With Kamsi, Uzodinma Okpechi exhales, speaks language of cinema

Uzodinma Okpechi. Photo: showbizplus

You ask him to describe himself and ace filmmaker, Uzodinma Okpechi, readily snapped: “Uzodinma is a proud filmmaker from Nigeria.

I am a sponge, always ready to absorb and I don’t just absorb, I am also ready to apply and above all, I am mad.”

But that is just who Uzodinma is. Very daring, bold, unassuming and courageous, a versatile filmmaker, who has over 20 years of television and film experience, cutting across every aspect of motion picture practice, the story of Uzodinma’s emergence as a dependable filmmaker is not difficult to tell.

Uzodinma, who runs Primary TV and Film Production Limited, had his mind on becoming a medical practitioner, so he chose medicine as a course of study.

But when results were released, the University of Maiduguri offered him Biochemistry, which he didn’t want.

It was while waiting for a transfer that his childhood friend and foremost special effect director, Simisola Opeoluwa, asked him over to Lagos “to join the movie industry and to learn one of two things, instead of idling away.”

Uzo, as Uzodinma is simply called by close friends, heeded the call and straight away, he started learning how to do computer graphics and then moved on to editing.

It was not long after he joined Simisola, who still runs the foremost special effect outfit, House of Macro, that his talents began to manifest.

Uzo, who holds strongly that filmmaking, though an art, is formulaic, directed his first movie, Above Death in 1998.

He moved on from there to directing several musical videos and television commercials and whenever he had time, he signed movie productions either as director or producer.

Today, the producer and director of critically acclaimed productions, such as Vuga, More Money, Brave Men, Rebels, Eyes In The House and Turntables, is well regarded in the industry.

He speaks about his career and his next big anticipated feature, Kamsi, which industry critics said would break barriers and present Nigeria to the world as a country where the language of cinema is also spoken.

His Take On The Music Video Industry

First of all, I would congratulate all the music video producers and directors for the many quality music videos on air. However, I would say there is still a lot of room for improvement.

We have gotten the equipment right, the usage of the equipment too to a good degree, but telling a story with our music videos still remains an issue.

Again, we are not showcasing Nigeria enough in our music videos. How many music videos have been shot in Nigerian waterfalls?

And trust me, we have many of those from Obudu Cattle Ranch, Mambilla Plateau, the beautiful city of Jos, the Miliken Hill, Ogbunike Cave, the Oguta Lake and Idanre Hills to mention a few.

Most of what we see are mostly studio-based and the colouring almost the same. I mean, it is sad that South African streets and landmarks are more popular than our own streets and landmarks.

Also, I reason that our culture and fashion are not as showcased as should be in our music videos.
Most Memorable Job As A Filmmaker

I am yet to shoot my most memorable job, be it music video, television commercial or film.

But given the opportunity, I would like to shoot the movie, The Battle of Love, all over again, which won Best English Movie and Overall Best Picture at the then The Movie Award (THEMA).

As the producer, you will think that should be satisfying enough, but the Biafra angle of the story was totally changed by the National Film and Video Censors Board and that left the story highly watered down.

On The Anticipated Kamsi

Kamsi is not about Uzodinma Okpechi and his journey, neither is it about making a statement.

It is about practising what I have always preached- the audacity of belief- that if you do a quality job, irrespective of all the disadvantages facing filmmakers from my clime, which is Nigeria, the world would listen and would come, knowing that some of us actually understand the language of cinema and the secrets of visual story telling. That is the reason why Kamsi was shot.

I believe that my audacity of belief is strong enough to showcase Kamsi to the global audience and not limit it to the Nigeria cinema audience.

Kamsi is a universal story of a widower and his only child, so it is expected to break barriers, home and abroad, and from the feelers I have gotten from the teaser that was released not too long ago, Kamsi is on its way to doing exploits.

Choice Of Jos As Location For Kamsi

It could only be Jos. It was a deliberate choice and yes, Jos more than offered everything I needed to make Kamsi an endearing cinematic experience.

Jos was part of the story and the areas we shot helped the character’s journey and emotions, giving us situations and events, which were memorable and believable.

The weather, the landscape and overall topography of undulating hills give you a cinematic edge.

Again, we went to Jos during the Harmattan season, because I wanted rustiness and that gritty edge to Kamsi. I could not have asked for better canvas to paint.

Funding For The Project And Casting

Funding came through Bank of Industry (BoI) Nollyfund. It was not easy, as it took about 17 months to get the loan, but it came through finally.

Thanks to BoI, we are almost done with post-production work. So, Kamsi is due in the first quarter of next year.

Filmone Distribution is handling the theatrical distribution and it was an awesome experience working with all my cast and crew.

As for why I didn’t load this with known faces, it depends on your definition of known faces. For me, it was first of all about the performances of the actors over their faces.

Kamsi is not a comedy and so I did not need comedians and because I had a story to tell in very limited screen time, there was no need for characters without tangible reasons to appear in the movie.

In addition, I will argue that a combination of Wole Ojo, Sam Dede, Kiki Omeili, Bimbo Ademoye, Timini Egbuson, Ben Lugo and Olakunle Fawole can hold as known faces any day.
Career Ambition

To go global, shoot more movies that will announce the arrival of Nigerian cinema and in the process, make lots of money.

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