Monday, 23 December 2019

Living in Bondage,the sequel stars cover MediaRoomHub Magazine latest issue..


The Sequel of this Iconic Nigerian movie has reportedly grossed Millions and Millons of Naira at the cinemas.


On the Living in Bondage stars feature,MediaRoomHub says..


 ON OUR DECEMBER COVERWE HAVE SOME OF THE CAST OF “LIVING IN BONDAGE: BREAKING FREE”, THE MUCH TALKED ABOUT SEQUEL OF ONE OF NIGERIA’S MOST VENERATED DRAMA FILMS , 

“LIVING IN BONDAGE “, STARTING FROM THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER AND CEO OF PLAYNETWORK WHO ALSO BOUGHT RIGHTS OF THE ORIGINAL FILM, CHARLES OKPALEKE, ACTORS, ENYINNA NWIGWE, JIDE-KENE ACHUFUSI AND MUNACHI ABII.

FOLLOWING THE SUCCESS OF THE RECENTLY RELEASED FILM, WHERE RENOWNED ACTOR, RAMSEY NOUAH, MADE HIS DIRECTORIAL DEBUT, WE SAT WITH THESE AMAZING ACTORS AS WELL THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER AND THEY SPILLED ALL THE TEA ABOUT THE FILM.FROM THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECTS OF THEIR CHARACTERS, HOW THEY GOT THEIR ROLES, WHY CHARLES OKPALEKE DECIDED TO INVEST IN NOLLYWOOD AND WHY HE BROUGHT IN RAMSEY AS THE DIRECTOR AMONG SUNDRY ISSUES.DO HAVE A GREAT TIME GOING THROUGH IT ALL.


CHARLES OKPALEKE:


How old were you when you watched the first Living in Bondage?

Living in Bondage is 27 years old, basically, I am 36 now. What that implies was that I was nine when I watched it. 

You did not just produce the sequel, you also bought the rights of the original film, what led you to it?

Okay for me, I am in the entertainment industry. I have always wanted to branch into movie production, Nollywood of course. From business perspective, I wanted my movie to be a movie that has an existing brand that I could leverage on. 

Coming up with my own script that would require a lot of marketing being a first timer in the industry who hasn’t made his name of course. 
I started looking for a movie that has clout, branding attached to it, with a bit of marketing. I felt Living In Bondage was it, it was such a powerful story, it started Nollywood, if you look at Hollywood, they do a lot of remakes too. It was just perfect for me. 



Much more when you continue..

Was there any auditioning for the cast or you had people in mind prior to the casting?

Yes, I had my director who was Ramsey Noah, y producer Steve Buka, and I had a line producer, Chris Obey all the people I had in mind for some reason. I didn’t want to get involved from the creative aspect so, I left the creative part to my director and producer to handle. 


I just focused on the business aspect of it because the people I thought would be in the movie, my director- they had alternatives.

I didn’t have any background in Nollywood. I had people I wanted t to feature in the movie. I felt Enyinna Nwigwe could play Andy Okeke’s son, but the creative guy had another thing in mind. There were days they would call me to complain about an actor and all, but I told them you guys told me not to get involved in the creative aspect of it. 

I just focused on the financial aspects. So I really didn’t involve in the auditioning.

Directing is basically is one of the basic aspects in filmmaking, why did you saddle Ramson Nouah with the responsibility?

Ramsey is my very good friend, my closest friend, next to Enyinna. When I bought the right, I called them and told them I wanted to invest in their industry. That I wanted to remake Living In Bondage. I said I wanted to pay for it that week. We called the guy, he said he lived in the East. We boarded a plane to the East the next day, went to his house and discussed it. I am a spontaneous business man, there and there we discussed and credited him. We sealed the deal before we started this project. 

While leaving his house, I asked him, have you directed any movie before? And he said no. I said you should direct this movie, he has always wanted to direct but he didn’t want his debut in directing to be one of a mediocre. I told him this movie won’t be a mediocre job. Ramsey was the first person I had in mind, but at some point he became very busy. It got to a point I got Steve Buka to come and direct the movie, because I have seen some of his works and I really liked them. By the time Steve started kicking in, Ramsey got less busy. So Steve and Ramsey now worked together to direct the movie.

