the summer.

Another reason to be excited is that most films that are made in Africa are either big Hollywood films or films influenced by NGOs, which have public service elements attached to it. This is probably one of the first films that is independently funded and executed in Africa that has a Universal appeal and funded without an NGO behind it.

6) What is the next step for you? Do you have any other projects in production?

I am writing a very good story with lots of heart about a failed professional footballer stuck in an underground world. I am also developing another project about revolutionary struggle in Africa that will be shooting next year. But my immediate project is the film I am shooting in London and Paris this July/August called From Freetown. It will be directed by Antony Szeto (Jackie Chan present Wushu). It is about young people from Africa who have to travel to Europe to achieve their dreams.

Interview & Promotion - Ernest Napoleon

Ernest Napoleon


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