Saturday, 9 January 2010

They ‘broke’ the banks to brew movies

BY SHAIBU HUSSEINI
Vivian Ejike and Emem Isong, who both quit their banking jobs for film scripting and producton have today emerged not just as recognizable faces in home videos, but (individually) a force to reckon with in the Nigerian film industry. They have earned popularity by the quality of scripts they have individually written and produced. These include Fragile Pain and Blind Obsession. The ladies on separate grounds recently came out with two new films Guilt Pleasures by Isong and Silent Scandals, another Ejike production. Critics say the movies rank tops in the industry. Moviedom presents these filmic ladies of substance for your enjoyment.


Vivian Ejike…

Banking and Vivian
I was naturally dragged into banking because I was brought up in a family of bankers. I have a sister and aunty, who are bankers. In short everyone around me was into banking. I became a banker, too, but was not satisfied because I am a very creative person. I read and write a lot. So, something kept pulling me closer to Nollywood. I kept hearing voices that suggested that I would be better off in the creative industry. The more I said no to the voices from inside, the more the passion grew. So, at a point, I just made up my mind to quit the banking job to face my passion, which is movie production, particularly scripting. I wanted to write stories that will be produced. It’s joy to see what you have created being reenacted. I wasn’t thinking of the glamour, but to be counted as those who are genuinely concerned about improving Nollywood and I am happy that I am gradually getting there. I am happy at my contributions as a writer and producer. So, I would like to say, I am fulfilled being here. No regrets.

Why not acting?

I have heard a lot of people ask, what I am doing in production, when I should be acting. The truth is, I don’t like the cameras. Most of my directors have talked me into acting. They said, I possess the right statistics and I would be a fantastic actress. But we all can’t be actresses. Some are cut out to do other things, but it’s not as if I cannot act. If I put my mind into it, I am sure I will excel just as I am excelling as a writer and producer.
Parental reaction to choices
To tell you the truth, my parents didn’t like my quitting the banking job. They thought I would run back bruised, but I am happy that today, I have their support which is above 150 per cent, if you ask me.

Growing up

By the grace of God, I would say growing up was nice. I had parents, who took care of us and showed us love. So, I would say I had a lovely childhood. We were comfortable. My siblings and I grew up as happy kids in Enugu. Though, I am from Anambra State, I was raised in Enugu. I attended Federal Girls’ College, Enugu, before going to the University of Port Harcourt, where I studied Foreign Languages and Linguistic and majoring in French Language.
Movie making and family life
I don’t allow one aspect to suffer. I try as much as I can to balance both. I really have a passion for filmmaking and I love my family. So, I know how to balance both. I really know how to balance my life, when to stop and when to start. Even if I have to go the extra mile, I make ensure my family life does not suffer. So, I try to balance my acts.

Debut movie

I started out in 1996 with one of my works Fragile Pain nominated for an earlier edition of AMAA awards. I was not around and had to be called it. It made me feel good. It showed that someone somewhere was appreciative of what we were doing. I think there was a lot of positive response for the movie. It really made me feel good as a producer.
Favourite food and music
I like rice. It’s my favourite. They call me a bird at home because I can eat rice at any time. I can just wake up in the middle of the night and serve myself a plate of rice. As for music, I like rhythm and blues. It helps me reflect, relax and unwind.

Fashion sense

For me, it is not all about money. I can pick what the other lady doesn’t like and once I pick it up, I match and mix it up properly; you would think what I am wearing is from the moon. I think it generally have to do with the way you carry yourself as well as your packaging, too. It is the ways you package yourself that make you stylish.

Her kids

I am a very open person. I am not one who will tell them what to choose as a career. I would only be there to support them, I mean my kids when the time comes for them to choose a career. I will back them fully. I had parents who backed me up and so, I will be there for them. I am here today because my parent backed me up. So, I see no reason for not doing the same for them.

Career ambition

Oh my God, it is to be the best. I want to be better than I could possibly be as far as movie making is concerned. I am even looking beyond Nollywood. I want to be able to set standards that people would refer to. I want to be known for quality and for always insisting on doing things the right way. I just want to be the best.


… And Emem Isong

Native of – Ikono in Akwa Ibom State.

Her forte
Script writing, Acting and Production.

Schools attended

Federal Government Girls’ College and the University of Calabar

Qualification obtained

A degree in Theatre Arts

From banking to filmmaking

I didn’t join Nollywood from school. When I came out of the university, I went into the banking sector, where I spent three years. But while there, my colleagues noticed that I was in the wrong profession and advised I take up a career as a writer. Somehow, I quit and I started writing. The success of my first movie, which is Living in Bondage encouraged me to forge ahead. I just left the bank not knowing where I was going. But as I left, I started to write and produce in my office, though difficult, I am happy I took that decision.

Script and production credits

The first one I did was Breaking Point, later A Minute To Midnight and Rumours. Others are Hit and Run, The Street Revenge, Untouchable and Emotional Crack. It was Emotional Crack that established me and took me around the world. From there we produced Private Sin, Critical Decision, Games Men Play, Games Women Play, Behind Closed Doors, Girls in the Hood, Bitter Imagination, A Piece of Flesh, Unfinished Business, Reloaded and most recently the one, I premiered in November Guilt Pleasure.

Growing up

I grew up in an environment of love. My parents were loving and quite supportive. But then, I still don’t agree that I write only love stories. I do drama and I like intense drama probably because I am an intense person. So, I like to write like that. But I also believe that love makes the world go round and if there is love in the society, we would have less crime and all the vices, we now have.

Inspiration

I draw inspiration from God Almighty and happenings around.
Between directing, writing and production
I would want other people to interpret what I have written. I don’t think I have the energy for directing; secondly, I am a very restless person. I don’t think I can stand in one position for too long. I love writing and producing movies.

Any regret

I am fulfilled. It’s not necessarily about money, but touching lives. I enjoy writing and seeing what I have written come to life through the actors. I can’t imagine doing anything else, though sometimes you lose your privacy as a result of the job. No regrets.



Around and about Nollywood...

France announces tax rebate for filmmaking
AT a time establishing tax and custom incentives for the Nigerian film industry is still being considered, France has kicked off the implementation of regulations for establishing tax rebate for international film production. “This long awaited measure is extremely important for the development of the industry, particularly the troubled times the sector is going through”, says Nicolas Traube, president of Film France. One of the primary missions of Film France is to promote the film and audio-visual industry for national and foreign productions. This agency has been working for several years with the CNC, the national body in charge of the new mechanism, on the setup of the new regulation and its technical details. Implementation for the regulation starts from January 1, 2009 and the few foreign productions shot in France this year would likely apply for it. “We have already noticed this year as a significant extension of the shoots for Hollywood films in France, with an average length that changed from 3 to 7 days” notices Patrick Lamassoure, General Manager of Film France. “
“With the new law now fully in place, we expect film shoots to set off by this new law because filmmakers like Woody Allen have already confirmed that such a measure would increase their ability to come and film in France.” The law establishes a 20 per cent tax rebate on things bought in France for foreign film productions that last for at least five days. Such spending must start from a 1 million Euros.

Babylon international workshop holds in Berlin
WITH entry for participation in this year’s edition of Babylon International Workshop Initiative (BIWI) on Film organised by the Nigerian Film Corporation, Jos, in collaboration with Scenario films (UK), Scripthouse (Germany), Playfilms (France), EU Media International and the British Council, closed; the stage is now set for the first leg of the script workshop scheduled for Berlin, Germany, from February 16 to 20, 2010. 60 entries were received from various film makers from around the world including Nigeria, UK, France, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Germany and other parts of Europe. Venue of the workshop is the British Council office, Alexanderplatz 1, Berlin, Germany. Three entries from Nigeria “Red Light District”, by Didi Cheeka; “Letter to the Prof”, by Chike Ibekwe and “My Brothers Sin”, by Jide Bello, were chosen for the Berlin and Jos/Abuja workshops. Nigerian participants commended the objectives of BIWI, which among others is aimed at mentoring filmmakers from across the world. The workshop will have an informal film screenings of past productions of participants for the purpose of familiarisation. However, participants will be required to provide a synopsis/treatment for their entries as a general principle. Programme details include a five–day interactive development workshop for 14 selected projects (7 European, 7 African) with script consultancy; one-on-one production and marketing analysis; screenings; case studies and network forums. Others are individual mentoring from Babylon experts during script re-write and preparation phase scheduled for February and March, and a five-day production lab at the National Film Institute, Jos, from April 27 through May 2, intended to consolidate script development of each project and provide filmmaking teams the opportunity to watch scenes from their films, or produce promotional short films based on their feature film materials. The highpoint of the event will be the presentation of projects and review of promotional materials at the Nigerian Film Corporation’s Zuma Film Festival taking place in Abuja.

