Meet Omorinsojo Spaine, one third of Nemsia Films and producer of the highly anticipated God Calling film starring Zainab Balogun and directed by BB Sasore. With Kemi Adetiba, Sola Sobowale and Toni Tones acting and directing to largely rave reviews in King of Boys, to Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut and starring role in TIFF Pick ‘Lionheart’, and subsequent landmark acquisition by Netflix, this has been a stellar year for Nigerian women in film, so it should come as no surprise that there are quite a few smart, savvy and stylish women excelling in other industry roles.
What is surprising, however? Outside of tight knit film industry sets, Momo Spaine is virtually unknown —an anomaly I find mind boggling. She laughing (and readily) admits ‘Impostor Syndrome’ held her back in the past. But that’s all about to change. Sure, the film student and producer would love nothing more than to continue her passion projects toiling in obscurity (jk jk!), she tells me she’s been given an ultimatum by her partners to own her role in the creation of these masterpieces, and we are more than happy to tell her story.
“I knew I had a natural ability to produce and I became determined to be the best at it” she admits during our chat—which makes sense, considering she’s currently developing that skill set amongst others at Toronto Film School. “ I immediately went from being unsure of myself to asking myself how I could be the best possible producer both locally and internationally. ”
It’s might seem like a far out statement from a relative ingenue, but it’s not that outlandish coming from Spaine. Her résumé is stuffed with much-loved projects, including Before 30, Banana Island Ghost, and now God Calling. She is well on her way to making a serious mark on the film industry and it’s clear Omorinsojo Spaine or ‘Momo’ as she’s generally referred to, is passionately devoted to her craft.
Spaine—who by the way has the most ridiculously amazing skin, possesses the kind of innate sense of style that brings to mind Jackie Onassis or Queen Rania of Jordan. Classic – almost preppy and effortless without being sloppy. She’s what my Gran would call really put together.
Far from a snobbish auteur, her interests run the gamut in taste and technique; uniting the poise of her formal and autodidactic film training, the fun of ratchet television, in addition to the forward-thinking vibe of a cosmopolitan, well-traveled African woman.
Ahead of the God Calling premiere, we sat down with the Ibadan-born producer to find out how she juggles school and work, got the details on just how she managed the herculean feat of producing an entire film from across the Atlantic Ocean, and chat about the importance of fashion in telling stories both IRL and on the silver screen.
Her name might not be immediately recognizable, but we’re betting that won’t be the case for much longer. What’s next for this multi-talented woman? We can’t wait to find out
BNS:Tell us a little about your background
I grew up in Ibadan, and I’m from a pretty big family. People are always surprised to hear who my siblings are because of the age difference but Yewande Zaccheaus, Omobola Johnsonand Arinola Kola Daisi are my sisters. I also have two brothers Akinyinka and Akinkunmi. Im lucky to have grown up around driven people who inspire me and being the last born, I’m spoilt for choice!
BNS:Do you remember the moment you decided you wanted to get into the tv/film industry?
I do. It was after I got my first big chance at producing. BB [Sasore] and Derin Adeyokunnu(My partners in Nemsia Films) gave me the opportunity to produce the pilot for Before 30. I didn’t have much experience and I was sure I was making a mess of things. But after it was done, the feedback I got from actors and crew alike was very encouraging. I knew I had a natural ability to produce and I became determined to be the best at it! I immediately went from being unsure of myself to asking myself how I could be the best possible producer both locally and internationally. (The nerve right?) I’m still on the journey towards that goal.
BNS:When did you first realize that you wanted to write screenplays and direct as well as produce?
Writing has always been a passion of mine. I consider it my greatest calling. But I had stories in my head that I needed to translate to paper and I needed to learn how to do it effectively. Directing on the other hand I realized while working with BB Sasore. It’s hard to watch him work and not want to grab a piece of that magic for yourself! In addition to that, I think the best filmmakers are able to wear many hats. I am now learning special effects, editing, production design and animation among other things.
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BNS:What sort of challenges have you had to overcome in the process?
In the early stages, getting family and friends to understand and respect what I was doing was hard. I think loved ones had other expectations for my life. But I am grateful for the winding road that led me here. In addition to that, a lack of structure around the Nigerian film industry means everyone learns as they go. We are all figuring things out through our own failures as well as the mistakes of others. I’ve learnt some invaluable lessons though, so no regrets!
BNS:You produced the super buzzy God Calling, which was shot in Lagos – but you’re currently based in Toronto. Did you find any challenges in oscillating between timezones?
Producing a film from abroad while in film school and also 6 hours behind in time sounds like a nightmare. But it wasn’t. I had an amazing team led by Ronke Ogunmakin and we made it work. I burnt the candle at both ends but so did everyone back home who was actually on set. We put a lot of time into planning and stayed in constant communication. (Thank God for Whatsapp!) On the school end, it was tough but I still made the honours list that semester so I guess the hard work paid off in spades!
BNS:What was the process of producing God Calling like?
It was very humbling. I think the ease and speed with which we raised funds and garnered support for the script revealed how much this genre of content was wanted by Nigerians. It also felt like doors were flying open because God was co-signing our intent. That’s not to say it’s been easy. You still have to work hard on the day to day. But God Calling has come with a certain peace in terms of process from the development stage right up until distribution, which is where we are now.
BNS:Why did you decide to go to back to school? What is it like learning to flex your directorial muscle?
