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Meet Okoye, the Nigerian Doctor turned Filmmaker in the US

Victor Okoye, a medical doctor by profession, has gained the modicum of self-knowledge and has articulated his passion for film production in the United States of America where he decided to give his best in the movie industry rather than handling stethoscope, sphygmomanometer and surgical forceps in hospital.

When passion pulls you toward something you cannot resist. If you know nothing about yourself, you can’t tell the difference. Once you gain a modicum of self-knowledge, you can express your passion…. It’s not about jumping through someone else’s hoops.

Okoye, in a chat with The Daily Times on Tuesday, said that right from time, art has been imbued in him. Though, he never really focused on it but his journey through medical school shone light on it.

According to him, his knack for psychology and psychotherapy as a medical student helped him discovered the fine line that joins art with science; revealing “It was then, in my fourth year that I knew I had a thing for storytelling.”

The medical doctor turned movie director in the US, said, “I believe art is a tool that goes beyond just entertaining and if done right, could also be a form of panacea. I tell my friends that I didn’t quit medicine, I still practice just not within the walls of a hospital and that if the mind controls the body and art controls the mind, I would have saved you a dime, if I told you a story that could change your mind.”

The multi-award winning filmmaker has done a total of about 10 films in the US, he is also part from a Feature Documentary titled “The Perfect Gangster.” He has worked with a few known names in Nollywood and said he’s looking forward to future collaborations.

Amongst the 10 movies he produced, Lesley is one of such. “Lesley is a film I wrote and directed for world’s renowned motivational speaker Les Brown. I had the honor of meeting him in person and actually sharing the work with him, He was thrilled on our meeting. Towards the end of Med School, Les brown was a major influence in my life and I yearned to give life to one of his numerous stories, hence the name Lesley (Lesley brown). It’s a simple tale of resilience, a tale of what one can achieve if they fought hard enough for what they really want,” he said.

“As a doctor turned Film maker, I figured out that human beings responds to nature according to their state of minds. Religion, Politics, entertainment is all geared towards that mind control and whoever controls the mind, controls the body, and to a larger extent, controls the state.

“In Nigeria, our problem is more mental than physical. More than half us seek for what to believe in and since the government haven’t provided us enough solutions, our only resort is religion (not God)… And in many instances this has proved inadequate to salvage the situation. What can save us? I believe Art is one of the many solutions if not the only one. Yes I said Art and only a specific form of it.unfortunately, other forms of art that we have haven’t given much hope. I’m uncertain if there’s a painter left amongst us. But we still have a solution …Storytelling, in the form of film,” the filmmaker said.

“Think of this, a story plot around a police officer that is different, and actually stands out and at the end reaps the good of his hard work, I’m certain it will make Nigerians see police officers in a different light and I’m so sure it will spur one or two youths to join the academy to become that hero they have seen. This is the same reason why people worship at the altar of Star Wars, Game of Thrones, kids adore Spiderman, Superman and so on… the end , people only want things to believe in, and fellow filmmakers.

“I have seen more American films praising their soldiers than one actually discussing their bad stuff and somehow I formed the idea that these people are immortals. Same stroke goes for any other aspect of American culture, people worship at the alters of star wars, and literally build their lives around it, when people feel like doing any hard task, once in a while they reference a movie quote and sometimes it works for them. If we imbibe that culture and actually use the power that story telling gives us, we can change minds, change lives and in no distant time change perspectives and ultimately form a generation of people who believe in the beauty of potential of this great nation.

Speaking on Nollywood, Okoye observed; “We have the tool, whether you are here or back home. I’m worn tired of watching these moralistic, good or bad tales dressed in stupid romance that is unrealistic. We have so many untold stories, let’s tell those that inspire, stories that kids will see and wish to be like the lead character, stories that are true. Hollywood is imploding and we are supposed to be the next big deal, let’s make our time count, this is purely my opinion and We can transform this nation, ONE FILM AT A TIME.

“I knew I wanted to make a difference, to stand for something I just knew the walls that enclosed the sick weren’t the place. I guess you can call it a medical art…” The doctor turned filmmaker said.

Victor Okoye is an award winning Filmmaker, his recent film “Purpose” has won multiple awards, including best overall film at the 2015 edition of Rode reel film fest. He has also won best director at SoFI awards held in New York.

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