A Canada-based Nigerian, Orji Obiorah, is making the country proud as he continues to churn out movies of high international standard, which seems the best of times for filmmaking business in Nigeria. The graduate of Film and Media Studies at York University, Toronto, Canada, is the founder of Victoria Street Studios. Orji uses his Nigerian expressionist movies to inspire intellectual debate, as well as expose societal malaise. His latest movie, ‘Mrs. Jones’, attests to this. The Awka-Etiti, Anambra State-born said he developed the art of storytelling as a child in the 70s.
According to him, nightly storytelling in most Igbo homes prepared him as a storyteller through movies. He noted that his storytelling skills were influenced by a British television horror series titled, ‘Hammer House of Horror’ as well as James Hadley Chase thriller novels.
“I became a passionate viewer of the British produced television horror series titled, ‘Hammer House of Horror.’ Also, I was addicted to reading James Hadley Chase thriller novels. Undoubtedly, the gothic storytelling style of the ‘Hammer House of Horror’ series and the fascinating stories of James Hadley Chase novels greatly influenced my storytelling style. But, I firmly believe that filmmaking is a natural gift just like singing. The ability to write and direct stories is natural for me. York University only enabled me to write, and produce intellectual stories,” he said.
Speaking on producing movies that would change the way Nigerians are perceived outside the shores of the country, he said, “I have not done or intend to do any movie that would change the way Nigeria is perceived outside. The vitriolic political, religious, and tribal situation in Nigeria might affect the manner in which the movie is interpreted. I seriously do not want to be the ‘bad guy’, or even the ‘hunted guy.’ However, my movies will continue to highlight adverse global social issues.
“Every situation, landscapes, and music inspire me. Every project is extremely challenging. Apart from ‘Mrs. Jones’, all my short films and art videos were produced while I was at York University. At York University, I was mostly taking 30 credits per semester: writing, directing, doing cinematography, and editing those films while taking 30 credits was a lot of work.
‘Mrs. Jones’ took me seven years to complete. I started principal photography for the movie in January 2011 while I was still at film school. After graduation, I relocated to Fort McMurray, Alberta, where I worked in an oil and gas firm in order to raise funds to complete the production of the movie,” he noted.
He has produced couple of movies from ‘Gone Too Soon’ to ‘Hotel Saint Lucia’, ‘The Black Flaneur’, and ‘Mrs. Jones’ among others. The messages he passed in his movies are simple – Work hard, work harder, continue working hard, until you no longer need to introduce yourself to anyone.