Lagos on the Silver Screen? Who can bring it?

Marina-at-Dusk

If you follow their body of work, you’d notice that Scorsese, Woody Allen, Spike Lee have a love for NewYork and this amorous affair is evident in their movies. For Allen, Manhattan is a clear example, Scorcese titled on of his films New York New York and Spike Lee has Do the Right Thing and The 25th Hour.

Watching those films, if you have never visited the city it kinda make you want to go see it.

They are all very different filmMakers, and show very different elements of the city , through neurotic Jewish eyes, Socially concious African American eyes and Street smart Italian American eyes.

For me i would love to see some filmMakers bring that to Lagos. Now i know what you’re thinking.

“Guy, e no easy to shoot for Lagos”.
“Lagos Ke!!! Is it beans”
Area boys go just obtain you

Ok, now we’ve fired those arrows from the quiver of excuses . Think about it. Would really be cool wouldnt it?

Now, these guys are not Lagos based or even based in Naija, but there are three directors, who based on their work i’ve seen, would like to see how they bring Lagos to the big screen

Akin Omotoso of MAN ON GROUND
His use of sound and visuals as a thematic thread for his narrative was just amazing

Andrew Dosunmu of MOTHER OF GEORGE
The visual palette of MoG, how he captured the party and celebration lifestlye of Nigerians

Thomas Ikimi of LEGACY:BLACK OPS
His psycological and existenstial approach in his films , applied to the city and a character trying to stay sane in it would be very interesting to watch.

These three guys have shown that they can play at a global level and their films are very cinematic. What would make it even more awesome is if Remi Adefarasin did some of the lensing.

Imagine exploring the dark side of Lekki and what goes on behind those “picket fences”. The swimming in the coroporate Shark Tank of Victoria Island or the Lavish life of those in the upcoming Eko Atalantic City. The hustle of Agege and Agegunle , the midlife crisis in Magodo or Ogudu.

Then again, skilled filmMakers based in Eko, can take up the challenge of making a film that is a love letter to the City of Excellence . 🙂

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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”

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.

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

 

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