- Charles Chuka Aniagolu is a Nigerian film producer based in the UK.
- He tells Nollywoodgossip: “I am the writer, producer and co-director of the upcoming Nollywood international movie Streets of Calabar.” (www.streetsofcalabar.com)
- He says: “I studied movie production in the US but never really did anything with it.”
- “When I saw how Nollywood was growing but in a haphazard way, remaining far behind movies made internationally in terms of quality, production value etc., I wanted to raise the standard and make a feature film using the Nollywood name, but one that would be internationally recognized.
- “And so I thought I could leverage on my reputation and that of my company, along with a great script and first class production skills.”
- He says: “I had originally written Streets of Calabar as Streets of London and it was to be based in London.”
- “But after I visited Calabar and Cross River State several times to shoot various documentaries, I discovered what an amazingly beautiful state it is.”
- He says: “Nollywood has good actors, but many have become more diva like and are forgetting that they are yet to cut their teeth internationally and are therefore losing their professionalism.”
- “Rita Dominic was not like that at all.”
- He says: “The film is due to be released in Nigeria and West Africa on 21st December 2012. And we are looking at releasing it in Europe around February 2013.”
- He says: “I have just finished shooting a documentary titled Nigeria: State of the Nation, for international TV stations and in association with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.”
- “On the movie front, I am working on the script for my next film, which is set in Cincinnati, Ohio USA, as well in the UK and Nigeria.”
By Delia Innoma (Live Online With Delia).
Please briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Charles Chuka Aniagolu. I am the writer, producer and co-director of the upcoming Nollywood International movie Streets of Calabar, which is due to be released in cinemas in Nigeria and West Africa this December.
I am also Chief Production Executive and Partner at Spirit Creations, a multimedia production company based in London, England, the company that produced Streets of Calabar.
I hold a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio USA and a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and Film Production from the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio USA.
I also hold a certificate in Intellectual Property Law, from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Academy, in Geneva, Switzerland.
Why did you choose Journalism and Entertainment over Law?
I come from a family of accomplished lawyers and judges. My Dad, Justice Anthony Aniagolu, was a Supreme Court Justice and my uncle, Charles Dadi Onyeama was a World Court Judge at The Hague. My eldest brother is a lawyer and I have many uncles and cousins who are also lawyers and judges. So I thought we had made enough of a contribution to the legal profession.
Back to your new film ‘Streets of Calabar’, what inspired it?
Well, in addition to studying journalism and some law, I also studied movie production in the US but never really did anything with it. When I saw how Nollywood was growing but in a haphazard way, remaining far behind movies made internationally in terms of quality, production value etc., I wanted to raise the standard and make a feature film using the Nollywood name, but one that would be internationally recognized. And so I thought I could leverage on my reputation and that of my company, along with a great script and first class production skills.
At what point did you decide to shoot the Film in Calabar, Nigeria?
I had originally written Streets of Calabar as Streets of London and it was to be based in London but around a Nigerian sub-culture. But after I visited Calabar and Cross River State several times to shoot various documentaries, I discovered what an amazingly beautiful state it is, and how well developed its tourist sites are. It is also the most peaceful state in Nigeria. So I decided to set the movie there.
Why did you choose Rita Dominic over other actors in Nigeria?
It was considerably easier finding the actors in England that we used. There are many experienced actors of African origin in London and quite a few who have crossed over into Hollywood, playing secondary and minor roles, but who understand international standard film-making. Finding Nollywood actors was more of a challenge. Nollywood has good actors, but many have become more diva like and are forgetting that they are yet to cut their teeth internationally and are therefore losing their professionalism. Rita Dominic was not like that at all. We found her to be the consummate professional and a first class all round actress who performed brilliantly on set, but who was also a very nice, very approachable person off set. And of course she has proven to the world what a great thespian she is with her well-deserved win of Best Actress at the 2012 AMAA awards.
So in the end, the main cast were Rita Dominic and Keppy Ekpeyong, two well-known Nollywood stars, Maynard Eziashi, the London based Hollywood actor who starred alongside Pierce Brosnan in the hit movie Mr Johnson, with Sean Connery in A Good Man in Africa and with Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura, Wale Ojo, the London based actor who starred alongside Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English Reborn, and who recently won best actor for his role in Phone Swap, Anthony Ofoegbu, who is a first class stage and film actor and is well known in the West End theatre circuit in London, Lisa Kill, a new British talent whom we discovered and Vicqui Christie, a British trained actress, as well as various other up and coming Nigerian talent who are not as well known.
Educate us on the standard of production?
I used a very good, international cinematographer, who was also a first class lighting Director Of Photography. He was able to give the movie the great look and feel that you see. We also had a very good Australian production manager who doubled with another colleague from London as set designers, dressers and costumiers. Then of course myself and my co-director, Frank Macaulay, took the time to scout out some very good locations, which we used as the backdrop for the film. When you add all this to a very good script with great lines, some excellent A list actors and good directing, you really can’t lose. And also, in post-production, which is where you really put the movie together, I had a very good picture editor, as well as a brilliant color grader, digital compositor and rotoscoper.
What were the challenges you faced shooting in Nigeria?
The challenges were many – everything from finding the right secondary and tertiary actors and extras to generators that weren’t performing as well as their owners said they would, to sourcing the right equipment – things like jib arms, dollies, cranes etc, which were too heavy to bring from England and which we had to haul down from Lagos in trucks. But we were very fortunate that the Cross River State government really went out of their way to give us support and we were able to get brand new police cars, guns and stuff like that from the local police, as well as some of our equipment from the Tinapa film studios in Calabar, especially middle grade lights, flags etc. Also we had a good casting agent from Germany who helped to sort through and whittle down the local secondary and tertiary actors and extras.
When will the film be released?
The film is due to be released in Nigeria and West Africa on 21st December 2012. And we are looking at releasing it in Europe around February 2013.
What other projects are you doing?
I have just finished shooting a documentary titled Nigeria: State of the Nation, for international TV stations and in association with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group. It is a critical, hard hitting look at Nigeria today, with unemployment, terrorism and corruption apparently on the rise, but also the solution to those problems such as deregulating and freeing up the economy to create jobs. It also examines what the current government is doing to tackle such nettlesome issues. On the movie front, I am working on the script for my next film, which is set in Cincinnati, Ohio USA, as well in the UK and Nigeria.
What’s your next aspiration?
To make my next film, which is tentatively titled A British Nigerian Deadbeat in Cincinnati, based on a book I wrote a few years ago and which hopefully will be qualitatively better and reach a bigger worldwide audience than Streets of Calabar.
Why should Nigerians troop down to the cinemas to watch the Streets of Calabar?
Streets of Calabar is a well-packaged film that meets the best international standards. It’s funny, clever, and witty, and it’s got great scenery and lots of action. I unreservedly recommend it.
Nollywoodgossip wishes you the best.
Thank you for having me.