SUPER SATURDAY STORY

With his movie, The Accidental Spy, still making the rounds in the cinemas, Nollywood filmmaker, Darlington Abuda, says that the Nigerian movie industry could be exploited as a tool for effecting change. A Theatre Arts graduate from Delta State University, Abuda speaks with Azuka Ogiujiuba about his journey into filmmaking, Nollywood, his relationship with Nigerian comedian and actor, Ayo Makun, popularly known as AY and his career in journalism

Congratulations on your recently released movie. How do you feel about it?

I feel both elated and humbled. Elated at the reception the movie has received within its first week in cinemas across Nigeria and humbled by the fact that Nigerians have taken their time to go see the movie. It was a difficult time producing this movie, but when true passion is blessed by God’s grace, only success can follow.

What is ‘The Accidental Spy’ about?

The Accidental Spy is an action comedy that explores the story of an IT specialist, Emmanuel Prince who travels to London to heal from heartbreak caused by his cheating girlfriend. In the meantime, Nigerian news outlets have been buzzing about a new experimental energy source invented by a Nigerian national studying abroad.  ‘The Green Light Source’ promises to provide natural sources of electricity to Nigerian citizens for next to nothing!  This prospect however does not sit well with the Nigerian Power Cartels who are currently manipulating and abusing the energy system for their own personal gains. Unwilling to have their reign hampered by a meddling outsider, ‘The Chairman’ as he is called, hires a professional hitman to kill the inventor before the unveiling.

Tell us about the production process of the movie.

The movie was directed by London based Director, Roger Russell and written by me with additional writing and editing by Diane Diaz. I worked with a talented producer in London called Nicola Gregory.

Where exactly was the movie shot?

We shot the movie in London, Amsterdam and Lagos. These locations were chosen by design based on the concept of the story.

What was it like working with crews in various climes?

It was a seamless process. Crews in the various locations were all excited working with us and we had an enjoyable time on set sharing ideas and cultures.

Who is featured in this movie?

Well, this one is super-loaded with the crème of the industry. From Nigeria we have AY, Alibaba, Ramsey Nouah Jr, David Jones David, Bryan Okwara, Emma Oh Ma God, Rahama Sadau and Elma Godwin to name a few. The movie also features Christine Allado from London, Miguel Nunez Jr from Hollywood and hilarious South Africa actress, Thenjiwe Moseley.

Please tell us about your background.

I am a Theatre Arts graduate from Delta State University and I spent my first years after NYSC working as an entertainment writer with Daily Independent Newspapers. I entered into Nollywood via movie promotions and worked with Yvonne Nelson and AY and other movie producers to promote some of their blockbuster films which includes 30 Days in Atlanta, A Trip to Jamaica, 10 Days in Sun City, House of Gold, Single, Married and Complicated to name a few.

What inspired you to write the movie?

Let me let you in on an open secret. I love writing and I love movies. In my work to both promote and produce films for others, I noticed that there was a gap in the industry that needed to be filled with a genre of film. I tried to communicate the story with some writers but they were not catching my vision and so I decided to write the screenplay myself. After I was done with it, Filmone Nigeria believed in my vision and worked with me to produce the movie.

From journalism to public relations, and now movies; how do you manage all these portfolios?

What can I say? I love creating concepts. The dynamics of administration I learnt as a Theatre Arts major working with talented people such as AY comes in handy. God has been my bulwark and over the years he has brought unique vision helpers across my way and in partnership with them we have always accomplished great things.

What distinguishes you from your peers?

Without equivocation, God is my selling point. All my ideas and support come from Him and He always adds the ‘umpf’, that special something, to all I do. I won’t ramble about the story of how I metamorphosed into a movie producer. That is a story for another day. I work hard behind the scenes so as to provide something spectacular for my audience. This part that contains the sleepless nights and creative sessions that go into the execution of what is eventually presented is what a lot of people don’t see.

The AY Live Concert is one of the biggest comedy shows in Nigeria and London, how did you take it to this level?

By taking it one step at a time; before AY Live commenced, I used to organise shows in Delta State University and my events were always reputed to be the best year in, year out. AY Live is a bigger expression of that event packaging gift God blessed me with. From the beginning we have always sought to give the people the best of entertainment available because I believe that when someone pays his hard-earned money to see my show he deserves nothing but the best and that has been working for me.

What were some of the challenges you faced in creating this movie?

The challenges were there but not unique to me and therefore not insurmountable. I say the challenges were not unique to me because every producer in Nigeria has experienced the same during their productions. We had an issue with funds and then with the right equipment so that our product would match since we shot in different climes. I had a clear vision regarding what I wanted to achieve and so I was willing to put all my resources behind it.

This is your second movie. Would you say it is something you want to do again?

I am in love with making and watching movies and so I will say yes, this is something I will definitely do again and again. I entered into the industry to make my impact and put our work on the map for all to see and appreciate. I may not be where I want to be as a producer but I aim to continue to produce good movies till despite the small budget we work with, our movies will stand neck to neck with A-list movies across the world.

How soon should we expect another movie from you?

I am currently working on a new project and will be making the announcement in January 2018. I daresay movie lovers will be enjoying another cinematic thrill from us in the coming year.

‘The Accidental Spy’ seems to have a political slant. Aren’t you concerned about stirring the hornet’s nest?

I am a Nigerian and every Nigerian makes fun of the word, ‘cabal’. It is my desire to have the basic amenities available to all Nigerians and I tried to use humour to analyse a part of that.

What are your plans for the movie?

We plan to take the movie to different regions so they can have a feel of what we are currently doing in Nigeria. As a movie industry, we have taken the lead and we need to continue to show our innovations to all and sundry.

Some parts of the movie were shot in foreign lands even though the Minister of Information recently stated that Nigerian movies should be shot in Nigeria. Where do you stand on that?

I am all for cultural dissemination. As we shot in the various locations, we were able to share our cultures with the cast and crew from various nationalities. We shared food and folklore and gave the people a whole new glimpse of the country. Sharing our cultures and learning from each other is the primary positive benefit of international collaborations in the entertainment industry.

How do you relax?

Many people don’t know this but I am a homeboy; I am happiest just chilling and having a good time with friends and family; having a good laugh with my wife is the best form of rest I enjoy.