Celebrated producer, Tade Ogidan, speaks on his mission in the film industry, Akeem Lasisi writes.
Like a soaring eagle that he is, Tade Ogidan has always moved from a great film to a greater one. He is one producer and director for whom many lovers of the Nigerian film can vouch any day. Just mention the title any of his films and one’s memory will begin to tickle. They include Madam Dearest, Diamond Ring and the latest, Family on Fire, where every actor he features practically is on fire almost from the beginning to the end.
Going by the emotional intrigues that characterize Family on Fire, the viewer too risks being caught in the heat. For one, you can hardly help shedding tears at some point, watching the movie, in which one vagabond son (played by Saidi Balogun) causes maximum tragedy by hiding cocaine inside his mother’s bag as she prepares to travel.
But Ogidan has not been in the news in recent times. At least, he has not produced any feature film in the last two years. Some of his colleagues sought him out a few days ago and got him to speak on his journey in the industry. These are the professionals on the Ibadan Film Circle, a whatsApp forum initiated by director and film teacher, Niji Akanni. They particularly got Ogidan to speak on how he brings out the best in his actors and why he himself does not act since he seems to have the magic wand.
He says, “I simply help to drive the inner feelings and potential of the actors on my projects to bring out the best in them. I help in every way, including crying with them and talking them through those emotional scenes…while the camera is rolling on them – the actors.
“I can spot potential after meeting some people for just a few minutes; even when they never imagined that they’ve got anything to offer. I have given many such an opportunity.
“A lot of times, actors on my set are shocked at my performance behind the scenes while driving them to bring it out. They are so shocked that they wonder why I don’t act. That is never going to happen. I am extremely shy.”
On what makes a good director, he notes that the person must have what he calls sensible training, growing through different departments of several productions.
“That will help him/her to understand how things work. When a director clearly understands how things work, he can then choose to perform idan (magic), breaking creative rules to achieve something new. Directors should be considerate of their project team and actors. You should all set out to have a swell time executing the project. Directors, young and old, should always encourage all working on the project to understand that the success of the project will be collective success for all. It’s usually a great driving force,” he says.
On the relative silence from his studio, he notes that he has been doing a lot behind the scene, but he has not been too eager to produce feature films because the market is hostile to such.
Ogidan explains, “I have not shot a major main-stream project in a while. My worry is: where will I sell the new works into? I may pride myself in making good films; but I am not a marketing person. So it is one thing to make a good film and another matter to spend adequately on publicity and market the product. Most practitioners make modest projects for the cinemas and TV screens. I don’t have modest projects. I have not said that in foolish pride.
“I have certainly been doing other things that keep my team surviving. In fact, those are the real projects that we make money from. I have hardly ever made money – sensible profit – from my movies. There are some of our colleagues who know how to market and make great noise for their projects. Kunle Afolayan is one. Judith Audu is equally good at this. So also is Mo Abudu. The reality is that most of the movies that have earned profit at an outstanding level got most of it from the patronage of their friends from private screenings. But not to worry, we are cooking some things, the kind of projects that I will feel good to execute.
“Distribution is the major challenge of our industry. Can you imagine if there were 3,000 to 4,000 screens across the country and films are released first into those. Practitioners would be better off. However, it is still an industry that is growing. Many more cinemas will be built. Cottage preview centres will come up as well. It is happening, albeit slowly.
“Kene of FILM ONE is at the top of the pack at present. All of us producers, directors, even actors (who think they have the knack to run a business), should take advantage of the grants and loans being offered. Imagine if another 100 screens come on board, mostly owned by the real practitioners; more patronage will be experienced. We can then start to reduce the sharing formula that the distributors operate now.”