Nigerian movie lovers are about to be thrilled as Emeka Enyiocha’s latest flick, Our Yesterday will soon hit the cinemas. The production has a cast of Francis Odega, Harry B, Emeka Enyiocha, Steve Eboh a.k.a Ajebo and others. In a chat with Emeka Enyiocha, he told us why he had been away and what he has been up to. He told us about his new production, Our Yesterday…
It has been a while we heard from you, what have you been up to?
I have been away for seven years. When I got married, I stayed off commercial movies and locations. I went into private business interests. I was in partnership with a friend and we did three productions together. There was one we produced entitled, The Patriots. The movie is to sensitize Nigerians on illegal drug and the negative effect. Apart from that, I produced another soap opera entitled, School.
The movie is about young undergraduates who are overzealous and try to overdo themselves because of the wealth of their parents, and parents who bury their heads in their work and overlook what their children are doing. They do not put interest in the activities of their children.
Finally, I did the movie, Champions of our time. It is a story on the physically challenged. Former governor Raji Fashola partnered us, he read the script and he actually constituted a board in support of the movie. What we actually did was to create an avenue whereby the physically challenged would be provided for, in feeding, transportation, accommodation and others.
But you know, in Nigeria, even the people who are physically okay have not enjoyed enough of these facilities not to talk of people who cannot speak for themselves. What we wanted was for them to come out and show that when one is physically challenged, it does not mean he is mentally challenged.
The movie won several awards and most especially, the best film in TM Sparkle Awards in 2011. It also won best scene in HOMVIDA in Abuja last December. It also won HOMVIDA in 2010 or thereabout. I am on my own now. I stage productions on my own. I covered Nigerian centenary (marking 100 years) in 2013. I just shot my own feature movie.
Some people believe you left the movie industry to focus on your hotel business. How true is that?
Actually, it is not a hotel I own, it is a bar in the hotel that I leased. I am not the owner of the hotel. I ran the bar to let the years I was away pass by but I have put a stop to it because I also want to go into hospitality business that is exactly my plan before the first quarter of this year.
It is not that I abandoned the industry to run a hotel, though it was an experience that taught me how to deal with people.
While you were away, did you still get scripts and did you reject or accept any?
Yes, initially when I started the partnership with my friend, I was receiving scripts, but because we were two, I couldn’t leave him to run the business while I was on location. When we were producing The Patriots, we were visiting pharmaceutical companies to encourage them to sell products that are not substandard or expired because most times they import expired drugs which were original but before they get to Nigeria, they are expired and turn to a killer drug.
So, every day we went to pharmacists to sensitize them on bad drugs so, there was no how I could have left him alone to run the business. It got to a point that people were like Emeka does not act again and all that. But I am finally back, there were temptations to accept scripts because at times when I am broke, I dodged to act few scenes so as to get some money but it was like killing one’s dream for the other so I stopped accepting scripts and faced my business. Now, I am back after seven years.
I am shooting my movies now, producing and others. The knowledge I acquired then I put into my own production.
Will you say you missed the movie industry?
I would not say I missed it because I was also producing. The fun of being a producer is that you understand what it means to be an actor. I did not miss anything rather they missed me.
Can you tell us about your new movie?
The story is so dear to me so, I will not let it out now. I am still at the post production level but the title is Our Yesterday. The movie was shot in Port Harcourt. I had a lot of challenges. One of my artistes who I will not disclose his identity came on set and after four days, was nowhere to be found and till now I have not been able to reach him. I do not know where and why he left.
That is production for you. It was disappointing because this person was supposed to be a friend. So, we had to reshoot the movie. I acted in the movie too.
What informed the idea?
I wanted to do something to corroborate the saying ‘content is power’. I wanted to have my life controlled by me, to rechannel my life and never to work for someone.
Who are the cast?
My humble self, I have Harry B, Francis Odega, Steve Eboh a.k.a Ajebo, Mercy Mac-Joe, an up and coming artiste, Pricilla Austin, Maureen Okporo, TT Temple, Arinze Okonkwo. They were very supportive and they are all good. It was challenging and it was as if there was a force that said the movie will not be produced but God shut the wagging months.
Why did you choose the cast you chose?
I wanted good interpretation, I wasted artists that could perform and not stars. It was wonderful, I am happy I did the movie.
What should the viewers expect from the movie?
I do not know what they should expect but I expect them to critically analyse the movie. They should tear it down and see if it is good or bad. If it is good, they should give thumbs up and if bad, they should criticize as they would always do.
What is your plan for the movie? Is it going to be in the cinemas or on DVD?
Yes, it is going to be in the cinemas first. Then it goes on DVD then on the internet. With some of my good friends trying to promote the movie, I want to get everything ready as soon as possible.
How much did the movie gulp?
I cannot say how much it has gulped because I am still spending, but by the time the movie is ready, I will tell you how much it gulped. The movie took a lot from me, something good any way and that is why I am not leaving any stone unturned. I would make sure it is perfect.
How do you hope to recover the money invested in the movie?
Before I embarked on the project, I had put one or two things together but the most important thing is for me to do my own part first then the movie will definitely bring money back. It is what you give out that will attract the money. I do not want to dwell on piracy issue. I pray the movie will bring my money back so that I will develop others by shooting movies and giving people the opportunity to achieve their dreams.
Last year, God was faithful to me. I was able to shoot three good movies and I pray for more this year. The vacuum my absence created, it is only God who can fill it up. I do not want the same thing to repeat this year.
- DAMILOLA FOLAMI