You said you approached Ramsey Nouah that you wanted to invest in the industry, before that, did you see a gap in the industry you felt you needed to close?

The people who have the ability to take things to the next level don’t get involved. See our music industry, people that needed to get involved got decided to and it’s gone to the next level. There’s nothing stopping us from shooting movie that is bigger than the existing Living In Bondage. When you invest in the industry, you should get your money back, I bought this right four years ago. 

We’ve been shooting for the past two years. We’ve been taking our time, we’ve gotten to that time, if you invest in the industry you should get your money back.
 Now people like us are getting involved, we have lesser issues of piracy now because our cinema culture has improved. We have over 50 – 60 cinemas now. You can make your money from Box Office, so more people are encouraged to invest in the industry, when you invest you get more money and better quality movies.

Given The Success of Living in Bondage Should We Expect More?

Of course! This is just the beginning, I am still scratching the surface. Whenever I go into an industry I go hard, this is just the beginning, I am going hard. If there’s going to be a sequel I will involve Hollywood, at least two A list actors, this is my first project, and it’s looking this good, I will go hard, more coming.

I know a lot of things went into producing this movie, casting, scripting and all if you have a chance to remake this movie from scratch are there things you would have done differently?

For example, we went to Durban, a couple of us to shoot some scenes, there were some actors who flew to Durban just to film one scene. They didn’t even in talk in that scene, this time around I will photoshop them, laughs… I told them I didn’t want cut and join. If this guy wants to be part of this scene, let him be there. There’s apart we shot in Monaco that was not even in the movie. We changed the script, there are a lot of things, money was spent here and there that we could have saved, I don’t regret these things, it’s a learning experience. I invested in this movie not to make money but to make my name, to let Nollywood know this is a new dawn, there are new investors. I invested in Nollywood to make an impact.

We’ve been going back and forth on this social media hate speech, what’s your take on it?

To be honest, I am neither here nor there. This hate speech at times it’s actually bad, some faceless people come on social media and say evil things, on the other hand, there’s a freedom of speech. You can’t just decide. I don’t know, I understand where the government is coming from, and the masses, I feel it should be regulated, there are people who live their lives and some who live on the floor somewhere, some people come and say something very silly, and this person doesn’t even know you might even know you and create fake account to say stupid things. I don’t blame the government.

Is there any project you are working on now?

I have many projects


When you are not working, how do you relax?

I do things that I have passion for, so for me, work is play. This Living In Bondage was fun for me. Going to shoot in Cape Town and Durban was fun for me, I invest in things that I have passion for. So for me, work is always play.

Does that have something to do with why your company is named Play Network?

Laughs… No! But everything is looking like it was all planned out

Why the name?

I started from a sport bar. I started 12 years ago from a sport bar, I called it Play Sport Bar, from there it became a club, from a club it became great network of entrepreneurs and professionals, from Play Network we started investing in Restaurant and all, everything started looking well and we started branching out.

Recently you signed Ike and Kim Oprah, are they your first sign-ons?

No, we have a Play management company and we manage talents. We have Juliet Ibrahim, I have to look at a list of them; there is quite a number of them.

 We are focused on marketing Swanky as the new Nollywood face. Swanky is such an amazing talent, we are looking to export his brand beyond Africa, I am really happy that Living in Bondage discovers someone like Swanky, and we will discover more.


What’s about your love for Cigar?

Oh! There are three types of Cigars- those that want to quit cigarettes, it’s a habit. Those who want to quit cigarette; I am not in that category. There are people who are addicted to smoking Cigar. I am not in that category, the third category are those who smoke Cigarettes because it’s part of the accessories, just like sun glasses and wrist watches. It goes with my look. 
I am not addicted, I don’t make cigarettes, I don’t smoke weeds, I can go two weeks without smoking, it goes really well with Whisky, you might as well smoke a little before taking whiskey.


ENYINNA NWIGWE:

You were one of the leading characters in the Living in Bondage sequel, how was the experience working on such a historic movie?




