Monday 31 December 2012


I am very happy indeed that God has spared our lives for us to see the end of another year. 2012 came with ups and downs, moments of tears and laughter, sadness and joy. This is a constant factor in life because even the bible said it that “unto everything is appointed a time and a season” (the book of Ecclesiastes). However, I will not fail to admit that 2012 has been the best year of my life. I have a better and stronger relationship with God, my son and my family. I discovered my “purpose” and was able to affect more lives than I ever have.

Clarence Peters at a music video shoot
I am a man who is notorious for not having any regrets in life and that has made me kept my sanity all my life. We all make mistakes but I believe that when the bible says “God will not give us more than we can bear”, it means that we WILL make the mistakes and go though the fire but God will calm us down and see us through; just make sure you learn a lesson as you fall or go through the storm. So instead of living with regrets, I think of the lessons learnt and I move on...hoping never to make such again.
I have great dreams for the Nigerian Motion picture industry in 2013. I expect bigger movies and super block busters from Nigerian Filmmakers. I am not a guy who is a prophet but I foresee some music video directors making feature length films in 2013. I do hope that people like Clarence Peters, Aje Films and Adasa will take some time off making music videos and look into making movies. Even if they are short films, I really don’t mind but that will definitely reposition the Nigerian movie industry. DJ Tee did a great job by collaborating with Funke Akindele as director of photography on The Return of Jenifa.

Majid Michel
I also foresee some “so-called” famous movie producers losing steam. Nigerian movie lovers are getting increasingly more enlightened and conscious about production value when it comes to movie making. You can’t keeping giving them the same kind of movies over and over again and expect your audiences not to get tired. If the game is not changed, these producers will go out of business.

The Viewers Choice Awards by MNET will take place in 2013 and people are predicting that this will upstage the acclaimed “African Oscars”...AMAA. Will this be the case in 2013? Our fingers are crossed and we are waiting. AMAA has made African filmmakers sit tight and set up a situation where filmmakers are shooting for Awards now. If there is anything to learn from this unfolding drama, AMAA get your act together and keep the ‘legacy’ you have established or else brace yourself for an extinction.

I want to say a huge thank you to all the Nigerian producers and directors that brought us great films in 2012. May God continue to increase your inspiration, wisdom and give you the resources to do bigger things in 2013. I also want to say thank you to all the actors who gave us spectacular and unforgettable performances in their films. I salute!!!

I never make new year resolutions. I don’t. I just make sure that I have a list of things I want to achieve for the year, I place them before God in prayers and as they happen I cross them off the list...simple! My list for 2013 is rather long and “ambitious”. Don’t laugh and do not expect me to tell you what’s on the list now but as it happens you will find out first right here. Maybe the first thing on my list is to get married to Oprah may never know! Yipeee!!

I want to wish everyone the very best in the New Year. May all your drams come true and may you find happiness in all the positive things you do. Don’t just expect a miracle,  go out and BE a miracle.

Monday 24 December 2012


I have received hundreds of emails based on my last article “IF YOU WANNA SHOOT...SHOOT! DON’T TALK!”. Jesus! I am super excited that several people were inspired by that article.   I believe that when knowledge is shared, someone else will take it from where you stopped and push it to a greater hight; that is how development can come to an industry like ours where the evolution of creativity is key.

I got an email from James Nsoro who lives in Lagos and he asked me,

“Mr Ademinokan you were lucky to have a brother in-law who owns a Sony Hi-8 camera. What if I don’t have anybody who owns one and is willing to give me to use free of charge what will I do?”

Thanks James for the email. I will say that this is a very common problem that young or first-time filmmakers face. The great thing now is that you really don’t need a super camera to get your work done. I have seen film festivals that accept movies shot with smart phones. You can use your iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Samsung, etc to get high quality pictures. Remember, you are not filming to screen at the AMC Theatre on 42nd St, New York. What you are trying to achieve is to kill the spirit of procrastination and break the jinx. Also, you will have your name on a film...kapish!!

Another thing you can do is to meet someone who has a camera and strike a deal with him. If he is a cinematographer who has a camera and some gear, agree to give him/her credit as co-producer, associate producer or if he can, let him be your Director of Photography (if he has any measure of experience). One thing you should be careful about is not let this person dictate to you what you will do with your film or how you want to do it!

