Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Ego…Turns up the heat again

ANNE Harthrope was arrogant. Full of feminist venom. Everybody knew it, so, were her brothers. But Anne was just the creation of Amaka Igwe.
Maybe she knew it. Maybe not. But the moment Ego Nnamani, no, Ego Boyo, got that role of Anne Harthrope in the television series, Checkmate, her eyes opened to the realities of film production. And she waited to exhale in her relief period: the month she co-produced Violated. “For 13 years, I have been running Temple Productions,” she says softly and gestures to one of her staff to bring a catalogue containing all the company’s work. “In a bid to bring the best to the industry, we are re-launching to showcase our new services and latest film production equipment,” she says. Sporting an elegant and stylish look, Ego says: “This strategic move follows closely on the heels of our partnership with Refinery, an international outfit, to provide the Nigerian film industry with the state-of-the-art technical services for post-production. We decided to re-brand the company and bring the best to the industry. We looked into the possibility of partnering with individuals and companies outside of Nigeria because of the sort of expertise they can bring to our operation in terms of technical quality.” The whole idea of partnering started when her company shot 30 Days. For the film, “we collaborated with some American film technicians, and what they brought to the film was their incredible experience, and they were very knowledgeable about technology that was new and the best practice in the industry. International quality was what we were aiming for, and I believe we got that. So, after that I started looking into the possibility of partnering with people for future project because they were bringing in a lot that we did not have here in any project that we are involved in.” Ego adds, “we are now going to offer better services to our client, we are going to do a lot of corporate work, we are also going to do some films, but we are going to divide them to seven films in a year. We are going to concentrate on more corporate works, do more documentaries, corporate videos, and training videos, advertisement. And then we have our little business, which is equipment leasing, and also have a small part of the company making feature films and documentary series.” FOR much of the period she spoke, Ego wore a confident, ambitious ‘gown’. Her words wore on the weight of a project that will turn up heat on the scene. When she laughs, Ego comes out free and young. And you could hardly imagine that for 18 years or thereabout, she’s been a regular, maybe not really so, but an important face in the country’s movie industry. “In order to reinvigorate the Nigerian film industry and to present the opportunity to produce internationally acceptable films in Nigeria, we felt it was necessary to introduce these equipment,” she sings. To Ego, though attention of the world is on Nigeria’s film industry, a survey carried out, which is currently in the works, showed that most corporate organisations tend to export their video production to South Africa and the United Kingdom. This, she admits, is as a result of dearth of trained professionals who have the sophistication required by them. She notes, eye hardening and voice inflecting a more serious tone. “We are going to start from the beginning, which is acquisition of content; we are going to go all the way to post production, we are going to be able to offer whatever the client wants. If a client comes to us and wants us to develop only content for them, we have the ability to do that, if they want us to handle the entire production, be it corporate, documentary, or advertisement, we will do that. If they just want to lease equipment from us, they can do that. If they want to have post-production services, that also can be done. So, it is full service, all service production company.” Her rough edges on the job have smoothed, and now have brought her more wisdom and finesse. For the lady, there is a lot of financing involved in filmmaking. She enthuses, “we want to concentrate on other aspects, it cannot be only about making films…’aw no’… making films is not only time consuming, it takes a lot of money and the returns are not guaranteed; there are so many issues with the pirates and trying to find the right distribution company, so, when you consider all of those problems, it is difficult to say ‘I am going to make more films’ until the industry has regulated itself to an extent where it becomes a business that is profitable, because at the end of the day you want to make some profit, as a result of this, we are going to start with two to three films in a year, two good films as usual and do other things. There are so many other things; we have a series for television, reality TV, corporate videos, documentaries, so there is a lot of work that can’t be done, it doesn’t have to be films; it is just a part of the business.” REMINDED that she had always brought strength and depth in her varying roles as an actress, especially in Checkmate, a programme that was consistently a major fan favourite, attracting large number of audience, she chuckles, glances beyond the shoulder of her interviewer and moves towards the closed doors and says: “Production is what I have been doing for 13 years; it’s not a business that is just starting now. That is what I am saying, it is not a sudden switch. When I was acting, I had one series and one film and from then on, I had done this which is production; yes there was a switch from acting, but acting was not what I wanted to do, it was a means to an end, it was a way to get contacts, know how the industry works and then I went on considering what I wanted to do which is production, being behind the scenes, working as the producer, doing what am still doing which is running my studio, renting out equipment, offering post-production services and all of that.” Over the years, she has learned a lot about herself and one thing she cannot trade with is education. That is her favourite cause. She says, “I believe in education of children. When I say education, I’m not talking about books only, I’m talking about all that education, offering proper education entails bringing that advantages that they do not have, being able to give them formal education.” She adds, “it is also being able to train them to succeed in whatever they want to achieve. That is what I believe in, and I’m part of the cause that does that, it is called Fortune Network Nigeria and that is what we do.” Her favourite books and authors. “Gosh! I don’t know; I have read so many books, I don’t have a favourite book, I have lots of favorite books. I have several, not one. Unless you want me to give you several names, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Maya Angelou, Somerset Maughan, among others,” she says. What would you predict as Ego’s routine? “Exercise, talk to my children and my husband, you know, people you have in your house but you can’t predict what is going to happen at work because on every given day, you are meeting with different people or it might be a quiet day where normally you will be sitting in your office trying to come up with some new proposal to some organisation, or read a script or come up with some way of shooting the pilot or read a script and think about how to put it on stage. There is no day that is the same, there is always something different… we all have that, so you wake up in the morning, say a prayer, go to the gym, say a quick hello to my husband and children and they also rush about their own school and work; and I go to the office and see whatever the day brings,” she says. Her hobby? “Oh my God!” she heaves. “I don’t know. I am an avid reader, and I can read three books at the same time, I can watch a film and I can tell you what I going to happen before it happens. I’m a bit critic but I’m also somebody that enjoys films thoroughly, I can watch any sort of film.”

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