2 December 2012

Nigeria: It's Hard to Break Even As a Filmmaker - Tunde Olaoye


The movie, Married But Living Single, is presently receiving rave reviews not just because of the actors and actresses that featured in the multi-million naira box-office hit but the great mind of the producer- cum- director who crafted the movie. Tunde Olaoye takes the credit for making a great film that touches on the sanctity of Marriage. But the young filmmaker is not smiling to the banks yet. The graduate of Performing Arts, in this chat with SAMUEL ABULUDE, spoke on his intense passion for movie making and other sundry issues.

Can you tell me about yourself?

My name is Tunde Olaoye, a film maker. I graduated from the University of Ilorin having had an academic background in performing art which they call Theatre Arts. Performing Arts is much expansive because it has to do with all the aspects of performance as in music, dance, drama and any other medium that is based on expressing yourself with the Arts. I also have some training in cinematography.

Where did you receive the training in Cinematography?

I had my training in cinematography at Pencils and Film Training Institute, PEFTI in Lagos. In fact, I was part of the first set that graduated from PEFTI. I have also done some online courses through a link with a film director abroad who does online training for aspiring filmmakers.

To a large extent, I can call myself a self trained filmmaker because I studied from International filmmakers on my own through their works, their books, listening to their interviews and trying to key into their files. Directors like Mc Kara Krusac from Japan, Stanley Kubrick from Britain, Alfred Hitckok, the American and Wilman Badman, the Swede.

How did you develop the passion?

My first time on TV was in the very early 90s when I was in primary school. I used to act and I have developed the interest since then. So by the time I went to study Performing Arts, I had my eyes on the visual story telling form. I grew up with my grandmother who tells me stories and then with a huge interest in storytelling and growing up I could see that one of the best ways of conveying your message, stories, is through the visual story telling because it speaks volumes. People remember what they see than what they tell them or what they read inside the papers. So I decided that the way I am going to tell my stories is going to be the medium of cinematography.

And you decided that while you were growing up?

No, I had interest in story telling as a young man. I have no idea of how film is made but by the time I started studying Theatre, that was when I saw that cinematography is probably the best way for you to pass you message to a large and heterogeneous audience.

You know that you can tell a universal story which they will see in China, Japan, India and other countries and it doesn't limit you. And then, thank God for the technology that has helped us to achieve something like this in cinematography.

How has the movie making business been so far?

To be frank, I will say that it is the passion that has been driving me. You can see the empty car parks. Few people are here to watch the movie, so you wonder where the Cinema culture among our people is. On Friday (during the Ileya Festival), we had like a hundred people coming to watch Married But Living Single.

The second day, we had between seventy to eighty viewers at the cinema hall. Today they are fewer. Though the people enjoyed the movie but you can hardly make profit from this low turnout. It is even had to break even and make the money we had invested in publicity, in the projectors, and the manpower, the people that worked for you.

How much was invested in Married But Living Single?

I will say a lot of millions of Naira (he laughs). It was first premiered months ago in Lagos at the Silverbird Cinemas. The movie premier was impressive but we still need to spend a lot of money on publicity and on hype. So by the time you deduct the money you spend on publicity and hyping the movie from the money you make from the premiers, you will discover that breaking even is hard.

But like I said, the passion is what is driving me on and I hope that very soon, the corporate bodies and the government will come to our aid so that we can focus on telling the kind of stories that we are supposed to tell. The London premier is to be done soon.

What prompted you to shoot the movie?

It was actually inspired by a book with the same movie title. The book, Married But Living Single was written by Pastor Femi Faseru, pastor of Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) in Lagos. After reading the book, it opened my eyes to what was happening in people's marriages presently. I discovered that people were not taking their marriage seriously. When the marriage is attacked, it is not just going to affect the couple but the children will also be affected and also the society at large since the family is the bedrock of the society.

So, I felt we needed to teach the people on the importance of commitment in marriage. Let the men know their faults and the women be enlightened on how they use their hands to break their own marriages. We don't want to breed touts and lawless children. If the parents of these lawless children that we see in our society today play their roles well, we will not have vices in the society.

Can you tell us briefly about the film?

We have Joseph Benjamin who played the role of Mike and Funke Akindele played the role of his wife, Kiki. The wife is engrossed with her work and not taking care of the home. Her husband was diagnosed with cancer and was supposed to travel abroad to treat his ailment but the wife preferred to stay back and face her job. This was causing the marriage to drift apart but in the end we had to make love triumph. Forgiveness had to come in.

What of your past works?

Marriage But Living Single is my first work in the cinema but I have directed a couple of Yoruba films and English drama series as a writer and director. I wrote and directed Face 2 Face and Family Ties produced by AK Media Concepts. I also directed Crack in the Walls, Needle's Eye, Shadows, Behind the Smile which are all on TV stations in Lagos. I was hired to write and direct them.

So what are your expectations as a young director?

I look forward to seeing my work as a point of reference passing a message that will actually change the lives of people for the better. I am passionate about film making. I love to read and add more values to myself. Really film making is my ultimate desire and I have made a career out of it.

I really want to see myself as the world class film maker and not just the kind of film producers they referred to as film directors here in Nigeria. I want my styles to be used as a case study in the academic environment. To me, film making is even beyond making money. For me, I have so much passion and interest.

So how do you relax?

I relax by watching movies and also enjoy myself by watching football matches. I support Liverpool football club.

How do you see the entertainment industry?

It is grown but unstructured. That is just one word that summarises the film industry, Unstructured! There is no direction.

So what can be done?

Let there be a partnership between the stakeholders, government and the corporate bodies that will support the film industry. There should be a form of grant for young film makers.

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