Final call for AMAA 2010: Entries open till January 10
THE Africa Film Academy invites filmmakers to submit their Feature, Short, and Documentary works for consideration by the 6th AMAA. Each completed entry form must be accompanied by the synopsis of the film, the list of credits, marketing stills, filmographies of the directors and producers, 10 DVD copies of the film and proof of the right to submit. AMAA will hold on April 10 and will be televised across the world. For further information, contact AMAA at email info@ama-awards.com

February is close of entries for Zuma Film Festival 2010
ALL is now set for the hosting of the 5th edition of the biennial ZUMA Film Festival organised by the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), scheduled to take place in Abuja from May 2 to 6, 2010. Call for entries opens on December 1, 2009 and closes February 28, 2010. The theme for this year’s edition is Global Images Global Voices, which according to the organisers seek to consolidate on the gains of previous editions. Interested participants can make enquiries by e-mail to md@nigfilmcorp.com. Similarly, entry forms can be obtained and returned to any of the Corporations offices in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Jos


Waka pass…
Producer- Amebo A. Amebo
Director- Mr. Gossip
Actors- Nollywood Celebrities

We saw Oge Okoye
ONE waka pass, who hinted that he was sure that star actress Oge Okoye was on her usual vacation abroad returned to withdraw his gist. When we asked him why, he mentioned that it was a different person that he saw because the real Oge Okoye was in town. The waka pass said he ran into the star actress in a Clinic in Festac with a child on her trail. It was when the child tripped and called out ‘mummy’ that it was established that it is the product of her rumoured failed marriage. Anyway the waka pass was silent when we asked if Sista Oge was on call on any set there, came to see a patient or for treatment herself ? He later told us that he needed time to ‘make assurance doubly sure’ because only women ‘who have somebody on the way’ visit the medical facility on the days and time Sista Oge visits. If your two plus two equals to five, ours is four!

Alex Lopez has joined them
THOSE who have been wondering where Nollywood ‘before-before’ top actress Alex Lopez had gone to and who had specifically written to ask us to demand a special fine from her for failing to announce that she had abdicated her title of Baale of Surulere say they have granted the soft spoken actress amnesty. They said though they have been denied ‘things’ since Lopez moved out of their neighborhood, they should rejoice with her when she is rejoicing. Well, we asked them what they think Lopez should be rejoicing about and one of them simply relied that ‘Lopez has joined them’. We pressed on until we were told that the star actress and single mother, who dazzled when Nollywood was Nollywood has moved to the only area in Lagos with a free trade zone — Lekki. They even say if they know Lopez as they used to, the only reason she has not come to do final farewell is because she is still decorating her room and fixing interior decors . But come, sista lopez, na who come sabi you pass waka pass…

This actress has no heart…
SO, this tall and busty actress, who starred as a detective in a Yoruba flick, where she was gunning down people at the slightest provocation has no heart at all. I mean if she could carry a gun in a movie, what else can she possibly be scared off? Anyway the actress, who staged a big society wedding sometimes back did Ben Johnson, when we tried an expensive joke on her. It had been difficult getting across to her as we have tried without success. So, on this day we tried, and went through; we dropped a joke that got her scared stiff. She asked who was on the line as soon as she picked our call and the next thing we heard was a loud scream of ‘Olohun ma Je’ when we introduced ourselves as ‘Mutallab, calling from the United States’. We laugh die by that her singular reaction. And to tell the truth, the number has remained permanently switched off. Madam star actress may have even thrown away the sim card. But madam, I think say you be actor? Oh well, as dem teach us for small pikin, actor no dey die for film!… To God be the Glory!

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