By Adeola Balogun
Teco Benson
Teco Benson
Listen to article

Foremost film-maker, Teco Benson, had always known that he was not cut out for the sciences. But because he didn't know how else to go about it, he took the offer and became a science student, graduated and joined the civil service in Anambra State. But he felt that something was missing in his life.

He told Spectacles, “When I was in school, because of improper guidance and counseling, I went into sciences and when I finished I got a job based on what I read. But in that job, I wasn't satisfied. I believe that every man is created for a purpose. I discovered that I was not working according to the purpose of my creation, but I had no choice; I had to make a living. I had to continue doing my job because I knew that I had a vision. I knew that something was burning inside of me, but I didn't know how to actualize the vision. I knew that I was born as an agent of change, somebody who could influence the society.

“I knew that as a younger child, I was good in the arts. Even in secondary school, I participated in a lot of acting. I was into graphic arts. I was a very crazy person as a child. The industry came to provide an opportunity for me. Around 1992 when the first movie came, I was fascinated, I became interested and in 1994, I decided to make an entry.”

The situation in the country then was so unpredictable that any civil servant leaving his job for acting could be said to be leaving the known for the unknown. But Teco was resolute.

He said, “I must tell you, I was scared when I wanted to leave the civil service. I thought I was making the greatest mistake of my life. You know, when you are a salaried worker, to take a decision to become a self-employed is not easy. I remember I consulted some people when it was becoming too heavy for me. Eventually, I left after I prayed about it.

“I must tell you today that that was the best decision I have taken in my life and that taught me a lesson. In life, if you want to make it, you must be ready to take risks and that is why risk takers are the most successful people in life. I am not saying that I am the most successful but I have not regretted one bit. Today, I am far better off and contributing positively to the society.”

Even after he joined as an actor, he still felt that he had to become a producer in order to be one of those shaping opinions. Teco began to toy with directing and producing. Today, he ranks among the best as far as filmmaking is concerned.

He told Spectacles that when he discovered that not much was on the ground to put him through in his chosen job, he started to invest in books on films. He started to learn on the job.

“I started reading because I realised that most of the schools around offered theatre arts as a course. Not much was done as regards in film apart from NFI in Jos. Funny enough, it was difficult then, even now, to get books on films in Nigeria. What I do is that I invest heavily in books whenever I travel abroad. I attended film festivals and it helped me a lot. I am married with kids but I still create time to read, though it is not easy,” he said.

When he wanted to quit the civil service, he was a bachelor. That status gave him the courage to take an independent decision.

As a born-again Christian, Teco told Spectacles that he was aware of the interplay of forces in the entertainment world. But as someone with a mission, he said he had been able to weather the storm 'untainted.'

“We know that the devil can tempt you with everything but if you know your God, you will survive it. If you know why God planted you in the industry in the first place, there is no qualms. Some people don't even know the essence of the creation of man. There is a reason why God created man and that reason is to serve Him. If you understand your purpose, you will be conscious of this all the days of your life. Honestly, there are so many temptations on this job. There are distractions; there are so many forces that will pull you down as a Christian. But if you know your God, you will stand firm. I thank God for the strength and His grace, it is not easy but we are weathering the storm.

“What easily comes to mind is the way people flirt in the industry. Adultery and fornication is no longer seen as a sin in the entertainment industry. Some people have children from ten different women and nobody feels bothered about that. They are still admired by everybody. Once you make a name, so many people will come around you, women will come. But if you are blind, you will feel good that women are coming, you will not know that you are fooling and killing yourself. The moment you get fame, it takes the Holy Spirit to put you under check. It is not easy.”

Teco is worried about the way some people churn out films after films without considering quality and the way viewers see the trends. He is however optimistic that those things will normalize in the nearest future because, according to him, the film viewers are becoming more discerning. He said he used his films to reach out to people who would not ordinarily go to a church or mosque but would be compelled to watch films.

Teco, who is a father of three boys, tells a fascinating love story which culminated in his marriage to his wife. He wants you to see his marriage as more of a spiritual union. According to him, he got married to a girl whom he only took notice of, once, while he was still in the civil service.

“When I felt like getting married, I sat down and I had a flashback to a girl in Onitsha who was then a student living with her parents as the woman God meant for me. By that time, she was already in school in Nsukka. But I could not get her contact address in school despite traveling to Onitsha for a number of times.

“Later, I got it and I sent a message to her to come and see me in Lagos and she came. When she came, I just told her I wanted to marry her and that was all. Today we are the best couple and I bless God for that.”