So before we start the interview which took place at Flipsyde Studios in Ikeja, let us just share the story of the three musketeers who set out to meet Mr Dimeji.
We were three because Zubby is in Abuja, and TBH was auditioning for a Nollywood movie…probably Igbo.
Terdoh, , Kiki, and M.Y. finally got the address and stood at the gate and knocked for a while [In our defense the office looked like an apartment from outside]. After like 15 minutes of waiting in the hot sun, we looked at one another like “Why haven’t we called him? I mean, we have his number right?”
So we called…number didn’t go through. Thank the MTN gods…
We stood outside for like five more minutes when two guys just walked past [one gave us this look like “what is wrong with these ones?”] and they did something that seemed like magic to us and went into the compound, but actually all they did was push the gate a lil bit and they were in.
Terdoh, , Kiki and M.Y. just stood there looking like the real 3 idiots…
The other details like whether or not Terdoh’s name was to be included in the post (as he cannot be associated with such open displays of ignorance) are not important. What’s important is that we had the interview with Kiki as our spokesperson.
This is how it went:
KIKI: What inspired you to take the risk of making a musical as your first movie instead of the traditional drama genre which Nigerian film makers are naturally drawn to?
Dimeji: I saw no risk initially, I just saw the beauty. Naturally I’m drawn to action thrillers. But what people don’t know is that I also have a musical background. Back when I was younger I used to belong to a musical group and I used to rap. I watched “Grease” back in the 80s and since then I fell in love with musicals. I even did a short musical in film school and so I decided to make a musical in my first movie. So my inspiration was my passion for music. The only challenge I had to face was finding actors and actresses who could sing and pull this off.
KIKI: Considering the fact that Hoodrush is your first movie, what was the major challenge you faced?
Dimeji: The initial challenge I faced was writing the script to my taste, then we faced challenges with finances. I financed the entire movie with my personal funds and put together the crew. When I am passionate about something, I start working on developing it immediately before the passion dies in me. Another challenge we faced was securing locations. We also fell into the hands of dishonest people. There was a particular guy who we committed the locations money to and he ended up running away with the money.
KIKI: I read from a website that the movie was shot entirely on personal funds and you spent about a month and a half on set?
Dimeji: Yes it is true…*smiles*
M.Y. and Terdoh: Wow!
KIKI: Like seriously, how did you brace yourself knowing you were using personal funds?
Dimeji: I didn’t really have to brace myself because it was my way of showing my passion to the public, doing what I loved; seeing people appreciate and enjoy it, and being commended for it. So there was no going back for me, I just went all in with no backup plan. *laughs*
KIKI: How did you blend in your knowledge in animation with directing?
Dimeji: My motivation for learning animation and film making was basically to tell my story. There is a similarity between live filming and animation, the medium is the only difference. But because of the background in film making, the animation has become better. So because of the knowledge in one, my skills in the other gets better.
KIKI: There were some virtual stages in the movie during the audition scenes and the last scene. Why did you decide to do that instead of using the typical method of renting a space and having posters all over the place?
Dimeji: Like I said before, this project was financed by me, so funds were limited. We had to rent a green screen here in Lagos and use it to create what you saw. We also tried our best to make it look as good as possible.
Terdoh: I didn’t even know there were green screens in Lagos.
M.Y.: Me neither. That’s really cool.
KIKI: Did the movie surpass your expectations or did it fall below expectations?
Dimeji: Firstly, I will say the movie was a success for me. Although we were able to achieve just 60% of what we intended to achieve, but on the premiere day, when the movie was done and we stepped outside the theater, people raised me up and were throwing me to the roof and calling me my nick names and all sorts…*laughs*
KIKI: The cast which was excellent to me, was filled with relatively new faces. Why didn’t you use the familiar faces instead?
Dimeji: If you watched closely, you will notice the movie had a youth based story which naturally drew me to young actors and actresses. I met O.C Ukeje in U.S in the film academy and I knew he was a brilliant actor. He came for the casting and did a monologue which was brilliant. Ijeoma Agu was another artist who did a very good monologue and they were both picked immediately. Gabriel came as a recommendation for his resemblance with O.C and I had seen a few of his works so I knew with a little push he could do a great job.
KIKI: How did you manage to get Bimbo Akintola back in a big project? Because I haven’t really seen her in movies of late…
Dimeji: Initially, Omotola was considered for the role, but when she informed us she wasn’t going to be available, we kept scouting. I worked with a team and someone raised the suggestion of Bimbo and I said Bimbo was too young, because the last time I saw her, she was really young (laughs). But then someone told me that ‘The Bimbo you know is no longer young oh!’ *laughs* So we called her and I was really glad we picked her, because the Alhaja’s role was really important to me so we needed someone crazy, someone who could sing, someone who was ‘old’ but loved to be seen as a young lady…so Bimbo really nailed the role for me because I don’t think anyone else could have acted that role that well.
KIKI: Is there any project we should be looking out for in the nearest future?
Dimeji: Yes yes yes! The next project is going to be an action thriller.
M.Y. and Terdoh: *hi five each other*
Kiki: *signaling with her eyes for them to calm down*
Dimeji: Like I said earlier, I have love for visual effects and animations so I am going to be raising the bar again with this one. There will be lots of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery), explosions and action sequencing. You can testify from the little you saw in Hoodrush that we can pull this off. It is going to be an engaging story about patriotism. So this is an appeal to any promoter or investor out there, they definitely can put their resources into this and expect a great job to be delivered.
M.Y.: We need investors oh! Are you guys reading?
KIKI: But seriously people, investing in a work of Mr Ajibola would bring returns that would blow your mind! *wink*
Terdoh: *nods* I totally agree with that.
KIKI: So lastly Sir, what advice do you have for upcoming movie directors?
Dimeji: Remember when some class of music video directors started shooting videos, the game changed and it was stepped up. That is what I am trying to do here also. I am trying to set the pace for film makers to follow. You do not need a million dollars to have a good story. Even Hollywood low budgets win Oscars. Faith has been lost in the Nigerian movie industry and we need to restore that. Just make sure you have a good story, make sure you know the art and put them together and make a good movie.
The End…of the interview
And that…was the really awesome interview we had with the amazing Dimeji Ajibola. The dude is surprisingly down to earth. Any lower and he’ll be a midget. Amazing…
Oh yeah, have you guys heard of the Afrinolly Short film competition? You haven’t? Of course you haven’t! Living under a rock does that to you. We would have asked you to go to Google and be enlightened, but we’re nice guys. So we’ll tell you about it.
The Afrinolly Short Movie Competition is a video-based competition targeted at developing film-makers and documentary/animation content creators.
Candidates are expected to submit a sub-15minutes film that can be easily assessed on mobile devices. The competition will run for three months and submissions will be made online, through the website: www.afrinollyshortfilmcompetition.com Winners will be rewarded with prizes worth $25,000 in cash and kind; while top participants will be offered the opportunity to sign online distribution and content deals with Afrinolly. The submission period ends on January 31, 2013
Also, you have to be above 18. And have a Google+ account.
[How many people have Google+ accounts? All thanks to Nigerian struggle internet]
Twenty five thousand dollars for each category is not mixed beans guys…
Our very own Dimeji Ajibola was the shining example for film-makers to emulate. And just to let you know that they’re not playing here, they put him in the competition. Yes, we mean serious business.
So yeah, tell a friend to tell a friend till it comes back to you…and remember the site. www.afrinollyshortfilmcompetition.com
See you guys on Sunday.