2016 was brought to a climatic close with the release of the romantic comedy drama, The Wedding Party. At 450 million Naira from only cinema showings in Nigeria, this movie is proof that Nollywood may just be the industry, investors need to leverage upon. The Wedding Party is the brainchild of Executive Producer, Mo Abudu and was produced by the ELFIKE film collective. BUSINESSDAY interviewed 3 of the producers from the collective.
ZULUMOKE OYIBO is the co-founder of INKBLOT PRODUCTIONS, one of the production companies from the collective. Out of Luck and The Arbitration are a couple of the movies produced by Inkblot. Read on to discover what she had to say the perfect movie budget and producing with a film collective.
How was Inkbot founded?
The company was founded by myself, Damola Ademola, Omotayo Adeola and Naz Onuzo because of our keen interest in content production for the Nigerian movie industry. We have been at it since 2010 and are happy that our efforts have steadily gained recognition among our peers and the public.
What are the milestones Inkblot has been able to achieve for cinema in Nigeria?
For such a young company, Inkblot has been fortunate to be embraced by Nollywood and to have worked with some of the best in the industry. We showed the power of collaboration by partnering with EbonyLife, FilmOne and Koga to produce The Wedding Party, which is currently the highest grossing film in Nigeria. We were honoured to be one of the production companies selected to represent Nollywood and the Nigerian cinema at the Toronto International Film Festival
How long did the Wedding Party take in pre- production and production?
It’s really difficult to put a time to pre-production on any project but I would say that due to the scale of this project, it often felt like we needed more time for prep. Production itself took 16 days and then we had to work against time during post because of our Toronto film festival selection. Producing a film always comes with its obstacles and challenges that need to be tackled creatively and expediently and this was no different. In fact, the cut shown at TIFF is different from that which we released in Nigerian cinemas in December, just so we could meet up with our deadlines.
As you and the team assembled a cast, what were you looking out for in auditions and how did you find “it”?
We were focused on finding actors who could deliver comedy without exaggeration while interpreting their roles perfectly. The Wedding Party is a feel good movie. Very relatable. And our goal was to find actors who delivered this effortlessly. We had about 17 characters in a 1hour 30 minutes film, so each character was mandated to hold his/her own. They were all excited about the script, taking their characters to much deeper levels in their interpretation and each and every one of them delivered.
There has been a recent trend of adding artistes (musicians and comedians) to the casting mix of movies. Is this a deliberate strategy?
You will find that musicians and comedians incorporate acting in their own fields so it’s really not new to them. Strategy wise, it does make great creative sense to reach more and more audiences using the resources you have. For the wedding party, I wouldn’t say it was deliberate because every cast auditioned and got the roles on their merit. I would very much encourage more inclusion as it was very heartwarming witnessing the reaction of audiences home and abroad to their craft.
The Wedding Party was produced on a high budget. What advice do you have for producers when making a movie’s budget?
Scrutinize your script. Do away with all those extra effects that are not integral to the story. Try to work with fewer locations and be creative with the dressing of sets. Do not compromise on quality because to fix an issue can end up costing more than you thought you could save.
Not all problems must be solved with money. Be creative. Truly, that’s where the fun is. In fact, to save a production an extra day with extra cost, I have had to sit in as a body double for an actress with a family emergency! Also, always always allow for the unknown because there is always an obstacle. Always. Never forget this.
What was the experience like working with several producers? How are resources pooled together and profits shared?
The companies that make up the ELFIKE collective are all equal partners and resources and profits will be shared accordingly. Each company was represented on the production front for ease of dissemination of information through the collective.
Working with Don Omope (Filmhouse) and Ijeoma Agukoronye (Ebony life) was a delight. Definitely, we had times we were at loggerheads but the production was of such a massive scale that none of us could have done it without the other.
We had about 300 extras for most of the days we shot. We had close to 150 cast and crew members and tended to their lodging and welfare. We shot scenes at locations that gave strict time deadlines. We had a lot of business partnerships with varying terms. We had multiple unforeseen crises daily that we were able to curtail. Thankfully, the film is what it is today!
Are film collectives like ELFIKE the way forward in Nollywood?
Well, collectives definitely are something. Pooling resources and teamwork always takes you farther. We face a lot of challenges in Nollywood and production companies have to bear a lot of financial burden so having partnerships that work is a great way to go.
What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
I watch anything and everything. From indie movies to blockbusters. Web series and soap operas. Romance and action thrillers…I am not keen on horror though! I find that inspiration is everywhere but mostly in the littlest things.
What do audiences want? How do filmmakers discover this and fulfill their wants?
I’m yet to meet a producer that knows the answer to this question! What we do at Inkblot is we focus on the story. Creating stories is what brought us together, after all. We believe in every story we tell. With a good story, you will always have a rapt audience so we try to tell ours in the best, most authentic way while making sure it is entertaining. Hopefully our audience recognizes this and grows continuously.