Isaac Ayodeji

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Kayode Kasum On Sugar Rush and How Mentorship Shaped Him.

It was late last year. Swivelling news on social media about a certain comedy film that had people rushing to the cinemas in droves. Sugar Rush, it was called. The poster won the first war with its sugary colours that had sweet-toothed fans running wild. Then came the cast list studded with our favourite Nollywood stars, the coy immersion into a notoriously difficult Nigerian PC, the aggression of the marketing and the elegance of the entire package. People fell off their chairs in laughter, had tears in their eyes, as they wrestled comedy in the darkness of our cinema halls. Then came the overwhelming positive reports, the interesting comments about disappearing cars, the explosions, the blonde, Yoruba-speaking villain waving off bullets like gnats and the brilliant word of mouth marketing that ensured millions were piling. Box office records were shattered in no time. And soon, it was clear for all…

A Love Letter to Daniel Oriahi’s Sylvia: On Creating Moments, by Damola Layonu

I recently watched an analysis of Zack Snyder’s work which broke down some of its arguable inadequacies, most prominently displayed in the box office behemoth: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Video essayist, Evan Puschak, who runs the delightfully illuminating YouTube channel, Nerdwriter, simplified it by criticizing the director’s “obsession with moments at the expense of scenes”. This prompted a re-watch of the film (truth be told, I wasn’t fond of it the first time around) and I have to say, Puschak is right. Between the slow-motion montages and highly emotional touch-points of the film, there’s little in the way of world-building, character-building, or any kind of building. I’m not here to question Snyder’s competence as a director. The existence of films like Watchmen, Man of Steel and 300 alone crowns him forever as one of my faves and let’s face it, the man can employ a slow-mo action like no other. But I…

Creating Scores with Film and Television Composer Ava Momoh

Film and Music are longstanding allies in the business of serving emotions to audiences around the world. While it’s no simple task to piece a film that captures the intricacies of the human condition together, fitting in the right sounds with effective emotive intentions is just as daunting. Pooling from the timeless compositions of the symphonic cohort of Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, John Wiliams, John Carpenter, Ennio Morricone, to the latest endeavours of Brian Tyler, Ramin Djawadi, Ludwig Goransson et. al, film scores are instrumental (pun intended) in affecting the dramatic underscore of films. Now, drawing from the reins of the greats is Ava Momoh, a self-named Nigerian film composer, with a burgeoning career spanning over a decade. On both film and TV, Ava has scored for a number of movies and has worked with reputable movie producers and directors. His filmography is constantly expanding, with a repertoire of work…

A Love Letter to Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart by Damola Layonu

Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart first made waves when it was announced as a Netflix Nigerian original, and naturally, there were differing opinions on its quality and whether it deserved to be so courted. This debate intensified when it became Nigeria’s first ever submission for the Oscars’ Best International Film category, but the film truly earned global phenomenal status when it was disqualified for failing to fulfill the criteria of being shot “primarily in a language other than English”. Fans of the film both at home and abroad, including famously, renowned filmmaker, Ava DuVernay,rushed to the film’s defence and criticized the Academy’s decision. https://youtu.be/v45GprEyM7U This is not a review of Lionheart. Not only is it far too late in the day to attempt this, but it flies in the face of my personal values as a distributor, film-lover, and aspiring filmmaker. I must allocate my time wisely, thus I’ve committed to writing only on that which…

Skinny Girl in Transit writer Lani Aisida talks Screenwriting in Nigeria 2

Lani Aisida has been a part of prominent shows like Unbroken, Battleground, Skinny Girl in Transit, Phases and Rumour Has It. He also behind the African Stories Untold platform on YouTube and the goal is to break the culture of silence prominent in this part of the world.  This is the concluding part of an hour long conversation with him on screenwriting within the Nigerian context. The first part of the interview which focused primarily on his experiences writing on the hit show Skinny Girl in Transit can be read here. Filmkaku: What makes a good story? I know there’s the regular response of great dialogue, character, tone and so on. But is there a particularity to your definition?  Lani Aisida:  First, I’d say that at the heart of any good story is conflict. Without conflict, there’s no story at all. But taking into consideration the Nigerian context, the definition becomes a…

