Screenwriting

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…

What Yemi Amodu’s Owo Eje teaches us about Storytelling

It’s common knowledge that the whodunit-mystery genre is undergoing a low-key revival on big screens lately. First there was Kenneth Branagh’s Murder On the Orient Express (2017) followed by Kyle Newacheck’s Murder Mystery (2019) on Netflix, Rian Johnson’s critically acclaimed crowd pleaser Knives out (2019) and a forthcoming Death on the Nile (2020) adaptation. Back home, we had Catch.er by Walt Banger released in 2017 to favourable reviews. Even within our indigenous movie circuits, Yoruba especially, there’s been an interesting resurgence of uniformed policemen with coloured character traits trying to make sense of mysterious murder cases. But before all these (the mysterious demise of the genre and the gradual resurgence), there was Owo Eje, a murder mystery movie directed by Yemi Amodu and released in 2005, that caused quite a stir within the Yoruba audience. Adapted from a Kola Akinlade novel published in 1976, Owo Eje retains elements fans of…

What Dare Olaitan’s Ojukokoro can teach you about Storytelling

Ojukokoro, released in 2017, is an intricately plotted film with a lot of genius. Let’s take a closer look at it and take some lessons from it. 1. Resource Storytelling Dare Olaitan, the writer director, says he wrote Ojukokoro around the resources he already had: a prop gun, a filling station and a brief case. When you are a zero/low budget filmmaker, you can’t simply let your imagination run wild when you start writing your story. You have to start with your resources; basically, what you have access to. With budgetary and logistical concerns eliminated, you can actually focus on writing a great story that feels authentic, instead of being stuck trying to raise five million dollars for your Titanic remake. This only works if you’re ready to abandon convention to try out something else. However, be warned, you still have to be a good writer to make this work.…

The Herbert Macaulay Affair director discusses Storytelling. 

Films are very difficult art forms to make. Period films are an even more difficult turf to negotiate. The problems range from fund raising, researching the story and fact-checking to avoid historical inaccuracies, scouting for fitting locations, wardrobe and much more. And in a country like ours riddled with atypical structures and narratives, the problems are bound to be even more. It’s for this reason the historical period genre has been largely ignored by Nigerian filmmakers. The sour experiences of the few that have dabbled into it in the past are enough to deter filmmakers. But not Imoh Umoren, the director of The Herbert Macaulay Affair. Imoh belongs to the recent upsurge of counter-cultural Nigerian filmmakers looking to rewrite the narrative in the country by venturing and rooting themselves in new genres. A look at his filmography reveals a daring tendency to experiment. The artistic roving eventually took him to…

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