The Life of an Indie filmMaker…the 9th wonder of the world

LOVE THIS VIDEO, very encouraging. Often times in Naija we think we are the only ones that have difficulty financing, making and distributing our films. But the reality is , everyone that is not being financed by the studio system has all those same issues. Even for those financed by the studios, sometimes there is so much interference from the suits, that you cant make the movie you set out to make, and they take it off your hands in post pro and do what they want.

Ultimately, are you making films SOLEY for profit? Soley to make an obscene amount of money?

Or are you making films because you cant see yourself doing anything else but telling those stories, and you just enjoy that privilege and are satisfied with it paying the bills and allowing you to make another film, and the next , and the next.

Will you be satisfied with just enough people seeing it to make it profitable to finance the next film but not getting mainstream distribution or name recognition?

Your reasons for being in the business will determine how you deal with delay, rejection, not getting recognition and even affect the kind of films you make etc

There are many great indie filmMakers out there whose films never cross the shores of their country for one reason or the other, some that are only seen in selected theatres. Not everyone would become a household name. The sooner we learn that the sooner we can move on.

So for all Indie FilmMaker, hope you are as encouraged from this as i am, we may have our down times,be broke, discouraged and maybe even depressed at times, but the satisfaction of making our films and getting a great response, certainly beats doing a “secure” job and living the rest of our lives with “shoulda coulda”

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Marriage Isn’t For You

oludascribe:

Ok, i know , thisi isn’t my usual entry related to film, cinema or pop culture, but i saw this and found this interesting and thought to share.

Originally posted on Seth Adam Smith:

Kim and I

Kim and I

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. :) I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my…

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Which one have you made ?

Which one have you made???

This is a question usually asked in annoyance or even fury on movie reviews sites by trolls fans of films/filmMakers who get angered when their film gets criticized,panned, badly reviewed.

There’s a definition for this

APPEAL TO ACCOMPLISHMENT is a genetic fallacy wherein Person A(Movie Producer) challenges a thesis(bad review) put forward by Person B(Cinema Patron or Reviewer) because Person B(Patron or Reviwer) has not accomplished similar feats or accomplished as many feats(made a film) as Movie Producer

Example

The question is meant to say one of two things(or both)

You haven’t made a film so you are not in the position to say what is wrong with this one.

You haven’t made one, so shut up and don’t complain/criticize until you do so.

Some go as far as name calling and throwing all sort of insults at people that give their film a bad review.

So, if they like your film, they have great taste, but if they dont, the fact they have not made a movie makes their opinion invalid? Hmmmmmm. What if they hate your current movie but liked the previous one so much that they saw it a second time and bought tickets for 5 friends to see it too. Is their opinion still invalid? Are they still a “hater”, “a failed actor/producer that is jealous” ?

As someone once said “So to criticize a film one must be a filmmaker? That makes no sense”

So is a person’s opinion only valid if they like it?

Hold that thought for a minute and let’s apply that to some other situations.

SCENARIO 1

-Your phone network provider gives horrible service, and while you have not been able to make calls you have been charged, but before you call them or write on social media about how horrible they are. Which network have you run,operated ?

SCENARIO 2

-You have a wedding to attend, a material to sew but your regular tailor is unavailable, so you have to leave it with his apprentice. He does a horrible job, wasting the material and the result is unwearable. Do you complain or keep quiet because you have never made one before and therefore are in no position to complain?

SCENARIO 3

-You eat at a restaurant, but the food is horrible, undercooked and over-salted, plus the staff are rude and incompetent. Very upset, you ask for the manager. But think for a moment. You have never run a restaurant, you have never coordinated multiple culinary staff. Who are you to question their service just because you paid to eat there?

SCENARIO 4

-You are watching your favorite team play yet another disappointing match. With the emotional investment you put in this team you expect much more. The manager uses bad formations, he benches the good players and refuses to buy good players even though he has the money to do so. In your opinion he’s an idiot. But before you start a hashtag to campaign his removal, think, You haven’t run a football team before, you have not been in his position. Which team have you managed?

We all have something we are passionate about that sometimes disappoint us eg a sport team . We have services we pay for and expect to give us our money’s worth but many times don’t . Wont you be livid if after getting bad service , you are asked by the CEO/Manager, “Shutup, Which one have you made “?

Do you have to be able to run a restaurant to expect good service? Must you posses the skills of Sir Alex to recognize that a team is underperforming? Is it a requirment to have been a LGA Chariman or Governor, before you have the right to complain about the lack of provision of basic infrastructure in the city you reside?

