Thomson Makolo Jnr. is an actor, movie-maker and event compere. He hails from Kogi state, an Igala by tribe.

In this interview with IBRAHIM RAMALAN, he speaks about his career, his movie project called ‘Cha’aduwa mi’ (pray for me), as well as why he identifies more with the upcoming Igala film industry.

Tell us a little about yourself

I am Thomson Makolo Jnr., an actor; movie maker and event compere, from Kogi state. I am an Igala by tribe. I am the first in a family of 7. I love making movies. Film-making for me is passion and a dream. I enjoy doing it. I have been in the movie industry for over 5 years now. I have several films to my credit. My latest project which is an Igala movie, ‘Cha’aduwa mi’, is due for release by the end of September this year.

What motivated you to make a foray into acting and movie production?

It is basically a dream interpretation. Growing up, as a primary school pupil, I was actively involved in Drama, debating and current affairs and I always turned out the best. I became a celebrity sort of, even though I was the youngest. So that exposure remained in me through to my secondary school and up till today.

At what stage did you start acting full-time?

I remember immediately after my secondary school, I met with friends of like mind and we formed a Drama group. We started moving from school to school. At the time HIV was at its peak in this part of the world and awareness was seriously needed. We cashed in on the trend and began creating awareness through drama within the secondary school students. By the end of 2005, I got to know what they called Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) and the nearest chapter to me was in Makurdi, Benue state. So I moved there to go and become a member. From there I went to Nasarawa where I met one Zak Amat who at the time was producing a soup opera called ‘Winners and Loser’, and I approached him as a writer. When Zak saw me he said ‘why did they allow this little boy to come out of the house?’ I said no I was not a little boy, I knew what I wanted.  He said ok, what did I want and I told him I wanted to write a movie. He said ok, sit down and give me a plot. After he gave me a storyline and I plotted, he also said what else could I do I said I could act. That was actually my professional beginning.

How many films have you featured in so far?

I think I have more than 50 films to my credit. In Nollywood films, I featured in almost 20 while in Igala films I featured in more than 30 films. With this, I can relatively say am one of the popular faces in the Nigerian film industry.

Which project are you currently working on?

Yeah, I am working on an Igala movie project called ‘Cha’aduwa mi’, meaning ‘Pray for me’. It is about the first movie from the Igala film industry that can be put side by side with any film done in 2016, whether English or Yoruba. It is coming out soon.

What other things do you do aside acting?

I also produce movies.

Did you produce ‘Cha’aduwamai’?

Yes. ‘Cha’aduwamai’ is my 6th film as a producer in the space of less than 5 years.

Then what could you say are some of the qualities that ‘Cha’aduwa mi’ has that can rival other films from other stables?

Now, a good film starts from a storyline, quality of equipments like camera, light, sound, costume, make-up, actors, directors and location. These put together is what will result into a quality film, and we were able to assemble in the film. I dint want to compromise on any of these. More so, recently, we had a mini-event called ‘Top 50’ which gathered 50 prominent personalities from the media, political, business sectors in Kogi state to watch the film. The reason was because of the importance of the media to the film industry in terms of publicity, political sector in terms of goodwill from the government, and business sector in terms of investment into film industry. These people were amazed at the dexterity of the masterpiece. They all are looking forward to support me in one way or the other.

What was the experience like producing ‘Cha’aduwamai’?

First of all, let me say that a producer is an entrepreneur. He takes the whole responsibility of raising fund, managing the fund, marketing and production of the film. So the experience has been very challenging. As a young man it had put me on my toes because I needed to raise the money and there was no time for a tea-party. My experience has been that of a CEO who wakes up with his company in mind and goes to bed thinking of his company.

What were some of the challenges you faced along the line, since you played a dual role as an actor and a producer of the film?

As you know, the pressure of a producer is resource management while that of an actor is to deliver his lines. What I did was to give some of the responsibilities of a producer to my Manager so as to allow me concentrate as an actor, because it was indeed very difficult producing and acting. Another challenge was basically that of finance. ‘Cha’aduwamai’ is a self-sponsored project of mine; I used my life savings to produce it. Though there were financial commitments here and there, they were not forthcoming. I had to improvise other means to make this dream come true.

How are you going about marketing the film, since Igala film industry has little or no marketing strength across the country?

Yes it is true that the Igala film industry does not have a good market structure. But this time around, with the quality of the film we have at hand, the marketing is a promising one. Above all, a Nollywood marketer just signed an agreement with us to market the movie. So it is going to be marketed and distributed nationwide by Oking International Ltd. Alaba, Lagos. Furthermore, we have just entered into a distribution deal with Courier Services so that people can buy online. With that, we are creating an online store, so that people can also buy online and get it delivered through Courier to their doorsteps, once they place an order.

So, between Igala film industry and Nollywood, which one do you like to be identified with?

You know, film is film and actor is an actor. If I am a Chinese and am acting in English, I should be able to act like an English man. For me, I am balanced in anywhere, English or language films. However, I am actually an Ambassador of the Igala Film Forum, which is a body that streamlines the activities of the Igala film industry. So I consider myself an Igala to the core. I am an advocate of the igala film. In those days, it bothered me that the Igala people do not have a product in the national market. I hoped that the Igala film industry becomes one of such avenues that can bring a product to the national market. I am happy to tell you today that the Igala film is a national product, and I am proud to be identified with the Igala film industry.