For the past 8 months, Africa Magic Igbo has provided the biggest justification for renewing my DSTV subscriptions.
So today, I saw my friend, the filmmaker, Vining Ogu on Africa Magic Igbo. It was a 15 minutes clip on the behind the scenes moments of his film Akuoma. It was made in Igbo, and on a shoe string budget. I have known Vining for two years now. It’s hard to find a more hardworking person. Hard to find anyone who creates with an eye for the future more than the present.
If tomorrow, a local or international body recognises his efforts, and offers him mega bucks to create a bigger film, most people would call him lucky, and very few would remember his years in the trenches. It is the way of the world.
But the Behind the Scenes are were the furnace that moulds the gold lies. Behind the scene, things are rarely ever tidy. Mostly they’re gruelling. Sometimes nasty. But success has a way of putting all your suffering in the dark. The world would only see you via rose-tinted glasses. You’d be called lucky. Critics would crawl out of the woodwork. They tell you all the things you could’ve done right, even though they couldn’t do it themselves.
Onyeka Nwelue's House of Nwapa was shot, similarly on a shoe string budget. But that was hardly the gruelling part. One of the interviews was in Aba, somewhere at St. Michael’s Road. That place stank like hell, an absolute shack of an area. I had to call and confirm if I hadn’t missed my way. Of course, I hadn’t. But if you want to do a documentary, you must seek out all the important characters, even if they were in hell.
But soon as the end product is out, folks march out with their pitchforks and ‘constructive criticism’. I was interviewed in the film. Critics wondered what I was doing there. No one saw what the filmmaker was trying to achieve. People have read my book and asked, is this fiction or was the author writing about himself? People read Efuru and asked, was Flora writing about herself? The critics missed it.
But I digress. The point is that no one sees the gruelling hours behind the scenes were it literally takes blood, sweat and tears to get to the goal.
Do you know how many times Toke Makinwa, Bolanle or Tallulah have to repeat some of the scenes on various programs on EL TV? When it’s a live show, of course, there are no repetitions. But on the curated Moments Show, you’ve got a producer barking orders. You’ve got them them putting in work to perfect their acts, changing costumes every hour, running up and down the place. But the world sees the final product, and would say: damn, how lucky. No one sees the Behind the Scenes. I know it and I have seen it. But I digress again.
What’s this long-winded rambling about? I probably might have lost myself in the maze. The point is, if you're a creative, keep creating. Whether on a shoe-string, sandal-string or slippers-string budget, create. Create first. You may not win the Man Booker or the Oscar, but you would’ve created for somebody, you would have preserved something important.