Thank you so much Chima Igbokwe for granting us few moments of your time. You seem very excited today, are you always happy like this?
What do I say? Well, I guess today is one of those exceptional days. I woke up happy.
You are a writer, a movie director and a producer; what actually led to your becoming a filmmaker? How did it all begin?
Yeah. It all started from my childhood. I’m from a very reserved and artistic home. Its either you are drawing, painting, reading, writing or cracking jokes. We rarely get the chance to play with other kids so we resorted to entertaining ourselves. As early as my primary school days, I had started writing stories. I still remember my father giving me money to type one of my piece in primary six. I also remember playing the role of Bambulu, in the play, This is Our Chance by James Ene Henshaw in my Primary five. Luckily too, I attended a Secondary School that had an active Drama Club. That actually helped in watering my talent and directing my vision. So when I finally got an admission to study Theatre Arts and Film in the University, I already knew that God has called me to be an Artistic Prophet , a master storyteller, a filmmaker.
Do you have a production label/platform? Who do you work with? Who have you worked with?
“Hahahaha… Movie making is a little different from music, especially in Nigeria where Indie Filmmaking is prevalent. Nobody really signs you into a label to make films. A Director or an Actor may get to work with a Producer or a Production Company overtime but that doesn’t really mean that he has been signed. It may just be that the Producer loves his artistic style and work ethics. And talking about the people I have worked with, I have actually worked with so many Producers. Chris Frank Productions, Matilda Lambert Productions, Citi Studio, Pat-Jeni, Covenant Productions, GSS Productions and so many others.”
What Genres are your core areas of expertise? And what genre(s) is your no-go-area?
First, I’d love to state categorically that I am an Auteur. And my “auteuristic” signature can stamp on any genre. Over the years I have written and directed Thrillers, Drama, Rom-Com, Action, etc. My last job, Instaguru is a Rom-Com. I’m a total Artist but I still have a signature.
I have seen some of your productions, you are such a prodigious writer. So, do you mind sharing with the world, the secret behind your success?
Of course there is a secret. The secret is that there is no secret. I read a lot. Articles, fictions, biographies, news, name it. I read and I research a lot. That is one of the things I picked from my late father. He died at 77. Few days before he died, he was still reading. We are products of what we read. So I believe, studying and research have sharpened my art a lot.
Which of your stories, movies/productions are you mostly proud of?
As an artist, I am a mother. My works are “my children”, they all come from me and I give them equal love and attention. I am very proud of them all.|
What is your relationship with other filmmakers? Who is your mentor in Nollywood, and then, as a writer?
Film business thrives more on ensemble playing and networking. We gain nothing being at war. People who put up defensive and nasty attitudes are people with complex issues. We need each other to succeed. So for me, I’m open minded, I try to understand people and that helps me relate well with them. And talking about mentorship, emmm, I would rather say that there are Filmmakers I respect their works and achievements. Ernest Obi, Frank Rajah Arase, Lancelot Imasuen, Kunle Afolayan, Tope Oshin, etc. Nollywood has people, you know.
If you were asked to make any changes today in the Nollywood, what would you change?
Our Industry is growing very fast, so it means we are getting certain things right. But if I were to make a change, I would propose that before people pick up cameras to shoot, they should be forced to undergo an orientation. Film is visual storytelling not a spoken words presentation or an event coverage. We must embrace this reality. Some of our writers need to understand screenplay structuring. Some directors need to understand analysis, interpretation, visualization, performance. Research is needed. It’s not always about talent. Craft is essential.
Aside being a Filmmaker, do you have other career paths, hobbies or aspirations?
I think I’m specially wired for the arts. If I am not doing film, maybe I’d be on radio, or publishing magazines or doing motivational speaking. Yeah, maybe Politics too. I love to serve, hahahaha.
Do you think people can make a living out of film-making, in Nigeria?
Yes! Of course. Right now Nollywood is one of the highest employer of labour in Nigeria. An average production employs close to 35 persons. And people make films every day in Nigeria. So you can imagine.
Is piracy still an issue in Nollywood? How do you preserve/protect your contents from infiltration?
Piracy is a serious issue in Nigeria. We are all victims. There is no lasting solution yet. Even Black Panther did not last up to two days in the Nigeria Cinemas before it was spotted on the streets wrapped with photocopied black and white jackets. It is not funny. We sincerely hope the government takes it serious. We put in so much creativity, energy and money, making these films.
What is your personal advice to other writers in Nigeria and the world in general, both established and upcoming?
My advice is simple; study, sharpen your art, upgrade your knowledge, attend workshops, make research, understudy the works of professionals, understand that the only thing that grows without hard work is weed. As they say, persistence takes you there, consistency keeps you there. Always remember to pray. We are nothing without God.
It has been an insightful moment with you, Rex. Thank you for your time. We do hope to see more great Reads from your ingenuity sir.
Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure.