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.

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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

 

NOLLYWOOD AND THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME

Originally posted on thepingofpong:

image from naij

The films made in Nollywood and now shown in the cinema are visually united by the airbrushed faces of famous faces, of pretty faces and the newest fascinating camera shot: the close-up and ideologically tied together by a lack of a philosophy. Maybe these disparate tropes can be considered a leap, an aesthetic leap: not too long ago what obtained were script writing movements.

The inaugural episode of these movements ( as seen in Living In Bondage and later, Rituals) featured ritualism and witchcraft- distinctly not the Harry Potter brand- finally defeated by the assured potency of Christianity; followed by melodramatic dramas presenting chasms between in-laws; by the 2000s, bolstered by the influx of young men and women attracted by the glamour of the small screen, Nollywood turned to the love story. The love story turned out to be the last major phase of the movement era before the…

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Generation Next: Uduak Patrick

GENERATION NEXT: Is a series of blogs, dedicated to throwing the spot light on young Nigerian talent out there (home and abroad) under the age of 40, whose work make the future of the film industry look promising , mostly focusing on those that are behind the camera; producers, writers, directors and cinematographers etc .

So, to kick off the series meet UDUAK PATRICK

He trained an actor,but these days is a multi hyphenate behind the camera who has worked on several feature, tv series and movies in various capacities the last few years. He was a producer on IN IREDU, a short film that made the top 10 of the second round of the AfriNolly short film competition 2014, and went on to win Best Use of Animation. He was also Assistant Director, on the currently running Ebony Life series Married to the Game(MTTG). The man clearly knows where to be at the right time.

Here is his outing as a director

This is his short film ,NOT, found it interesting, a lil rough around the edges but it’s daring in what is sets out to achieve and different from the type of shorts that one would usually come across.

check it out and see what u think

Also, from his company Blacreek Pictures, which he co-owns is their first feature film THE DATE. This time he’s in the producer’s seat for this tale of … well, watch the trailer and find out

Would be cool to see how this turns out , follow him or Blacreekng to keep updated on a release date

Started from Nothing ..now we here – SPIKE LEE

STARTED FROM NOTHING – is a series of posts, dedicated to film makers(and movements) that without Bank loans,Studio finances, independently made films, some of which went on to be classics, but also became influential, not only in the country, but on Global cinema, an generations of film-makers directly inspired by them

These days he’s known more for his controversial statements, interviews and often outspoken/blunt views on matters rergarding race and issues concerning the African American community. Spike Lee is one of the most relevant and important voices in Black Cinema in the last 30 years . His biggest and most commercial film was INSIDE MAN, with regular collaborator Denzel Washington, who he also worked on with his best known film ,biopic Malcom X.

Lee started quite small. Four years after graduating NYU and with a few short films under his belt , Spike raised $175,000 to make his feature debut “She’s got to have it” ,Shot in 12 days in 1985, the film’s budget was so tight, there were no retakes of any scenes.

The debut is regards as a milestone in American Independent cinema, and it is definately a laarger Milestone for African American Cinema , as it was a film that portrayed African Americans in a very different way than they had ever been seen on screen. The New York Times wrote that the film

“ushered in the American independent film movement of the 1980s. It was also a groundbreaking film for African-American filmmakers and a welcome change in the representation of blacks in American cinema, depicting men and women of color not as pimps and whores, but as intelligent, upscale urbanites.

The film won “Award of the Youth” Foreign Film — Spike Lee (won) at Cannes 1986 festival

Lee went on to be one of the most thought provoking and social concioius film makers of his time, often tackling difficult issues that few others would touch. In his 20+ year career he has made films like Jungle Fever, Mo Better Blues, Do the Right Thing, He Got Game , Bamboozled ,The 25th Hour ,Summer of Sam, and also documentaries; Four Little Girls, When the Leeves Broke and so much more.

Whether one thinks of his views, no one can deny his ability as a film maker and the mark he has made as an African American director on the cinema landscape

Started from nothing… now we here…THE FRENCH NEW WAVE

breathless

STARTED FROM NOTHING – is a series of posts, dedicated to film makers(and movements) that without Bank loans,Studio finances, independently made films, some of which went on to be classics, but also became influential, not only in the country, but on Global cinema, an generations of film-makers directly inspired by them

It may sound like as a strange thing to say, but World War 2 actually did a lot for the evolution and development of cinema as we know it today. From the propaganda film Triumph of the Will and Why we Fight that influenced how stories are told through editing , to the classics that were inspired Where Eagles Dare, The Dirty Dozen etc. But across in Europe , in the late 50′s a group of French Film Critics for Cahier Du Cinema tired of conventions and generic studio film-Making, decided to make their own films. Films that didnt follow the rules and were naturalistic and avante garde as much as possible.

