Nollywood Berths First Science Fiction Movie

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Upcoming movie Ratnik, by Dimeji Ajibola, is set to be first sci-fi adventure movie out of Nollywood. Ferdinand Ekechukwu reports

In recent years, there has been a shift in the genres Nollywood considers worth exploring, as the industry has begun churning out more than just star-studded romantic comedies. A few months ago, a teaser for an exciting action film, Ratnik, surfaced after which an official trailer followed. The recently released trailer reveals enough to show that the film will be tense, action-packed — possibly revolving around superheroes and mutants. Quite obvious is the impressive VFX and effects which is not something regular in Nollywood films.

The upcoming movie written and directed by relatively known Dimeji Ajibola, stars Adunni Ade, Osas Ighodaro, Bolanle Ninalowo, Karibi Fubara, Zikky Alloy, Meg Otanwa, Tope Tedela, Paul Utomi and others. The movie which was set for screening November 2019, due to its sponsors has been rescheduled for next year. Ratnik is arriving at a time where the film landscape is flooded with comedies, and movie variety is getting depleted ever since filmmakers discovered the comedy genre as the industry’s next cash cow.

Award winning Dimeji Ajibola, the director behind the 2012 Nollywood music movie “Hoodrush“, returns to bring what will possibly be Nollywood’s first dystopian action thriller in Ratnik. Ratnik is set to be first action/sci-fi movie out of Nollywood with Osas Ighodaro-Ajibade who is one of the movie’s lead stars.

Osas, who played the lead role  had remarked in a chat that: “A lot of people were very skeptical and doubting if it could be achieved in Nigeria, like are we ready for this?”

The movie shot in 2016 has taken four years to get to its present stage with a large part of this taken for its post-production. Set in a remote Africa town during the early days of World War III: A special trooper Sarah Bello ( Osas Ighodaro) returns home from the war-front to find her only sister at the verge of becoming the undead due to the abuse of a certain chemical substance. The race to save her life begins a new kind of war where the most advanced war machine known to man is unveiled.

According to the movie director, “Ratnik, a sci-fi adventure feature film, is the story of a World War III soldier returning home after a quarterly phase rotation programme, only to find out that her home front has now descended into some kind of chaos. We finished the filming in several locations in Lagos and Oyo states as far back as 2016, but the movie has been in the works since then, and I must say it has been quite a journey. Bringing Ratnik to the Nigerian and international audience has come to be the most incredible challenge that I have to overcome.

“But it has also been the most fulfilling creative endeavor I have ever experienced. Being a sci-fi movie set in an apocalyptic era, the film comes with several unique art directions that are totally different from the norms in Nollywood. As a matter of fact, some actors and crew members doubted the feasibility of actualising such a movie requiring so much technical prowess in visual effects considering the level of skill set available at the time. Some actors that were invited at the early stages turned down the script fearing a flop and calling the move “too ambitious”.

“That wasn’t unexpected though, we had conditioned our minds to only warm up to actors who understand and share our passion only. Shooting Ratnik was very challenging because I had to communicate my vision to a lot of the crew members especially those in the art department who, for most of the parts, had zero experience in this type of filmmaking. I also had to reassure some of the actors in areas where they had to perform with imaginary actors and objects. However, the hardest part came during the post-production process where all disciplines of visual effects were to be diligently observed.

“What is exciting is that we also captured a stunts man performance and tracked them to a photo-real fully digital Ratnik character.

A typical visual effect shot involving Ratnik will start with capture being done on set. We then take this data and make that translate into a character that one can relate to. And for the Ratnik box, the actors had to relate with a life reference box object with track markers.

This enabled us to perform a 3D object tracking together with a match move to comp and replace a digital Ratnik box into the scenes. I think for the first time, from this part of the world, we’ve been able to create a seamless blend of life action and digital action in a Nollywood movie.”