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying you should not open your mind to suggestions and opinions from people. The filmmaking process is a collaborative one and you can not know it all but do not put your film at the mercy of someone else to the point that they will begin to dictate how you should do the film and things you should throw out.

Remember these points:

1. It is YOUR film. It is YOUR idea: The idea to make the movie was yours in the first place and you brought this other person into the picture, right? If he is there to help you achieve YOUR dreams, then let him do that. Don’t let anyone try to revive their careers though you. You know how you want your film to look and what you saw in your head before you set out to film. Take good advice and filter what you don’t need.

2. You are not trying to make a box office least not yet: What you are trying to do is to get used to the concept of running your own show and calling the shots. You want to get the feel of the filmmaking experience on a small scale. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. I believe that every filmmaker has at least 3 bad films in them so why not start early and make all the bad films you can make before you are famous, right? Just make sure that you learn some serious lessons from whatever mistakes you make. If you make mistakes as regards “line of action”...big deal! Just don’t make it when you are doing the next on

3. Take notes: Yes! Keep a small journal and document the challenges you encountered as you were working. Write down what happened that made you start work at 1pm instead of 10 am that was your call time. Notes like this will help you plan better when you are doing another production. It works like magic!

4. Don’t rush: One phrase I hate to hear on production sets is “Let’s go! Let’s go!”. Damn!! This drives me nuts because in my opinion, you spend 2 months planning for a production and by the time you get there for the actual photography/filming, they want you to get it done in 5 minutes. Yes you have planned so why not just let all the elements come into place properly then capture it because it is what you capture that will be frozen in time..not the duration of preparation. Nobody wants to know how long you planned for; we just want to see a good film with creative shots and good story telling. We can only evaluate your film based on what you have captured. Do not let anybody rush you as you want to get your shot. If you feel the lighting is not the way you want it, fix it. If you need to re-frame your shot to get the right it. If your director of photography is impatient, let him know he has to chill for you to get your job done. Now, this is not a license for you to become a snail when your working. This can be permitted because its your first film and also its a “no-budget” film. When you start working for big studios though, the story will change because every minute you waste costs money but by then, you will be more experienced. They YOU KNOWING EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT EVEN BEFORE YOU STEP OUT OF YOUR ROOM IN THE MORNING TO GO OUT AND FILM!

In 2010, while filming ETI KETA with Saidi Balogun in Kwara State, I had an idea for a campaign against the spread of HIV/AIDS with the use of condoms. I shared it with my friends on set and they thought it would be hilarious and a fun thing to do. A couple of months later, I met a friend named Iykeman who had a Canon 7D camera a few lights I could use. I shared my idea with him and he loved it. He agreed to give me his camera and lights to work with and in return he would share producer credits with me. Iykeman was also a director of photography and that was a huge advantage. I wrote the script and titled it NO JERSEY NO MATCH, got the locations, planned logistics and we were good to go. We got our friends who were working actors to feature in it and they jumped at the offer because they loved the concept of film. Even when we could clearly afford more, this short film did not cost us more than $200 to make because everything we used ... we owned.

NO JERSEY, NO MATCH has gone on to win Best Short Film at the Abuja International Film Festival, nominated for Best Short Film at the Africa Movie Academy Awards, nominated for Best Short Film at the Hoboken International Film Festival in New Jersey, Official Selection at the Dubai Film Mart at the Dubai International Film Festival, screened at Naija Villa in Brooklyn, New York and it has screened at a host of other festivals I can’t even remember.

I thought it would be cool to finally share this movie with the rest of the world as a christmas present. Emmm...age restriction applies here ooo! For mature audience only.


Saturday 22 December 2012


One major thing that most young and/or new filmmakers complain about is financing. They never seem to be able to lay hands on the right kind of money that will enable them make that film...that masterpiece. It can be very discouraging and several people have gone to their graves with their scripts that never got made because they could not get those projects bankrolled. Some never even got to make one single film. They never got the chance to make that ‘big” film.

