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I Have No Grudges Against Shodimu - Oore Ofe

By TOPE OLUKOLE
Oore Ofe
Oore Ofe

Little or no introduction needs to be done, when the name Oreofe Williams is mentioned. The Ososa-born Dramatic Literature Master's degree holder and producer of critically acclaimed movie, ADEOTI, is the anchor of popular Yemi Shodimu TV show, GBARADA which is currently off air. He spoke with TOPE OLUKOLE on the absence of the programme among other issues. EXCERPTS.

We heard that the feud between you and Yemi Shodimu necessitated the stop of GBARADA at LTV?
In this country, we always carry rumours. The reason for Gbarada going off air is just to repackage and re-equip. All the people involved in Gbarada are all graduates and as graduates, we ought to bring in innovations that will place the programme on a podium that will grant it international recognition far better than we are getting now. Yemi Shodimu is a father, mentor and master. Can someone I'm fighting be involved in my last production, Ilekun Gomorrah? I can just assure that Gbarada is coming back bigger, better and bolder.

Ilekun Gomorrah sounds Christian unlike Adeoti, are you leaving the secular sector for evangelical sector of the industry?
Every work of art has a utilitarian purpose, which is not just an art for art's sake alone. Secondly, every good work of art must be didactic. It is not like leaving secular for evangelical. If you use your God-given talent for Him,it is not a sin. In Adeoti, when the king was being victimized by Yinka Quadri and Iya Awero, he was given a Bible to be his guide, so I believe mine is just to teach morals.

Who are the people involved in Ilekun Gomorrah?
Ilekun Gomorrah has a number of actors. Matinee Idols are involved; Dele Odule, Yemi Shodimu, Mama Ajasco, Pa Tubosun Odunsi, Oreofe Williams and others are involved. It will be released very soon on the stable of a competent marketer.

What next?
There is a current blockbuster on ground. Ijinle is set because we want to keep to the promises of Conference of Upcoming Talents (CUT). It is not about the stars but it is about the concept and idea. We used a village that is 3 hours away from Ibadan and this is sponsored by Oreofe Films and Theatre Production (OFTP). This is just a pointer to the fact that we are getting somewhere.

Is CUT still in existence?
Why not? You know the CUT stuff was a great vision and idea. Thank God it was initiated not to exploit people. By November CUT will be a year old. For those that were interested in music, they are already building up their career as most of them have been taken to studio. We have also groomed actors through our performances (screen and stage). We are also having another script writers', conference soonest. So we are working hard to see that our guys in CUT succeed and not give them what will last them for a day but for a lifetime as we are also involved in their academics and vocations, depending on the person's case.

Why are you not a regular face in home videos?
It's all about packaging and what you believe in. Today we still talk about Diamond Rings, Oleku, Saworo Ide but how many films released last year can reference be made to this year. I get calls from producers but because I don't want a substandard job, I just stay in my office and do my thing my way. I have a critic brother who rated my first effort 80%, not because I'm his brother but for the fact that the work is good. These are the kinds of jobs I like involving myself in. Many have failed to distinguish between stars and celebrities.

Yemi Shodimu is not always on screen but any film he is involved in is sure superb. So for me to take the pain of having my master's degree and now pursuing my Ph.D, you will believe that I am not to rubbish myself. I have many eyes on me, so I can't afford to disappoint. I prefer stage to home video. Some people are simply just interested in the cheap fame they will get. Another problem is that if a job is dropped because of the sub-standardization of script and technicalities by an actor, it will be picked up immediately by another actor of equal status but not ability.

Rating of the industry?
The industry is doing well but we are not yet there. I won't rate it but it's just kicking. Quoting Dr. Hyginus Ekwuasi, “a car that is moving with a weak engine”, that is the state of the industry. The reason is not far-fetched. Apart from the old generation of producers like Tunde Kelani, Tade Ogidan, Lancelot Imasuen, Ejiros, Evang Mike Bamiloye and the likes, I am often concerned about people from my generation doing it right. There are still some, people like that female law undergraduate and some other ones whose names I won't want to mention, doing their best.

It is sheer professional illiteracy, seeing someone advertising that they used tracks and dolly, crane, HD cameras etc. These are things you can't see in a movies produced abroad. Since they lack good stories, they believe those stuffs sell works.

TK can't do such and they use it also. These are things that are supposed to be in the end credit. We are suffering from plagiarism. They produce same stories but with different casts. It is now typical of every Yoruba movie to have a babalawo. Imagine a producer saying confidently that he shot scenes without scripts the first time he travelled out of the country and he now wrote a script that he could merge the scenes with 3 years after.

The problems are inexhaustible. You know the league of upcoming actors is interested in fame and money.. Some come into the profession simply because they want to make ends meet after having failed in an Endeavour. They believe in quantity and not quality. Recently, I just finished a production and after some months I got some money which I felt like investing. I had it in my mind to go to another location but when I sought counsel of people like Dele Odule, he kicked against it and I reasoned and dropped the idea. Why should a producer be producing 5 movies a year? I believe actors who want to act should be good and I can say the good will always come from the stage. After all we have actors in this country that can flaw Nicholas Cage, Bruce Willis, Cuba Gooding Jr., and the likes. It is simply that those doing well are jumping around due to the marketing and distribution of the works.

So are you saying marketing and distribution is affecting the industry?
The marketing network is bad. This is why at OFTP we want to empower ourselves. There are marketers that are good, who will plant smiles on producers faces while there are some that are the other way round. Marketing is even a discipline, so why can't those who studied it be practicing it. What we simply need is a change in the distribution network of the industry and we are already working on it.

Mr. Latin recently disagreed with Yemi Solade that Yoruba actors are paupers, what do you think?
Both have their points. Mr. Latin believes there is a need for us to help one another while Mr. Solade believes it is lack of professionalism. We may be encouraging proliferation the moment we keep helping and helping. Professionalism gets lost and the industry gets occupied by quacks. As a producer, one might not be able to afford half a million naira for Odule, but you can beg him to take #150,000. I actually did something like this in my last production. It's just got to be minimal and not too frequent.

Journey so far?
It has been nice. From Adeola Odutola to Ijebu-ode Grammar School (JOGS) to OOU to U.I, it's been so nice. I have always been on stage since 1993 and I have been able to stage 46 standard plays, guerilla theatre and playlets exclusive. I have performed before eminent personalities like Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and many more. And today, I have a M.A degree in dramatic literature and some other degrees in creative arts from some foreign institutions and I am about starting my PH.D in dramatic literature. I have served as President, JOGS drama club, Drama Director of JB Summit OOU and President, Niger State NYSC Theatre Troupe among other services. God has been so faithful to me because I am a man of unquantifiable grace as my name indicates.

On a final note?
A ram that recedes enhances its force. Now that we have studied some more courses, you can expect more from OFTP.