I sold land to make my first movie, today I spend millions to produce movies - Charles Novia
With his achievement in the past five years as a movie producer, Charles Novia has churned out a fair number of works, including the award winning Deep Secret and the yet-to-be-released
The prolific producer has an enviable record of having turned around the Nigerian movie sector with his movies. He also has the reputation for getting the best out of his actors and actresses. Some of those who have passed through him include Richard Mofe-Damijo, Nobert Young, Stella Damasus –Aboderin, among others.
The 1993 graduate of Dramatic Arts from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, worked at the NTA for four years. He was retained in the script department where he was instrumental in the creation of some popular programmes, like One Big Family, After the Sun and Tales By Moonlight. Novia, who has since set up his November Productions, a movie production company, told Daily Sun the story of his career in the motion picture industry.
We live in a society where people walk like ghosts . People cannot grasp the chore of their existence and the meaning of life because, over the years, we have had leadership. I feel within the ambit of my works, I should give people a purpose in life. That is why I always write on family themes dealing with human interest and romance stories.
People have associated me with love stories. I use love as a fantasy for people to get out of the suffering and what they encounter in the society. What inspires me more is the environment I live in. It is a very funny country and it is a delight for a creative person. Fela could not have created Afrobeat if he was living in Europe because the society you live in is what gives the power of creativity.
I predict that in the next two years, the movie industry will be bigger than what we have now. It has a bright future. There is the international recognition coming in right now. I just came in from Berlin where I represented Nigeria and gave a lecture on Nigeria home video industry. This was not possible in a few years back.
The international community is interested in why Nigeria has the third largest movie in the world following Hollywood and Bollywood and the biggest home video sector in the world. Other countries use celluloid. They go from film to cinema, but we release on video and they go into the market. It is a sort of fascination for the outside world.
In Germany, they ask the same question: How do people buy your films and the answer is that we tell our stories. We are not telling Hollywood stories. With investment coming in now from South Africa and America, things will change. The industry grew out of private initiative spearheaded by spare part dealers, electronics dealers and now professionals.
Why video instead of celluloid?
The whole world is going digital.There is a digital revolution.What is the fascination of the West to Nigerian home video? It is because they know we are shooting on digital video. Digital was made to revolutionise the celluloid industry.Hollywood will fight against a home video industry and it spreads to Hollywood because if it spreads we are going to make Hollywood obsolete. The billion of dollars spent on their equipment will become obsolete if people turn to video.
We are in the forefront of the digital revolution because we shoot on digital camera. Check out the latest digital equipment, it is already in Nigeria . Non-Linear studios, D V CAM 300 500 250,390, 150, we have them. I think celluloid is dying or is already dead in Nigeria .It is an expensive venture and why would anyone want to go into it when you know that you cannot make your money back easily.But with digital you can easily recoup your capital.
What can we call you, a film or video director?
That is one thing I learnt , video and film are the same . A director is a director anywhere in the world. When I get to the immigration in other countries and they ask me what are you doing in your country and I will say I am a film director, immediately they give me the respect. If you shoot on a HS you are a director, it is the visual, the picture. It is just not normal to say that film directors only shoot on celluloid films. It is just the idea, it is your creation. If you move a Nigerian director away from here to America, he would do better than most of those big directors in America.
I have shot about 25 movies in the last five years. The latest one, Missing Angel, will be released next month. I have spent a lot of money on billboards in 12 states of Nigeria because that would be the first time in this country that film is advertised with billboards.
We need to take our movie making into the next level, defacing the environment with posters is really crazy. With billboards, you are giving the film a leverage and a corporate look and every one will respect you. Missing Angel is about an angel missing from heaven. He comes to Nigeria and found love and decides not to go back. The Bride-Maid is another one coming soon, it is a romance movie. It is about a man searching for love, having been asked to find a woman of his dream in three months or loose his inheritance.
I believe that a film producer in the country is an endangered specie. We squeeze water out of stone to get production off the ground. It depends on the script because the structures are not there for us unlike what obtains abroad. When you want to shoot everything is there. Here you can't shoot at the airport because the security will swoop on you and accuse you of being a spy. They will beat you up and you have to take permission and pay again for public utility or space like the airport. This type of encouragement is what we need, we don't want government investment into the industry because I believe that anything that has to do with government will be unsuccessful. All we need is an enabling environment, just make things easy by giving us incentives to shoot.
This is an industry that has the potential to make millionaire and has the potentials to cripple millionaires. You either make it or break it. I started producing and my first film was Deep Secret.
I sold my inheritance, a piece of land to produce my first film. At that time everybody thought I was crazy for selling my property. I just believe in what I was doing. Eventually did I make the money?. No. I ploughed it in and did the second one which was a breakthrough for me; Easy To Kill and I have never looked back since then . Everything I have become today I made through the industry. I did not receive loan or money from anyone .
Showbiz and marriage
If you don't have an understanding spouse, then there is a problem. Many rush into marriage without understanding the intricacy of marriage. You must marry a friend. It's not just seeing a woman or man and you say I love him. If he is your friend, then it takes care of any other problem. Showbiz marriage is always dicey. I have an understanding wife. This is our fourth year and everything has been going on smoothly. I am a disciplined person.
Of course, love is a funny emotion. It might be inside the marriage that love will blossom. In my case, I wouldn't say it is love at first sight, it is basically attraction, because immediately I saw her, my spirit moved inside of me. It just happened and we got to know each other and we fell in love. I think it depends on the individual involved and how the heart relates to the other person.
True love is from the Lord. That is the only true love and that is spiritual. Wordly love, on the other hand can become true love if one can make sacrifice, take anything and give one's life to the other person. Does it exist? Yes, it exists all over the world, but in Nigeria it is ephemeral. Because of the way we find ourselves in the country, nobody wants to die for the other. If we have leaders who are selfless and ready to sacrifice themselves, it will be okay. That is what I am trying to correct in my works. Films should not only entertain but must educate and give message to society.
Nudity encourages rape
This is a social malady. The problem with us is that we copy western cultures. The way ladies dress on campus is really crazy and provocative. They have thought us how to dress and reveal their bodies slightly and leave a lot to imagination. More or less they are terrorising men with their bodies. That is why rape is on the increase because most men are physically frustrated.
Sex in movies
If you look at my movies, I don't celebrate sex, instead I teach people about the fallout of illicit or premature sex. I don't debase womanhood, but I show their positive values. But I need to show that positivity through the negative values of women. If you read between the lines and look beyond my movies, you will always see a good message.