‘The Drive to Make Better Film Content Keeps Me Going’

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Delmwa Deshi-Kura, is a Nigerian TV/film writer, producer and director. She is the Creative Director for Discovery Communications in Nigeria, and Chief Executive Officer of DelMedia Productions, a Lagos-based TV and film production house, established in 2007. She recently released a television series, ‘Duplicity’, created and produced by her. She spoke with Mary Ekah about her new film and the inspiration behind it

What inspired your recently released TV series, Duplicity?
Duplicity revolves around an enthralling tale of love and sibling rivalry gone wrong. The clearest theme in Duplicity is one of unity. This is clearly represented in the way most of the characters are related by blood but have a mix of cultures in the same family. Other prevalent themes within the series are power, lust, betrayal and the ever-present theme of love. Duplicity is a political drama that explores Nigeria’s diversity in a way that no other drama series has done since the golden age of drama in the 1980s.

The central point of the story revolves around a set of twin girls (Ufuoma McDermott) who are raised in a very loving close-knit family, but then drift into polar opposite characters years later as they mature into their late teens and twenties. They were raised by a politically driven and powerful father (Sadiq Daba) and an entitled overindulged rich wife (Ireti Doyle). The table’s turn for the twins when tragedy hits and their loyalty to their parents, and ultimately to one another, is tested.

What are the factors you consider before picking and producing any project?
What moves me to want to produce is a strong story. Once I think of a story first thing I do is put it down in black and white. Once I have a script, then I go to work on the production design and casting. So ultimately, what defines and moves me to production is the strength of a story and the drive to do better, to make better television and film content keeps me going.

Nigeria has witnessed big budget productions especially in the Nollywood products for the Cinemas. Is this another one?
Quality doesn’t come cheap, and to achieve our intentions for Duplicity we had to step outside our comfort zone and work to put together budgets that are above the usual. The quality of our cast, content and our production design is a testament to our high budget. The brilliantly well rounded television series that was shot in Lagos State, Nigeria offers a powerful, solidly crafted message that’s as rich and timely as its exquisite state-of –the-art locations, all while remaining suspense filled and funny enough to keep younger viewers entertained.

The costumes, designed by AMVCA and AMAA winner, Byge Oru, are dazzling and eye-catching. It stars amongst others, Uti Nwachukwu, Bucci Franklin, Uru Eke, Tony Monjaro, Aisha Shaba, Jide Kosoko, Femi Branch and Stanly Chibunna (Funny Bone) amongst others, with guest appearances from veteran standup comedian AliBaba, Nike Davies-Okundaye of Nike Arts gallery, Cool FM’s OAP, Manny Essien and Chef Eros of Cookie Jar.

Your cast is a blend of the veterans and today’s faces. How deliberate is this?
We are currently experiencing a pivotal time in the history of film and TV in Nigeria. I believe that when posterity looks back on this period in our history, it will most probably be termed a renaissance in the art of film making for Nigeria. It is my goal to see that this period is not celebrated without recognising the immense contributions of these veterans. To this end, I make a conscious effort to involve some of the best acts that I enjoyed growing up in my work and I consider it a privilege to be able to do so.

We are experiencing more and more sophisticated TV series as against Village Headmaster, Fuji House of Commotion and other old classics, which were truly crude and grassroots reaching. Where does Duplicity fall?
Duplicity as a series stands to entertain everyone not a certain class of society. So you will find that our plot lines cuts across all social strata thus entertaining both the elite and the ‘grassroots’ as you’ve put it. The technology that drives film and television making has evolved since the days of Village Headmaster and the likes, and that automatically means a change in the processes and time frames required to make a film or TV content, but the village headmaster like every other form of art is better appreciated with time. And so will always be our classics.

How was the making of the project?
Every endeavour came with its own challenges but we had a solid team as well as supportive and understanding cast and that combination made the process bearable.

Why should the people make Duplicity a must watch?
From the content to the elevated art and delivery of the cast to the quality of the aesthetics and picture, Duplicity is a must watch. Duplicity is set to take the African television audience through a maze of power play, lust, betrayal, and dark secrets going back many generations. The story see’s some of Nigeria’s most talented actors deliver an elevated version of their craft through the apt delivery of their individual characters.

The brilliantly well rounded television series that was shot in Lagos State, Nigeria offers a powerful, solidly crafted message that’s as rich and timely as its exquisite state-of –the-art locations, all while remaining suspense filled and funny enough to keep younger viewers entertained. The costumes, designed by AMVCA and AMAA winner, Byge Oru, are dazzling and eye-catching. The story crosses multiple generations and is laced with intrigue and power play. Duplicity was premiered last weekend on Africa Magic Showcase Channel 151, on DST, is set to air every Saturday by 8pm on this channel.

Duplicity seems to have a lot of humour in it. Would you say the typical Nigerian audience prefers to laugh to be frightened by horror films?
Real life in itself is way too real, and the reason why people watch TV is to escape their reality. When they settle to watch TV, we should be able to bring them the funny, the dramatic as well as all the elements of entertainment, to help them escape.

It will show on DSTV, but any plan to take the project to a terrestrial TV station?
Yes. The intention is to ensure that Nigerians get to enjoy the amazing work we have put into Duplicity regardless of the TV platforms they find accessible. To this end, Duplicity will run on a number of terrestrial platforms soon after its run on the current broadcast platform.

What inspired you to drive a career in TV?
Growing up in Jos, it’s almost impossible not to be influenced creatively with all the talent around you. My Dad working with the Plateau Radio and Television corporation helped fan the embers of my curiosity to better explore TV and Film. So from my early age I read and researched a lot as well as participated in TV shows.

If you weren’t doing TV, what else would you have done well?
Real estate development is a business that I’m quite familiar with having been raised in a family of real estate developers. Should I not work in TV and film, you will definitely find me closing property deals across the country.

Being mostly a-behind-the-scene person, are you a fashion driven person?
Absolutely not, I’m probably the least fashion conscious person you will ever meet. I make the effort to dress up when necessary, but in my opinion, sweat pants and a tank top are God’s gift to humanity.

How would you define your style in terms of fashion?
I will say it is easy and super comfortable.

How do you relax?
I like to read a lot, so a good book and a hot cup of latte are always at the top of my mind at the end of a long day. I also like to swim and run.