In the ‘New Nollywood’, a modern variant of the Nigerian movie industry, I am amazed at how often social media is flooded with fresh movie alerts. We have been ushered into a divergent dispensation of the cinemas which our parents enjoyed in Nigeria, based on the consistent display of contemporary work. In the midst of all the innovation, there are some movie makers who stand out with the quality and spread of their work, one of such is Ike Nnaebue; a screenwriter, singer/songwriter, producer and director. He is also the CEO of Passion8 Communications, Creative Director at Treasure Wells Academy and has produced, directed or written pieces which have received accolades in Nigeria and the diaspora. His most recent accomplishments with ‘Loving Daniella’ which received three nominations at the Las Vegas Film Festival and produced the winner of the Best Actress category as well as ‘Dr. Mekam’ which won the Best Screenplay and produced the Best Actor in the Nollywood Travel Film Festival early this year, have heightened our expectations as we await more from this all-rounder and his team before the year wanes. Join me as we take a short trip into the world of Ike Nnaebue with this interview.
- In addition to all the feathers you have added to your cap, I want to congratulate you on the recent awards won for your movies – ‘Dr. Mekam’ and ‘Loving Daniella’. How do you feel?
I feel very encouraged. I feel very excited, I feel reassured, for me awards serve like amazing positive feedbacks. I feel honored.
- Nigerian moviemakers now showcase their work before global audiences, but you seem to have an international flare; you do not just shoot in Nigeria for the world, you shoot anywhere in the world. Could you let us in on your vision? What do you hope to do with your work and what drives you?
I see myself as a filmmaker first and foremost. Not a Nollywood filmmaker or anything like that. A filmmaker is a filmmaker regardless of where he or she is from. Having said that, I must emphasize that I am very proud of my Nigerian heritage and I am extremely very proud of Nollywood but I don’t want to ever be tagged. I am a global citizen but my films will continue to tell the African story on the global stage.
- You are a director, producer, scriptwriter, singer/songwriter, school director, trainer, and tutor. How do you hold it all together and still write excellent scripts? What is a typical day like for you?
I love work, I love to create, I love to impact, I love to share. A typical day for me is a lot of time spent on my laptop in my home office/studio. It gets overwhelming sometimes but the fact that I totally enjoy every bit of all that I do makes it very bearable on the days I get too much on my plate. Other days I usually just have a schedule I follow. Being a director, producer, scriptwriter, singer/songwriter, school director, trainer, and tutor is really very seamless for me. I don’t even realize when I cross any of the lines.
- There are some recurrent faces in your movies. I do not want to mention names, but do you think you are attached to certain actors? If yes, why?
Lol, relationships are very important for me. So yes I do have my favorites but you must also admit that I work with new people all the time as well. (smile)
- You started out with music, now you are knee deep in film. Is it safe to say you have picked film over music?
I would say I’ve always been a storyteller even with my music. Ultimately I just love telling stories. I’m just using one medium more than the other at the moment.
- When you went to film school in Jos, did you expect to be all that you are today?
I’ve always been taught to aim for the zenith of anything I get into. I’m an incurable optimist and so yes I’ve always wanted to be the best, to belong to the top echelon of any industry I find myself in.
- The movie industry is one of the most enticing, globally; which is why a lot of people strive to get into it any way they can. Are there difficult aspects of it that we do not see from the outside?
The real truth is it is a very challenging industry but it’s also quite a fun and awesome industry. It takes a lot of hard work to break through and continue to be successful in this industry but interestingly most people looking from outside-in only see the fun and glam.
- How did you carve a niche for yourself in your industry?
After my training in Jos, I started in the industry by working as a film editor because no one would give me a chance to direct. I figured working as an editor would put me in direct proximity with producers and other Directors. I was constantly pushing my scripts and ideas but I didn’t get any break for over ten yrs, but I continued to stick to my gun and continued to work as an editor till my very first break to direct a film came in 2013 via Uche Jombo studios and the rest, as they say, is history and I am still even just getting started. (smile)
- You are very good at making movies for our viewing pleasure but when should we expect to see you on the other side of the camera?
Lol, I have done some acting o…Look out for “The Plan” an African Magic Original (smile).
Mr. Nnaebue has shown us through his success in the movie industry, that you can be all you want to be wherever you are and encouraged us to strive for excellence in whatever we find to do. What are you doing now?