Robert DeNiro

As a young man growing up in Lagos, I saw countless movies and had several ideas as I metamorphosed into a writer/director. I saw movies like Terminator, Robocop, Jurassic Park, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Never Ending Story and all sorts of dreams, visions and ideas filled my head. I could picture myself at the premieres of my films in Hollywood with actors like Robert Dinero telling the press how excited he was when he heard he was going to make a film with me. Hey, its good to dream. Like I always say, dream big because to dream is absolutely free! But at some point I had to wake up and realize that they were what they were...dreams. To achieve them, I would have to work hard. I went on to write some amazing scripts with extreme gun fight sequences, car chases, aliens, space ships and … well, things in my dreams. Writing is one thing, filming is another. None of those my scripts have been made, at least not yet. It’s been almost 20 years since I wrote some of them...they are still there. I could have ended my dreams of being a great filmmaker touring the world but I discovered something very early in my career and that is why I am where I am today.

I figured out that I was unknown to anyone as a filmmaker, even to my family so why would anyone give me money to make a film. People knew I was a serious musician that could play over 9 musical instruments so they probably would have invested in my career as a musician. But for way! I had never done any work before that time to show my abilities (at least the one I believed I had) as a filmmaker. All I could do was talk to people and talk without substance (which is your experience in that field of work) would never amount to anything. I clearly could not physically afford the millions of Naira required to make those films but I was hell bent on being a filmmaker.

I looked around me and found the simple elements that I could get for free without having to pay a dime. I grew up in a mechanic village in the Surulere area of Lagos State, Nigeria so I had access to lots of abandoned cars and metal scrap that I could mess around with.  At least they had been lying down there unused for years. I had access to my brother in-law’s Sony Hi-8 camera with a few tapes I could re-use. All I had to do was point, press record and bingo! I had a few cousins and a brother that were willing to act free of charge just for the heck of it. I had a bass guitar that I could get from my church for free because I was the church bass player. My mum was a caterer and this meant lots of pots, cooking utensils and coolers at my disposal. Wow! Great props! So, with the abandoned cars, the camera, the bass guitar, tons of pots & coolers and free actors...i decided to write a short film about a skilled but poor bass player who lived in an abandoned car. His fortune turned when he helped an old lady and she gave him a magic cooler such that whenever he played the bass, the cooler would be filled with food at all times and the food was so good that people came from everywhere to buy it. He was okay till he started getting caught up in his success then he got drunk and he broke the cooler. After that, he went back to being poor. End of Story.

Sony Hi-8
Now this was not supposed to be a Box Office hit but at least I could try out all the great shots I had in my head and experience how it felt to be on a movie set. The good part was that I did not need anyone breathing fire down my throat for production deadlines. Neither did I have investors bugging me to know how much we would make from the movie. All I wanted was to have my name on a production that said directed by Daniel Ademinokan that I could show to anyone after introducing myself as a filmmaker.  That was the ultimate plan. I knew I didn’t have lights to shoot so I decided to write all my scenes as exteriors and day scenes. I also decided to make the film as short as 10 minutes. For a first time filmmaker, nobody was going to sit for 2 hours to see my film then decide if I was good enough as a filmmaker. Well, I knew I was not going to do that if I were in the person’s shoes because there definitely wouldn’t be a Ramsey Nouah or a Genevieve Nnaji in the movie. So with ‘highly’ unknown actors (like my cousin and brother), I had to make my point in the movie as quickly as possible. A short script with a sharp introduction was the key. I will deal with the concept of script writing and structure in subsequent articles.

I finally shot the film in the crudest and most sincere way that I could. I begged my friend who was an editor to help me cut the film and he did the best he could to save a desperate filmmaker like me. For those of you who are wondering what the title of the movie is and where you can find it...I never gave it a title, you will NEVER see it anywhere because it is the most horrible movie I have ever done in my life. Probably in the history of the Nigerian Movie may never know.

If the movie was so bad, why did I bother to write all this long talk about the process and blah blah blah? I learnt several lessons while making that short film. I was excited to wake up everyday to film even when it seemed that my cast and I had no clue what we were doing. I was very focused and was willing to experiment with different angles and options while filming. I didn’t have to ask from any studio executive or producer’s permission to include certain elements or alter my story. I quickly realized the need to plan properly before starting a production. I learnt quickly how to deal with and manage actors who were doing you a favour. You can learn a lot of things from books and the class room but in this business of filmmaking, nothing comes close to getting your hands dirty and doing the “actual work”. Practical stuff, getting the gear, casting, schedules, quick decisions on your feet, telling the story and watching it come to life...that’s the ultimate high in this business. Some will argue that making the money is the ultimate problem. Chase the money first and that will probably be the ONLY time you will lay hands on it. Focus on your craft...and the money will chase you around! Above it all...i had on the movie “Directed By Daniel Ademinokan”. Although only my family and a few friends got to see it, it gave me the drive to keep pushing; knowing that one day I would be at the oscars.

I have gone on to film all over the world with all kinds of people and I have enjoyed an amazing, yet rising career as a filmmaker. I have won awards locally and internationally with my films showing in festivals on different continents. I did not need anything special to jump-start my career. I had ME, MY DREAMS, ZEAL TO SUCCEED and that was good enough. Do not let any circumstance or people discourage you. Let them laugh at you; one day they will come and celebrate with you and start to “form familiarity”.

A few years after I made that “first” film, I went on to film school and came in contact with Robert Rodriguez who directed the movie "DESPERADOS" that starred Antonio Banderas. He was a guest lecturer at my school and he shared his story with us. Shockingly, it was not so different from mine! He made his break out movie “EL-MARIACHI” at the age of 23 and his story was exactly the same as mine. He even wrote a journaL about his experience making the movie in his book “REBEL WITHOUT A CREW”. This further solidified my concept of taking the bull by the procrastination.

Stop giving excuses on why you have not done the film you want to do. All the time you spend complaining to your friends and convincing potential investors...especially for first time filmmakers, write a short film, grab a camera and get out there to shoot something. Don’t wait till you go to film school. Don’t wait to do that BIG project or else, you will end up just as a dreamer.

Thursday 20 December 2012


The movie Journey To Self was premiered in Lagos recently and the reviews have been quite positive. Regardless of who the filmmaker is, I have always been a sucker for good films. The interesting part for me though is that the movie was directed by a female and for me this is like the icing on the cake! Would I refer to this movie as a chick flick? I probably wouldn't but because its an all female ensemble you would be tempted to but this movie touches issues that everyone can relate to...male or female.

Tope Oshin Ogun
I had a chat with the Director, Tope Oshin Ogun who has been one of the leading female directors in Nigeria for quite some time. She is one of the directors of the popular MNET drama series TINSEL. Before her journey into the directing world, Tope was a seasoned actress and formidable TV host. Enjoy our conversation.

Amaka Igwe has been one of the leading female directors in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, the most prominent. Did she inspire you in anyway to become a director? Also, why the transition from acting to directing?

Amaka Igwe sowed the directing seed in Tope Oshin Ogun about 10 years ago. I was discussing a movie of hers that I was starting in and after the creative discussion, she told me "you should be a director". Of course I thought she was crazy at the time.
My transition from acting to directing happened on its own. My quest to know more about directing got me concentrating more on it and seeking to develop a career in it and somehow, my acting career got sidelined while fueling my new passion.

Why your choice of the director of photography for the movie Journey To Self?

I had worked with Nodash on 3 other projects in the past, 2 of which were my multiple award winning short films. I have a great working relationship with him. He understands my language, style and what I want, so it was just natural for me to choose him for my next project.

What camera did you film with and why?

I shot on the Canon 5D Mk II. I like the unusual, and wanted the challenge and experiment of shooting a whole feature length movie with a DSLR and since I also had a DP that's very much at home with DSLRs, I thought why not?
When you were filming what choice of lenses worked well for you and can you break down why you used those lenses? 

We basically shot on all canon lenses. A mix and match of primes and zooms but mostly primes.

The movie looks really great and the editing was on point. Who was your editor and what program did he use to edit?

Nodash the DP was also the editor. I chose him because I felt he had an advantage having shot the movie and also cos he had a clear idea of what I was trying to achieve. He edited on Final Cut Pro.

What file format did you edit the movie in? Did you have to convert to Apple Proress 422 or did you just edit straight as H.264?

It was shot on 5D like I said earlier and yes it was converted for editing.

How long did it take you to film JOURNEY TO SELF? How long was pre-production, principal photography and post production? Did you have to do any pick up shoots?

Journey To Self was shot in 10 days. All estabs and pick ups inclusive, except for the Abuja estabs which were shot by a 2nd unit. Pre production ran into a couple of months and post pro took a little over 2 months. 
Your husband is known for his amazing writing skills. How do you guys work together (if you ever do)? Also being a mother, how do you balance that with directing?

My husband Yinka Ogun is a renowned screen writer of note, television content provider/consultant and producer. Both my award winning short films were written by him and we have worked together on a couple of other briefs as director and producer respectively. 

Being a mother of 4 boys and a director is not easy but beautiful. I have tremendous support from my husband who makes time to fill in for me when I'm busy and I do same for him. We have a live in nanny but try as much as possible to spend quality time with the children as much as we can. We don't subscribe to surrogate parenting. We are very much hands on as regards the raising and care of our children. At least one of us is always present with them at any given time.

Any tips for women who want to become directors?

Just go for it. See your self not as a woman, but as a human. Equal to any other achiever out there. Get up, get out, develop yourself regularly and be the very best you can be. No holds barred.

Tope Oshin Ogun
Relentless 2008
Eventide 2006
Eternal 2006
Maroko 2005
The Accursed 2005
Blast from the Past 2005
Two Circles 2004
Trees Grow in the Desert 2002
Prize Maze - Mnet new directions film 2002 
Oro Ajoso 2002
Heritage 2001
Didun Iru 2001
Yemisi Owereke 2001
Time to Kill 2000
Fugitive 1999

Whatever It Takes (Super Story) 2007
Behind the Siege 2004
Dear Mother (Guest appearance) 2003
Izozo 2002-2004
Tightrope 2001-2002
An Eye for an Eye (Super Story) 2002
Saints and Sinners 2001
The Mistress’ Revolt 2001
Paradise Park 1998-1999

Women of Owu – a Nigerian adaptation of Helen of Troy 2003
The Divorce – NANTAP’s FESTINA play 2003
Childe Internationale 2000
Ahamefuna 2000
Oyela 2000
The Marriage of Anansewa 1999
Muse Before The Millenium 1999
Esu and the Vagabond Minstrels 1998
A View from the Bridge 1998

One Thing at a Time 2007-2012
Direct Entry 2004-2011
Story Story (Yoruba version) (A BBC radio drama) 2006
ONGA Delicacy (Yoruba) 2005 - 2009
I Need To Know 2001-2003
Shakara -The Dancehall Queen (A BBC radio drama) 2004
See You at the Polls2002 , 2006
Mama Grace 2001
Constable Joe 1999

Maltina Danceall (2) 2008
‘Lagos’ - Documentary for Stanbic Bank 2007
Drumbeats 1999
Youth Magazine on EKO 89.75FM - Radio Presenter/Anchor 1997-1999

Saturday 15 December 2012


Yaws ‘n’ Myn, is basically a 30-minute weekly sitcom that follows the dysfunctional life of a Radio presenter Yaw who is shackled in the same house with his brother Raluchukwu and sister Chetachukwu.
As for Yaw, life was all normal till his parents left to work in America and leave him to take care of his grown siblings. Ral who thinks he is a great music talent but rather not and Cheta who spends more time in the mirror and can’t cook at all. Thrown into the mix is their weird tenant who they sublet one of their rooms to, their grandmother who speaks just Igbo language, their Hausa gateman (retired soldier) and a troublesome aunt. With an unending drama and a life time laughs. The sitcom follows the dynamics of five different people living together.
Ngozi Nwosu
Funny Bone & Lilian Esoro
The sitcom features some of Nigeria’s most talented actors – Yaw, Stanley “FunnyBone” Chibunna, Lilian Esoro, Ngozi Nwosu, Tina Mba, Ufuoma Ejenobor, is the latest from Yawnaija Entertainment; a leading brand in the entertainment industry  headed by Yaw. Steve Onu (YAW) is an On-Air Personality on 95.1 Wazobia FM, an Actor, Producer, Presenter, Philanthropist and Master of Ceremony. Steve Onu is the first and only On Air Personality and Comedian chosen alongside other notable Nigerians as Olympic Torch bearers for the London 2012 Olympics. He is a United Nations Young Ambassador for Peace and the UN Face of Peace (2012).
Yawnaija Entertainment is working on an application for the sitcom to be played on mobile phone as mobile game. A radio drama version would also be aired on various radio stations in Nigeria and across the globe.
Yaws n Myn will show on VOX Africa, DSTV, Oh TV(UK), Nollywood Films (UK), Klear TV (UK), The African Channel TV (UK), STV, LTV8, SABC South Africa.
It will be showing from January, 2013 but before it hits your TV screens at home, YAWS 'N' MINE will be premiering at the Silverbird Cinemas in Lagos on Sunday 16th December. The event is strictly by invitation.
For more information, Visit the Facebook Page: Also follow on twitter @yawsnmyn and Visit Call YAW on 08065293138, 08055588852, Subscribe to

