With her yet to be released movie, The Bling Lagos, Bolanle Austen-Peters mirrors Lagos society life style, writes Ferdinand Ekechukwu
“It’s a wrap! 23 days, 18 locations, 60 cast and what a crew! Blinglagosians see you next year. Directed by Bolanle Austen-Peters. Follow @ the BlingLagosians,” Bolanle Austin-Peters wrote. That caption to a picture of herself with some of the main cast posted online, signified the end shoot of her new movie ‘The Bling Lagos’.
With an air of excitement around her Instagram post, it is edifying to the director’s announcement, having successfully showcased critically acclaimed stage plays such as Saro the Musical, Wakaa the Musical, Fela and most recently, the Kalakuta Queens.
Her directorial debut, “The Bling Lagosians”, tells the story of a powerful Lagos socialite who prepares for her flamboyant birthday party while her husband fights to prevent foreclosure of their family company for billions of unpaid loans. This is a story about the fake lifestyles of many Lagosians. Intrigues upon intrigue are weaved as the plots unfold. But the famed crossover theatre practitioner owes it yet to tell movie buffs if the plot is in any way reflective of her lifestyle or not, being an upper class resident of Lagos.
Now in its post-production stage, as reported, fans who had witnessed the rush as clips and images, flooded social media, asking for the release date. But they will have to wait till sometime in 2019 to fully see the movie. Though from the Instagram page dedicated to behind the scene shots of the movie, one can deduce that, true to its name, “Bling Lagosians” is based on the lives of Lagos’ ostentatious social strata.
From the Instagram page, it was gleaned that the movie looks vibrant, exciting and absolutely glamorous, featuring dancers and an opulent wardrobe. The nearly all lead cast female movie hoists big names from the old and the new actors such as Sharon Ooja, Monalisa Chinda Coker, Jimmy Odukoya, Bisola Aiyola, Bamike Olawunmi (Bambam, BBN 3), Denola Grey, crazy Broda Shaggi, Gbenga Titiloye, Jide Kosoko, Helen Paul, Toyin Abraham, Osas Ighodaro Ajibade, Tana Adelana, Elvina Ibru, Alex Ekuboh and a host of other known names.
With the upcoming movie, which is also from the stable of her eponymous film productions company Bolanle Austen-Peters Production (BAP) joins a growing list of powerful women behind movie projects, calling the shots from behind the camera. Austen-Peters had earlier before BAP Productions in 2003 set up the popular Terra Kulture, an art and culture centre.
Much like Terra Kulture, BAP Productions was predicated on the need to fill a void in the Nigerian theatre industry.
Seven years down the line, she found her love for direction, to which she took a course in directing. As she sits in the director’s chair for the first time for the company’s second movie, the Bling Lagosians, her vision for this movie is to create something reflective of her Lagos experience and relatable to others. “It is a movie about life in Lagos, the drama that comes with living in Lagos, especially society life.”
Austen-Peters had earned accolades when she produced her first movie “93 Days.”
Her productions outfit has only existed for some few years, but on the account of its successes, Austen-Peters says she feels like it has been existing for decades. Part of the successes she ascribes to the abundance of talents in the country.
The 2015’s 93 Days feature movie on the deadly Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, which starred America’s Danny Glover amongst a sterling cast of Nollywood top names, was premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Chicago Film Festival, the Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival, the Johannesburg Film Festival, the Cologne/Germany African Film Festival, and nominated for a Rapid Lion Award.
It also received the highest nominations in the 2017 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards – AMVCAs, a total of thirteen nominations, receiving an award for best lighting desiger. 93 Days was also nominated in seven categories for the 2017 Africa Movie Academy Awards – AMAA, which was the highest nominated film in that year’s awards. From the records, it is almost impossible to talk about Nigeria’s vibrant art and entertainment scene today without mention of Bolanle Austen-Peters.
The 49-year-old changed paths from law to an arts entrepreneur whose contribution to the Nigerian theatre industry is immense. She says, “Increasingly you realise that the wealth of Nigeria is in the creative mind and not in the oil that we have.” Being more than just a woman invested in the passion of the creative industry, she has been able to turn it into businesses. Definitely, she’s one who knows her lane, owns her space and comfortable in it.
Despite all her achievements, when asked if she considers herself to be successful, she was quoted to have asked, “Myself?” almost unbelievably. She goes on to say, “I’m on a journey. I’ve been able to add value to a lot of lives; I’ve been able to create fun for myself in the course of this. And I’m grateful to God and I believe that we’ve got a long way to go.”