- Obi Emelonye is a Nigerian movie producer.
- Read: Nollywood movie director Obi Emelonye takes Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Jim Iyke, Jide Kosoko, others on the Last Flight to Abuja.
- Read: The Mirror Boy: I couldn’t have chosen a better title – Obi Emelonye tells Nollywoodgossip
- Nollywoodgossip met the immensely talented director and used the opportunity to catch up with him.
By Joy Ubeku (Inside Nollywood With Joy).
Can we meet you please?
My name is Obi Emelonye. I am a part of a set of twins born into the Nigeria civil war. My twin brother is Diplomat with the United Nations. I have 5 other siblings scattered all over the world. I am married to the meek and beautiful Amaka and we are blessed with 3 beautiful children: D’Kachy, 9, D’Richy, 5 and Da’Luchy, 3. We live in Chelsea West, London.
I grew up in Lagos and attended University of Nigeria Nsukka where I obtained a BA in Dramatic arts. I traveled to London and discovered that I needed to be pragmatic because making a living as a Theatre artiste was near impossible. I knew I needed a new career to give my family a deserved quality of living but one that would allow me the time to still practice my artistic craft; a career that had transferable skills. Law was that career. So I studied and obtained an LLB degree in Law and a post graduate degree in Legal practice. I went to train as a solicitor and practice up until 2007 when I decided to quit law to face my first love: films. That’s me, my little life in a nutshell, interesting, varied, chequered, eclectic.
For how long have you been into movies?
I started on stage as a playwright and director. But I knew I had to move with the times and go with the digital revolution of the millennium. But I shot my first film in 1999, a film called Good Friends. I then moved to Nigeria to join the film industry in 2000 and shot a few more films, notable amongst them: Who’s next? I was frustrated with the marketing structure in the industry and returned back to the UK where I continued to make films for cinema. The Mirror Boy became my comeback film and what a comeback film it was!
I can say that I have made three international digital films and about 5 home videos for the Nollywood VCD market. I am still a spring chicken compared to some of my mates in Nollywood who have over 300 films to their name. But I guess it is not always how many but how well.
Your last movie Last Flight To Abuja is rated the 2nd best film in cinemas across West Africa. How does that make you feel?
It is a thorough vindication of the deliberate choices I made with what I call ‘creative brinkmanship’…operating on the edge, dealing with topical issues and being slightly provocative. It is also as a result of the hard work and dedication of my cast and crew. You see, I am the one being interviewed but I can tell you that a whole heap of people worked as hard, if not harder than me, to deliver this film at the qualitative level we have. It is also some sort of vindication for my investors, particularly my elder brother Amasike, who trusted my talent to invest a fortune on this project. I am happy, humble and proud at the same time. I want to thank God and also the over 40,000 people that have gone to see the film in the cinemas.
What inspired The Last Flight to Abuja?
Last flight to Abuja was supposed to be a retrospective but sensitive look at 2005-2006; an era in Nigerian civil aviation when planes were falling off the skies; a time that I had hoped was behind us. But the events of June 3rd have reminded us that the period was tragically still with us. But this film, as tragic as it sounds, may be the longest lasting legacy that these people that so tragically and needlessly lost their lives would have and it will put the issue of aviation safety in the public domain for a long time so that we don’t forget.
What messages do you pass to viewers through your films?
I am not one of those directors who burden their films with too many issues. I never get out of my way to deal with issues but having said that, I am aware of a social responsibility as a film maker to put a mirror in front of society. That is what I did with The Mirror Boy and Last Flight to Abuja and it is up to people to glean whatever message they want…depending on who they are and where they are coming from. My first duty is to entertain and I try to do that to the best of my ability…the rest after that, they say, is jara.
Nollywoodgossip wishes you the best.
Thanks very much.