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We Need An Enhancement Of The Infrastructure Of Nollywood -Lancelot Imasuen

Discussion in 'FILMMAKING, INDUSTRY, TECHNOLOGY' started by blackpearl, Sep 11, 2012.

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  1. blackpearl

    blackpearl oloju come and do

    May 28, 2006
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    Veteran movie producer, Lancelot Imasuen, in a recent encounter with TOPE OLUKOLE, shares his professional experience and some burning issues in the Nigerian movie industry.

    What’s your nickname?
    They call me the Governor, and I’m also a United Nations Ambassador for Peace. My real name is Lancelot Imasuen and I’m a Nollywood filmmaker. Right now, we’re at the O’jez Restaurant, inside the premises of the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos. And coincidentally Surulere plays host to Nollywood in Nigeria — the start of Nollywood was actually here, within this environment.

    Why do they call you the Governor?
    The actor Ejike Asiegbu gave me that name in the year 2001 during the filming of a movie. I think he noticed my artistical and directorial prowess, and he screamed the name “the Governor,” while we were on set. It just stuck.

    What is it about your character that makes you fit for being a Nollywood director?
    My character is passion. I’m very passionate. I’m a determined soul. That has been evident in the kind of works that I do. People say to me: “Hey, you are not an actor, why are you so popular?” Well, I’m not the face in front of the camera, but by the grace of God, and because of the passion and determination that I put into my work, this has all endeared me to so many people to want to put a face to the name.

    Do you have a favourite genre to work with in Nollywood?
    No. I just want to be known as a filmmaker. I’ve made epics that have been great hits; there’s one presently suffocating everywhere now called Adesuwa. It is a traditional epic. I’ve also made contemporary movies, love stories. I’m just a filmmaker.

    How do you deal with historical narratives and the dramatization of history?
    I’m from Benin Kingdom and historically that place has one of the richest cultures in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. We have a lot of history that would make for great dramatic work today. So, I started with Isakaba, which was set in 1752 A.D. It is about lust and greed. I’m trying to connect some of the political and social problems in Africa today to the past.

    I also just filmed Invasion 1897, which is a deliberate attempt to attract global attention to the issue of repatriation. In 1897, the British government carted away billions of pounds of traditional artworks from the Benin Kingdom. So, this movie is a deliberate statement about reparation. It’s not just a movie.

    For me, when diving into a historical film, it must have something to do with the present. Not just for the sake of drama. We want to stamp our existence on the sands of time. We’re looking at important topics, in order to liberate our people, and to give them the compensation that they need.

    How important is accuracy, in terms of telling historical epics in Nollywood?
    When we started, the academics and the film school scholars, they never saw anything good in what we were doing; they were criticising us. But the industry survived. It’s gotten global attention. Now, a lot of film school scholars are working with us.

    Some of the world’s attention is on Nigeria, right now, because of the activities of Boko Haram. Do you plan to address that situation in your work?
    Sure. In time, generations yet unborn will have to also know that we’re besieged by such an experience. Once it is resolved, we will be able, as filmmakers, to document some of these things for them.

    About how many people does it take to make one of your movies nowadays? How many people do you employ?
    In my recent epic work, Invasion 1897, I had about 64 crew members, and had over 500-1000 cast strength on the set.

    Can you tell us about how the revenue comes in, from what streams?
    When we started, it was purely from the movies, but today, I’m talking with advertising companies that want to get their products placed in my movies. I also do commercials, music videos. Shooting movies for cinema (not just for video/DVD release) is important right now. Cinema is dying in other places but here in Nigeria, we are the champions.

    Tell us about your inspirations.
    I’m inspired by the Nigerian society. I remember the first fans of my work. I don’t want to disappoint them. I want to do more. I always want to do more. I remember when I made my first film; it was in Igbo language and many people said to me, “Hey, you don’t understand that language — how did you do that?” I said, “Well, movie drama is universal.”

    I always compete against myself. I’m very passionate about what is happening in Africa. I believe it can change. I believe that my films will be reference points for the future building of Africa.

    What other artistes inspire you?
    My idol is James Cameron, but my biggest hero is Richard Attenborough, the man who made Gandhi. It’s because I’m so interested in historical epics.

    What are some of your predictions for where Nollywood is headed as an industry?
    I have a mind for the future. I’ve been around the world, visited about 20 countries for Nollywood. Nollywood is a moving train. We started from the end point of most other films – home video distribution. But now, cinemas are coming and now we are doing it the way the entire world does it. There is a great future in Nollywood; we just need an enhancement of the infrastructure here, some assistance from the local government to bolster Nigerian film culture.

    Nollywood is a major and essential force in the fight against American media imperialism. Through it, we as Africans can begin to regenerate ourselves, to create our world, to use these movies to propagate true gospel and the enrichment of our culture and heritage. My movies are a medium for social rebirth.

    Let’s talk about the role of religion in your films.

    I don’t want to force people to be in line with my religious belief, but of course you see a reflection in your artwork of yourself and of your beliefs. Religion is not too paramount, though. There are no lazy resolutions with my story lines — diverting to a religion can sometimes do that. For me, the story comes first. I love my stories to dictate their own resolutions, to anchor the stories without any religious bias.

    We Need An Enhancement Of The Infrastructure Of Nollywood -Lancelot Imasuen
  2. Village-Boi

    Village-Boi Well-Known Member

    Jun 28, 2009
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    Nice interview, have pretty much always liked him and his work. I don't agree with the "Once it is resolved..." part... he is huge and influential and should be documenting stuff on the topic NOW!!
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