The French Governemt was recovering from the effecs of the war and there was little or no money to start investing in film making and certainly not the type that Jean Luc Goddard,Francios Truffat,Eric Rohmer,Chabrol and others intended. Many of their film were produced on low budgets, and they often had to borrow friends apartments to use as locations. Theri family and friends also often served as cast and crew( no pay ofcourse)

Distincting themselves from conventional films ,their narratives were different, making no attempt to suspend disbelief, they shot with naturalistic lights, real locations, real location sound (nothing reprouced) , Filming techniques included fragmented, discontinuous editing, and long takes and they shot many films hand held, and often shot without permits on the streets. So the crowds were real people(not extras) going about their business and ended up in classics like A Bout De Souffle(Breathless) & A Bande Apart by Jean Luc Goddard.

The French New Wave would go on to inspire people like Francis Ford Coppolla, who started the American New Wave with in the late 60′s early 70′s George Lucas, Walter Murch and others(American Zoetrope). Cinema’s Enfante terrible Quentin Tarantino was so inspired by the FNW, that he named his company after Goddard’s film “A Band Apart”.

These low budget vibrant,innovative and self concious films made by these film lovers changed the landscape of cinema, not only in France , but in Europe and the United States. Influencing many of the American and British film makers that emerged between the 70′s and the early 00′s . Now THAT is a Legacy.


SOME FILM OF THE FRENCH NEW WAVE
:
BREATHLESS
THE 400 BLOWS
A BAND APART
JULES AND JIM
LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD

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STICK-TO-IT-IVENESS

No matter how many times i watch this, im still blown away by this man’s talent. Not only is he an amazing singer/impersonator, but he does it all while performaing a ventroloquist act.

He had performed for over 20 years as an unknown, didn’t make it till his 40′s, but when he did? Boy did he make it. He eventually won that season of America’s Got Talent and also a 100million 5 year performing contract in Vegas.

Saw this video first in 08, still come back to watch it to remind me of perseverance and ofcourse listen to the amazing Terry Fator.

screenwriting: have u got the minerals?

Screenwriting is one of the most under appreciated aspects of the film industry. Many people don’t realize the immense task it takes to commit to write and actually churn out a great screenplay or the emotional and psychological commitment. A lot of people just assume it’s thinking up a story and just throwing words, scenes and dialogue on paper till it reaches 90 or 120 pages. Perhaps that’s why we see a lot of derivative, cliché , contrived and outright appalling things on-screen at times.

A screenplay is like a blueprint. You hire a trained architect to come up with a blueprint. He takes time to design the building(story) , taking into cognisance , structure, shape, durability, resistance and other factors. After the blue print is done, many people will from the blue print to bring that building to life. Same for a screenplay. The Director, Cinematographer,Art Director, Costumer, Hair&Make up department and so many others take guidance from the world the script has created.

So im always baffled when people take a cavalier attitude towards it, and think they can just jump into it without learning the principles, the rules and the craft of creating a screenplay, that wont collapse on its self. I still don’t understand how some producers give a writer an idea on Monday and expect a completed feature screenplay 7-14 days later. Would anyone expect a novelist to churn out a book at that same time?

IMO, the writing team of Simon Pegg an Edgar Wright , that brought us SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ are amongst the best duo in around right now, (right up there with Monty Python). For each collaboration, they go to a secluded area for a few weeks, where they have no phones or email to distract, and they have a writing/story conference,; where they knock out an outline for how their screenplay is going to work.

From the results of the three films, it’s evident that this meticulous planning worked, cos those films are AWESOME.

This is the outline for their latest film THE WORLD’S END

script outline

PEGG AND WRIGHT

We all need a Simon Cowell

So i was recently watching some clips of young actors, trying to sift over who is out there , what they have done and what they are capable ofand who i could work with when a project comes up; and there was a particular young “actor” i had seen a while back, and i thought to check up on his work, just to see if maybe i had been too harsh, maybe i was jaded before and this new perspective would reveal something previously unseen. Turns out i hadn’t.

Four different productions,shorts,series,soap same thing; underwhelming and cringeworthy .

Scrolling down , i saw comments praising him, telling him he’s the Denzel of this generation( ok, they didn’t use those words).

You’re the greatest,
KIP IT UP.
On point
I always knew you had it in you,
This is just the beginning.
You are going places

I had to check my temperature to see if i was sick, or maybe needed to check myself into a mental ward. Maybe they are sane and i’m the crazy one, (that could really be it,certainly would explain a lot).

Questions began to rush through my mind

Are my standards too high?

Is there something they see that i don’t? (maybe that’s it)

Are their standards low?

What exactly is the standard?

What constitutes good acting? Is there a baseline from which we are all measuring, or is it by individual response?

Is there a connection he’s making to them, that i’m not getting? A perspective im still failing to see?

