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Their names usually elude movie viewers when the credits are written at the end of the movie, yet they remain the most important part of any movie. Without them, the movies would not made in the first place. Producers and directors are moviemakers, who are behind the scenes, making things to happen. They put together the scripts, the actors, the crew, and direct activities till the movies are done.
There are, however, some of them who had been in the industry even before the Nollywood. They have made television dramas, documentaries and various movies before the film renaissance and the genesis of home movies. And when the home video industry finally kicked off about 20 years ago, they were the first to make movies. Those first movies remain iconic till today. One of these people is the late Amaka Igwe. Here is a list of the pioneer Nollywood moviemakers.
Though a strong opposer of the tag, Nollywood, Tunde Kelani is probably the most celebrated Nigerian movie producer. In the 1970s, Kelani worked as a BBC TV and Reuters correspondent. He also worked in Nigerian Television. For Reuters he travelled to Ethiopia to cover the drought and to Zimbabwe three times to cover the country's independence. Once he finished from the London Film School, he returned to Nigeria and co-produced with Adebayo Faleti his first film, The Dilema of Rev. Father Michael.
He later went ahead to start his own production house called Mainframe. At Mainframe, he has produced movies such as Ti Oluwa Nile, Ayo Ni Mo Fe, Koseegbe, Oleku, Thunderbolt (Magun), Saworoide, Agogo Eewo, The Campus Queen, Abeni, Narrow Path, Arugba and the latest, Maami, with almost all of them being instant hits.
Zeb is an iconic name in the development of the new Nigerian home movie and cinema. He is one of the most internationally known Nigerian moviemakers. He is credited with discovering the likes of Hilda Dokubo, Kanayo 0. Kanayo and Genevieve Nnaji, when he gave them their first roles in his movies.
The Sheik, as the Isoko, Delta State-born movie producer cum director is fondly called, got into television in the early 1980s as a trainee with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). Today, he has made over 100 hit movies, the most popular ones being Domitilla, Mortal Inheritance, My American Nurse and Extreme Measures, among others.
Zik Zulu Okafor
Okafor is currently the national president of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP). He is a multiple award winning journalist, scholar, movie scriptwriter and producer. Zik Zulu Okafor is often described as an incisive thinker and orator. Zik Zulu has produced several movies including hits like Fugitive, Face of a Liar and Time To Kill. He holds a Bachelor degree in theatre arts, a post-graduate diploma in film production and a Masters degree in international law and diplomacy. He is undoubtedly part of the intellectual think tank of Nollywood and, indeed, an inspiration to the new generation of writers and producers.
Duker is the director of Abuja International Film and Video Festival. Like most of his colleagues, he started his career at the NTA where he used to write scripts for series like Tales by Moonlight, a popular television programme for kids. His first film as producer was Skeleton, an Igbo film, which was produced in 1993. The film paraded the likes of Hank Anuku, Sunny Mcdon, the late Felicia Milford, Francis Duru, Ngozi Nwosu and Sam Loco. Ever since, he has been producing hit movies.
He is credited with making hit movies like Eldorado and Girls Next Door. He also owns the franchise for Kids Alone, a TV reality show for children. He has over 50 home videos to his credit and he is a major player in the Nigeria movie industry.
A graduate of radio, TV, film and theatre arts, from the USA, Mr.Ogidan worked in the Nigeria television Authority (NTA) from 1982 to 1990 when he set up his hit company, OGD Pictures Limited, which is a big name in film and television production.
Tade Ogidan has produced several TV commercials, documentaries, musicals, and drama for television and film. Most of his projects have won awards at home and abroad. While at NTA, Tade produced and directed several episodes of The Village Headmaster, Nigeria's longest running television. He also did also Tele-Movies, Tele- Theatre and Play Of The Week series. His major hits include The Diamond Ring and Family on Fire.
