The movie, Pepper Soup follows the normal life of a celebrity played by Denrele Edun and his eventual misbehaviour. The movie reveals how people are subject to substance abuse from eating at random public places.
Cast of the movie are Denrele Edun, Layole Oyatogun, Lisa Omorodion, Lillian Afegbai, Brain Stevens, Beverly Osu and more. Pepper Soup is the first in a series of advocacy films by Pinnacle Medical Services and as a part of the campaign in creating awareness on mental health.
ENCOMIUM Weekly on Friday, May 6, 2016, at the Civic Centre had a chat with the cast and crew of Pepper Soup. The movie was directed by Grace Edwin Okon, while the Executive Producer is Dr Maymunah Kadiri.
‘Denrele fall scared me’ – Grace Edwin Okon (Director/producer)
What inspired the movie Pepper Soup?
Dr Maymunah Kadiri, the Executive Producer of the film spoke to me about wanting to push this message out there to let people know that mental challenges can happen consciously or unconsciously. So I said ok, let’s see, can I hear the story. And when she told me, I was shocked because I have never heard such a thing can happen even to you who is talking to me. It could actually happen to you. So, I was really surprised about it, it triggered my imagination and I was able to work around the true story and make it into a fictional one.
What was the challenge you had making this movie?
The major challenge like most of you had already heard was the accident we had on set, Denrele trying to do the method acting thing. He wanted to make it real, I had protective gear around, I even suggested we put mattress around to buffer his fall but he refused, he said he wanted to do it real.
So, he did it the first time, it was okay. He did it the second time, it was fantastic. By the time we were doing the third one, honestly, I don’t know what happened, I just saw blood everywhere and I was screaming and I said let’s rap it and he said no. So they had to stitch because we were shooting in Dr Kadiri’s hospital and they gave him injections and drugs but he went back on set even though it affected our continuity on set a bit, but he is a team player.
How easy was it bringing Denrele on set?
Denrele and I got way back and when I mean way back, it’s like 17 years that from modeling because we both used to model. From modeling we moved to dancing. I used to be a dancer, I used to be a beauty queen, I have done so many things but now, I have settled for film.
As a film maker behind the scene, acting once in a while but I started as actor but Denrele and I go way back from those days and all of that. So we have been friend, he’s a brother. But I won’t say it was not difficult because he is a very busy person.
How does Denrele’s personality fit with the theme of the movie?
The interesting part is this, people already assume that he is a mental case. But the truth is he is a Gemini like me and most Gemini, if you are into stars, you will know that Gemini are sanguine, and they are very extroverted and all of that.
We have our very excited part of us and we have the other side which is very reserved. So Denrele generally is a very interesting character and when I was scripting, I was scripting with him in my head and I knew he was just a perfect fit for the role.
Is the movie going to be a cinema movie or home video?
It is a short film which hopefully will go into film festivals and it will do the festival runs and thereafter, it will be out on social platforms for it to go viral. So, everybody in the world can watch it and get the message.
How easy was it bringing the NDLEA chairman?
That was through Dr Maymunah Kadiri. She was the one who actually connected to the NDLEA and the woman was interested in what we are doing and she accepted what we were doing. That is the reason why she has come and she has endorsed what we are doing today.
Who wrote the script?
I wrote the script.
What was the state of your mind when you were writing the script?
The great part is when I was writing the script, I think I just got into another space. When I am a writer, I am a different person. When I am an actor, I am a different person. When I am producing or directing, I am a totally different person, so, I work on different spheres.
So, in terms of writing this particular story, I was thinking of my friend Denrele. I was even laughing when I was writing and I was hoping people would accept it and all of that. But when I have to write, I just go into my cocoon and disappear from the world. I go into that space and write and then come back with the finished product.
How was it filming with other cast?
It was amazing, we had Beverly Osu, we had Layole Oyatogun. We had Lisa Omorodion, we had Lillian Afegbai, they were all amazing. And the interesting part is this, most of these young actors, they are people who see me as a big sister.
They are people who see me as their friend, so they respect my craft, they respect my work. So they don’t come on set and misbehave. Rather, they actually did a good job.
What impact do you see the film making?
I am hoping that it will impact you first of all. Everyone out there, I hope they will learn and say wow! This is something we have to be conscious of. This is something we have to take seriously in Nigeria.
How much did the movie gulp?
Interestingly, it is a short film and a lot of people will say since it a short film, it is supposed to be cheap but the truth is, this short film cost almost as much as some feature films.
Where did you shoot the movie?
Here in Lagos, Lekki to be precise.
How long did it take you to shoot the movie?
We shot for approximately three days but we shot back to back. We shot over night, but it was a two years project in the sense that we started preproduction, scripting and all of that two years ago.
‘I can act even beyond the script’ – Dr Maymunah Kadiri (Executive producer)
First, I will say congratulations on the success of your movie. But coming from the medical background, how easy was it for you working on a project like this?
The thing is, nothing is easy any way, nothing is ever easy. But once you have passion for something and develop the confidence about it and you have the goal in mind, you will be able to succumb all things against all odds.
Movie producing is capital intensive but the truth is that once you know what you want and what you want to project, this is a very pertinent issue in the society which a lot of people ignore. Not because they are not aware but because of the stigma associated with it. People don’t want to talk about mental health, that is the reason why we are bringing to the world that health is wealth and there is no health without mental health.
Do you see yourself doing more of the movie?
Yes, it is one out of the series and so many other ones are coming, God willing. But like I said, it is capital intensive. The truth is that we want people to identify that these are real life stories. It is not about the whites, we are supposed to see mental related problems as among us in Nigerians.
How supportive was the family towards this project?
(Laughs) I love that question because a lot of people kept asking me that Dr, what is your business with movie. The same question used to come from my husband but he understands what I wanted to achieve. And everybody is supportive – from my parents, siblings to my husband, even friends.
Some people came all the way from Kaduna, Abuja, South Korea, UK and they said they really want to come and support me in this and I am really very grateful. So the support is massive.
Since the movie is capital intensive, how do you intend to get back the money you have invested?
There are organizations that identify with issues like this, Losit Capitals but for us the goal is to get people to be aware of mental issues and of course, we are aligning it with the sustainable development goals of good health and well being. So, we look out for organizations that will support initiative like ours and work with it and partner with them.
Do you think the movie is the right way to spread this message?
No, there are so many ways, like today, it is not all about the movie. We have an app for the movie. It’s a mental app, we want people to download to access their mental well being on the go. It talks about anxiety, it talks about depression, it talks about addiction, it talks about your mental well being generally.
So, there are so many assessments there, so we advice people to download it and use it and of course we have the pinnacle health radio which is geared towards delivering full time health solutions, that is not strictly about mental health now but it is all about health in general.
Were you at the location during the movie shoot?
Yes and that was the first time.
What was the experience like for you?
It was awesome. It was tedious but awesome like everyone is working back to back almost 24, 48 and 72 hours on set. So, it takes this much to shoot a movie and then one scene you have to repeat it over and over again and I’m like surprised. I am a doctor but I don’t want to go into this.
And yes that was my experience and it was worth it. I really appreciate the Nollywood space and yes they work really hard.
Will you be staring at the movie anytime soon?
Yes, I will. I think I will because naturally people see me as a comedian, naturally people see me as a jovial person and I can act even beyond the script. But I am not trying to say I am now professional. It will take me a lot of zeal but I can see myself featuring in a movie, even though it is just waka pass role, I can start from there.