Yaw, Lilian and Funny Bone

Yaw & Ufuoma Ejenobor

Wednesday 12 December 2012


Based on my years of experience as a filmmaker, I look forward to sharing my thoughts and opinions with you in hopes that they will give you some perspective on “this thing we do”. I am so sure that people who have worked closely with me in the past have heard me say a million times that “I HATE AUDITIONS”. As a movie producer and director, I have had the privilege of siting through countless auditions and seen quite a number of hopefuls walk through the door. Some of those hopefuls have turned out to be super stars today while some are still struggling. One factor that changed the destiny of some forever...their performance at the auditions that got them the roles that brought them fame and fortune.

What a lot of actors fail to realize that auditions are different from acting itself. I truly believe auditioning is a separate animal from acting. Acting is what you get to do once you get the part. Auditioning is something else entirely.

David Mamet, in his book “True and False: Heresy and Common Sense For The Actor,” writes, “Teachers of audition techniques counsel actors to consider the audition itself as the performance, and to gear all one’s hopes and aspirations not toward the actual practice of one’s craft (which takes place in front of an audience or a camera), but towards the possibility of appealing to some “functionary” (that’s the casting director, director, producer, executive producer or whoever else is at the table during the audition).

I totally agree with this principle, except for where he refers to me and my colleagues as “functionary”. If you enter an audition thinking of it more as a first rehearsal than as an opening night performance in a stage play or the first day of filming, you will be doing yourself a much greater service.

I have seen actors walk into the audition room feeling very confident they will get the part probably because of how good they look or how fluent their spoken english is. I met a girl who swore to her colleagues that she was so sure she would get the part because she was light skinned. Really?! They don’t really put any effort into auditioning to get the part. Instead, they prepare more for how to act in the movie after they have gotten the part. Hello! You need to GET IT before you can USE IT...right?

Some people, however, try too hard thus failing woefully at auditions. I have had times where we turned down good actors that we didn’t know how good they were because of how badly they performed at the auditions. A good example is one of the ladies who played lead character in the popular MNET series, TINSEL. In 2007, she attended my audition for a TV series I was about to film for a very popular producer in Nigeria. She was so nervous during the audition that it was very obvious even in her shaky voice and sweaty nose. She had the look for the lead role but could not just get it because of her failure at the auditions. A couple of years down the line, I saw her on TV playing one of the lead roles in TINSEL. She was just stunning. Yes she had potentials but she was a nervous wreck at the auditions.

I believe that this actress failed because she saw it as AN AUDITION. “Nailing it” in an audition is virtually impossible. The sooner you let go of that insurmountable responsibility, the better. Doing your absolute best is the most you can ever hope for. There are no newspaper, TV or film critics in the room reviewing your performance. I have no doubt that there are those in my position who believe the complete opposite and I would be happy to debate them vigorously.

Regardless, the casting director really only wants one thing; for you to do well! We are always on your side. We want you to get the part. Sadly, auditioning is something that cannot be taught. No amount of training can fully prepare an actor for the experience of auditioning. It is impossible to know what really feels like to enter that room until you actually enter the room. If you audition only rarely, each time will feel like it’s a do-or-die, make-or-break, life-or-death situation. Under these kinds of conditions, it’s no wonder that actors become so undone!

The only way to get better at it is to do it as much as often as humanly possible. Do short films, low budget films, cheap plays, web series, home made videos, use your smart phone to film a scene of yourself, do table readings, workshops. Whatever! The more you do, the easier it gets. You become “desensitized” to the process and it truly becomes something you look forward to doing rather than dreading. I believe that this TINSEL actress did quite a number of auditions after mine before she went for the audition for TINSEL. Practice makes perfect. The more you do it the better you get at it. So increase your work hours, either professionally or unprofessionally. Imagine how much fun auditions will be if they are not fraught with the anxiety that often comes with them.
So remember, when next you walk into an audition room, it is your springboard to super stardom and not a date with the Devil himself.