The experience was mind blowing, rough. Rough for so many reasons, besides the production itself, trying to do the most to get the best.
 There were a lot of stops and continuations, whatever we have shot before that doesn’t seem right, we had to go back, regardless of how many people were involved. So much money was spent and it’s usually not easy especially when you have other things lined up.  Living in Bondage happened to be a title I got contacted for just before they got the right years ago. I had looked forward to being in the film, especially on a personal note. Growing up as a Catholic boy, during our confirmation and our final days in class, our catechist sent out names for us to choose, I had to look for name that came close to Andy, so I went for the name Andrew because that Andy from Living in Bondage was the biggest name as at that time.


  So, I went with Andrew, only for years fast forward I got contacted to play Andy’s son. As the years went by in trying to make the film happen, my career  was growing as well, they had been trying to  put everything together, Steve Uka came on board between him and Ramsey being a director, they decided to have Andy’s son an unknown face, because of the way the story had been coined, to push me, that character being established, someone called it Matt Daemon and that sounded on point because I had that huge dream, coming on as Andy Son, I’m still very happy excited to be part of the project and that’s was how Obinna character came up for me. Another thing that pushed me on this project is that it coincided with another top project which happens to be top on my career, both films came on my table at the same time, so we had to work on modality not forgetting that for Gbadamosi I have to take off my beards completely, something I have never done before, I played a different character to who I am or who I ever played before, IBB, this project came  the same time, so I had to split my mindset as actor for the first time. I had to joggle both characters that really required me shifting myself as Ayinna. This story couldn’t have been easy, it’s just work and I am happy to see what the outcome has been today.

Living in Bondage is a historic movie in Nigeria, the sequel came out and there were a lot of people who haven’t seen the movie itself. Do you think their expectation will be met?

Going by what Living in Bondage Sequel is, it’s cracking down twitter. It’s been so from the first day it set the record for the biggest opening weekend, biggest film outdoing other Hollywood films, which is unusual in this time of the year, not December. This is third week record for a Nigerian film, that speaks for itself, there are a lot of repeated views, people going back to the cinemas, getting in traffic and  paying  1,500, sometimes 2,500 depending on the cinema location, coming back to twitter to tweet at it. You know you have a good film, you know during Holiday on December, they will have a good film and that speaks for itself.  Anyone that haven’t seen it knows what to expect.

You have always known Ramsey as an actor and you have worked with him in that capacity, now as producer, how was the experience?

Fantastic! I am a big fan of actors turned directors and female directors. It is a male dominated industry. 

More women are coming on board, we might have different touches and approaches to how things will be done. For an actor turned director who comes from a place of understanding, those things you wish your director knew. There are ways to handle actors, you have to know how to assess them. I have worked with Desmond Elliot and he knows how to treat actor the way he would want to be treated as an actor under a director and now with Ramsey, being a director now, he wears both shoes.
 His approach to what he wants to do is different, his care is quite refreshing. I have always known him to have great and grand ideas, it’s good to have him come on board the platform so he could express those things.


The producer of the film says the film is personal to him, he didn’t just produce the film. How’s the experience like?

Mr. Charles, Charles of Play. He’s the executive producer, he contacted me when he got the right to the project. He’s someone I have known before this project. We go way back, he’s always wanted to be in a film, always waiting for the right time, so he started Living in Bondage and that sounds like the best idea ever. It was a smooth run, I give him a whole big thumb up. It can be a gamble to do this, trying to bring back a classic, it’s a Holy Grail of Nollywood, you don’t touch a classic like that, the director and producer are not Igbo, you go against all the conventional thoughts to approach a project like this. And you still come out with this, whether be it personal fund or partner it takes strong mind to take such a bold step and throw all in; money that went to get the quality people we are celebrating today. It’s not everyday we see investors come on board in this industry that way without figuring the end from the beginning, I give him thumbs up and I hope we get big investors more like this.

You’ve been on our screen for many years now, is there any female actor you would want to act with?

Globally is too wide, I will keep it locally. I have been blessed to work with quite a number top female actors. I was meant to work with Omotola or like 3, 4 times but it didn’t work out. I also believe in fact, Omotola has been someone I graduated from crushing on to respecting in the industry. It will be great to work with Omotola.


Have you considered directing a movie?

The way I function, when it comes I will know it’s time. But for directing I will like to acquire more technical skills. I am picked to produce, I am an Igbo man. I want to produce and turn passion into money. I would like to graduate from this to producing which I have been doing from the shadow, not fully on my own.


I know you like Burna Boy, should we consider him you favourite musician?

