The Arbitration, one of Nollywood’s most star studded films held an exclusive premiere on Wednesday, August 10, 2016, at Film House, Surulee Mall, Lagos.
Directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, The Arbitration features Nollywood’s leading man, O. C. Ukeje, AMVCA winner, Adesua Etomi, Beverly Naya, Somkele Iyamah, Gregory Ojefua and industry veterans Iretiola Doyle and Sola Fosudo.
The Arbitration tells the story of work place romance between two geniuses, Gbenga Sanni (O. C. Ukeje), founder of Iwaju Limited and Dora Oluyobi, who successfully built a billion naira technology business.
However, when the relationship ended, Dara reports Gbenga to the police for rape. After the police refused to prosecute Gbenga, she left with one option which is to seek justice through arbitration.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had a chat with the cast and crew members of the film and this is what they said…
‘Arbitration did not cost too much’ – OMOTAYO ADEOLA, producer
What is the movie all about?
The Arbitration is a movie about a work place romance, sexual harassment and rape in the work place.
What were the challenges you encountered during shooting?
Basically, the lead characters are Dara Olujobi and Gbenga Sanni. They built the company together and then had a relationship, in the end, Dara is accusing Gbenga for sexual harassment and rape but technically in the legal industry, they don’t try criminal cases in the arbitration court, so we had some legal issues, where some lawyers will tell us we cannot make the movie because it does not make sense. So. We had to figure out a way to display the scenario that we have created. That means, if we are going to say we are trying a criminal offence in an arbitration court, then what exactly can make it possible, coming up with that, we made The Arbitration.
Where did you shoot the movie?
We shot it here in Lagos, though we used several locations.
How long was the shooting?
It was just about two weeks.
Are you saying it is a short film?
No, it is a full length movie. However, we worked with one of the most creative directors, Niyi Akinmolayan and he found a way to work within the confines of the budget, confines of everybody’s schedule to make the best movie.
How much did the movie gulp?
Wow! That means I have to find out from my fellow producers. But let me say it did not cost too much but cost enough. Let’s hope it is going to do well in the cinemas.
Is the movie for the cinemas or DVD?
It is a cinema movie and it started showing from Friday, August 12, 2016.
Why should I go and see The Arbitration?
First, the movie is produced by Inkblot Production, we are content creators. We write our own scripts. And so we are always striving for the best quality. We have a track record of excellent movies, also The Arbitration stars Adesua Etomi, O. C. Ukeje, Sola Fosudo, Beverly Naya, Iretiola Doyle and some of the best talents in Nollywood. It was directed by one of the best directors, Niyi Akinmolayan. If you have seen any movie that these people have done, it is always the best quality and this is not going to be any different.
What are the lessons to be learnt from The Arbitration?
I think the major lesson to be learnt is that there are always other ways to seek justice. Though the legal system may have challenges, but there are other ways to go about it and when it comes to work place relationship, it says be careful who you get into bed with.
‘It was a good experience’ – OC UKEJE
What was the experience on set?
Actually, it was fun. I was working with actresses in which I have worked with before. And I have worked with the producers before, so, they are my friends as well, it was easy. Working with the director is the first experience I was having and that was not bad at all, because he is very technical with his approach. He can almost tell you what he wants you to do as an actor and when he begins to trust your choices, he gives you the space to do what you want, but most importantly, he is a very experienced man. He saw all the perspectives that we did it. So, all in all it was an enjoyable shoot.
What role did you play?
I played the character of Gbenga Saani. He is the CEO of Iwaju Limited, who is obviously doing everything in his power to grow his business basically.
How has filming with other cast?
Like I said, I have worked with a launch of them before. So it is not a new experience. Iretiola Doyle is magic as always. Adesua, I have worked with on a TV series, though we did not get to play side by side, but I already knew what she could produce. So, I did not think that was going to be a problem and Sonkele, it was nice to see the elements in which she brought because I have seen her in other films, I have worked with her in other films, but this was a different view. So all in all it was a good experience.
‘It was a beautiful challenge’ – NIYI AKINMOLAYAN, director
You directed The Arbitration. What was it like for you directing that movie and what did you find interesting?
I love directing. I have done a couple of movies. I did Falling Out of Luck last year. So, what was it like directing a film? It was a breeze. And directing The Arbitration is was different because, when I got the script, the first challenge it threw at me was how do you keep six people in an arbitration panel for 90 minutes with nothing but talk, talk, talk, talk, and flashback and keep the audience engaged. That was a challenge I had to deal with as a film maker. it was a beautiful challenge because it was fun overcoming them.
What inspired The Arbitration?
I know when we did Out of Luck last year, the writer and producer who is also the writer and producer of this one, Chinaza Onuzor, called me and said, Niyi, I have this legal drama, it is really a high drama and there is a lot of talk. What do you think and I said, I don’t think we have had a legal drama on the big screen, but more important were the subtle messages that were thrown around the film. Rape was a big issue, not just rape, but the definition of rape and you know, rape is always hard to define in Nigeria. This is a country where the house of assembly is sitting to decide whether juveniles should get married. So, we are still in that time whereby things are hard to define. There are straight definitions for rape. We all know violent rape is rape and will go to jail, but can a married couple rape each other or can two people that are having a normal loving relationship rape each other? So, why the arbitration panel was not setup to judge the rape case, it was setup to ask certain question amidst some of those things that we will be looking out in the film.