Tuesday 4 December 2012


In May 2012, I finished writing my book titled "THE SHARK THEORY" which is an educational book on scriptwriting. Since then, it has been going through different stages in the United States in preparation for publishing.

A few weeks ago, I heard that one of Nollywood’s most celebrated filmmakers, Charles Novia, had written a book. I was super excited and I extremely happy that we were pushing things to another level. 

The book is titled “NOLLYWOOD TILL NOVEMBER”. I must confess that I really have not read every page in the book but I saw a few excerpts and truly...some I loved..some I really didn’t dig.

NOLLYWOOD TILL NOVEMBER was officially launched in Lagos on November 28th and quite a number of people came out to celebrate with the “Missing Angel” director. I came across this review of the book by Chude Jideonwo who is a well known Journalist and entrepreneur. I found it really interesting and I thought it would be cool to share it. Enjoy…

There is an old debate, one that I find necessary: should a man who has hardly finished the first half of his life - let’s put that at 40 - be writing a biography. Isn’t that rather presumptuous? My answer is mostly no, if that man’s name is Charles Novia.

But I only came to that conclusion after I had read every word of ‘Nollywood till November’, which is the first book on Nigeria’s film industry written by an insider.

I began reading what the author describes as “a detailed narrative of my road to fame and glory”, with the skepticism mentioned above. The fact that the author has a supreme sense of his self and destiny didn't help.

Chude Jideowon
“I was incensed,” he reports on the very first page, reeling off his series of accomplishments as he shares the story of a director, Solomon Nwoko, who belittled his talent and his experience when he set about his first movie, Deep Secrets. “He had a mindset and it was left for me to either do away with his services or prove him wrong. I chose the latter.”

By the time the author gets to that stage in his career where movie icon Richard Mofe-Damijo tells him, “Your name is the hottest topic right now. You have done well. I am proud to know you,” he had certainly proven every single detractor wrong.

But this is not just a story of personal achievement; it is also a story of a collective glory. Novia, through this finely-narrated work, tells me a story I thought I knew. I didn’t even know the half of it.

It speaks to how Nollywood has risen and fallen every now and again like a wave, as Novia became the king of love stories from Bridesmaid to Cinderella, Lover’s Day to For Your Love; how the industry began to conquer the rest of the world, and even delicious little gems like how he came to find out that Jim Iyke’s accent, like we all had suspected, was faker than a beauty queen’s eye-lashes.

Straddling the space between critical and acclaim and popular fare, Novia became so successful that he had four hit movies back to back at some point, as he reports a marketer tell him.

I, like many others, fell under the Charles Novia Think spell over the period from 2000: I particularly remember When Love Dies, the movie he made in 2003 which sold over two hundred thousand copies and took Novia to “another stratosphere in Nollywood”; I will die for You, a political tale that was one of RMD’s finest showcases if there ever was one; and of course, the ambitious Missing Angel – complete with a first-of-its kind premiere and billboards across Lagos - which reportedly sold over one million copies and, according to him, has a shelf life that yet endures. To many people, he says, characteristically, “it is one of my Nollywood classics."

His venture with November Records is another branch of an impressive story. He might not have worked that magic with other artistes on the label - Yemi Esho, Zubby Enebeli and Danny Dolor  - but what he did with Majek Fashek, a project he took on after he attended a concert and found that Majek would “suddenly stop and then go towards the right hand side of the stage and begin to rail against nobody in particular”, is the stuff of legends.

A typical film distribution outlet in Upper Iweka Road, Onitsha.
But, like I said, the primary power of the book might come from the way he interweaves his own personal stories; the fire that razed his office for one, to the larger narrative; for instance, the relationship between Surulere, Idumota, and Upper Iweka Road. And in telling that narrative, he answers so many questions many must have had, including the one he so eloquently captured on page 83: what went wrong with the lavish, flambuoyant delicious Nollywood of the Amatas and the Ejiros? As he tells stories of marketers as “demigods who created new monsters”, Novia surmises that “all in all,” the ridiculous ban on actors about in 2004 “was a no-win situation for all the parties involved.” It is a powerful chapter.

But, of course, the book has its faults. For one, if I got a dollar for every exclamation mark that Novia used in this 140-page book, I would by now be able to park my private jet beside Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor’s!

