Clarence Peters: Lights, Camera and Action!
WRT: Can you give us your background?
Clarence: I started working in the industry unofficially when I was eight and officially when I was fourteen. My father is a musician and my mother his an actress. I own a record label Capital Hill Records and a production company called Capital Dream Pictures. I'm a filmmaker.
WRT: Which school did you attend?
Clarence: I went to BI primary school, Government College Ikorodu and I went to a film school in Cape Town in South Africa.
WRT: What are the challenges you face as a director?
Clarence: Money, budget and infrastructure.
WRT: Why have you chosen to be behind the scene, behind the camera?
Clarence: It's because I didn't want to do what my father and mother were doing; probably because I admire the people behind the camera and what they do.
WRT: It has been argued that we don't have quality videos, Tell us what you think a good video is?
Clarence: Everything works to form a good interpretation and I have come to realize that people see things differently just like music, things that would interest you may not interest me; there's also the issue of time constraints in executing these video projects.
WRT: So only about four or five out of ten videos are good?
Clarence: The fact that you said that five or four points at a breakthrough. A couple of years ago, I wasn't around but I heard there was this understanding that Ghanaian videos were better than Nigerian ( pardon my French but that fuck up as been taken care of ). If you say our videos are not up to par, it's not the videos themselves that are not up to par it is the industry that has not taken it to that level. Because as it is right now the music is good the production as getting better, in comparison to the state of the industry. The works that are coming out are the major representation of the music industry right now. Music videos make the industry look like what it's not. So anybody that is complaining should be complaining about the industry not the videos.
WRT: Can we compare Nigerian videos with the other parts of the world?
Clarence: Directors over there see the artist way back before time, they see the makeup artiste, they see artiste costumes, they see their sets, they see their locations, their sets are built five or four days before the shoot, likewise the choreography, they have seen the dance and have adjusted the dance. And in our case, it's attention to detail that is the issue, you cannot have attention to detail when you dont have time, and money is what translates into time. It is not a technical battle, that's the mistake that the Nigerian industry is making, they believe the problem with the music video is the camera.
That's not the problem, there are a lot of videos shot on 35 mm, but I'm yet to see a Nigerian music video that is better than Gino's 'No be God' (Directed by Wudi Awa).
WRT: You said directors see the set four or five days before the shoot, why don't we adopt the same method over here?
Clarence: You can't get that because time is money, if I am going to spend a week on your video the money has to be worth my time, Nigerian artistes would come to you and you try to explain: if you give me one million, six hundred thousand is going into the video and two hundred thousand is going to the company and so on, they see you as a fraudster and I find that very selfish.
There is a notion that DJ Tee charges a lot of money for his videos, why shouldn't the man charge? What the man charges, I'm sorry to break it to the audience, is not a lot; I'm not saying he charges five million naira, but if DJ Tee charges five million to shoot a video that will just break the rigid grounds. If you pay me for instance two million naira to shoot your video in Nigeria, that means you are expecting to see a whole lot.
WRT: You have done a lot of videos, which is your favorite and most challenging?
Clarence: I don't have a favorite and all my videos are challenging, every one of them.
WRT: Is there anybody you look up to? Like a role model.
Clarence: Nobody. The people I look up to are not filmmakers. I admire people everyday people like Steven Spilberg, Hype Williams. I don't really look up to them, I love their works. I respect Hype Williams for his consistence and new innovation for the past ten years. I respect Nigerian music directors every last one of them, in their strengths and their weaknesses.
WRT: Did you choose entertainment because of your parents?
Clarence: For the record, I will not open my private life for the this interview, I'm sorry, if you have any further questions that have to do with my private, life that's a no go area.
WRT: Fair enough.
WRT: What will you like to be remembered for?
Clarence: I don't know yet. As human beings and as we grow up our perspectives change, our tastes also change. I really can't answer that question now, I will be unfair if I answer this question.
WRT: Do Nigerian video directors have enough technical equipment to work with?
Clarence: We only have one gear house that provides proper, functioning gear; and that's Jungle Film Works. Really there is no other place that functions as a gear house. The equipment is not the problem, the problem is the structure of the industry itself.
WRT: Which video is your favorite Nigerian video?
Clarence: I can't pick my favorite, I can only pick eras. Mike Okri in the 80's 'Mumba Dance' video, it was a spectacular video of its time. What I will call my modern day era video which is the era of 'Uzodima', I have my best from that era. The era of DJ Tee is still dominating and unbeatable, then I have my best from the era of Wudi Awa. I can pick a whole lot but I don't have a favorite.
WRT: Can you tell us your top ten directors?
Clarence: Number one is DJ Tee. He is the most distinct director, in fact, not just as a director, also as a cinematographer and the most disciplined. For dramatic content, it has to be my guy Wudi Awa , for working within the budget Emeka Obefe and Akin Alabi. And so on.
WRT: Are you thinking of making a movie anytime soon?
Clarence: I'm hoping to be a part of the generation that will rejuvenate the movie industry. We have to kill off the one that we have right now and usher in the rebirth of a new industry. What is happening in Nigeria right now is not a unique case, it's not something that has not happened anywhere else in the world. The movie industry has to die, TV has to take over for a while, before the movie industry will come back. It happened in America, Germany, France, England but the Japanese were able to keep both going. You can watch an episode of CSI Miami and completely think you are watching a movie. Nigerian actors basically have got it in the back of their heads that forceful expression is the only way to pass messages across. Most of the actors we have now don't even understand what it means to research their roles, they don't have a clue what characterization really is. I will make movies someday, but the next step for me would be to go into TV and try to tell stories that will force the movie industry to arise.
WRT: How do you relax?
Clarence: I relax by shooting.
WRT: Who is your favorite Nigerian artist?
Clarence: Once again I do not have a favorite Nigeria artist, I also see them in season.
WRT: Tell us about Capital Hill?
Clarence: Capital Hill was a really funny story because I met Tha Suspect (an artiste on the Capital Hill label) when I was in secondary school. We discovered that we liked the same kind of music, while I was in SS3, I would carry a keyboard all the way from ogba to Adeniyi Jones so that he could punch keys, just in a room apartment with a deck. It was not Capital Hill then, the idea was to start with a group; we started well, but after a couple of months they thought we were not that serious or not capable of being able to put through anything.
You know that mentality like: he just finished his secondary school, what can he do? So, what if his mother is Clarion Chukwura and his father is Shina Peters? He really can't do anything, that was really the truth, it was just a zeal and the zeal was mad. After that, I went to film school, by the time I got back I heard Tha Suspect had become so good. I said to myself that I want to do this record label thing, all I want is a female artiste that can rap or sing and beautiful, I was very adamant on beauty. Terry tha Rapman told me about Kel. She is fine and articulate, she was good, she has a convincing assent, her written was not that bad. It was when I heard her in 'You go wound' then I said I will give it a try.
WRT: Any awards?
Clarence: No, I have only got a couple of nominations.
WRT: Words to your fans?
Clarence: I still find it hard to believe I have fans. Honestly I don't know what to say now.
WRT: Advice to those aspersing to be movie/music directors?
Clarence: In terms of advice, I can't give anybody advice because I'm still growing in the industry.