Skinny Girl in Transit Writer Lani Aisida talks Screenwriting

An inspired poet would probably describe the screenwriting process as a journey that starts with a pulsing flicker in the darker depths of the mind, later presenting as a chaotic lake of fire for long spells, before settling as an impressionable piece of art deserving of appreciation. The screenwriting process will forever continue to generate conversations and varying schools of thought because the uncontested  truth is that the screenplay is the soul of any movie.  Legendary filmmaker Sydney Lumet (Network, The Verdict) was famous for his visceral interest in the writing process of all his films. He sat with his writers and asked questions he’d also riddled his mind with for weeks: What is the story about? What did you see? What was your intention? Ideally, if we do this well, what do you hope the audience will feel, think, sense? In what mode do you want them to leave…

The Lost Okoroshi Co-Writer Discusses Storytelling and Masquerades Part 3

The concluding segment of the interview sees Africa Ukoh zone in further and harder on the need to take training seriously in our industry. It’s amazing to think conversations about his play, his critically acclaimed screenplays and craft as a whole has spawned over three weeks of weighty tips, opinions, advice and ideas. You can catch up on the first two parts of the interview here and here before moving on to read the fitting end to the interview: Filmkaku: One thing that’s obvious from your posts on social media is your strong advocacy for training for not just writers, but every department in the filmmaking craft. You are strongly opposed to shortcuts and gambling past barriers. Are these views coming from a place of dissatisfaction with the quality of writing in the industry or it’s just you trying to teach? Africa Ukoh:  One reason why I’m insistent on the…

The Lost Okoroshi Co-writer discusses Storytelling and Masquerades Part 2

Last week, FilmKaku began an interview with Africa Ukoh, talking about his journey as a writer and the screenwriting craft as a whole. We waded past 54 silhouettes to Green White Green to Masquerades to Lost Okoroshi before pulling up at his complete indifference to labels easily branded on filmmakers these days. You can read that here.  This week, we dive deeper into the craft. Enjoy. FilmKaku: You have worked with Abba Makama twice? Does that suggest a chemistry, shared sensibilities? Do you have to share sensibilities with a collaborator to create something good? Africa Ukoh: Once the scenario is boxed into the ideal then yes, shared sensibilities is just perfect. The more interesting scenario is outside the ideal. FK: What’s your stance outside the ideal? Let’s say you have to work with a director or producer who isn’t as invested in the holistic storytelling process, how do you handle…

The Lost Okoroshi Co-Writer discusses Storytelling and Masquerades Part 1

Who’s looking forward to catching The Lost Okoroshi soon? For years, a good number of film lovers in Nigeria have continually asked for two things: increased global acclaim for our movies and artistic expressions beyond lighthearted fare. The Lost Okoroshi provided both. The impressive BFI London Film Festival 2019 selection was followed by its viral trailer that easily communicated its premise: a regular city jobber wakes up one morning garbed as a Traditional Igbo masquerade and must survive. That wasn’t all that stood out. There was the trademark surrealism of Director Abba Makama, the grittiness that spoke to the soul of the typical Nigerian city and the artistic sensibility obvious through the music, mood and colour scheme. The minds behind the scripts are Director Abba Makama and critically acclaimed screenwriter Africa Ukoh. This same duo was behind Green White Green, a coming of age satirical comedy that screened at the Toronto International…

What these Screenwriters think about Nigerian Sitcoms

Situational Comedies (Sitcoms) used to be built around small communities of unilateral characters embroiled in everyday situations, employing slapstick actions and reactions to evoke laughter from the audience (or laugh tracks). But over the years, there’s been an expansion to accommodate more nuanced characters, less cartoonish contexts and subtle social commentary that has seen the genre expand into something more than half an hour of laughing exercise.  This evolution isn’t as defined in the Nigerian context but it is there. A study of comic tentpoles over the years like Papa Ajasco, Fuji house of commotion, Face to Face, Jenifa’s Diary and The Johnsons illustrate the gradual nuancing of characters, situations and contexts that’s consistent with what gives these days. To dive deeper into the state of sitcoms in Nigeria, Filmkaku interviewed Africa Ukoh, Anthony Kehinde Joseph, Debola Ogunshina and Taiwo Egunjobi for their views on what is and isn’t working for…

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