Vanessa Nzediegwu, film producer, scriptwriter, director, actress and painter, is versatile when it comes to the world of the arts. She also runs a foundation known as Extremely Talented Artists (ETA). Senior Reporter, Ovwe Medeme, recently spoke to her about her mission in the Nollywood.
How would you describe your exploits in moviemaking?
I majored in directing but I also want to get a total package as a filmmaker. I have directed short films for film festivals. These were some of the works I had to do in school and I have been using it as a show of will as well. I mean if I can do a short film and do it well I can do a full-length film and do it well. I graduated from the New York Film Academy, Los Angeles, California.
How long have you been acting?
I’ve been acting before I went to Los Angeles. I have featured in quite a number of films. Now I want to do Nigerian film and not Nollywood film.
What are your plans for the industry?
I intend to do a feature film. I’m working on it at the moment. We are still doing the pre-production and hopefully by the end of the year into early next year I should be producing a feature film.
You said you studied filmmaking in the U.S. What are you introducing to the Nigerian movie industry?
I must say that we have started doing very good movies in Nigeria. All we need to do is work harder. We also need to focus on technicality. One problem we have is that we don’t take our time to check our technical knowhow for our movies. Most people feel once you set the camera you are good to go. We need to change the mentality in the industry before we can do outstanding movies. It is not all about the money, even though money plays a major role in the business. Some people have the money but they don’t know how to make good movies.
So what form of uniqueness should viewers expect to see in your films?
Basically, I intend to do good and quality films. That is all I can say because no story is new. It is how you tell the story that matters, so I intend to come up from the angle of telling a very good and suspense-filled story. Apart from that, I will get a professional director. I will make sure that the post-production is well taken care of because it goes a long way to tell the success of a movie.
Where do see the Nigerian movie industry in the next five years?
Some people say in the next five years they see Nigerian movies going to a very great level, rubbing shoulders with international movies but the truth is that if we do not work harder we will not get there. In the next five years, if I am able to work like I really want to, then I’m sure the Nigerin movie industry will be a global thing to talk about.
Tell us about Extremely Talented Artists?
It is a body I set up to help raw talented artists sell their wares and to expose them. I do that annually and have been doing that for the past three years. Our last exhibition was at Eko Hotel and hopefully I’ll be doing another one at the same venue soon.
How did you turn out to become a visual artist?
I actually studied filmmaking in school but like I said, it is to create a platform for people who have the raw talent but do not have a platform to showcase them. Most people who do art exhibition generally and in Nigeria especially, the organisers have criteria for one to showcase his or her work with them and one of the criteria is that you must be an art graduate. I know that there are some people who actually went to school to study art and they are not that good because most of them have been trained to follow someone. But a raw artist, who is talented doesn’t need a guide. All he needs is to do his thing and then brush up.
At what time did you venture into art?
I have always known how to draw all my life but in 2007 I met an artist who was truly nice and I felt if I could join I could make it. I just went through the artist’s school and that was the beginning for me. Then I told the artist that I wanted to draw, the first work I did was the portrait of Genevieve Nnaji. Because it was the first portrait I didn’t have to sell it. I gave it to her as a gift. She still has it in her home I think. She loved it, called me and paid me.
What was your first exhibition like?
I had my first exhibition in 2008. I exhibited with other female artists in Lagos and the turnout was very good. That also encouraged me into starting up something for myself. Because it was easy for me and not easy for some other people who would have loved to be involved I decided to set up ETA for both school-tutored and self-tutored artists.
What challenges have you faced?
Many Nigerians do not know the art market. A lot of them think that art is just a piece of decoration on a wall. So it’s quite difficult trying to teach, encourage and make them see that it goes beyond having a painting on your wall, to telling stories, keeping history. For now, we are still trying to break into the market and still trying to make people really understand what art is.
What is your definition of a real man?
I do not like to see men from their tribe or nationality. I try to see them as individuals. People say this guy is Igbo, he likes money and this person is Hausa and this one is Yoruba he’s this or that. No, I don’t like looking at men from that angle. I like to see men from who they are and what they have inside of them. For me, a real man is someone who is sensitive to his surroundings and very natural.
Are you in a relationship?
Yes, I am and I will be tying the knot very soon as God permits.
How do you relax?
I sleep, visit my friends and love to watch movies when I’m
free and writing.