Did you look up for the cast you have been working with before taking up the script?
It is a yes or no question. But as a film maker, there are people you have worked with and they are people you will want to work with again. But in all my films, I always make sure I have veterans, at least two. Like in this film, we had Iretiola Doyle and Sola Fosudo. So, I always ensure I put them on because they bring a lot of experience and authenticity to the film. I also try to have at least two new faces and throw them out there. I always make sure we have the stars like Adesua Etomi, O. C. Ukeje and others.
‘It is a very special and unique story’ – SOLA FOSUDO
What is the storyline from your perspective as an established actor?
It is a story of intrigues in business and thereafter, people who feel aggrieved when they believe that they about to be short changed, they take up some legal steps. That was the basic story. Two young guys met, they made a lot of money through IT business, but the young man was married but the young lady wanted the relationship to consummate into marriage. The young man did not want that, so the relationship had issues. The lady wanted to pull out of the company and the young man knew that the lady is very instrumental to the success of the company. Then he tried to outsmart her through the shares of the company. When the lady finds out, she took him to the arbitration.
For you, how will you rate the movie compared to the kind of storylines we have been getting in Nollywood?
It is a very special and unique story. It is not the type in the middle kind of story that you find in Nollywood in which most of them are repackaged. But this is an original story and it is very intellectual, and educative. A lot of industry people will find it very interesting and they will learn a lot from it. So, I think the viewers will enjoy themselves not only in terms of entertainment but also in terms of education. And these are the important roles of entertainment in our lives.
What will you say about the role you played in the movie?
I am an arbitrator. I am the legal luminary who listened to the two sides of the story and then delivers the judgment which as not one sided. The arbitrator tried to be fair to both parties.
What will you say about your ability to get into the character?
That is what we learnt in school as a trained actor. There are techniques of getting into your role at the moment you read the script. You ask certain questions about the age of the character, the back ground of the character, the social status of the character and so on. These are some of the things you deduce from a story to create a character. Then you now arrive at what they call actable adjectives.
‘I am very excited getting into character’ – SOMKELE IYAMAH
How easy was it for you to play the role you played in the movie?
When you have brilliant and talented people, it is always easy to get into character, because they make your job much easier for you t do.
Was that your first time to play the role of a lawyer?
Yes, it is and that is why I am very excited. Getting into character was not easy because there were a lot of references and the topic at hand is rape. Being a female you have to be understand how people take powers into their hands. So, there is nothing that is strange in this society, once you get the inspiration, you will be able to get into character.
Why is that you don’t feature in too many movies? The last time I saw you was in Give it up and now The Arbitration. Are you very choosy about the script?
The thing is, I don’t play characters that I don’t believe in. Sometimes, I may want to be in a movie, but I will not be offered the role that I like. So, I rather turn it down than do something I don’t believe in or don’t feel.
When you got the script, what was your state of mind?
Immediately, I said I want to play Omawumi. So, I had gotten the script. First, I got the call to audition, and by the time I got a call back, I said I want to play the lawyer instead and I was fortunate enough to get that role.
What will you say about the whole storyline, because, for me it is a breadth of pressure in the movie industry?
First, the script is different. It also portrays rape in a way that you would not easily recognize rape, so the story is different and I love how it is put across. How it was shot, telling the story from the script of film, it is accurate just as when I read it the first time. I hope people will resonate with it, if not for anything, but because of the title at hand.
Are you satisfied with how far you have gone in your acting career?
Absolutely yes. It is moving by the special grace of God. I have been involved in movies, I have gotten into productions that are reputable; I have worked with great actors that have such a wealth of work behind them, that you just wonder where is this one coming from. So, I am very satisfied with what I have done so far. I hope to do more and I just hope that each movie would be a stepping stone to the next one.
‘Fantastic people played all the roles’ – ADESUA ETOMI
How was it like filming with other cast?
It was a great experience filming with the cast; I think the casting of this movie is one of the strongest ones. I cannot imagine anyone else playing any of the roles that were played by the fantastic people that put this project together. It was awesome, I had fun moments, I almost did not feel as if I was working. It was really beautiful; and one thing that was very important to all of us is to pass the message of the movie across as best as we possibly could.
What is your take on the interest of the story?
One of the awesome things about the movie is that we are not trying to preach to you. The Arbitration is almost like a chef that dishes food and leaves you to do what you want to do with it. We asked many questions that affect society, like how to handle issues if you feel cheated, what is rape? There are so many things we addressed in the movie.
How was your experience like on set?
My experience on set was absolutely awesome. We had so many organic moments that were not in the script. I have worked with the director twice and this is the third with him. You get to the point whereby you think you know someone because you have worked with them before but The Arbitration and Niyi Akinmolayan put so much thought into this movie that it was awesome and I will like to work with him again because I like directors that have good thinking, directors that are really prepared and know exactly what they want. So, it was a great experience. When I left the set, I was sad; I had withdrawal symptoms, so it was great.
What role did you play?
I played Dora Olujobi, she is very quick witted, she is very intelligent, very smart, very driven and she is a fighter. She knows what she wants and she goes for it.
- GLORY OSIGWE