In an exclusive interview actor, producer and director, Omoni Oboli talks about her soon-to-be-released movie Okafor’s Law, Nollywood and her personal life.
On the idea of the movie Okafor’s Law: I was sitting with a group of friends, and I happened to be the only female present when the topic steered towards exes. The term Okafor’s law came up and I asked what it meant, and when they told me what it was, I was totally intrigued by it so I kept asking questions. As we kept talking about the issue, one of them said to me, “Omoni, you’re a filmmaker. So why don’t you make a movie on this subject?” and thinking about it, I said, “why not?” So he came up with the idea that it could be about a bet. I asked a lot of questions to get a lot of materials for the story. You will be amazed how many people around you have had an ‘Okafor’s Law’ experience; so many intriguing stories. I discussed the idea with family and friends in the process of developing the story. At the end, there was an incredible amount of material to work with.
On if Okafors Law is a Myth or reality: That’s what we’re all asking. Hahaha! I don’t know. Some people would swear to its legitimacy, some dismiss it as totally ridiculous, while others think it just might be true, given certain circumstances. The jury is still out on the subject, and I’m hoping that after the audience watch the movie, they would be able to draw their own conclusion on this very important matter.
On what sets her apart from other movie makers: My unique storylines and delivery by each and every cast! I make it a point to make sure that there are no small roles in my stories, so that the taxi driver, secretary or any casual cast has a meaningful appearance in my movies. When everyone delivers their lines gracefully, the audience comes out with a whole experience that excites them, but they can’t readily tell why they enjoyed each scene in the movies. That’s what I like about movies, and that’s what I believe makes my movies come alive and make the impact they make at the cinemas. Okafor’s Law promises the same thing and more.
On her greatest challenge in her line of work: Money! If there was plenty plenty money, I would worry less while producing them. Seriously, production isn’t easy at all. It’s especially hard for me, because I produce, direct and act in my own movies, and so I have to be up for longer hours because I have to call every shot, prep for the next day, check out the rushes with the editor to make sure the scenes are well done and don’t need to be redone. Its a tough job to do all these, but the joy of what I do makes it all worthwhile.
On wanting a female child: It’s either I have one or I don’t, purely by the grace of God. If it happens, it happens. It would be great to have had a girl, but with the way I work and travel, and the fact that the girl child needs much more attention from a mother than the male child, we would have to see. Let’s leave it at that.
On touts harassing her on set: It’s the normal harassment by the touts, who happen to have a sense of entitlement coupled with a supposed unwritten understanding that we should know that this has to happen. It’s not right, and there’s so much you can handle while trying to work and create jobs, that I just felt frustrated from different groups of touts coming at different times to extort money from the production while we were shooting. It’s normal, and normal lately has been quite tiresome, and I decided to speak out and hope that this would show why investment is hard to pour into a system that wouldn’t help create an enabling atmosphere for those who would help the government to create the jobs that are so badly needed. It also encourages laziness among able-bodied youth who refuse to be relevant because they have an ‘alternative’ source of income which deprives them from being more productive to the society at large. Instead, they choose the path of extortion. It’s so sad! Handling the situation is another matter. We handle the situations one tout at a time.
On how the government can help tackle this issue: I don’t know, but I know that they got elected because they had the solutions to these basic problems. If I had to proffer every solution to every problem I encounter, I would need to work for the government and get paid for it. We all have what we think would be appropriate to do, but the government has agencies whose job is to deal with these issues, and though they have many problems to tackle at once, they also know how to make it work given the statistics and information available to them as those in power. I don’t sit around all day working out how to deal with touts, that is why we vote our leaders into office to deal with what they promised they would do. I know that I want them arrested for extortion and disturbance, but they also need jobs and this may be the primary problem (who knows). I just want the Government to give a general protection and not just me or other filmmakers hiring security for our shoots. We also want the safety of the society at large. My job right now is to lay my complaint to the proper authorities.
On why she went into Producing: I love producing movies. I love writing, directing and seeing my finished product. This started right from my earlier days in primary and secondary school when I was head of the literary and debating society and the drama club; I was producing, writing, directing and acting in the school plays we presented to our parents. I love certain movies and the best ways to see those movies made is to make yours, and so I went to the New York Film Academy for a course in digital filmmaking, and here I am doing what I’ve always wanted to do. Nevertheless, acting is still my first love.
On her lowest point since she started producing her own movies: Like I said, making the movies can be very challenging. Add to that the fact that we don’t always have the cash to make it the perfect way; it can feel like a low point in the production when you suddenly run out of cash. Imagine that, and I have to keep a straight face and continue with what I’m doing knowing that the cast and crew don’t want to know if you have enough or not. It’s none of their business, and you have to take responsibility to find the money and keep going. But I thank God for the low points, because I learn a lot about who I am and how to make things work then.
On her views of Nollywood now: It’s advanced way beyond when I first got in. I see a much brighter future with the crop of actors and production crew that we have today. We’re ready to take on the world, and this was made much more evident with our recent outing at the Toronto International Film Festival. We did Nigeria proud! I’m excited for the future I see, and the fact that we’re the biggest sellers at the Nigerian cinema box office is a sign of great things to come.