The director who makes viral action films for under $200

(CNN)Bisaso Dauda isn't your typical prop maker. Today, he's building a full-sized helicopter from scrap metal. As he works away in Wakaliga, one of the poorer suburbs just outside of Kampala, Uganda, he tinkers with a diesel engine to help spin the rotors. Next, he'll build a tank, then a submarine. Welcome to Wakaliwood.

Wakaliwood is the brainchild of self-taught director Isaac Nabwana, who launched his own amateur production company, Ramon Film Productions, in 2005. Since then, he has seen trailers for his films go viral (the clip for the action movie Who Killed Captain Alex? garnered almost 2.4 million views on YouTube).
He is 42-years old, and has made over 40 films in the past decade, all on a budget of less than $200. He gets creative. Machine guns are made from scrap metal, bullets carved from wood, and fake blood bursts out of bags made from free condoms sourced at the local health clinic.
Nabwana's love of film began in childhood.
    "I used to draw comics and my brothers would tell me what happened in the films -- Rambo is chasing Chuck Norris -- and I would draw it."
    It wasn't until he was 32 that Nabwana attempted to make his own movie.
    "I didn't know how to write a script so the scenes I'd film weren't connecting," he recalls. A partnership with an actor who had written a play and needed Nabwana's help to film it provided the director with his first opportunity to learn how to string a story together.

    A one-man film industry

    It says something about Nabwana's ambition that in addition to launching his own production company, he's also coined the name for an entire movie industry. Wakaliwood might not have the resources of Hollywood, the glamor of Bollywood or the reach of Nollywood -- it is not even the official film industry in Uganda which is the little-known Ugawood. But Nabwana's passion for film and his eagerness to teach others is already spawning other film stars.
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    "Western and Nigerian movies are popular but here but we have to teach our people to watch Ugandan films. People don't believe our films can be good, until we show them. Now even universities are sending their students to do internships here," he says.
    But the road has not been smooth for Nabwana, who went from making bricks to making films. Some of the challenges he faces are common to all filmmakers (raising finance comes top of that list), while others are unique to making movies in a developing country. Nabwana speaks of the need for government support and investment in Uganda's film industry. He notes that the businesses that exist in other regions to support movie making -- the prop shops, actors' agencies, location scouts and so on -- simply don't exist in Uganda. Nabwana had reached out to the army to borrow a chopper ("it didn't even have to fly," he tells me) but got nowhere. Then there's the constant power outages, the lack of parts to build stronger computers (an aim for the near future is to make high-definition movies) and rampant piracy.
    Sometimes Wakaliwood actors get into character to gain some extra attention while selling the films.
    Without a distributor, the actors and actresses, sometimes in full costume, double as door-to-door salespeople, hawking the films as soon as they come out. This grassroots approach means news of a new film spreads fast by word of mouth.
    "People are calling me up from [other regions of Uganda] asking me for more films. It is the audience that has made me famous."

    A family endeavor

    Ramon Productions is named after Nabwana's great grandmothers, Rachel and Monica, as is the first of the three children he has with wife, Harriet Nakasuga. Nakasuga also works as an editor for the company and Nabwana smiles as he details all the things she helps out with.
    "Sometimes I work late at night," he explains. "Harriet is always here."
    The newest member of that family is American Alan Hofmanis. The program director for the Lake Placid Film Festival saw the Who Killed Captain Alex? trailer in 2011. After visiting Nabwana seven times, Hofmanis sold his belongings and moved to Wakaliga in 2014 to help Nabwana realize his vision.
    Director Isaac Nabwaana and Alan Hofmanis
    And it seems they are well on their way. A Kickstarter campaign to raise $160 for the film Tebaatusasula: EBOLA exceeded its target by more than 8,000%, bringing in more than $13,000. That money will be spent on shooting a film in HD and providing daily meals, health and dental care for their crew of volunteers and their families.