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NO BIG DEAL ABOUT CREATING A FILM DYNASTY–AFOLAYAN

By Steve Ayorinde
Kunle Afolayan
Kunle Afolayan

It has been some time since Irapada debuted and won so many awards, but we are yet to see it on the vendors' stands. What has been happening?

The movie is yet to hit the vendors' stands because, first, we just concluded the theatrical release all over the globe and we are still trying to do our homework well in terms of its distribution. As you are aware, the movie is what we can call a national movie based on the medium of communication adopted in it as well as the physical location among several other factors. We are sourcing for a movie distributor with a strong network to cover major areas of the country at once. By doing this, we would also be, in a way, beating pirates to their game as we would be releasing the film in all areas of the country at the same time. You will agree with me that all these processes require proper planning because it is a really huge project and any mistake or oversight on our part can mess up everything we have been planning over the years, so, we are taking our time.

We have premiered the film in several countries of the world. We have done it in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and even in Nigeria. We have shown the film privately in cinemas, to multinational companies and so far, the response has been very overwhelmingly good. We will premiere it officially in Nigeria next month. After that, then it will go on the vendors' stands.

How has Irapada been faring at the international film festivals it attended?

Without sounding immodest, the reception at the various international film festivals attended has been awesome and I can say it has conveniently opened a whole vista of opportunities for us both locally and internationally because we have been able to use the movie to prove that creative and outstanding world class production can also come out of Nigeria. I will not say we are there like the other countries of the world that have made it already but we did very well. We are really proud to say we are from Nigeria and we made a good movie.

What does Irapada have over other Nigerian films that has made it a multiple award winner?

We would not want to blow our own trumpet but from the feelers we get from people through phone calls, SMS and the film website, we have been made to understand that every facet in the production of the movie is different. Take the delivery of the story line for instance; it was perfected by not only the known faces in the movie world but also talented new discoveries that can compete anywhere in the world. The picture quality is another thing that has made the movie stand out, even though that is not the best we could offer. Yet because of limited resources, we are still able to shoot HDV which is world class film equipment. The choice of locations and the sound track are also a major plus among several other qualities. Then the choice of language also contributed. It mixed the English language and the indigenous languages very well and when it was submitted for AMAA awards and Zuma film festival, they almost didn't know where to place it. That was the year the indigenous film category was created.

What new thing are you coming up with now and how soon will you get it out?

We are now releasing the Irapada movie on both VCD and DVD based on popular demand. We have decided to do this in a manner different from what people are used to. We will be having a pre-release premiere/launching of the movie in partnership with Unilever and its products like Omo, Royco and Close-up herb. The event which will play host to people from the corporate industry, entertainment industry and government officials, among others, will be an avenue to rub minds and discuss the prospects of the Nigerian movie industry. We will release the movie at the event after which it will be distributed by a notable movie distributor who will partner with us as we will be doing the direct marketing. What this means is that we will be taking the movie directly to the consumers by organising road shows. The movie will be sold in traffic, banks, eateries and all other places where people converge regularly. The movie will be released in July 2008.

Then, that is not all. We are working on another major film that will dwarf whatever Irapada has been able to achieve. The preliminary work has started and very soon, after the premiere of Irapada, we will kick start the project fully. It is going to be shot both in Nigeria and abroad. The language that will be spoken in the film this time will depend on the country where it will be shot. It is not going to be a home video. As I have always said, I am not into home video production. I am into film making and mine is an art.

Taking a film to shoot abroad is a good thing but many times you find Nigerians just do that to boost the film status not because it adds anything to the overall output of the film. How would you relate this to your film going to be shot abroad?

Either a movie is shot abroad or in Nigeria, our own major concern is that these factors must not overshadow the fact that it must be a well put together movie in all ramifications. To answer your question, yes, if we have a good story line that involves going abroad to shoot, we won't hesitate to do that but we will make sure that things are done properly. You know that production abroad is different from the way it is done here but we can assure you that if we absolutely have to take it abroad, which we hopefully intend doing very soon in our next project, we will take extra pain to follow due process so as to achieve the desired outcome, the quality standard we are synonymous with.

How are you going to protect your work from pirates when it eventually comes out?

Like I said earlier, we will partner with a movie marketer with a strong distribution network. We are working hard to make sure the movie reaches the vendors' stands at all major locations at the same time. This way, we will be reducing the piracy menace because, if an average movie lover has a timely access to the movie, we are gradually phasing the pirates out of business. Then, you must recognise that there is really nothing much anybody can do about piracy. They are there all over the world, doing their thing. Their activities can only be reduced and that is what we intend doing.

What qualifies you for this thing that you are doing apart from being born to a film maker?

Apart from being born to a film maker, the late Ade Afolayan, aka Ade Love, I would say my talent plus the fact that I am a graduate of Digital Filmmaking from New York Film Academy (London Campus). My late father was a film maker of repute so you can say it runs in the family but then if I am not talented in that field, I would have been doing something else. Not all my fathers' children are into film making and they are doing well in their various chosen fields too. Then, I love the art with a passion and I am giving it all of me.

You and your son acted in Irapada and your younger ones are into acting as well. Looks like you guys are trying to create a Nigerian acting dynasty

Well, a lot of other kids auditioned for the role, but the best man got the job and I am sure you can see that the role was well interpreted by the little boy. My other siblings too have been able to use their talents positively to distinguish themselves in the industry. My sister is into the profession and three of my brothers as well. They are into acting but I am more in the making of the film. There is really no big deal about creating a dynasty as you can see from the Amtar Bashan of India. He has retired from acting but his sons are acting now. Even Michael Douglas has his children acting so it is something that I am sure our father will be happy about wherever he is.

As a formally trained filmmaker, what do you see as the failings of the Nigerian film industry and what are you doing to improve on them?

So many things are responsible for the failing standard. From lack of funding and support from the government and the fact that a lot of inexperienced people are coming into the industry because it is not standardised. The solution is a collective responsibility of everybody who sees the need for a viable movie industry, but on our own part, we would continue to do creative, educative and intelligent production. I am sure with time, other people will see the need to do things properly too.

What was your experience as a Nigerian directing an international film?

It was mind blowing directing Triangle of Need in Miami. It opened my eyes to a lot of things which will help me plan better in my next project. You can imagine me being a director on the set of film where you have experienced filmmakers from Hollywood and you still command all the respect. It was an abstract film, something totally new and the work was very challenging but we did a good job of it.