I went back to school because as soon as I realized this is what I wanted to do with my life, I knew I couldn’t do it without a formal education to back my passion. I needed to be able to speak on film anywhere and with anyone, authoritatively. This quote comes to mind “Go fearlessly in pursuit of what sets your heart on fire”. I’m willing to do anything I need to do to keep that fire burning. Still working on the directorial muscles but It feels freeing! Gaining knowledge is always freeing for me.
BNS: What were some takeaways from your ‘remote producing’ debut?
- Pick a team you trust and treat them with respect! Trust their decisions and support them.
- Hold back on your need to control the situation. They are on ground and can see things you can’t in real time.
- BB and Derin showed me during that process that we really are more than business partners. They trusted me to do it remotely and would go out of their way to show cast and crew that I still had the deciding vote on production matters even though I wasn’t on ground. I appreciated that immensely and their blind belief in me continues to be a big part of my motivation.
BNS: Did you ever consider flying back to sort out certain issues?
Always!!! But fiscal discipline is a big part of my job and school is still my biggest priority. So while I would wish I was on set on certain days, I had to stay put. I missed working with RMD, Onyeka Onwenu and Nkem Owoh even though that has always been a dream. So yeah, those days sucked! I would constantly ask for videos and pictures from set! Lol.
BNS:What role do you think fashion plays in film? Is it important?
Fashion serves a huge role in filmmaking because it’s a vitally important vehicle of visual expression. Wardrobe is one of the first departments we consult in the development of a film because fashion really helps to tell the story of the character without having to say much.
We thoroughly explored the role of fashion as film language in Before 30. Our 4 main characters had very distinct styles that spoke to their personality and this diversity, I think, really came through in the end product.
BNS: What about in real life?
I see fashion as a form of self expression in real life as well. I’ve taken a lot of time to consider how I want to be perceived and that has an increasing influence on my style choices.
BNS:You’re a bit of a ‘sophisti-rachet’ aka trash TV aficionado. Can we expect any great quality reality TV shows from you in the future?
I have an extremely ratchet alter ego and I am obsessed with trashy reality TV. I don’t think my resume would be complete without a few reality shows on it. I am always thinking of wonderfully wild ideas for Nigeria. But sometimes I’m not sure the people I want to star in them are quite ready to be that exposed on national television. Nigerians are a pretty tough crowd. I am hoping to start developing a very well done reality show next year. We’ll give people some time before we go into the wilder stuff!
BNS:There’s no common thread between God Calling, your previous film Banana Island Ghost or TV Show Before 30. What differs from a producer’s perspective in telling these diverse stories?
Honestly not much, while I give my opinion on every story that we embark on telling, what they really want to hear from me is how much, when, where and how? I answer these, and everyone is happy!
BNS:What does a typical day look like for you?
Oh dear, you’re about to expose me. My average day involves long days in school, lots of Netflix and long video calls with my hubby. I’m starting to build a social circle in Toronto so I’m more outgoing now. But if the weather is below 10 degrees (which it usually is) I look for any excuse to stay at home. I also do yoga a few times a week so I’m not a total waste! If you’re ever in the 6ix please hit me up and make me drag my lazy butt out of bed!
“Go fearlessly in pursuit of what sets your heart on fire”
BNS: It’s Fall/Winter in Toronto now. What’s the number one trend you want to try for fall?
Obsessed with puffer jackets! The brighter and more obnoxious the better. I have my eye on a gorgeous metallic gold one. But we’ll see what our pockets are saying after Christmas!
BNS:What’s the one you want to retire for fall?
Dark colours. I actually feel like we should wear more bright colours in the winter to balance out the mood. I hate going outside and seeing everyone looking so drab. That’s why I wear a bright red winter coat and lots of bright accessories!
BNS:What’s the last fashion item you bought and why?
A cute fascinator to fit my “Sunday Best” themed outfit to the God Calling Premiere!
BNS: Any brands that you’re particularly into now?
Zashadu!!! I must NOT go into the new year without one of their stunning bags. I obsess over their stuff these days. ??♀️
BNS:What’s the most valuable style tip you’ve learned from working on set (or not)
Also always cover your toes! You’d be surprised how easy it is to lose one on a set.
BNS:What’s one thing you would change about the fashion industry?
Size inclusivity and representation. I’ve had my weight go up and down and the lack of options when I was at my biggest was a tough blow to my self esteem. I didn’t feel bad about weight until I couldn’t find anything that I felt good in. I would also struggle to find images of curvier women who have the same taste as me. Not that there weren’t any, you just have to work a lot harder to find them. And with less body types that are similar to yours, it’s tough to find inspiration
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BNS:Your go-to style uniform?
White collared shirt and light wash jeans. It can be styled up or down. And I think it’s a timeless look!
BNS:What do you like to wear when you’re working on set?
Dungarees are my favourite thing to wear on set. They are loose, durable and comfy with lots of pockets for storage! Add some white sneakers and a hat and it can be super cute!Comfort and practicality is key!
BNS: Go to #DecemberInLagos outfit?
Flowy Bubu and Co-ords made from light fabric. Nigeria is all about staying cool in extreme cold when indoors and extreme heat when outdoors. I find these work best.
BNS: What’s your favourite way to unwind?
Red wine and I’m fine!
BNS: What are your production wrap rituals?
A big indulgent meal and then two days of sleep!
BNS:What’s next for you?
Finish off the next 9 months of school and come back home to take on the industry!
God Calling is in cinemas from the 21st of December