interviewBy Amina Alhassan
Movie Director and Producer Chineze Anyaene has made a mark in the movie industry since the debut of her film 'IJE- The Journey'. The movie featured divas Genevieve and Omotola. In this interview with Sunday Trust she talked about the movie and more.
It's been years after Ije. What have you been doing since then?
Yes it's true! IJE came out in 2010 and since then we have been to the cinemas, festivals, won some awards and the movie still remains the highest grossing Nollywood movie of all time till today. Just recently, the IJE DVD was released and we have been busy with the distribution and marketing of the DVD. As you are well aware that our distribution system in this country is faulty and this is one of the challenges we are contending with. However, we are giving it what it takes and the movie is selling fast.
While shooting Ije did you ever think it would make the kind of impact it made in the entertainment industry in Nigeria and abroad?
When you put effort into a thing you expect that something big will come out of it but you might not expect that it will become this big. I may describe that as my experience with IJE. I must also say that I gave it my best and did everything needed to be done, not according to what Nollywood is known for but according to international standards which is why I am not surprised at the accolades that have been coming in; I guess that is the result of hard work.
Ije spurred you into limelight home and abroad. What impact has it had on your life generally?
Hmmmm! Nobody knew me before IJE, nobody wanted to listen to me before IJE and I would beg for an audience before IJE. My name commands respect among movie practitioners now because of what IJE has been able to achieve. All glory is to God.
What is the worse or most positive impact Ije has had in your life?
That is a big one...
What do you think of today's trend in the entertainment industry?
I think it is all about quality. Most people in the industry want to produce something that will meet international standards. This can be seen in the music videos being shot everyday and some of the films being shot recently. A lot of professionals are coming back to the industry because there is potential here.
How far would you go in your quest for fame in the entertainment industry?
I don't struggle or run to be famous in the entertainment industry, I don't have to and my purpose of doing what I am doing will never be to be famous but to positively make an impact in this industry and thereby imprint my name on the sands of time. What I have come to learn in life is that when you run after fame, you don't get famous but when you run after purpose, fame runs after you. IJE is my first feature film and it was a Thesis in school, and my name is already everywhere in the movie industry and that is to tell you that if you do your job well coupled with God's blessings fame will be the least of your worries.
What inspired your choice for movies?
Excellence! I have always believed that movies can be done better in this part of the world and that we can compete side by side with the best movie industries around the world such as Hollywood and Bollywood. This is an event that led me to study Film Making at the New York Film Academy for four years.
Tell us what a typical day in your life is like while you are not on set of a movie
Work and meetings are what I do everyday basically when I am not shooting.
You know that after every shoot there is a lot of paper work and meetings that go on behind closed doors for the shoot to be a success. Our office is also open every working day of the week. The company just expanded from Productions to distribution, and we also have a subsidiary company called CXA which takes care of HD videography for co-porate and private events. Recently we are working hard on the launch of our Foundation this march called VOW (victims outreach for women). This foundation is aimed towards stopping violence against women across Africa. Because we strive for perfection in the company we want the foundation to create an impact thereby using our tools as filmmakers to shoot documentaries, PSAs, Adverts to create awareness. The first step was to put the PSA on the IJE DVD. Then some weekends I take time to write and create.
What else would you have been doing if you were not into entertainment?
Hmmm... I really can't tell
You have worked with both Nigerian and international stars. Which do you find more relaxing working with?
Working with Nigerian and international stars have got their own challenges, I think it is all about the individual you are working with. But in all it was a rewarding experience
Speaking of stars, who do you wish to have on the set of any of your upcoming movies?
Depending on the script......
You have been successful so far in the industry. Would you say you have made your mark in the industry?
I am not close to where I can be in the industry. This is just the beginning and the sky is just the starting point. If the little I have done is seen as successful by people like you, I appreciate it and will take that as a challenge to do more. I will consider myself successful when I am listed amongst the top 100 filmmakers in the world.
What is the one thing you would love to change about your past?
Nothing! Everything in life happens for a reason; if I didn't have my past maybe I wouldn't be here today. So I wouldn't change a thing.
In the course of your job, there are various challenges you must have encountered. What was the most challenging one?
Distribution. Selling the film has been the most difficult part of the whole process.
It is one thing to shoot a film, then another to sell the film. You are constantly faced with a lot of challenges; hence we started a distribution company in Nigeria.
Which actors have contributed to making your vision in movie directing and production come through?
All actors who acted in the film contributed greatly to this vision, because without them there won't be a need for a director which is me. Not only the actors but also those behind the scenes sacrificed a lot to the success of the film from pre production to distribution.
If you were to meet anyone in the world dead or alive, who would it be and what would you say to them?
Let's see....Edward Zwick - and I would tell him how much he has inspired me.
When do we expect another blockbuster from you?
Very soon! IJE was only a project in school and see what we have done with it.
By the time we come out with another movie we have to take it a notch higher
We are not in a hurry at all but you can be sure that when we show up again we will be the talk of the town.