Nollywood is waxing stronger everyday with an increasing global recognition. The industry is fast shifting from being a craft to attaining professionalism. Practitioners are taking steps further by attending film making courses in best movie academies across the globe. One of such is Endy Ojo-Abas, a producer and alumnus of New York Film Academy who is poised to improve standards in the Niger-Delta segment of the industry as well as employ Nollywood as a tool to curb youth restiveness in the region. Endy shares her passions with Chinedu Ibeabuchi
You recently travelled for a course in filmmaking? What’s the experience like?
I went to the New York film Academy for an eight-week film making course. It was a wonderful experience. Film making is something very serious in Hollywood. You just have to do the right thing, no short cuts. I find out they pay so much attention to even little details and I was impressed, I wished I had enrolled sooner.
Why did you choose to invest in Nollywood among several other business opportunities?
I started writing, acting and directing when I was a kid, and I dance very well too. I have strong passion for entertainment and I feel the film industry is where I belong.
You recently opened an academy in Port Harcourt to groom budding talents in film making. What motivated this?
I realised that there are a lot of quacks in the industry. People we call ,’cut and join’ film makers, and it’s not telling well on the industry, especially in Port Harcourt where I operate from. Having acquired more knowledge from the New York Film Academy, I decided to impart same knowledge to the youths as a way of giving back to the society with a little token.
I know for sure they stand too much to gain, it will serve as a distraction and also an empowerment.
They will learn acting, screenwriting, directing, cinematography, photography and film editing for now. As time goes on, we will have special effect and make up.
Many producers lament that cinemas rip them of their efforts by taking the larger share. What’s your view about this?
It’s true. I have had experience myself on my first movie, The Green-Eyed. There were hidden charges that I wasn’t aware of but being a novice producer, I just wanted my movie to be out there. After showing the movie in their cinemas, while I was waiting to get my money, I was given so many documents to sign, that was when I discovered what had happened to me. I took it in good faith though.
As a producer, what movies have you produced?
I have produced and featured in few films like The Green-Eyed, Mama Osaro Goes Kinky, Godly Mothers and The Aggregator.
How do you juggle home and filmmaking together?
Home comes first. I always try to sort out my home before going out to face the hustle.
Would you say it’s lucrative producing a movie? Share your experience?
Presently, I would say it is not lucrative, but I know with time it will pay off. From experience, after making a movie, to get distributors is a big challenge, it is as if one has to be in a particular cartel or clique.
What lessons have you learnt in the industry that shape how you carry out your business activities?
I have learnt you don’t mix business with pleasure. I have known now that one has to be firm in taking some decisions, if not you will regret.
I am too emotional and sentimental in my dealings with people, I am still trying to balance that though, especially when it comes to my business and dealings with people, so that I don’t get frustrated.
You also double as an actor. What kind of character would you like to be known for?
Hmmm… Never really given it a thought though, but I think I just love to be an all-round character, so any role goes.
Producers, at several times, have complained of unruly behaviour of actors on set. How do you manage this? Can you share an experience where these nearly ruin your production?
Never really had such. I have been working with professional actors.
What ways do you think government can assist the creative industry?
I think there should be accessible grants because money is one major problem. If government can sponsor projects especially the ones that sends or pass good message across, I think filmmakers will be encouraged.
Have you ever been a victim of piracy? Do you think enough is being done to tackle piracy?
No. In Nigeria, it may be difficult to fully tackle piracy. For instance, there are several streaming platforms where one can download content for free. Also, streets are crammed with pirated CDs cheaper than original copies. Either relevant anti-piracy agencies don’t have enough manpower or are lackadaisical about it. However, the advent of pay-TV and video on demand platforms has helped producers a lot in not only making gains from their creative rights but also to protect their works.
Tell us about your latest work?
I did a short film titled Implicit though it’s still in post. It talks about the girl child.
What will the Poise Fendy Production be known for in the next five years?
Nollywood audience is hungrier for something more interesting and at par with Hollywood. Though Nollywood has come a long way but there are still many stones unturned. Poise Fendy isn’t going to be just there, but will offer something different and more appealing to a global audience. We want to be known for award-winning movies that educate and inform.
As a female producer, have you ever been a victim of sexual molestation?
No. It’s funny. I’m my own boss. Lol.
Netflix interest in Nollywood is growing bigger with the acquisition of a Nigerian original movie. What does this portend for Nollywood?
It’s a good one. It shows Nollywood is gaining more global recognition. Also, it challenges other players in the industry to raise the bar.
How did you meet your husband?
I met my hubby, Sir Festus Abanonkhua 2002 in Choba Uniport, Rivers State. I just graduated and went to see a friend when he walked in with another of my friend. He saw me and said ‘This is my wife’ and one thing led to another, we started dating and in less than six months, we were married.
While dating, he promised to support my chosen career whenever I’m ready, and he kept to his promise financially, morally, psychologically etc.
Any moment of choosing between family and career? How did you manage this?
Hmmm… That sounds difficult, but family comes first. I pray never to be in such a dicey situation. I love my family and I love what I do, and I thank God, my hubby appreciates what I do.
How does he react when you kiss on set?
I have never really kissed on set, but I’m sure my hubby won’t be comfortable with it.