Back to the film world

Steven Spielberg has won multiple Oscars, BAFTA,Golden Globe,Directors Guild Award,Producer’s Guild Award, his films have made over $15 billion, he has made many iconomic films and inspired MANY filmMakers all over the world. He is arguably the most recognized director in the world, even by those thay may have never seen his films(or know they have) and he STILL has people that dont like his films. People who have their valid reasons for not taking him seriously as a filmMaker(too sentimental, too sugary,too commercial, too this too that)

I was on the FaceBook page of Criterion Collection, and there was a post in which quoted Chris Nolan saying he never went to film school and was self taught , the comments that followed showed how many people were not impressed by the billions his films had made at the box office; comments like these

“His poor film grammar in action sequences and gimmicky narrative style makes his admission about a lack of formal training kind of obvious”

another commenter said

“he doesn’t seem to understand the most basic elements of action, like where to point the camera and when to cut, and his plotting is of course a mess (see the aimless, bloated last third of most of his movies). Most self-taught filmmaker learn this stuff by watching other movies, but maybe his ego and grand “vision” got in the way? He is ambitious, I’ll give him that, but he doesn’t have the talent to match”

WAIT, there’s more

On IMDB some headlines for viewers’s reviews(not critics) for INCEPTION were

INSIPID- The pointless film

You are not as stupid as Nolan thinks you are

Insulting

Good idea lost in the noise

One of the most overrated films ever! The most un-dreamlike film about dreams I’ve ever seen!

Boring, too long, illogical, awful dialogue

Im sure you know of Nolan’s accomplishments,(you can look them up) so , if HE can still get reviews like those and some people look at his work or Speilberg’s and go BLEH!!!

Unless you have the level of worldwide acclaim, regard and ability to greenlight an original project with $100m+ budget, why do you expect absolutely EVERYONE , to fall in love with your film(s), or cease to have an opinion otherwise? Does it make it any easier to swallow criticism? No, but it is a REALITY of every creative endevour that some people for valid or invalid reasons, just wont like your output, and they reasons they don’t like it will be the very same reasons others LOVE IT.

Unless you want to give up your right to complain or be upset about ANYTHING you invested in emotionally or financially regardless of how it disappointed ; “Which one have you made” should be eliminated.

While some comments on those sites are indeed immature, malicious,bitter and downright idiotic,some are a result of careful analysis; maybe it’s an opportunity to analyze what is being said,see if there is any validity.

If there isn’t , discard it and move on or better yet, stay away from reviews. Many of the best and succesful film makers in the world have gotten horrible reviews both from critics and fans when their films dont meet expectation or the standard they have set, so it happens to the very best . But posing such a question makes one appear one of the following; arrogant, unwilling to learn or maybe a little insecure.

Speilberg, The Original Wunderkid

Long before the likes of Tarantino, Chris Nolan and JJ Abrahms become household names , and a release of their movie was an event that had people all over the globe waiting with glee. Steven Speilberg was and probably still is, the best known director in the world. Over the years the man has tackled a variety of genres, winning directing awards from almost every significant film body there is. From films of childhood wonder to alien invasion to resurrecting dinosaurs to War to love stories to adventurous archaeologists; almost every thing he touches turns in Cinema gold.. almost. While he has had a few turkeys, his body of work is nothing short of outstanding, and his contribution to Cinema and pop culture eclipses any failure he may have in his filmography.

Like many great directors Speiberg has many influences that impact his vision, to which he adds his techniques. Not a meer cut and paste, but a cinematic touch that makes it a thing of beauty on its own . He also has various themes that are present to a discerning eyes, similar to how Tarantino has a criminal underworld theme in most of his work, and JJ Abrahms has scientific mystery and un-answered questions.

I came across this video essay that analysis his work and shows some of his influences, shows how meticulous he is , and that directing is not just about calling action and yelling at your crew, but pulling your viewer into a world and taking them on a ride to remember

Im pretty sure any young director(in career) watching this , would hope to have a body of work in about 20-30 years to which someone would dedicate hours to create such a respectful and admiring video essay.

Candle goes out for “The Prince of Darkness”

When it comes to Cinematography, in the last 40 years , there are two names that stand out for their brilliance,and their contribution to cinema; one of those names is Gordon Willis. He shot films like The Godfather Trilogy, Annie Hall, Manhattan, All the President’s Men and many other classics.

His distinctive trademark lighting of using shadows and not allowing eyes to be fully seen earned him the nickname Prince of Darkness.

Willis recently passed away but his legacy lives on, many directors and cinematographers have been influenced and inspired by the body of work he has left behind; and that’s the thing about great work, it speaks for you

Good Night Prince

Director arth thou

There are diff types of Director:

The Spike Lee type, Steve McQueen type, The Tyler Perry type, The Lee Daniels type & the F Gary Gray type. Each different in tone, each with a different level of mastery on the language of cinema. From politically/socially conscious to existential to summer blockbuster to sappy .

Some are more popular than others, but popularity or box office receipts has not always been a measure of cinematic quality. If so, “Twilight” will be said to be a better film than “The Shawshank Redemption”.

