Casting is one thing I don't compromise – Solo Amaco
He is based in Asaba, the Delta State capital. He has produced several movies that have made him smile home with some awards to his... credit. Movie making is for him a dream come true and he has never stopped working to keep his name flying. Solo Amaco tells Funmi Salome Johnson the story of how he became a producer through the help of God and people like Gabriel and Demia Moses, who God used to help him actualise his dreams in life.
Tall and dark, with a style only synonymous with him, Solomon Apete, popularly known as Solomon Amaco, is a well known producer and director in the Nigerian movie industry.
For this Delta State born producer, professionalism is the watchword as he can go to the end of the world to get whatever or whoever will make the difference in his job. You do not have to be related to him or belong to his tribe. For him, the issue is: Just be good at what you do and be what he needs for that particular job and you have the job.
Apete told the Nigerian Compass on Sunday in an interview, “Casting is one thing I don't compromise on because I believe my job speaks for me. I go for the person that will interpret that role for me, not minding where the person may be. I don't mind if the person is in Ghana, South Africa or anywhere. Once I know that person can interpret the role for me, I go for that person, no matter what it takes me because I believe that if you do a good job, it will speak for you.”
In recent times, this dark skinned producer has featured quite a number of top Ghanaian artistes in his movies. Why the special interest in Ghanaian artistes? Apete says, “I believe that Ghanaians, Cameroonians, South Africans, we all are the same and I don't believe that one is more special than the other. Ghanaians are like Nigerians. So once you are a good actor or actress and I know that you can interpret the roles I have well, I go for you. I am not looking at wherever the person is from but all I see is that I am using an actor or an actress just like I use Nigerian artists too.”
Do these artistes demand higher take home pay than their Nigerian counterparts? Apete responded, “Not that they are more expensive, only that the dollar equivalent can rise and drop. But if converted to Nigeria's currency, it is still the same as what we pay our own artistes here. And if Nigerian artistes go to America or to Ghana or to South Africa, what they are paid will still be equivalent to the currency in that country. So, it is the same thing.”
On the ongoing sanitisation in the movie industry, Apete remarked that he believes that it will help to an extent but not completely.
On whether female artistes try to lure him with amorous advances, Apete says, “I am yet to be faced with that kind of situation. All I get is may be calls from ladies who want to work and want me to give them a chance to work because they believe I am always having jobs to do and that a lot of artistes have become famous stars by my featuring them in my movies. All these are possible through the grace of God and because of the kind heartedness of my bosses: Mr. Gabriel and Mr. Demia Moses, the two brothers of Amaco Investment Limited, who made me what I am today. So most of them that come to me, if they are good, I give them the job. But even if you are my friend or my brother and you are not good, I am sorry, I cannot give you the job.”
On how he got into the world of movie production, Apete says, “It has always been a dream for me to make movies and so this is a dream come true. When I was in the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) in Warri, I had a friend, Ifeanyi Anazodo, who was also into movie making. So when I watched the first movie he did, I called to tell him that I saw him and he told me to come to Onitsha and through him I went for audition and through casting. He was also the one who introduced me to the Amaco Brothers. I started with Amaco as a Production Assistant and he was happy with me. He said he likes the way I work and from PA, I became a Production Coordinator and from there I became a Props Man and then to the position of a Production Manager before I now became a Producer and I have been a Producer for about five years now and I have been privileged to win some awards.”
Before becoming a producer, Apete recalls that he has featured in some of Amaco's films and Coroma's films as an actor. So, what was the experience when he acted for the first time? Apete recalls, “The first time I got on set, as determined as I was, I realised it was not easy and at a point I declined that I do not want to act but that I just wanted to be behind the camera and not in front of the camera. I had since stayed with my choice of being behind the camera.”
As a producer, Romantic attraction was his first movie. It was directed by Dickson Egbu. Apete said that “producing for the first time was not a yo man's job at all. The tension of facing mega stars like Richard Mofe Damijo, Stella Damasus Aboderin, Chioma Chukwuka, Emeka Enyiocha and a host of them was not an easy one. But I managed to scale through with the support of my executive producer in person of Mr. Moses telling me that there is nothing there and that I can make it. I was able to sail through the tension. So after sweating for a while, I now discovered that there is actually nothing there. It is just for you to know what you are doing and understand that everybody is the same and also getting the right people there and knowing what you are doing.”
Apart from producing movies, Apete is wise enough to do other things by the side. He said, “I have an office where I supply cameras, location buses, generators, etc. My office name is DCS Entertainment Production Limited based in Asaba. I also have a studio where I edit and all that.”
Solo is a family man with kids and he has to combine this with his tasking career. How does he cope? He offers an explanation, “I am based in Asaba and my family lives with me in Asaba. I don't work from seven o'clock in the morning till the next day. So after the hard day's job, I go back home to spend the rest of the day with my family. Besides, before I married my wife, she knew I was a movie producer and that as a professional, my job can take me anywhere in the world. So before she agreed to marry me, she knew she could cope with me and she knows me well enough to trust. She met me when I was a film producer and after marrying her, I am still a film producer so she can cope and she is coping.”
All work and no play makes Apete a dull man. To avoid being a dull man, he spends his leisure time, if there is any, hanging out with friends. For him, he does not walk alone. He moves with friends a lot. He said, “For me, I like moving with friends and I have quite a couple of them. So whenever I am free, I go out with my friends. We go to swimming pools, chat with them and play. I don't take alcohol, I don't smoke. So I just go out with them to relax so that when I get back to work, I am very active. I can be very mad on set but once I am done with it, I am a very simple and friendly person.”
On how he acquired the nickname 'Solo Amaco,' the dark skinned dude says, “I give the kudos to my bosses. It is just the same case with Kenneth Okonkwo. They call him Andy, which was the name he grew with in the movies. So because I produce for Amaco Investments and some other artistes and most of the jobs they have seen is from Amaco Investments, they changed my name from Apete Solomon Oghenerume to Solo Amaco. It is simply because of the company and the big jobs the company does that they have been seeing.'