YOUNG and pretty Chineze Anyaene is the woman behind the wave-making movie, Ije.
Perhaps the most talked about director right now, we asked the Oji River, Enugu born movie maker how she stumbled on the idea of shooting a Nollywood-Hollywood flick. She also explained how she used Ije to reunite Nollywood stars, Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, the stars of the well-accepted feature flick. We also delved into other intimate matters.
Why is everybody talking about Chineze Anyaene and the movie, Ije?
I think it’s all about hard work. And you get a lot of attention and support when you put in your best in your work. That is exactly what my executive producer says. If you are passionate about your work, it speaks volumes for you. I trust Nigerians, when they see you are doing something different, they will really appreciate you. And that is what I really love about my country.
How did movie making start for Chineze?
My first degree was in Theatre Arts, University of Abuja. I later went to New York Film Academy to do a one-year programme, after which I did my Master’s for two years. I love producing. Reading Theatre Arts at the university was not enough because I knew, like Genevieve Nnaji said, I was not a good actress (laughs).
What would have been the attraction to movie making?
I love creativity. I love to create things, and sit back and watch people enjoy it. I love to entertain people.
It was hard. They were shooting around the world. But I think the stress is worth it. They are professionals. They are big time professionals and when they see a good job, they know what to do. They know when to jump on an offer and when not to.
The general assumption in Nollywood is that Genevieve and Omotola are not the best of friends. So, how did you reconcile them?
I really don’t know. I only know that when you are choosing your cast, you drop all negativities that go around in the industry.
The industry is competitive and I think I went for what was the best for me. And I got it. But it wasn’t so easy to get them on set. Thank God I did.
So, what was the basic challenge of shooting Ije, The Journey?
There were three challenges. First was being a woman, being a black shooting in America and third shooting my first feature film.
You had done a short film before Ije?
Yes. I have shot a whole lot of short films before.
Can you please tell us about the making of your debut movie?
It actually started like a dream. It was more like a joke. It was my mom that advised me to try my hand in making feature movies, having shot about 20 short films. I told her it won’t be easy. So, I discussed the idea with my consulting producer. He told me I have the strength, skill, training and passion to do it. And I love challenges. That was it.
Why did you prefer to train abroad?
You go for the best. You know there is no professional film school in Nigeria as I speak right now. So, if you are looking for the best, you go to Hollywood.
How did you get the Hollywood actors that featured in Ije?
I have my producing partner, Paula Moreno. She really helped in reaching out to Hollywood. Film making is a team work. We were able to source actors from Latin America, America and Nigeria. So, it’s a cross-continental movie.
This is the age of collaboration. And an era where young women entrepreneur are going into film productions. How does it feel to join this growing group?
Yes, it is a positive development. It is time for women to stand up and do things because we were all born with the same size of brain. And I think we should avail ourselves of the opportunity. Being a woman and a film maker is a plus for me.
They say Nollywood is sick. What is your take on that?
I think Nollywood has a long way to go, but we are trying. After all, we are just 15 years old. If you are talking about organized industries, Hollywood and Bollywood have been around for a while. There is hope. We have Kunle Afolayan; the guy that made The Tenant (Jude Idada). We also have people coming in with new approaches like Kajola.
As I speak with you, more than five producers are coming back with strong movies. I think it’s time for us to compete against each other. Because when there is competition, you will work harder.
My family is very diverse. We are into construction. My mom is a teacher. I am a film maker. We also have somebody in the medical field. There is equally a business person.
Can you please tell us more about Chineze?
I was born and raised in Abuja. I did my nursery, primary, secondary and first degree in Abuja. I am the third child of four children. I am from Oji River, Enugu State.
Is Chineze single or married?
I am very single.
Is she in a relationship at the moment?
What kind of man are you attracted to?
I love intelligent men.
Has it been difficult to find one?
My kind of job has a peculiar challenge. You area always busy. You are always working and working. So, it’s just work at the moment.
What’s the Nollywood of your dream?
We would be competing with Hollywood. We would be at the Oscars. We have talents in Nigeria. We are very smart and I think we just need to invest in Nollywood.
THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN ENCOMIUM WEEKLY ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2010