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#BNBehindTheScenes: 10 Questions with Tola Odunsi the Director

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We hear so much about our favorite movie stars but rarely anything about the people working behind the scenes to make sure the stars have the best lines, the best lighting in movies, the best costumes and more. There’s too little on the people behind the scenes.

Apart from the talented actors, what really makes a great film?
Is it the storyline? Great characters? Cinematography?
Well, the answer to all of these questions is – Yes. And more!

With this in mind, BellaNaija‘s BN TV section has kicked off a monthly interview series tagged #BNBehindTheScenes, where we speak to some of the great minds behind many Nollywood movies… from the ace directors to scriptwriters, to the makeup artists and producers, right down to the lighting technicians.

For our maiden edition, we spoke to one of our favorite Scriptwriters, Dami Elebe, who is the genius behind some of the great shows we currently stream on BN TV: Skinny Girl in Transit, Rumor Has It, and Jemeji.

In February, we chatted with Hakeem Onilogbo, who is a special effects guru. For March, we spoke with Isioma Osaje The Go-To Talent Manager, April was action man, Femi Olagoke, May was 22-year old Izzy Odigie, June was Xavier Ighorodje, July was Oluyemisi Falaye. August Adedunke Gomina, and September was Chinedu Arinze.

This month of October, we’re chatting with director extraordinaire  Tola Odunsi.

Tola Odunsi is a filmmaker who owns a production company Urban Vision alongside his partner Akin Akinkugbe.

Tola, who is responsible for productions such as The Island, The Men’s Club and From Lagos with Love, sits down with BN TV to discuss how he got his start in Nollywood, what he wishes could change about Nollywood, and a whole lot more.

Read what he had to say below!


How and when did you get your start as a Director?

I started out producing television shows and content around 2006 with Storm360 but I only started directing after going to film school (New York film academy) in 2008.

What was the one thing that happened, that made you know you wanted to make films for the rest of your life?

After my film school experience, I realized creating television content (by telling authentic stories that people could relate to) was the one thing I was most passionate about, secondly, it’s a profession that has no retirement age.

Since joining the industry, what are some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

The challenges are quite complex but it boils down to Monetization- and I will explain as a director/producer you naturally want the best for your film that is a great script, the best actors/actresses, crew, equipment and locations and most times the higher you go, the more expensive your production is, however, your project still has to be profitable, so most times you have to prioritize accordingly.

So for me personally I had to find a balance on how to scale production according to its potential earnings.

Your film ‘From Lagos with Love’ premiered recently, what was the shooting process like and what inspired the movie?

I shot most of the movie myself (DOP…physically carried the camera and directed the scenes as well ) so it was quite tasking but it was fulfilling and I know I’m only going get better.

The movie was inspired by family, I just wanted to tell a simple but complex story about the multiple things that happen within a family, during a reunion.

With Partner Akin Akinkugbe

What is the one thing you wish you could change about Nollywood?

I would say the inability to monetize the local market as a whole, Nigeria is the biggest consumer of Nollywood yet the least revenue comes from within. For example, right now a lot of us (directors/producers ) rush to cinemas because that’s one of the only few guaranteed places to make some money, however, there are less than two hundred cinemas (130 as at the last count)  in the whole country. And then apart from MNet, Iroko, RedTV, Ndani, AccelerateTV and a few others, there are not enough television platforms commissioning production or licensing Nollywood content.

Before I die I want to…

Help build models that would help Nollywood monetize properly.

What is the one film you wish you had directed and why?

Black Panther, lol, even though I know I have a long way to get there technically. But, that movie because of what it represents – black excellence.

If I wasn’t a Director I would have been a…

Producer (I would have still been in this lane )

Share one surprising fact about yourself 

I directed over 30 music videos as my alias – Bobby Boulders.

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Want to know more about Tola Odunsi? Keep up with him on Instagram (@tolaodunsi) | #BNBehindTheScenes will be published every last Thursday of the month in 2018.

Photography, Nneka, African Literature, Film...these are a few of her Favourite things! Follow her on Instagram - @munachi_ Follow BellaNaija Instagram - @bellanaijaonline Twitter- @bellanaija Facebook - Bella Naija

1 Comment

  1. Adeyinka

    November 2, 2018 at 4:05 am

    Intelligent man

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