There’s certainly a need for variety in the market and diversity, each coming with a different voice for the punters to choose from the pack.

But in the Nigerian cinema market, do we have too much of the same? The same genre that dominates the market? Little distinction between voices of the storytellers?

What of the political commentary, social commentary, allegorical,satirical,quirky,dark,existential, etc

Do we have such diversity in Nigerian Cinema? As we evolve and new voices enter the market place slowly, What kind of directors would you like to see?

What kind of and genre,tones and styles do you believe would make the market place more interesting?

Sodas , Cyanide and Award Winners

So I heard this movie got a standing ovation at a festival last year, and also won a few acting gongs; I came across it recently and decided to check it out…2hrs into the movie the plot had barely kicked in, it had numerous un-necessary characters, and the title character had appeared for less than five minutes , this basically describes all that was wrong with it


“Drama that uses coincidence, rolls out a character for plot requirements or tosses in a plot changing detail for convenience looks shoody & contrived”- Michael Rabiger

I should have known better, since a previous film i had seen by the same Director had very similar traits, which even the star studded cast couldn’t save. Conclusion? Lets just say if i ever make the attempt to watch any film by this dude again, I will first have to find a KGB doctor to install a cyanide tooth I can dislodge at anytime while watching.

It then got me thinking. What is our standard in Naija or Nollywood? How do we determine what film is worthy of a an Award or even worthy of getting Nominated? What is the screening process? What is the benchmark for qualification?

Is it based on who submits their film?(or lack of better submissions) The popularity of the stars? It’s box office results? Or is it based on achievement in film-Making which is above and beyond the hundreds of other films made in that same period?

When films that are very formulaic and follow EVERY cliche of its genre, get nominations and go ahead to win, what does that say about the award body? That’s like a Mills&Boons book being shortlisted for a Booker or Pulitzer Prize.

What does that say about our perception of what is great or good, or worthy of accolades? What does that say about our capability or potential as film-Makers, when colleagues from all over the globe view the quality of what we award as BEST? Would they want to collaborate, co produce, recommend? How do it look to investors from around the world whenthe kind of films we award, are the type that they dont take seriously from their own people?

Look at it this way, Hollywood is the biggest and most visible industry in the world. It makes a lot of great films and also makes a HUGE share of crappy, average,nice but unremarkable movies, every year. Those movies don’t pretend to be anything other than they are, and they certainly aren’t praised, lauded or awarded.

The only awards they get are the Razzies,very low rating on Rotten Tomatoes(and mockery on YouTube); and though we know some Oscar wins are political, a result of award bait lobbying,pretentious arts. There is a certain level of quality to which you can’t deny in Screenplay,Cinematography,Acting and overall impact they reached in comparison to other releases.

What would you think if films like GI Joe:Rise of Cobra , Mummy 3 , Baggage Claim, This is the End or Twilight ; started getting Academy Award nominations due to popularity or whatnot?

Last year I treated myself on my birthday to the movie “2 Guns”, absolutely LOVED IT, Denzel and Wahlberg cracked me up, and i had a good time watching, but it’s not even in the same stratosphere as films that get nominated like “There will be Blood”, The Lives of others”,”No Country for Old Men”, or Denzel’s previous films like The Hurricane,Glory or Malcom X ..frankly id think the committee were on crack if a generic movie is even considered for nomination.

That takes nothing away from the film, it is what it is, just not remarkable to that effect, cinematic-ally, tonally or in any manner. It’s not that much different from other buddy cop movies out there, a black dude and a white dude paired together; Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours, and others.

Would the Oscars still have the same prestige if they started nominating films like Maid in Manhattan, or Why Did I Get Married or Ride Along?; as fun they may be to watch? NEVER, they begin to lose credibility when the benchmark is set so low.

While the enjoyment of creative works like movies , songs etc is subjective there has to be a certain benchmark set and we can’t allow sentiments or “na our brother”, “he’s one of us”, to be our rating system.

Open Mic Theatre – a place to be

So i attended Open Mic Theatre last weekend hosted at Terraculture. Im really not an outing or jaiye jaiye person, i prefer to stay at home with a hot chocolate watching a Meg Ryan dvd boxset , watching Arnold Swartzenegger and Steven Seagal utter one liners as they break bones and e ju karate cheesy bad guys. But it turned out to be a great night, featuring loads of great acting talent and many participants performing spoken word. Throughout the time i was there i couldn’t help but think of The Second City

The Second City is an improvisational comedy enterprise that originated in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood. It opened it’s doors on December 16, 1959 and has since expanded its presence to several other cities, including Toronto and Los Angeles. Since its debut, the Second City has consistently been a starting point for comedians, award winning actors, directors, and others in show business.

