The movie industry in Nigeria otherwise known as Nollywood is set to witness a turnaround as a renowned movie legend stormed the city of Jos ready to shoot an epoch movie that will stand the test of time: The Producer, Director and Co-Director of this all-time movie, Mr. Ifeanyi Chukwu Onyeabo and Chinyere Ozoh, were caught in a gist with our Correspondent in Jos, KINGSLEY CHUKWUKA and what seems like an anecdote narrated thus: Excerpt:
What part of Nigeria are you from?
I hail from the eastern part of the country, from Enugu State in Nkanu East Local Government Area to be precise, but I can also say I am from Jos, because I was born and raised in Jos.
How long have you been in the movie business?
Well my first movie was a TV programme, in 1999, but my first Home Video was in 1993, titled ‘‘Vengeance’’ and it was shot here in Jos
Since 1993 to date what has been happening?
A lot has happened, like I said, I started my carrier in music, I sing, dance and rap. I do these things before getting involved full time in film making and since then, I have been so blessed. Because of my adventurous nature, I advanced to Ghana and I can proudly tell you that, that I broke the ground between Nigeria and Ghana in the movie business. My first collaboration with Ghanaian movie was between 1996 and 1997 and that was how Ghaliwood came on board. I remained in Ghana and started shooting constantly and in the year 2000, I came back to Jos and shot a movie titled ‘Scout’.
We understand you left Nigeria for Europe, what motivated you to take such move?
I left Nigeria actually in 2003/2004 to Europe to expand my scope and in the same year I came back to Ghana and from Ghana I returned to Lagos doing movie and music because that is all I know. However I made Ghana my home and from there I traveled to other parts of the world. I shot most of my movies in Ghana and grew big in the business and in 2009 I traveled to Berlin where I was conferred with award of the first African Film Maker and since then I have worn loss of other awards both local and international. Just last year, I worn four awards in America, another in California called the African AUSCA Award. I have also just returned from New York, I have a project that I am currently working on over there with my international partners. The first and second season will be shot Nigeria while the third and fourth season will be shot abroad.
What brought you back to Jos?
Well I started my life here, Jos is where I was born and raised, even though I am from Enugu State, I can still confidently say that Jos made me what I am today. So my return is to give back to the society and creative more opportunity for the younger once. Now I am in Jos shooting a seasonal movie that has to do with dance drama titled ‘True Legend”, is a story of African Dancers, African Singers and African Talents; we are trying to expose talents that are hidden through this film and to showcase and export our culture to the rest of the world; it is going to be super and a world class movie.
So how long have you been in Jos trying to package this?
This is my 7th month trying to do rehearsal alone, because the actors and the entire cast have to do the dance and singing themselves, so we have to get professionals to train them, I wrote all the songs myself but I have to train them to let them do it themselves, it is capital intensive, but we are committed in producing world class movie.
So why did it take seven months just for rehearsal alone?
It took this long because the actors will have to understand the concept behind the dance and master the steps to get it right, we don’t have to hire dancers from outside.
How are you coping with this arrangement, considering it is capital intensive?
I have invested a lot in this movie and have also partnered with a friend who believe in what I can do, his name is Mr. Steve-James, the same guy the enemies used against me few years ago by using EFCC to get me arrested, which was all a set up; James apologised few years later and withdraw all the charges against me; today he is a big time investor in my project and is determined to help me succeed. I also have a co-producer Uzor Obukal a producer, his company is also with us, Habila Timeless production coming together with three of us king James Nig. Ltd and Eko Motion Picture Professionals.
This project is sure gulping a lot of money?
Yes, we have spent over N27 million on feeding, accommodation and logistics for the past seven months and we budgeted over N40 million on this project, but it obvious we will exceed our budget of N40 million.
Will you recover this money?
Sure, that is why we are spending so much to come up with a world class movie that will sell globally, not just in Nigeria or Africa, but the world at large. I have international marketers that I do business with and are already waiting for the movie to be out.
Haven stayed in Jos and traveled worldwide and now back to Jos, are you trying to pass any message across?
I came to Jos for this project to change the negative narrative as a result of the crisis that engulfed the state in recent time. Jos is known as home of Peace and Tourism but today people think it is the home of pieces and a terrible place to live. I am here to fight it back to let people know that Jos is a safe place and still remain the home of peace and Tourism. I am also convincing other actors and producers to come to Jos to shoot their movies but they are still scared of their security. This gave me another reason to want to produce another movie in Jos titled ‘‘Back to the Route’’, or ‘’Harmony’’. This time around we are collaborating with the Nigerian Film Corporation. We are bringing to Jos over 180 people, five from each state, they will all live in one house. It is more like a reality TV show.
In a brief conversation our correspondent also engaged the Co-producer, Mrs Chinyere Ozoh and she had this to tell us………
Why have you collaborated with Ifeanyi Chukwu Onyeabo to co-produce this movie?
I saw the script and it caught my attention. It’s a dance movie and I felt it’s the first of its kind. I like being part of history and I think the movie provides me with the right opportunity.
As a lady what would you say about sexual harassment by producers to the female gender before they can be featured in a movie?
This is why I also came into the industry. Some of these things are media creation. As a producer, I can tell you that if you are good as an actress, then you will get a role, but if you are not, no amount of sleeping around will grant you a ticket to be featured in any movie.