I don’t quite have one I will call a favourite. I have group of artists I respect and watch all of them, I don’t know where you heard that. It must have been that Nigerians are just waking up to Burna, he has been like this from day one and I don’t think he had anything that is not premium. Anytime people wake up is their morning, so, this is Nigerian’s morning.  Waking up to Burna Boy I think he’s solid, he owns his own style. I love 2face, wizkid, Davido so it’s tricky when you start to call names, there are so many artists out there in Nigeria that do it for me at different times, I don’t have favourite.


There’s this debate on Hate Speech Bill that has been ongoing for a while now on social media and the youths are angry about it, what’s your own opinion, do you think we should be restricted?

I haven’t quite followed that discussion and I’m having the craziest season of my career, but I am aware of it. If I am not mistaken, it is about limiting social language in the space, how it can land you in trouble, it’s good having this kind of conversation, but limiting is not the way forward. 

How do you really check to be sure you are not arresting someone whose account is being run by someone else? Who is going to take the blame when the account is hacked? It is very tricky, we can sensitise  people through the same platform from hate speech and its consequence. I could pick up someone’s phone and tweet because they didn’t lock their phone and you go after them, it doesn’t make sense to me.

We heard you like white women and that you would lie to marry one

This is the first I’d hear something like this. I have never been asked this question before. If I am to guess, it’s from my performance in the wedding party, Part 1 and 2. I found it interesting as an actor, when you act a romantic movie and you do it well and there’s a believable chemistry between you and your fellow actor. From friends and family, they felt that’s real, I am sure there’s something afterwards and all, and I am sure that transcended into wedding party if I am to break that I would like to think. There aren’t a word around there they can tie me too like my other contemporaries, who they were seeing or dating, Wedding Party is the biggest romantic movie I have been too, people actually have consumed me to be a white women lover, which isn’t the case, I don’t have issue with white women. I love women, whether black or white I can settle down with anyone in the world. There’s no specific race, perhaps I should pull a few scandal about black ladies, so people can say he likes black girls too. It’s not a preference, two days ago someone said I am married to that white girl in the wedding party. That I am keeping quiet, on social media put up babies pictures and they say, he loves babies that’s why he doesn’t bother when people ask when he will get marry because he is married.

I have been to a lot of shows lately, and I have seen some journalists who couldn’t say your name but wanted to interview you, is there anything in that development you’d like to address?

I would say yes. To me, I always want excellence around me. Even in things that I may not be perfect at, I always like to see effort. I believe when I am around people I pour words, because I believe in the future you pour out the same word at me. These days on red carpet, I found out with much younger people, the questions they were given in general terms, they don’t know how to divert and make their red carpet interview moment bigger. I mean you go to Hollywood, most of them are rented, there’s a reason for that, for the purpose of media, the bigger the person on the screen is, the bigger your audience. This is now media 101 we are going on…laughs

You don’t go on red carpet and ask excuse me sir, what is your name? There are interviews for that when you introduce yourself and go on, the bigger you understand the person you are with or you show the excitement, the more the energy from the excitement to show who you are with, the bigger it makes you look. The one that breaks my heart is you are at the premiere of my film, 
you are interviewing me in front of my banner that has my face alone and my name and the camera is showing that and you are asking me what is my name, it doesn’t work, it’s not personal, it’s me trying to say you guys need to do more work. You just come on red carpet, you have no information on the person you are interviewing, you just have the questions you are given, no form of research. Not even what’s your name before we go on camera, and that kind of make you look like, I mean you might as well interview someone else. We are a brand and that’s what we are selling. If I were a coke bottle and I have been selling Coke for Ten years and you don’t know my name is Coke, even if you don’t know you can enquire before you take the interview, I think it makes more sense. The bigger the fish you catch the more attention you draw from them. I want to see their career grow, it is the audience they get that pull attention to them to attract bigger brands. Before I’d go out of my way to tell you, do it this way and all, but now I am there to add value to the owner of events and that’s why I am there, to enjoy the show and bring value to the organiser of the show.



What’s your favourite local meal?

Cooking is one of my favourite things to do, very adventurous for me. Whenever I go to a place, culture, I ask them what their favourite food is and I must try it. Swallow is my favourite It’s swallow and rice for me.

Continue with rest of feature over @Mediaroomhub

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