Date: Sunday, May 6, 2007There is no denying the fact that Nigerian movies are making waves globally. Recently, producers and actors from other parts of the world began to show interest in collaborating with their Nigerian counterparts.
One of such producers is Oluwafemi Ogedengbe, a movie maker in Nollywood who shifts regularly from English to Yoruba movies. He was commissioned by producers in Tanzania to produce movies in English and Swahili using versatile Nigerian actors such as Nkiru Sylvanus known as Nollywood’s crying baby, Bimbo Akintola, Emmanuel France, etc. He spoke to Sunday Vanguard on his experience. Excerpts:
WHAT do you do basically in Nollywood?
I am an actor; I am a producer and director as well. Basically, I am a movie maker.
Can you give us insight into the movies you have made?
As an actor, I have had so many movies to my credit. As a producer, I have so many as well. Then as a director, I have a couple of movies to my credit. As a director, I have done: Fears of the Ghetto, No Guarantee, Fear is Back, Temiko, Inu Eda Jin, and Orun Gbeja. As a director, I did some international jobs. One has been released in Tanzania: Down to Lagos. I also did some films with some Nigerian actors in Tanzania.
They include Emmanuel France, Messy Johnson and a lady, Nkiru Sylvanus. We shot the films entitled, My Sin, The House-help, The Director and Pelina.
In locations in Tanzania, I shot four films there. I had three with Nigerian actors and I shot one in Swahili language which is spoken by the people of Tanzania.
How did you get to Tanzania and become involved in a film done in Swahili?
I have always believed that one should give his best in whatever one is doing. There is a saying that a prophet is not honoured in his domain. Some people saw one of my movies somewhere and said they liked my style of production. They now contacted me from Tanzania. We got talking and, at the end of the day, we began to work I shot the first film here in Nigeria with Bimbo Akintola and later went to Tanzania to finish the production.
Before they released it, they called me again and said they would like to shoot four more movies in Tanzania with some Nigerian actors. I looked around and picked the best people who I can work with, so we went down to Tanzania to shoot the films. When my artistes left Tanzania after several weeks of production, I stayed back to shoot the one in Swahili language.
How did the Tanzania audience react to Nigerian movies?
If you had met the actors who went with me, they would have told you, we had the best of time; we were like kings and queens in Tanzania because the people appreciate the Nigerian movie industry so much. I never knew that we were that accepted all over Africa until I got into the Tanzanian film project. People came out in thousands to welcome us. Even when we arrived, they gave us a big welcome party. It was televised nationwide and the same thing happened when we were leaving. They are in love with Nigerian movie makers. They are really in love with us; I love them too.
How did it work with Nkiru Sylvanus, known in Nollywood as a professional crier?
(Laughs). Actually, the first film that Nkiru Sylvanus, featured in is entitled Cry for Help. The film showed her as a ‘crying or weeping baby’. But I want to say that Nkiru is versatile. Messy Johnson is as well versatile and Emmanuel France is a veteran who fits into any kind of role. They were all wonderful in Tanzania .
How long have you been in the movie industry?
Well, I was much younger when I came in it was in 1987 that I joined a group. The leader of the group was Miliki. He is one of the sons of Mr. Olumegbon, the veteran movie maker and actor. In 1987 I was in Miliki group going from one event to the other staging plays. Later, we moved on to NTA Channel 7 at Tejuoso, Lagos, produced Eku Ewe programme. I left the programme in 1989 and went to produce English movies. My first film was entitled, Back to Africa. I had a barbing saloon and a friend visited me there one day and informed me about audition for the movie, Back to Africa. I followed him there and was auditioned and given a role, which was released in 1998. We actually shot the movie in 1996.
Did you have any relationship with Chief Ayinla Olumegbon who did some fantastic plays including Wolewole Arufin (The Lawless Sanitary Inspector)? When you were young, you mentioned working with his son?
Not really. However, our rehearsal place used to be in one of his houses at Eko Eyo, Ilasamaja area of Lagos. He had a lot of costumes in the house. So, we used some of the costumes. Sometimes, his children would not use the place. We would go to Itire area in Surulere.
Did his sons speak about his love for the theatre?
Yes. In fact, his son got his motivation from his father’s activities in the theatre. Even if he did not say anything about his father, it was obvious that the man was behind his activities in the theatre.
What are your plans for the future?
I will like to empower myself in movie making.
As a producer and director, can you give role for sex if a lady makes passes at you?
The movie industry is not different from others. If a lady makes passes at me thinking that she will get a role, I may give her what she wants, but I cannot joke with my hard earned money to give her a role she does not merit. I cannot lose my money because of sex because there is high competition in the industry and people want the best.