By DAYO ADESULU
No fewer than five lecturers from the United States of America stormed Del-York Creative Academy Lagos to improve the skills and creative capacity of broadcast journalists and film makers in Nigeria.
The intensive four-week workshop titled: Film Made in Nigeria, held at the Digital Bridge Institute, Lagos, had in attendance selected members from the Directors Guild of Nigeria, The Nigerian Society of Editors, Creative Designers Guild of Nigeria, Screenwriters Guild of Nigeria, Nigerian Society of Cinematography, Actors Guild of Nigeria and the Association of Movie Producers (AMP).
The Chief Executive a Officer, Del-York Creative Academy, Mr Linus Idahosa said; “The idea is to bring professionals with prior experience in the movie business for those whose creative products we are already familiar with.”
According to him, the intention is to arm these students with the knowledge and tools to improve on the quality of movies produced by them. He averred that the students are getting interesting methods of doing things differently from the experienced lecturers who have international awards to their names.
Sharing her experience, Wendelyn Slipakoff, a teacher in Production Design, Costume and Set Design said “I have taught classes but not at this level. It’s been really exciting for me because this is the first time that I have to teach in an environment where everybody is so hungry to learn. In the United States, one of the challenges we have is that we tend to take education for granted. It’s not like that here. I am humbled by the spirit of the people.”
Slipakoff who admitted that the one month workshop was a very fast-paced programme stated that she is trying to take the students on a journey that he spent years taking and is trying to help them to leave in four weeks. “It has been really rewarding for me to see how hungry every single person is for information,” he said.
On her part, Sara Rabuse who teaches make-up said she was amazed to see that students in her class were very interested in special effect make-up. She disclosed that make-up is something that is not as developed in Nigeria. She said: “When I talked to the director about what I will be teaching and what the students may need, he said most of them have been working in film and television. When I started the lecture, the feedback I got was a hunger for knowledge in the area of special effect.”
Rabuse explained that there is; beauty make-up, glamour make-up and special effect, which includes anything as minimal as blood, cuts and way up to prosthetic and monster designs. Her words: “A lot of the materials we use in the US to create special effects are not available here. The make-up artist has to make their own blood. They use ketchup and blackcurrant. In the US, we have blood that is already made. We go to the store and we buy special blood that is made for film and television. I had to adjust. Some of them are using materials that are used for gluing sculptures together. They are using permanent glues on human skin which burns and causes abrasions, thus hurting the actors’ skin.
In the US, we have stuff that is specifically made for skin. I am going to give them a recipe for blood that they can create their own blood with things like corn syrup instead of blackcurrant. I want to spark the creativity of these make-up artistes. I tell them there are no rules when it comes to make up. There are only guidelines. Be inspired to treat a person as an art canvass.”
For Ryan Gibson who Teaches Screen Writing, everything can’t be taught in the classroom. He said that when students were having a problem conceptualizing the character in a story, I took them around the campus after where they were able to create a character, create a story. According to him, the structural stuff is easy, it is getting the story out of your head and getting it on to a page and telling what you see in your mind so that it makes sense to someone that is important. “They are all learning things that they didn’t know before and they are going to take that and try to put it in their work,” he said.
Sharing his view, Jamal Y. Speakes who teaches Cinematography said that quality of camera work in Nigeria movies is astounding. He said that Nigerian cinematographers understand the value of education, whether it is film education or public education.
“There is a value and the value is placed high because they understand that with education and knowledge you can get far. When I viewed a couple of Nigerian films, I concluded that help is needed. One of the things I have been able to do is to unlearn what they have learned; try to go back to the foundation. The best part is that the culture is so rich. Nigerian culture has an effect on the way people do things, which is a good thing, but when it comes to film making it is a bad thing because it is not necessarily the right thing to do; so unlearning what the students know and then bringing them back-up to where you want them to be is probably the hardest part, but they are willing to learn.”