The film industry’s razzmatazz is structured same everywhere in the world. Although the level of “madness” from country to country might differ. The conclusion of the whole matter is that every participant in the Entertainment Industry needs to be on the red carpet, every key player look forward to the awards, not because it validates ones arts but because it gives encouragement to the hearts that create. It is a way of giving one pat on the back and the accompanying sound that goes “Weldone”.
Today we will be looking at Seven undersung heroes of Filmmaking in South Eastern part of Nigeria, traversing from Enugu, Awka and the den of guerrilla Filmmaking – Asaba, located in South South Region of Nigeria. These Seven selected Filmmakers have been doing great in satisfying their audiences, but most often than not their hard work and tenacity aren’t celebrated enough. Don’t forget that NOLLYWOOD has variates of audiences even spreading beyond the shores of this country. The VCD/DVD markets satisfy many audiences in Nigeria and even in the English Speaking part of Cameroun who cross the border often to buy these films in bulk. These set of NOLLYWOOD audiences are often not reached by the films that target urban audiences, primarily screened in theatres. I present to you these seven undersung heroes and bid you to help me celebrate them. They were selected purely on merit and outstanding achievements
#7 Vincent Nwachukwu
Vincent Nwachukwu popularly known as Vincent D Anointed is one director at Asaba worthy of mention here. Vincent has grown from just a regular director to one who pays close attention to details.
He has directed a very good number of films that have shown in Cable Tvs, Online Television and made it to the “top chart” in the popular VCD/DVD market. He is also a writer and has also added Cinematography to his skills. He is one complete package that every Nollywood film enthusiastic should watch out for and celebrate. He has not just proven to do much with so little resources, but has also gone ahead to set standard for his contemporary. Vincent will rightly compete at any level if given same resources at the disposal of many other much celebrated names in NOLLYWOOD. He is young, energetic and daring. One could easily pass him by without knowing who he is because of his stature but definitely that has not inhibited him as he has worked with many top actors who have nothing but respect for the in depth knowledge he has about Filmmaking. Vincent is certainly a director to look out for.
#6 Emeka Amakeze
Emeka Amakeze is one you could call a non-compartmentalized Artiste. You will find out why in a bit.
He is an intelligent writer with a degree in linguistics. A former Student Union Leader, one will think that he should have gone into full time politics, and he would have done well there too with his tenacity and doggedness. But he chose Filmmaking. He is a method actor with proven track records. He is also an astute and meticulous director with an eye for perfection. Emeka has written and directed many blockbusters in what could be termed popular VCD/DVD markets of Alaba, Onitsha Electromats and Aba. He has since managed to create a rising profile for himself, making films for both the much patronising cyber audiences for online Television and Cable TV. Although none of his films has been screened or distributed for the big screen audience savour, he is certainly a guy to watch out for. He is ever young and talented. But never celebrated. We understand that he has many films that will be hitting the screen this year and obviously he may just get a deal that will land one in cinema. He is certainly an undersung Filmmaker, whom seldom grease the red carpet. He was one of those that gave awards to the winners in the last AMAA awards but wasn’t awarded himself. However, we believe that it is only a matter of time, he will be properly celebrated.
#5 Ken Steve Anuka
Ken Steve Anuka is Enugu State born Filmmaker who has virtually worked with all the big names in NOLLYWOOD. Ken is one man that has also stayed in the industry for quite a long time. He has churned out films year after year. His films are both socially relevant and instructive. Ken, isn’t just a director but also a producer. Just like his contemporary, he has done so well, yet very little has been heard of him in the hall of fame. He is one of such directors that most “star actors” in Nollywood will tell you they have worked with. Some of them even became “stars” through his films. He has constantly supplied Africa Magic with great entertainment and his name is always on the Television screen as a director. He has already started a new project this year entitled From Trash To The Throne featuring Mercy Johnson, and other great talents. He is certainly a man to look out for from Asaba.
#4 Ugezu Jideofor Ugezu
Most people know him as that man that wears “Igbo cap”, others know him to be a regular face and name in Africa Magic. In fact he has become a brand, a household name and one who can not walk into a crowd unrecognised. Aside his undying love for the promotion and encouragement of using indigenous cultural indicators in Filmmaking, he is also an unapologetic African man and Igbo at that. He is evidently proud to say it, be it and live it.
Ugezu J. Ugezu as he is profoundly referred to is not just a movie director, but also an insightful writer. He was the only person invited from Nigeria, to Warsaw, Poland, in 2014, for the 3rd international screenwriters conference.
He is also a good actor of his right. He has been around for a long while now. One wonders why he is not as celebrated everywhere like his contemporary from other clime in Nigeria. This man has written countless films, produced and directed many others. He is currently the owner of Metaphysical Studio in Asaba from where he dishes all the African cultural spiced films.
Recently he declared his intention to run for the presidency, the highest office in Nigeria and he has already started getting support from both the local and international scenes. We have no doubt that he will give his competitors a run for their money. He is most deserved of this recognition
#3 Mac Collins Chidebe
Mr. China as he popularly known is obviously more known to people with his hit Nkolika Nwa Nsukka done with a meagre budget but resonated with millions of Nigerian audience. The movie has gained him a nickname Nwoke Ọcha. It is difficult for him to move around with the crowd in the South East and even many other parts of the country without being pointed to as the Nwoke Ọcha.
Beyond that Mr. China, an Imo State born, Asaba based Filmmaker who is also South Region appointed Vice President of Directors’ Guild of Nigeria (DGN) has grown from grass to grace. He started of as a Production Assistant before he became a Production Manager as we gathered. It took many other years before he became a full blown movie director.
Mr. China is certainly one of the many undersung Movie directors domiciled in Asaba. He deserves more accolades to reflect his hard work and input in the film industry.
#2 Okechukwu Oku
Okey Oku as many will call him is the brain behind Oracle Films and the CEO of Pure Sound and Visual Technology. A filmmaker with impeccable knowledge of the craft. One will rather call him a cinematographer than a film director. But he has gone beyond the two. He is a complete filmmaker that one wonders why he has not been receiving as much accolades as his works show.
He recently completed some commissioned projects for Mnet. He is also on the post of what will be one of the biggest emotional thriller of all time in Nigeria, entitled Levi a film that starred Ramsey Noah and many others. Oke is an Enugu based Filmmaker but traverses across Nigeria serving as Cinematographer on one set, director on another and sometimes both. He is from a family of entertainers, his younger brother is the popular music producer and performer SeleBobo. Okey has also had a fair share in the music industry. He has directed and shot many music videos. One of the most popular one was Ada Ada by Flavour, which he co-directed with Clarence Peters. Okey Oku is the producer and director of The Boss is Mine that gifted Akwa Ibom born star Ime Bishop Umoh his first major award in Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award (AMVCA).
Okey is a big deal but we are yet to see that reflect in the awards and recognitions.
#1 Ernest Obi
This hit maker is known for many things, and rightly so, because of the enormous energy he puts in meticulously putting together pieces of imagination to become realistic. Ernest Obi is actually one person you can call jack of all trade and master of all.
A graduate of Theatre Arts, who came into the industry as an actor, then a writer, and then a director. His recent venture into what could be termed African horror film genre has distinguished him from the rest. Ernest’s Mindset isn’t as dark as the image he portrays, on the contrary he is a God fearing man with “lots of good hearts to share”.
Ernest came back after being out of the public space for a while with one of the most debatable highest grossing films of all time Idemili, since then, it has been hit after hit.
He is a wordsmith, as the lines in his scripts aren’t just poetic but succinctly intriguing to listen to when actors render them. A beautiful actor, passionate writer and instructive director. If you call him the High Priest you won’t be wrong. He has written his name in the sands of time. Posterity will definitely be kind to him for preserving Africa’s rich cultural heritage via the use of myths and rituals as main meat in his stories.
If you call Ernest Obi the King of the Eastern Movie Directors you won’t also be wrong.