There is also a frustrating tendency to use the biggest words he could lay his hands on. Two examples: “I moved the plot from the romantic surrealism I toyed with… to deep spiritualism tinged with a poignant emotional drama”, and then, “… one senses a growing despondency which may simmer into an explosive fracas”.

Added to this, many parts of the story seem like the story teller fell unto the temptation of exaggeration. But, because that cannot be verified, at least not by this reviewer, and also because who amongst us can cast that first stone, one can only point to the fact that, suspected inflation aside, the heart of this story, its essence, is no lie. Novia has accomplished a story-book career. And he has a lot to be happy, fulfilled and grateful for.

And of gratitude he has a lot: To Kingley Ogoro, who, from the beginning of the story till now, is still a rock for Novia and other colleagues, he gives thanks. His wife and rock, Happy, whom he talks about again and again and again and again, he gives thanks. And to Don Pedro Obaseki, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, that genius Ojiofor Ezeanyache of OJ Productions (whose story it turns out requires a full book that someone must tell someday) and others who have been crucial for this odyssey that is his, he gives thanks.

But from the purity of his soul as an artiste comes the more affecting thanks – that for the talent he has worked with, and his joy is beautiful to … read. “Desmond (Elliot) did exactly what I wanted from him, if not more!” he crowed of the movie Missing Angel. “Before long, he ‘became’ the character. I was thrilled.”

But if he can be grateful, then, by God, he can also get angry – and even. And, oh my goodness, his willingness to draw blood reminds me of another impressive Nollywood movie, Scores to Settle.

Charles Novia and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde
However, this comes from another powerful narrative tool that he employs so deftly – honesty. What he thinks of Stella Damasus and her rivalry with Genevieve Nnaji, he tells; what he went through in the hands of Sypder, the creative, uhm, business storyteller that was his first marketer, he says; just how he feels about the “notorious” actress Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde and her legendary “wahala” he shares – and oh, what a delicious story he tells.

But there is no place where this honesty is more useful than when he shares the stories of two ambitious, but impressive, even historic projects that would have transformed the Nigerian film space – the Film Market and Project Nollywood. You have to read the book to hear the stories.

Sadly, the book tapers off towards the end, doing a great disservice to what was until then one helluva story. After the “epic” tale that was Project Nollywood, its as if the book suddenly lost interest in itself – tired, wistful, almost sad.

Don’t get it twisted, as musician D'banj would say, that last chapter is engaging – he tells of Benin City where his talent was first discovered, of what a profound effect programmes like Hotel De Jordan and Pot of Life had on him, his odyssey through stage and the NTA, his influences from Michael Jackson – for whom he has a touching affection – to Teddy Riley whom he calls his “creative mentor”. It is an interesting, humorous, engaging end to this 140-page work.

However, for a man who migrated from Benin to Lagos when he was only 19, armed only with his luggage in hand and dreams in his heart, it wasn’t good enough.  I expected this to end on a high note – with an eye towards the future, and more trails to blaze, more mountains to conquer; the world at his feet.

Did Novia deliberately end this book on this note of nostalgia? I cannot say. But it is very instructive, and for me, deeply worrisome, that the book ended up abruptly after the costly adventure with our friends at EcoBank. Incidentally, this is around the same time that Nollywood seemed to have become the subject of ‘Is Nollywood dead’ essays in the newspapers.

Is this, therefore, an ominous sign? Is Novia tired? Is his heart broken? Is he disappointed in the industry over which he reigned? Is he worried for the new generation of ‘New Nollywood’ film-makers? Does he see danger ahead?

I am asking this question of Novia. But it is not just him I ask, because this story is not his alone. I am asking many of you in this room – Nollywood’s innovators and tastemakers. I am asking the Zeb Ejiros and the Fred Amatas, the Kingsley Ogoros and the Segun Arinzes – what next?

Yes, as one who grew up under your influence, and who used to be a raving fan of your industry, I think understand. You may be disappointed, you may have fought too many  battles, and it must be hard to continue to confront the many challenges of being a film-maker in Nigeria.

But you’ve changed the world before. That was Phase 1. That story has now been, fittingly told by the iconic Charles Novia. We all now await your second act. This curtain will not be drawn. Not yet. Not now. Not anytime soon.