It seems Nollywood is not quite done with premieres. Just when we thought we had seen ‘em all, we received feelers from the camp of Emem Isong that she is about to hit the town with the world premiere of ‘Guilty Pleasures’. I decided to investigate and managed to track down the busy Producer and this is what went down.
BA: Hello Emem.
Emem: How are you Bola?
BA: I hear you are hitting town with another premiere.
Emem: What do you mean another premiere? I haven’t done one this year?
BA: Really? Well, it wasn’t so long ago that you did one for the film, “Reloaded”.
Emem: That was last year. This is another year.
BA: So are you premiering ‘Guilty Pleasures’ in Nigeria?
Emem: Yes I am. Im premiering ‘Guilty Pleasures’ and ‘Nollywood Hustler’; two films I co-produced with people. One, Guilty Pleasures I co produced with Desmond Elliot and the other Nollywood Hustler with Uche Jombo.
BA: Why do you like co-producing with others?
Emem: Because, we each have our strengths and weakness. We bring out the best in each other. Truly great productions have to do with teamwork. We are a greater team when we work together.
BA: So why do you want to premiere these films?
Emem: Because I know I have winners in them.
BA: Please explain.
Emem: Sometimes when you do films you know there are some that stand out. These two do. Mind you, Im not saying my other films are not good.
BA: Tell us more about the films.
Emem: Well one ‘Nollywood Hustler’ is a hilarious comedy about the behind-the scenes look at how films are made in Nollywood. It is star-studded with some of the actors acting as themselves. Others did cameo appearances. It’s a must see! The other ‘Guilty Pleasures’ is a love story…intense and passionate… a pampered, bored, house wife feels emotionally neglected by her husband, a controlling busy business executive. On the other hand they are visited by his happy-go-lucky, attractive brother-in-law.
BA: Then what happens?
Emem: (smiling) Find out at the Premiere!!
BA: Who are the actors in it?
Emem: Ramsey Noauh, Nse Ikpe-Etim, Majid Michel, Mercy Johnson and Omoni Oboli
B.A: Hmm.. I see you featured the usual suspects… Ramsey and Nse. Why pair them again after ‘Reloaded?’
Emem: Because they have good chemistry together. Ramsey is a very deep actor…capable of so much. It takes a great actress to meet him head to head. I think he found his match with Nse. But that doesn’t mean other actresses I work with are not good. Certain actresses are good in certain roles. It’s a matter of the right casting. Putting the right peg in the right hole.
BA: What about Majid? What is he like to work with?
Emem(smiles) Majid is great! Such a joy to work with! No airs, no tantrums… he does his work and goes to his hotel room.
BA: I cant help asking… do other actors give you tantrums?
Emem: Bola! You have come o!
BA: Im waiting…
Emem: Ofcourse some do…people are people… actors are no different.
BA: Care to name names?
Emem: (laughing) No I do not! Next question!
BA: I understand Guilty Pleasures has already been released in America.
Emem: That doesn’t matter. It doesn’t affect sales in Nigeria. Remember we are over 120 million…some say 150 million. At least a fraction of that will buy or watch the film.
BA: why did you decide to release it in America first?
Emem: Because when you release it here, people carry it over there and pirate it. So we decided to go one step over the pirates and release it there first, before doing it here.
BA: So will the film be released straight to dvd like the others?
Emem: No, this one will be shown in the cinemas, precisely in SilverBird Cinemas in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja and Accra then it will be released on dvd.
BA: Any plans to premiere it abroad?
Emem: Not at this moment but if we get invited to do that why not?
BA: Please clarify an issue… is there a Part 2?
Emem: As in, how? Please explain.
BA: Is the film yet to be continued from what you have now?
Emem: No it is not going to be continued.
BA: There was some confusion about the different posters/dvd jackets…
Emem: The film released in America has its own jacket made for that market. We have a different jacket for that being released in Nigeria, Ghana etc.
BA: But it’s the same film?
BA: No extra, hidden stories?
BA: We heard in the news that certain producers are working on films with themes very, very similar to your recent films?
Emem: really? Which films?
BA: Specifically, ‘Edikan’ your language film on child witchcraft and ‘Guilty Pleasures’
Emem: Well, that’s news to me.
BA: What do you have to say about that?
Emem: What can I say? They say ‘copying is a form of flattery’ but if its not the original it can never be like the original. It is sad that some colleagues have to resort to waiting for you to do all the thinking and brainwork only for them to bring out cheap knock-offs! My advice to them is to desist from this unsavory act and use their talents to do something more productive. There are so many topics one can explore…why copy what another person has already done? (shakes head)
BA: So, what next should we expect from you?
Emem: For now I want to concentrate on the premiere. Later, I will talk about my other projects.
BA: What other projects?
Emem: I wont say much now but it does involve a school…a media training centre I am starting.
BA: Tell me more.
Emem: okay, It is a training centre for actors, actresses, cameramen, cinematographers, editors and the like. We are partnering with a media school in the U.K to do this. A proper press conference will soon hold to publicize this. Im just giving you the scoop!
BA: Wow! Very interesting! Why a media school?
Emem: Why not a media school? For all the years Nollywood has been in existence, we hardly have any schools for training apart from TV College, Jos! There are a smattering of private ones here and there but I decided to delve into it because I would like to develop that area of talent in the country. If you notice that is what I like to do…discover and develop new actresses. Besides, lets face it, we are not getting any younger! (laughter) I might not be able jump from set to set forever. I will like to hand the baton to the next generation.
BA: I hope you are not implying that you are retiring?
Emem: Ofcourse not. As long as God gives me the creativity, the strength (and finances!) I will continue to do films but I will like to invest in training to bring out other great actresses, actors, producers etc. You should see the way my phones ring off the hook with requests from people to act! And I say this with great humility. Some calls even come in from as far off as Kenya and Uganda in East Africa. A Kenyan lady, an actress even sent me her showreel with requesting to come and act in Nigeria! She was ready to pay her airfare and hotel bills herself! I was very impressed and touched! Some are even ready to come all the way from there for the course. We are working on our website which will soon be up so interested people can log in and apply online.
BA: Well, its been interesting talking to you. I wish you the best in all your endeavours.
Emem: The pleasure is all mine!