If you like your American Comedy , many of the names you know are alumni of TSC including John Candy(Uncle Buck), David Rasche(Sledge Hammer),John Belushi(The Blues Brothers), Bill Murray (Ground Hog Day), Harold Ramis(GhostBusters) , Mike Myers(Austin Powers), Steven Colbert(The Colbert Report), Tina Fey(30 Rock), Dan Ackroyd(The Blues Brothers),Racheal Dratch(SNL),Steve Carrel(Evan Almighty) and so much more.

Though Open Mic Theatre is not secluded to comedy, and is more of a platform than a training ground, as TSC was a rite of passage for many of those comedic talents we know today, (it might be a bit early to say), but i feel OMT, has a strong part to play in the future of the movie industry as the new generation (late 20’s to under 40) settle in and start to prominently take stage in the industry. Aside many young , upcoming talent performing monologues from movies and excerpts from theatre, present were also many upcoming and talented producers and directors, watching silently, and making mental notes; when they want to cast for their next film, guess who they will call, and may exempt from auditions???

Founded and hosted by Lala Akindoju, it’s not only a harvest ground for observing talent , but a great place for talented actors(yes i mean both male and female) to have fun AND show their abilities, without the pressure and the anxiety that usually come with auditions.

Video

Creativity – The Sunday Times Icons

MAD RESPECT for the mind behind this and his team. Saying so much in so little time, and the fact it was done all in one unbroken take , is just brilliant. From the costume changes, to the cinematography, slick camera movement and lighting change, each matching the movie it paid homage to; Geekasm

Yeah, i know it’s been out for a while now, but i came across it again and was still blown away by it.

How many of the icons do YOU, recognize?

DODAN DAYS – A tale of Nigeria

In 2008 , Steven Soderbergh , released CHE, the two part biopic on revolutionary and cultural icon Che Guevera. It charts the story of a young Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and a band of Castro-led Cuban exiles mobilize an army to topple the regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista. i wonder if Soderbergh got any grieve from Cubans complaining about a white guy telling “their son’s” story.   

The role of the icon was played by Benicio Del Toro(The Usual Suspects,21 Grams), who collaborated once again with his TRAFFIC director. In preparation for portraying the icon , Del Toro spent 7 years researching the life of Guevera ( beyond the t-shirt looking cool, how many of us know anything about who Che actually was?) .

Why am i talking about CHE. Well, recently for what seems like the umpteenth time(how many is that exactly) i was watching the brilliant documentary on the history of Nigeria, by Jide Olanrewaju , brilliant stuff, i highly recommend.   

It is a well put together piece that charts the country from the colonial days to independence to post military rule. It maps out all the key players , the coups, the Biafran war and how we got to where we are today. Through the movie , one name kept on coming back DODAN BARRACKS. This was where most of the military men that ruled and conducted coups emerged from or where resident.  It then occurred to me, what if there was a Biopic, covering the history of the nation, from the perspective of the men in the Barracks? Charting from the very first coup to the eventual return to civilian rule in 99 where they returned to where they belonged? (hence the title DODAN). It would cover 30+ years of history , following many of these officers from Junior officers, how they rose through the ranks, their inter-relationships, and how it went on to affect their decisions, and where they are in the country today. Right from Ironsi and the first coup, to the Biafran war (a story of it’s own) to Abdusalami handing back in 1999.

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Like the CHE it will take two parts to chart all this, but like Clint Eastwood two part history of the war (Flag of our Fathers/Letters to Iwo Jima) the second part would be seen from a different point of view, from that of the politicians and the civilians. This would enable a broader view and may even change any opinion formed from seeing the first film.

The country would be the the main character, and everyone are just the supporting cast.

But if such a movie got a perfect script and a blank cheque to make it happen, who would play these roles? Who would be cast in the roles of Awolowo, Zik, Ironsi, Murtala Muhammed,Ojukwu , Obasanjo, Gowon, MKO, Babanjida ,Abacha etc.

Alternatively, it could be made into  mini series, and taking a cue from HBO series  THE WIRE, each season would cover a different theme on the history of the country Colonial Days,Biafra, Coups, Birth of corruption , etc

Having said all this, the question rises. Who can direct such as sprawling epic that charts over 60 years of a nation’s history?   With the soon release of Half of a Yellow Sun, and the anticipated release of “76”, two films that dip their toe into the history of the nation, a project like this is not out of the realm of possibilities, and i for one , think that it’s about time the younger generation sees what went on in the past, and start taking the steps to avoid repeating those mistakes.

So, Question of the day. Assuming HBO was ready to finance a project like this, hiring Nigerian writers, producers, directors and actors. Who do you think(Home or Diaspora)  would be perfect for a project like this?  And for whoever you name, you have to state why, and based on what previous work(films,TV) do you think they can write, direct, produce or portray a historical character? Their popularity is not a factor, just their skillset