The movie Brother Jekwu was at the cinemas in December and January and a lot of reactions have trailed it. It was a movie co-produced by Mike Ezuruonye and Charles Uwagbai.
NAIJ.com Entertainment went after one of the producers and director Charles Uwagbai who shed more light on why the movie is like that among other issues discussed.
How will you rate your movie Brother Jekwu in the cinema?
Bro Jekwu was well accepted. I went to the cinema a couple of times and I saw their reactions as they leave the cinemas say it all. People come out and wanted to go back and see it again.
How will you feel if I tell you that some people see it as a male version of Funke Akindele’s Jenifa?
Well, it’s a comedy film and it’s a movie just like that of funny Mr Bean. It’s a movie on its own.
When we shot Bro Jekwu we were not looking at a Nigerian film market alone. We tried to look outward to see what we can offer other African countries. Nollywood is big, it’s an export so we thought of how to make it acceptable to other African countries and we thought of collaboration so as to expand the market scope. Initially we wanted to go to South Africa but we met some producer friend Juliet from Kenya during the last AMVCA and we spoke. Mike and I later visited Kenya and we saw the prospect and we saw that it was going to work.
What are the major challenges facing the industry now especially in distributing your works?
Distribution is the main problem facing Nollywood now. We have the talents; we have been able to get resources but distributing it. The cinemas so far have been the major avenues for people to see films now. We have been coping through pay TV, internet TV and some of us are lucky to break even while some who has money to do publicity like the AY really smile to the bank at the end of it all.
How did you get Bro Jekwu to be endorsed by England premiership league Watford?
Mike Ezuruonye is a popular actor and he has friends all around so we got one or two players from Watford who are Mike’s friends and before we know it they dragged their leagues into it. There were so many other football clubs joined too.
Did your experiment worked as expected?
The movie has not yet being released in Kenya but the hunger for it is high. We wanted to do Nigeria first then to Ghana this February and the acceptance have been awesome. That shows that we can unite Africa with entertainment.
Before Bro Jekwu you did Breathless how will you rate the two movies?
It’s been from good to better. When you set a standard for yourself you will always want to improve on it. I just shot an epic Benin movie titled Esohe. It is a Hollywood-Nollywood collaboration which featured Jimmy Jean-Louis from Hollywood, Desmond Elliot, Chris Attoh from Ghana, Ufuoma Mcdermott among others. It’s a movie that tries to unite the world. An epic movie that tells the story of the Benin people, a story of love filled with a lot of intrigues and culture.
For how long have you been in the movie industry?
I shot my first film in 2010, an epic, really I am an engineer by training but movie directing is where my passion lies. It has been an interesting journey driven by passion. My first movie kept showing on satellite TV for three years.
How will you rate the Nigerian movie industry in the last five years?
Well just like the music industry, there was a time we were mostly listening to foreign music but right now it’s strictly Nigerian music. Even the foreigners have accepted our music because our musicians have started singing in our mother tongues; they have started telling our own stories. Trying to make the people relate and have a connection to their music. The same thing has happened to our movies as we are now telling our own stories, real stories, and real people that people can connect with. The Wedding Party for instance is a movie that talked about a day in a wedding and every weekend in Nigeria is for party so everybody can relate with it, the young, and the old. So it’s something that will definitely sell, same with the characters people have created in movies Jekwu, Jenifa. These are real people you see every day, the ‘wanna bes’. Go to the market you meet them every day speaking funny English. I think Nigerians are beginning to tell real stories now and more Nigerians are connecting with it and apart from that the quality of production have improved people are shooting with better camera so why not watch something that I can identify with than trying to force myself into watching a foreigner speak English.
And amazingly, the foreigners have also begun to accept our movies. For instance I put up the poster of my yet-to-be released movie Esohe and a lady called me from Florida that she wants to show it, foreigner had been asking when I will show it as she owns a cinema house and wants it there, South Africans shoot movies in their mother tongue and we find it in the Oscars.
Watch trailer of Esohe below: