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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Yes, I'm bringing out all the sex scandal in Nollywood soon -Top Nollywood Director, Chico Ejiro

Chico Ejiro with wife Joy 
Fifty two year old Chico Ejiro popularly known in Nollywood as Mr prolific says, "I deserve every good thing that I have made in Nollywood." Chico who is commonly said to have made the most movies in Nollywood, lives in highbrow part of Lekki reserved only for the super rich.

Meanwhile he studied Agriculture in school. And the only thing he has done to remind himself of what he studied in school, is the plantain shrubs he planted at the back of his office in Surulere, under which he relaxes on free, sunny afternoons.

Chico Ejiro opened up on his love life and knotty issues such as sex in Nollywood in this interview with Paul Ukpabio.

You studied Agriculture in school, but you rose to become a top director in Nollywood, and you have even gone along to shoot the most movies in Nollywood. How did that happen?

Yes, I actually read agriculture in school, but I followed some special people around in the 80s, one of such people was my elder brother, Zeb Ejiro, Andy Amenechi, Tunji Bamishigbin, Fred Amata and Charles Owoyemi. In the process, I became a cameraman, a director, an editor, a location designer and stuff like that by experience in production. I learnt and I decided quickly on what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do. I worked with Tade Ogidan, Mahmoud Balogun, Mathias Obayagbon and others at NTA also. But at my office at Surulere, I have a spot where I have cultivated plantain, just to remind myself of the agriculture that I studied at the university. 

Can you compare the quality of production right now in Nollywood as against what it was in time past?                                                                                                       
A lot of practitioners are of the school of thought that Nollywood has shot its best movies, but in terms of technicalities, it is believed that the quality of movies are better now than before because of the use of upgrade in equipment.  Now we use high digital cameras to shoot. But like I said, another school of thought believe that the best movies were long ago shot in Nollywood.
Personally however, I believe that we are not there yet. We still need to work harder. With time I know we will get there.

But even you, accept that the earlier movies in Nollywood were really good even in terms of quality, so how were you able to get good productions then?                     

Yes, but that was that time.  Twenty years ago, we didn’t have the kind of equipment that we have now, so it cannot but be better now than before. Things improve everyday. So what we did back then, was to manage with what we had.

At what stage will you say Nollywood is right now?
Right now, Nollywood has been a jungle, everybody for himself though we work very hard. But the different guilds like the producers guild, the actors guild, the directors guild, are working hard to make sure that we have quality films, working hard to make sure that we have control and also to put structures in place so that somebody from nowhere does not come and scatter the industry. I must confess to you that we are working hard to ensure this. We know and have equally accepted that there must be guidelines guiding the entry into the industry just like we have the Nigerian Bar Association that guides lawyers into the profession.

Is it easy for anyone to become a star these days in Nollywood?

It is very easy and at the same time, it is very difficult. You just have to work hard to emerge a star.

Has Nollywood produced new stars in recent times?

(Shakes his head negatively) No new star has emerged in Nollywood in recent times. That is because it is difficult now to emerge as a star. Though in the last few years, they have be a few that have struggled for such cherished position. For instance, there has been Joseph Benjamin, Ik Ogbonaya, Alex Okunbor and for the female acts, we have had Blossom Nwachukwu, we have had those who have been aspiring but except for the stars like Mercy Johnson and Tonto Dike that last emerged, Nollywood has not produced new stars in the last few years.

Now why has that been so?

Well maybe it is because of the social media, or maybe because of the outlets or the business itself. I can say for sure that no star has emerged in the last five years.

Do you foresee a sudden change in that sad record soon?

Of course, I foresee hope. Once there is life there is hope. Stars will emerge soon.

What are the conditions that you think that will enable stars emerge soonest?

That will be ability to act well, ability to appear in hit movies that will be lauded and celebrated. To emerge as a star is to have the quality that can sell products, the conviction to say that your appearance alone can make a movie make heavy impact at the box office. It means your name and face can sell brands.

Are you not bothered that there are no longer stars in Nollywood?

I am. That is why I am bothered right now. I am about to commence shooting of some movies, but right now, I do not have an idea of the girl I need to use. I have not seen the person. And at the end of the day, if i don't see her, I will have to fall back on the old faces and stars. Lets look at it critically, if we decide to ask now, who is the current up-coming young female star in Nollywood, we will end up not finding a name. But I am sure that before the end of the year, we should be able to have one or even a couple of stars in Nollywood. 

Over the years, actors have frequently grown more to become big celebrities than the directors and the producers. Are directors and producers making as much money as the actors in the industry?

No they are not making as much money as the actors. That is because the directors and producers are not well recognised, they are not in the forefront, it’s the actors that are there. Also, when it is time for endorsements, it is the actors that they look for. So, what my brother Zeb Ejiro, Emem Isong, Obi Osotule, Fidelis Duker, some others and I are working on, is to come out with quality work that will make recognition come to us.

How do you handle the case of use and dump by actors?

Its like that in the industry, the actors use and dump the directors andproducers and they do not appreciate the directors and producers.

How do you combine your work with marital life? 

If you are married, you must be committed. In this industry, I meet different kind of women but I always reassure myself that my wife is the best. In this industry, a man and a woman has to be careful, if you allow infidelity or super-stardom to enter your head, then it will lead to a downfall. People ask me what is the continuous cause of marital breakdown among Nollywood practitioners, and I cannot but say that it is because the actors male and female, live the life they act. If you are a big girl in movies and you want to live the life of a big girl in your marital home, your marital home is likely to collapse. And if you are a rich man in movies, and then you want to live the life of a rich man at home to your wife, it will not work.

How have you been able to keep your marital home going?

It has been about commitment and love. I love my wife very much, I show it, I communicate it. Marriage is a school on its own. It is about being patient, it is education and you have to educate your wife about every step that you take. For instance in my job sometimes I meet about fifty or hundred girls in a day. Women in their profession also meet average number of men every now and then. But it is important that one considers carefully whether you want to jeopardise your future over five minutes or ten minutes of sexual passion.

Your wife used to work with you. Does she still work with you now?

Yes, she still does when I have big projects or production. She is a producer but she also has a big boutique that she runs.

When both of you set out in the morning and return late in the evening, do you have time to talk?

Yes, we have time to talk, I am a die hard football fan. I also have a team I follow religiously in the European Premier League. When my team loses I don't eat food that day. They know me in the house and my wife and I support the same club so we understand each other.

For a successful movie director like you, what is your style like?

I love wearing jeans, I love attending events and shows, I love looking clean. You know being in entertainment means living a life of glamour. However, inside me is a quiet, conventional personality. I am a quiet man and God fearing.

How about your wife, what kind of person is she?

She is a quiet person too, my wife Joy, is very God fearing, but then, every marriage has its stress, its the couple that will use their love and individual knowledge and skill to handle it with God's assistance.

What attracted you to your wife?

I like people who have vision, commitment and have creativity. In real life, attraction is not all about love, love and love. I like it when I am with someone and the person is talking intelligently. I don't like pepper soup talk. I love talk that leads to creativity and intelligence and that is what I saw in my wife.

How did you meet your wife?

We met in University of Lagos. I was directing a show for Opa Williams there and she was a student there. I am glad I married my friend. If you marry your friend, it is likely the love will last because you will not get easily tired of each other. You may get tired of sex, but you will never get tired of being in each other's company when you are friends. Real friends have a way between them of communicating and handling issues. You must have a way of listening to each other than listening to people outside your home. If someone comes to you from outside and say your wife is a prostitute and you carry it in your head! It will lead to damages. So you listen more to yourselves than to people outside the home. A woman should be patient with a man because there are times that men may be carried away. The woman should be cautious.

What does success mean to you?
Success to me means meeting up with your bills. It is however a pity that in Nollywood, many producers are not making their money back. The marketers and pirates are eating up their legitimate earnings. So Nollywood must come together and fight these collectively, not individual fight. The pirates in Alaba International market make so much money but the person that produced the film is broke.

What other problems do you think is bedevilling Nollywood?
Mostly funding. For instance, I want to shoot a film where I will have to use helicopter and incur such expenses. I will have to hire helicopter for N500,000 for a short time of the day, then consider how long I will need it and how much money I will have to pay at the end of the day.Then we need to pay heavily for other props. Then talking about locations to reflect the exact situations we try to convey in movies, we do not have it. We need President Buhari to support us. When the economy is down all over the world, it is entertainment that kicks it up again. We can use the industry to create employment. Nollywood is said to have contributed at least between 5-10% of the GDP last year. For instance the bank loans that was given the other time was good, practitioners benefited. We need more.

Is sex still an issue in Nollywood?

Yes, people keep saying that there is sex in Nollywood. It is people that cannot act that keep saying that there is sex in Nollywood. People like Kate Henshaw, Rita Dominic, Omotola Jolade Ekeinde, Monalinda Chinda got roles through hard work and passion. But when people fail to secure roles then they start saying that there is sex in Nollywood. People work hard in Nollywood.

Your greatest work in Nollywood
I will choose three and that will be Silent Night, Day Break, Open Marriage.

Why do you chose those three?
That's because they are fantastic stories, good actors and they did well in the market.

What are you working on next?

I have decided to tell our story in Nollywood. My new work is called Nollywood Scandal, why people in Nollywood don't keep their marriages, what happens behind the cameras, at locations and so on. How producers and actors male and female hustle for money. The real story.

Are you sure that this next work of yours will not cause a great scandal in the industry?

I am sure that it is likely to cause a great scandal, because for once, we will be telling our story as it is.

There was a time that you produced movies weekly
Yes, and the whole Onitsha boys were always around. I was shooting everyday. But that was that time.

So why did you stop that?

It has to do with age, technology and availability of time. At a point I decided that I wanted to do things differently and concentrate on doing things that are unique.

So how do you handle ladies who refuse to acknowledge the fact that you are married?

I close my eyes. I pray a lot because some of them are sometimes sent or controlled by the devil! I always remind myself that if I fall a victim, I will scatter my marriage. So that deters me.

What do you have to say about fame and fortune in Nollywood?

Entertainment is a unique profession. As an entertainer, you may not have made it today, but that doesn't mean you won't  make it tomorrow. People win Oscar Awards after they have been long forgotten. A movie or song can change a poor person's fortune in Nollywood. So you never give up because you never die.

1 comment:

  1. Good. Number one secret to a successful marriage is being friends with your spouse. Also working together is wonderful if you both are in the same field. Having the fear of God will keep you both going strong and booming with love. We all need to understand both of you are now one. We must learn to be one. Be transparent. I enjoyed this article. Thanks Mr. Ukpabio


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