Our Audience Determines the Kind of Films We Produce – Moshood Ajani Ogunleye
The man, Moshood Ajani Ogunleye aka “Obeke Eleran” and “Big Man” has expressed great concern about the number of professional associations in the film industry.
He however, revealed that efforts are underway to unify the associations for a better film industry.
In a chat with Wale Adegbuyi, Ogunleye opens up on his sojourn in the film making industry, his regrets, travails, gains and the roles he has played so far.
He stated that he looks forward to becoming a legend in the film industry, which he said he’s working assiduously to achieve.
Can you please introduce yourself?
I am Moshood Ajani Ogunleye a.k.a BIGMAN. I am a movie actor, producer and a performing director. I have directed over 100 movies and produced 20 movies including “Ija Akeke”, “Alhaji Agba”, “Oku Alhaji”, “Obeke Eleran” etc. I am from a polygamous family and I am the fourth child. I attended Gbeleyi Primary School, Isolo and Isolo Secondary School for my post primary education.
What motivated you into the film industry and when did you become an actor?
I started my acting career 29 years ago though, I started acting when I was in secondary school. I played the role of a King in a school drama, and I was advised by my Yoruba teacher to join a theatre group because of what she saw in me. I joined a theatre group based on her advice after I left secondary school. I joined “Elder Olaniyi Akintayo” where I trained in acting, production.
Who is your mentor and how did you meet Elder Akintayo, and can you also tell us his stage name and the name of his theatre group?
My mentor is “Antar Babatunde Laniyan”, I met my trainer during a stage performance in a cinema and I went to him and informed “Elder Olaniyi Akintayo” about my interest in joining theatre and he gave me audience. That was the beginning of my sojourn in the film industry. The name of his theatre group at that time was “Ifepade Theater Group” and my stage name is “Obeke Eleran.” i met my boss when they went to perform a stage drama in a cinema. I approached him and he allowed me to join the group.
“Once they assist a director and probably something happened and they complete a movie job, they feel they can be directors and that is how it starts”.
Can you tell us your experience during the first performance?
It was so hectic, after going through several sessions of rehearsal, it was not easy to face crowd, but Glory be to God, today I have evolved and experience has made me better.
How many years did you train before you became independent?
I trained for 12 years because of the love my trainer had for me which made it a bit difficult for him to release me the way he did to others in the group.
Now tell us, in your 29 years of sojourn in the film industry, how would you rate our industry, is it growing or we are still learning?
This is a big question, as far as I’m concerned, we are not just a learner, but our growth rate is gradual. Assuming there is government support in terms of regulations and infrastructure, the industry would have feared better than what we have at present.
You claimed to have produced over 20 movies, were you able to recoup you investment?
My brother, it is not easy at all, I gained in some and I lost in some, but I believe things will be okay someday.
Our standard of educative script has fallen in recent times and every film is now about crime and prostitution without a solution to the problems, what is the reason for these?
Audience! That was what they demanded for, if you write any educative story these days people will not appreciate it and it will not sell like crime story, the audience determines what we produce.
“It was so hectic, after going through several sessions of rehearsal, it was not easy to face crowd”
Will you say pay television and online television add value to the Nigerian film industry?
Yes! They add value to our marketing unlike those days when our sole trust was in Compact Disc (CD) Market, whereby the marketers would corner your profit and give excuse that the sales are poor. But as for me, PayTV and online TV have changed the story and the producers are getting better compared to those days.
What do you think should be done to make our industry better?
Only the government can make it better, without the intervention of the government we will continue to run in circles and it will take time to put the right structures in place.
As a director, what do you think we can do better in the interpretation of roles because you will watch some films, and you will ask yourself what is the problem of the director, don’t you think most directors need further training?
Yes! many of our directors still need further training, you have answered the question. Most of the so called directors are not properly trained to skillfully carry our directing jobs. Once they assist a director and probably something happened and they complete a movie job, they feel they can be directors and that is how it starts.
How do you think this is possible because in the scheme of things they believe they’ve known all?
That is the responsibility of the associations governing the artistes. It is necessary that we all as professionals belong to an association. In Theater Arts and Motion Picture Producers Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN), we have what we call Guilds of Directors and we undergo training twice in a year. But most of the so-called directors that fall within this unprofessional acts are independent and they do not belong to any recognized association.
Why do we several associations within the industry, don’t you think, duplication of association made the government to withdraw their support because each association seems to be tribalistic?
You are very correct, we are all aware of that because it gives us setbacks and it affects the expected relationship with the government, but we are working seriously towards making things better and soon all the associations will unite under one umbrella.
How would you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as a legend in the theatre industry and I’m working assiduously towards achieving it.
What is your advice to upcoming and intending actors?
My candid advice for them is to be hardworking and to believe in God, with prayer all things are possible
You have visited www.movietainmentmagazine.com, what do you have to say and what do you think we need to do more?
You guys are great, you need to be more dedicated and be focused. Journalism is not an easy job, I pray to Allah make you grow bigger.
What would you want to tell your audience in a simple statement?
To keep on supporting me with prayers.