ACE movie producer and director, Ruke Amata is from the famous Amata family known largely for movie making. Years, back, he relocated abroad with his family and now he has returned with interesting plans in his fold. He spoke recently about the experiences in the United Kingdom and his plans to pick up his career from where he stopped in Nigeria, especially his new movie which he plans to premiere in London, The Gambia and Ghana.
Years back, you were doing very well in the movie industry and suddenly you abandoned the industry and relocated abroad, what really happened?
I didn’t abandon the industry, let me use the word of former military president, IBB, I only stepped aside to another country. But then it’s all part of gaining experience of life. A saying goes thus, ‘You don’t stand in one place to watch the masquerade.’ Definitely, you can’t stay in one place. I realized that in terms of production quality in Nigerian movie industry, we attained a certain height and we couldn’t go beyond that level and when the opportunity came for me to travel, I said, fine, let me go and improve myself. The children will also taste a different kind of education, that was it.
How will you describe the experience out there?
Beautiful, it’s a no man’s land. You have to fend for yourself. It taught me another way of living.
What happened to your reality show, Class Act UK?
When I got to the UK, I was busy doing one or two things. I wanted to get into the mainstream production, then I realized it was difficult for non-British or Africans. They just give us minimal roles and I thought what can be done and there are so many talented stars out there. So, I organized a talent hunt show. If you want your name to be heard, you have to call your name out. Initially, we wanted to restrict it to Nigerians but later we opened it to everyone. We had auditions, selected them and finally we went through the boot camp selection and a young girl from The Gambia won.
Was it that the Nigerian contestants were not good?
For me, I look at quality and stagecraft. I actually go for acting, I don’t go for the name. Part of the format of the reality show was to give the winners an opportunity to act alongside established African stars. Because of this, we produced a movie entitled The Past Came Calling. Starring the likes of Chioma Chukwuka-Akpothan, John Dumelo, Oliver Jollife, Penelope Bonchot Humbert and Class Act UK 2011 winner, Marie Kumba Gomez. It’s an international movie. We had foreign crew on board, we plan to premiere it in London on December 16, 2011. Actually, it was supposed to be November but I had to move it because of my mother’s death. After London, we are going to The Gambia. That should be around December 23, 2011. In February 2012, we will move to Ghana.
Any regret about going abroad?
Not at all. I wanted to break new grounds. Many of my friends asked me what I was going abroad for, I love challenges.
You are from a family of movie makers, is it a policy that all of you must follow that line?
No. Actually, my brother is not in the industry. He is a professor of Brewery Technology, my younger sister is also not in the movie industry.
How much interaction do you enjoy with your father?
Enough, he is somebody I looked up to while growing up. It was quite interesting under his tutelage. My first movie in 1995, after he watched it, he stood up and shook my hand.
Was it because he made much money from movie that is why everybody followed his path?
Funny enough, as at that time, there was no money. We were just doing it for the love of it. We all moved from TV, money couldn’t do much that time, we were jumping from one molue to the other.
Why movie and not something else?
It’s just the love and the passion. I had a chance to read Law, but I opted for Theatre Arts and later MBA. Though I didn’t put it into practice.
Why MBA when you wouldn’t move away from movie making?
The experience in the MBA class has also helped me a lot in my adventure.
It is a general belief that you are the most talented among the Amata clan; do you also share the same view?
For me, I don’t believe that. In terms of acting, you can’t take it away from Fred and Zack. In terms of directing, Fred and Jeta hold the ace. We are all different in our areas of endeavour.
What happened to your soap opera, The Bachelors?
We are still going to revive it because it’s one of the most successful TV drama then. We are even planning to do it in a movie with better technical input.
Who, among your siblings are you closest to?
Our parents have seven children and the way we were brought up, he had a soft spot for one or two of us but it was not obvious. He gave all of us equal opportunities.
What is your general assessment of Nollywood now?
We are too critical about ourselves because we want to copy Hollywood or Bollywood. We have united resource and we are making use of it very well. That, to me, is a plus.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011