The nigerian producer and director DON OMOPE ( The wedding Party and TATU), who is participating to Pavillon Afriques this Year has agreed to talk to Le Film Cameroun about his work. INTERVIEW.
LFC (Le film Camerounais) : Hi Don OMOPE. You are the producer of The Wedding Party. Please can you talk about the challenges and joys of producing in Nigeria?
D.O (Don OMOPE) : Producing is basically project management of films across the business, the editorial, the physical manufacturing and the marketing of the film product to generate a willing audience… The challenges and joys of producing in Nigeria like producing anywhere else in the world stems from the four above stages. Every project is unique in its experiences, you know what to expect from making many films but you don’t really know how to expect the things you expect to happen. Filmmaking is challenging because you are fighting battles and putting out fires from raising money from investors and trying to agree the right terms, to negotiating with writer and agree a single unified story idea to battling with directors to ensure they make the movie to the agreed budget and then finding a unique way to market the movie in a way that the audience with be excited to want to watch the movie. The joy of making movie comes from finding a way to enjoy the challenges so you can appreciate the process and if the movie gets successful the joy is even greater.
LFC : As a Nigerian producer, what is your opinion about Cameroonian movies?
D.O : I am more familiar with the anglophone Cameroon actors in Nollywood and festival film directors like Jean-Pierre Bekolo.
LFC : You are also a director. You directed Tatu, a film between adventure and horror movie, which is not common in African industry. Why have you chosen to direct that movie especially?
D.O : Tatu was a film i had worked on the screenplay for about a year knowing i was going to direct it. i wanted to tell the traditional epic nollywood story but in a contemporary way… what i called a contemporary epic. i was inspired loosely by Mel Gibbs fill Apocalypto.
LFC : TATU is an eponym movie based on Abraham Nwankwo’s book. What is your conception concerning the relationship between literature and cinema, mainly in Africa?
D.O : Literature is a big part of our culture in Africa and most of our best writers exist more in literature than in film…. So i wanted to find a way to bridge this disparity but adapting Abraham Nwankwo’s book in collaboration with him to create a new product for cinema.
LFC : Most of the movies you produced or directed are available on Netflix. What is your secret?
D.O : It’s about creating good products…. The trick is matching inspired idea selection with classic story telling and aspirational photography.
LFC : Do you think that Youtube is a welcomed platform for african producer and director to emerge? In your opinion, what are the advantages and the dangers?
D.O : Youtube is a great additional outlet, i am not sure i want to just be a youtube filmmaker because i am a cinema filmmaker and i want to make big commercial films. But that doesn’t stop me from creating products for youtube as i am creating products for cinema/Netflix… Youtube is a new branch on my tree not a new tree for me.
LFC : You have already received several awards for the films you have produced or directed from festivals around the world. Is it really important to compete at festivals? What these awards brought to you?
D.O : Festival are good for developing your storytelling for a global audience which is the aim of any serious storyteller.. I plan to make my movies more festival leaning because i believe in the role of film festivals in the film space. I have enjoyed global exposure because of my films going to festivals.
LFC : You are participating to Pavillon Afriques this year: what inspires this kind of initiative to you?
D.O : Afriques Pavillion is a very important initiative to bring all African filmmakers together so we can support and work together… Its an amazing project which i support.
LFC : A last question please. You participated to the documentary Nollywood – Film Business African Style from Johannes Preus. What advices can you give to Cameroonian producers and directors?
D.O : I think they have to be more deliberate about the story choices they make and work on improving storytelling technique … These are the two key things that matter as a filmmaker … You can then add great production values.