Is their definition of acting = to pantomime

Is the ability to articulately repeat memorized lines with an accent like a newscaster the new definition of acting ?

Is this guy going to carry on believing he is great when his performances are so horrendous?

Do they really believe he’s great or are they just being supportive?

If being supportive, is this what he needs? Delusion instead of correction, a reality check?

i then remembered Simon Cowell, music producer that became a celebrity judge for his blunt and straight forward manner. Out of the three judges, Simon was the only one that seemed to be there to genuinely judge talent, and not make friends, or play Mr Rogers.

Despite being booed and disliked and displayed as Mr Mean, Simon’s opinion was the one that EVERYBODY waited to hear; the contestants, the studio audience and those at home because we all knew it was the TRUTH.

They won’t admit it, but The other judges would be evasive and try to play diplomatic, they’d comment and water down what they really should say, but not Simon. You knew if Simon gave a thumbs up, it was a sign of being on the right track, and not someone just being nice or win the affection of the crowd.

Ok, Simon can be really mean sometimes but he’s never patronizing, he’ll never lie to you,sugar coat the reality and delude you into thinking you are better than your current level of performance.

Come on, admit it, whether it’s American Idols, X Factor, Got Talent or Project Fame, you have tuned in to see some of the bloopers, maybe even more than the real talent; and you can’t believe your ears when someone that just sounded horrible , still believes they are the next big thing.

The truth is, no matter how passionate some people are about singing, acting, dancing or some other creative expressions, they can NEVER make it is as professionals: and If by some chance they get someone to actually pay them to do it, they would be poor, mediocre or average at best, and anyone with a discerning eye would wonder WHY are they given this platform.

i believe EVERY creative person needs a Simon , not a bunch of sycophants that see us heading towards the end of a creative cliff, but instead of telling us


“bro there’s a creative cliff ahead and you are heading straight for it”

“dude u need to slow down and re-direct”

“Nice effort but you need to raise the bar and challenge yourself more”

“It needs a page one re-write, it’s derivate, contrived and all the characters sound alike”

“Your voice needs a different type of song, this is out of your vocal range”

“Don’t get trapped in this booty shaking music, it may be the easy money, but your talents are much more”

“Nice effort, but you need to Re-Edit it, work on the sound, and next time hire a DP, the images are washed out, and it make you look like an amateur”

“Guy, it needs a little work, maybe take a closer look at the ….”

“Bruv, that was not great,i know you are capable of so much more”

Instead, they tell us to “floor it”, leaving us in our delusions.(i’ve been there, done work i felt unhappy and quite frankly depressed about).

Kind of like those contestants that do horribly on Naija Sings, but the people that comment from the audience cheer them on and tell them that they are great even after experienced panel of experts have said otherwise.

Imagine if early in their career Tiger Wood, Whitney Houston, Michael Jordan had people around them, that instead of making them work much harder, just cheered them on while their output actually sucked. Imagine if when Femi Kuti started, and had not quite mastered the sax,playing off key and making noise, Fela wanting to be “encouraging” told him, My son yo have arrived, go and lead the band. NO, he made his son practice hours and hours, letting him know he had to earn his place. Today Femi is one of the best in the world, and has made a name for himself.

Imagine a personal tutor that patronizes his student,telling him he is at genius level, and allows him to enter a national contest when he really isn’t good enough to even win a school contest, all for that student to go and fall on their face. Just because the teacher wanted to be “encouraging” and be seen as “cool”. Wont you see that teacher as wicked. Shouldn’t he have told the student the truth about where his abilities currently were?

We all need a pat on the back, every once in a while, but at the same time we need the truth a lot more as creatives. That is why writers have editors and publishers. That is why athletes have coaches. That’s why great singers have great producers that make them sing , and re sing, until they get it right, and produce that track we keep on repeat for days.

Cheering on a creative when they do bad, or sub-standard work (not suggesting negative bashing) is NOT support. You are actually diminishing any chance they have to improve, by keeping them satisfied in their mediocrity. You may think saying nice things is helpful or encouraging, but it actually stunts development and growth in most cases. Some even begin to believe the hype, and turn on the few that tell them the truth.

And like those contestants on those talents shows, some of them need to find something else to do with their lives , and you wonder why/how their family could allow them to be deluded this long. That’s certainly not love.

EVERY creative needs a Simon in their life(maybe not as mean, but REAL), who would let them know when they are doing beneath their potential(won’t sugar coat) when they need to step up their game , and to re-assess a certain approach.

If as a creative we surround ourselves with ONLY praise singers, who coo lies and delusion into our ears how different are we (Creatively) from corrupt politicians who have everyone in their inner circle telling them that they are doing excellently, and blind them from the reality the public/masses face?

The lies and delusion are the same.