Chuko (2nd right) with guest at the screening of Big Man
By Mary Ekah
Big Man, a short film tells a story of what it is like to be in a Nigerian household, was recently screened in Lagos. Big Man is a nostalgic childhood drama set in Lagos about two brother who earn the consequences of their actions when one of their games is pushed too far.
Produced by Harry Esiri and his twin brother, Chuko, Big Man is a short film founded by a programme called African Fest, which is run by Focus Features where five African filmmakers are given a funding of ten thousand dollars each, every year to make a movie.
Speaking during the Lagos screening, Harry co-producer of the movies, said Julius Onah who won the grant last year decided to make a movie with a setting in Nigeria where he is originally from and so they chose to make “Big Man”, which, is produced by the African Film Company in association with Resources Entertainment and Focus Features.
“He met my twin brother, Chuko Esiri in New York where he was working for a film agency and they got in touch with each other and Chuko decided on producing a short movie here in Nigeria and I jumped on board and helped my brother to do that as well. So we made Big Man, which is a focus feature film, run under the African Fest programme,” he said.
Harry said the movie was being showcase to the Nigerian audience to let them “know what we have done and what we hope to do in the future”, noting that, “and it is just a little taste of what we have in stock for the Nigeria audience in our career in making movies in Nigeria.”
What the two brother are trying to do with “Big Man”, Harry said is to portray the fact that “There are a lot of people who are interested in film and cinema that are not based in Nigeria but are trying to come back to do something that is polished and sophisticated using very professional movies making methods to tell the Nigeria stories.”
He was quick to note that they do not intend to teach any moral lesson with Big Man but were merely out to get the audience to feel what it is like to be in a Nigerian household and to get that sense of nostalgic - what it like growing up in Nigeria.
That notwithstanding, Big Man is a nostalgic childhood drama about two young kids that are growing up, playing rough and they come to know the consequences of their actions and learned a lesson from their misbehaviour.
The brothers hope to do something bigger, probably a full feature film soon to show to the Nigerian audience as well as the international audience at large and by so doing export Nigeria in the best way they can.
The twin brother and co-producer of the short film, Chuko Esiri said what led to production of the movie was the fact that the he and brother had always been interested in making films and when the opportunity came with the help of the American company called Focus Features to produce a short film in Nigeria, they jumped at it.
“I had met Julius Onah, a producer of films a year before; so when he asked me to produce a movie for him, I felt it was a great opportunity for me to do what I have always wanted to do,” Chuko noted. Although a Nigerian, Onah had moved out of the country at the age of about four and so needed someone who had a better knowledge of Nigeria to produce a movie on Nigeria for him.
“The two of us had no experience but we decided to dive into the river and learn how to swim. It was an opportunity of once in a lifetime and I deiced to seize It.” recalled Chuko.
Even though Chuko intends to embark on making another film sometime in the future, he said that might not take effect so soon. “Ideally you can make movies from year to year, but to do it right it takes a long time, you need to make sure that you are comfortable and happy with the story you are trying to tell, you need to put the right team together and that takes time as well. So it takes a lot to put a film together. So we really want to work as much as possible not just trying to make films in Nigeria but to make goods works – films that people in every part of the world will enjoy. This is the first step, though a small step but we have taken it.” He said putting Big Man together happened quicker than expected as it took less than a year to make the film.
Written and directed by Julius Onah and created as part of Focus Features 2010 Short Film Programme for African Filmmakers, Big Man dwells on two young boys growing up on Victoria Island in Lagos, Nigeria.
Owoga is a mischievous, energetic kid always eager to play and Owoko is his sweet little brother who is just trying to keep up. It is summer vacation and all they want to do is adventure, just like their hero — Indiana Jones. But when one of Owoga’s games goes too far, both brothers must confront the fact that childhood is not always fun and games.