I HAWKED “EWEDU” FOR MY MOTHER WHILE GROWING UP – YEMI AMODU
Yemi Amodu is a notable name in the film industry and he has carved a niche for himself behind the scene having spent over three decades in the filmmaking business with over 40 awards globally, and there is no gainsaying that he is a filmmaking guru.
In an interview with Wale Adegbuyi, Amodu opened up on some few lapses in the industry and also provided the remedy for solving those challenges, he’s currently working on a job that will hit the cinema very soon, which featured the likes of Omotola Jolade, Toyin Aimakhu, Yemi Blaque, Jide Kosoko, Rachael Okonkwo and many other notable faces in the film business in Nigeria.
He promised that the film will educate people and add values to their lives as a result of what it preaches, which is love. You will definitely learn from this piece.
Can you let us into few things you have been up to?
I am currently working on my new film which shall be in cinema very soon. It is titled “Shadow Parties” which stars Omotola Jalade, Yemi Blaque, Rachel Okonkwo, Ken Erics, Toyin Aimakhu, Segun Arinze, Jide Kosoko and several other notable artistes.
Can you tell us about the project and your expectations when it hits the stand?
The theme is love but it dwell on tragedy of communal clashes that’s crippling our society today. Technically, the film is shot on Red Dragon and the post production is being handled by one of the best studios in the world. It is a film of over 500 cast. Our expectation is very high. The distribution of the movie shall go global because of the theme we are preaching. It is a good commercial film, but it can also be used as a veritable tool of advocacy by the government.
“I used to hawk “Ewedu” for my mother and I would reposition to increase the quantity in order to get some money for myself.”
What motivated you into the film industry and which year did you join the film making business?
I have been in the industry as a filmmaker for almost 30 years, and over I have over 30 years’ experience as a practitioner of traveling theatre known as Alarinjo. I also went to Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ogun State to study performing arts in 2006 after I have got more than 40 awards. It is all about passion. I am so passionate about what I do. When we started, it was not based on money, but for the love of arts.
What has been your experience in this sojourn and how challenging is the task?
My experience is blissful so far though with ups and downs as well as rise and fall situations. But it is normal. I crossed from being an actor to a man behind the camera that was a big crisis on its own. Learning on the job was another hard task because nobody was ready to give you the chance and you could only count on your luck to achieve then. I learnt U-Matic editing and camera operation which was the broadcast standard and the peak of digital cinematography in the country then. I became a household name with my proficient knowledge in every aspect of production. Thank God for the journey so far.
Looking back, can you say the film industry in Nigeria is doing well or do you think we are just trying?
Well, just like Nigeria is a developing country so is our industry. Our economy doesn’t provide a conducive atmosphere for the industry to thrive. There are many talented and erudite practitioners who can perform wonders if they have the resources but alas they are wasting away because there are no provisions and resources for them to excel. Over 10 years ago, I was asked this question. See what is happening with the cinemas now, cinemas are not in the mass areas. Imagine if we have cinemas in mass Areas even in the bucolic areas like they have in India, our Return on Investment (ROI) will be guaranteed no matter how bad your film may be. One can only talk about successes when investments return their capital, considerations of a better industry in the next decade will be consistent.
“Today, the profession is for every nuisance. No standard for the entrants. Can you be a member of ICAN without a certain qualification? Can you be called a doctor without attending a medical college?”
But don’t you think much attention is not paid to the industry because of many associations and guilds that are fighting for same opportunity from the corridors of power?
Can you tell which industry is thriving today with the current situation of the economy? If you are sure of yourself, the Bank of Industry is there with Nollyfund Scheme to help realize our creative vision. They don’t do it by association. Whatever association you belong, you can assess the fund. I am a beneficiary of that funding scheme. Some of the people in our industry were sent abroad for training under Project Act and some attended Olabisi Onabanjo University on the bill of the Federal Government during the era of former of President Goodluck Jonathan, but now may be because of recession, we have not heard anything from the government of the day. No matter the number of the associations, once we have a good structure for the industry, the industry will work. My prayer to our government is for them to help us facilitate the MOPICON Bill in time so that there can be standard for new entrants and the existing practitioners.
How do you think MOPICON Bill will move the industry forward?
Today, the profession is for every nuisance. No standard for the entrants. Can you be a member of ICAN without a certain qualification? Can you be called a doctor without attending a medical college? No! In our industry, you will find mechanics, panel beaters and so on. MOPICON is a bill that will criminalize all these substandard people. You must be certified by NMA with a license to operate, so should our industry be. Many people don’t even understand why they are in the industry. Some girls use our profession to advertise their business of harlotry. Some yahoo guys see our industry as a cover up for their criminal acts. All these are happening because there are no rules. It’s unfortunate that the industry has gotten to this, but I hope for a better tomorrow.
What is the effort from the major stakeholders to ensure the quick passage of MOPICON Bill in the interest of the industry?
The stakeholders have tried their best. The present Minister of Information set up a committee to review the bill which was done long time ago. We are expecting the final passage of the bill by the National Assembly.
What would you like to be remembered for as a professional in the creative industry?
I prefer things are done professionally. That’s why I advise our people to go for training no matter how little.
“I am a beneficiary of that funding scheme. Some of the people in our industry were sent abroad for training under Project Act and some attended Olabisi Onabanjo University on the bill of the Federal Government during the era of former of President Goodluck Jonathan, but now may be because of recession, we have not heard anything from the government of the day.”
With DSTV and other online TVs, do you think the industry is gaining more relevance and combating piracy?
Yes. But it is not really paying yet in terms of naira and kobo, but on relevance, I would say yes. And it may not totally kill out piracy, but it has certainly reduced it.
Can you take us through your childhood and some of the pranks you played?
Ah. I was a good boy but I played many pranks though. You know puerile exuberance would always push you into doing many funny things. I used to hawk “Ewedu” for my mother and I would reposition to increase the quantity in order to get some money for myself.
Have you visited our site? If yes! What would you say we have done well and what do we need to do more to serve the industry better?
I think you have a very good site. There can always be room for improvement, but for now all I can see is a good platform contributing to the growth of our industry.