What is ASTA?
The Nigerian film industry keeps spinning off support services. Natty Bruce Idigbogu's Action Film Academy and Action Stunt Talent Agency is set to supply talent for that brand of movies called Action Film. Odigbogu explains his mission to Nollywood's Sam Nwokoro
What exactly do you do?
I train people on how to become professional actors at my Action Film Academy. At the Academy we train action actors/actresses, models, stunt men/women and action directors. That entails that actors get to have good knowledge of martial arts like judo, karate, wrestling. We hold workshops three times a week and every six months. Students who have graduated will join Action Stunt Talent Agency (ASTA), a management outfit which helps them work in films, TV, stage, commercials and print projects. We also assist filmmakers, cast and crew with their action projects like we did in Guardian Angel 1&2 and The President Must Not Die.
What is ASTA?
ASTA is one stop shopping for action filmmakers. Industry professionals will have your information at their finger tips 24 hours a day and you will enjoy working with some of the biggest names in the film business. AFA is a great resource for beginers and even established actors to develop and have their on-screen fighting skills. We are trying our best through this training to build more action and drama into the home video productions. But we are daily doing our best to change the present face of movie quality by inculcating into actors and actresses how to produce effects
How well have these ideas been received by the professionals?
Well we are trying to encourage actors and actresses, especially the upcoming ones to embrace our training to sharpen their acting skills. For example, most of them do train with us. We help talents find work. Most of the actors come on training sessions to perfect some script effects - those involving physical fight or judo or karate which will add effect to their productions. We are also trying to perfect the kind of picture/and effects you see in Hollywood movies so that movies can be thrilling. And when you talk of the big-time marketers and sponsors, well their areas are quite different from ours. They are doing their own business. So, the question of their sponsoring actors/actresses in our training is their own discretion, but we are trying to get them to appreciate that these skills are essential for actors and actresses.
For these effects, you need sophisticated equipment, how do you go about that?
We use some equipment but not all that we require. As time goes on this academy will be able to acquire those special effect equipment for our training. But they are expensive and the sessions here are giving the participating actors and actresses the knowledge they require. It is growing. I have up to 150 trainees and the fee is token. We have been here for two years now.
When you watch Hollywood thrillers, the fights or knocks on combatants look so real. But it is not supposed to be a real-life thing. How is that achieved?
That is what we have just talked about. It is make- believe. To produce those stunts require some special effect cameras. It is a production stunt. Some Nigerian producers are learning to produce such action sequences. It is developing. It is good.
But action sequences are not only in combats. What about other actions involving aeroplanes, guns, bombs etc.
When you talk about that, you're talking of hi-tech productions. They cost a lot of millions of dollars to produce. But our movie industry is developing and we will get there with time.
Tell us a little more about how you got started?
I am from Imo State. I have been involved in martial arts right from when I was in Aba in the 80's and 90's and now I am a trainer.