Budding film maker, Elizabeth Daniels approaches her artistry with unequaled panache. Her debut movie, Behind the Melody,featuring Ini Edo and Jim Ike is getting appreciable attention from pundits already. She recounts her story
in this interview withLANRE ODUKOYA
You are a product of Emem Isong’s Royal Art Academy. What attracted you to the institution?
I did not want to jump into the industry because I had the resources to produce and I wanted to make movies. I wanted to know the rudiments of the industry, so I called on Desmond Elliot, who is a very good friend of mine and he advised me to learn before I even think of either acting or churning out any movie. After my degree in University of Calabar, Cross River, I went to the school, learnt acting and majored in movie production. Royal Art Academy seems the most ideal place to learn everything about making movies.
In your short time as a producer, how much impact have you made?
It is because we count our achievements by the numbers of movies we have produced that has made a lot of low quality films litter our market today. I count my success based on the good works I have churned out. I need to explain that to you so that you can appreciate me and not think because my name is not on all the jackets of the films you see, then I am not a good producer.
Why didn’t you have a stint in acting before productions like most of your colleagues do?
I have big dreams. My ambitions often scare me. Looking at me, you would ask yourself what knowledge can this petite, size six girl have, but the truth of the matter is that I actually admire what producers do and I think I can bring something to the table. I have the visions of stories I want to interpret and you know what they say about ‘if you want something done good you do it yourself.’ That is what has brought me here.
What’s going to be different about your works?
I have seen several flicks that lack proper messages in them. As a producer, my idea is to pass at least a message in the films I produce. My debut movie titled Behind the Melody reflects the happenings and ills in the society. That is the kind of work I do. I got the inspiration when I went to an orphanage and a little girl told me something. Her statement on that day stimulated me and I thought if I could develop it into a script it would make a lot of sense and perhaps a good film. I sat down with my team and we actually did a good job with it.
What are you working on presently?
I am working on another movie and it features actress Genevieve Nnaji. She is actually somebody I have so much respect for in the industry; she is a wonderful actress and a diva. It is an action movie, but I won’t want to tell you the synopsis so that it would attract marketers when it eventually comes out.
Your movies feature big names like Jim Ike, Ini Edo and Genevieve; how did you get the fee to pay these A-list acts?
Those who know me will tell you I am my own person; I worked for everything I own today. I don’t believe in things just coming to you on a platter of Gold. I am into fashion, I sell clothing, accessories and I am also into property. So, you know where the money is coming from now. All these years of growing from a teenager to a woman has been filled with all these jobs. They have always put food on my table.
How did the fashion and entrepreneurial side of you evolve?
It all started with trying to combine one piece of clothe with another. In those days, a lot of people would see my designs and say Elizabeth all these things would come out well if you put them together as an outfit. And because I am a fashion-conscious person and as the saying goes you are addressed the way you dress I always want to go out looking me and nobody else. At a point in time, people started screaming when they see my clothes. People would scream Elizabeth, where did you get this from and I would tell them I made it myself. That was how my clientele began to rise.
The dress you wore to the premiere of the movie Staying Safe was breathtaking. Was that also your creation?
It was made by my sister Esther Daniels. She owns a fashion house, but it is still small, but she will soon launch it. Presently, she makes clothes based on demands and for her friends. I told her I needed something to wear to that premiere and she said; ‘why not?’
As a female producer, how has your man been able to cope with the controversies in your industry?
When it comes to issues like that, I don’t have problems because I have a man who I respect very much. So, when a rumour like that comes his way, he just laughs it off because he knows who I am and what I am capable of doing. And when men stare at me when I storm events, I just laugh because I know they are just wasting their time. I have been taken already.
What are the challenges of working in a male- dominated industry?
It is not easy, but if you love what you are doing all the challenges and difficulty will only make you enjoy it more. Getting people like Ini Edo, Jim Ike and now Genevieve to work with me is not easy, but the industry has been an interesting one thus far. Working with these people has its challenges, but they are definitely good people to work with.