The story of Nollywood will not be complete without the mention of Kenneth Nnebue whose great works like Living in Bondage and much Glamour Girls gave real life to the new Nigerian video industry. Nnebue who has since retired into evangelism was reputed to have spurred interest in the production of video films after he made a success of the two-part Ibo language movie, Living in Bondage, which he funded. The movie was shot on a shoestring budget estimated at a little above N1million including publicity. This was at a time the movie industry was non-existent. After his work followed a deluge of films shot with VHS cameras and edited in television studios, using a couple of VCR machines. It became the birth of what is known as Nollywood today.
Jeta is the youngest in this group but his works are some of the most properly made in the industry. Jeta Amata is a filmmaker, born to popular Nigerian actor, Zack Amata. He comes from a family of veteran filmmakers including Ifoghale Amata, Zack Amata and Fred Amata. Growing up in the film industry and following his family's passion for film, Jeta produced and directed his first film at the age of 21. It was, therefore, not a surprise when he began to rise in the world of film and entertainment.
Jeta Amata studied theatre arts in Benue State University, Makurdi, Nigeria. His work first went global when he produced a documentary film for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 2003, using his film, Game of Life, as footage for the documentary. He holds 53 nominations and 10 wins for film awards in Africa, Europe and the United States, and is considered one of the most successful filmmakers in West Africa.
His major films include Road to Redemption, Black November, Inale, Queen Amina, Mary Slessor, Game Of Life, and The Amazing Grace.
Veteran actor, Jide Kosoko was born in 1954. He is from Lagos Island, Lagos State. He is probably the biggest name in the Yoruba movie sector. Jide Kosoko attended Yaba College of Technology where he studied Business Administration. He also attended Lagos School of Drama (Theatre Arts).
He started acting in 1964 at the age of 10. Jide Kosoko is comfortable in both English and Yoruba films and some of his major works are Bolode O Ku, Kanyinsola, Oogun Aje, and OmoIya Meta Leyi.
Sani Danja is a household name in Kannywood and music in Northern Nigeria. Danja is reputable for his unique costumes and Indian-style song-and-dance routines. The 'Danja' in his name has been with him since childhood nickname (Danger) because he's said to be 'stubborn and persistent.'
He has produced and directed over 300 Hausa films, including Manakisa, Kwaryatabi Kwarya, Jaheed, Nagari, Wasiyya, Harsashi, Gidauniya, Daham, Jarida, Matashiya, Zuga-zugi, Jan kunne, Gambizam Raga and Tsumagiya among others.
Born Chico Maziakpono in Isoko, Delta State, he originally studied agriculture, and was later drawn into video production. He has a large volume of work, which he did under his production company, Grand Touch Pictures, based in Lagos.
Nicknamed Mr. Prolific, he has directed over 80 movies. He was profiled in a New York Times article dated May 26, 2002 titled 'When There's Too Much of a Not-Very-Good Thing' and written by Matt Steinglass and another article from the international version of Time Magazine dated May 26, 2002 titled 'Hollywood, Who Really Needs It?' and written by Stephan Faris.
Ejiro is married to Joy Ejiro and they have two children. He has two brothers, Zeb Ejiro, the best-known in the new Nigerian cinema and Peter Red Ejiro, another movie producer.
The bearded six-foot tall prolific movie director hails from Ilah in Delta State, Nigeria. A 1982 graduate of mass communication from the University of Nigeria, Andy, as Amenechi is simply called, is reputed to be one of the hottest and busiest movie directors on the Nigerian home video scene. He trained in advertising, marketing and advanced television and film production both in Nigeria and abroad.
A long standing member of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) and the Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN), Amenechi is the directing force behind some of the sector's enduring offerings like Rituals, Narrow Escape, Oracle, Blood of the Orphan, Time Bomb, Lord of the Mountain, Deep Love, Egg of Life, and the epic movie, Igodo, which he co-directed with Don Pedro Obaseki.
Culled from Dailyindependent