By Prisca Sam-Duru, INTERVIEW
Frank Adekunle Macaulay is an actor and one of Nigeria’s top film makers whose works are aimed at carving a new image for Nigeria. The Pilot turned producer and director of movies who is a direct descendant of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther and Herbert Macaulay, had his primary education at Grange School and secondary education at Methodist Boys High School .The Lagosian whose mother is half English and half Scottish spoke to Sunday arts about his mission in the movie industry. Excerpts.
Tell us more about yourself?
I was born in London but came back to Nigeria when I was 7 years old. After my secondary school , I went further to Zaria where I got trained in Civil Aviation as a Pilot. I later moved to Europe after my training and came back again to Nigeria four years ago with the intention of starting a business which I have been into since then.
How has it been since you came back home?
I came back to my home country and immediately established a production outfit here in Nigeria and started with a short film which I titled Area Boys, directed by a friend of mine, Mel Nwanguma . Area Boys went to Zuma film festival and won the best film award.
Why the shift from Aviation to entertainment?
Well, when I left Nigeria and went back to Europe, I got married with the intention of going back to flying but the way life goes, things happened and I ended up looking into building up a new career. I do not really like talking about being a Pilot.
What attracted you to entertainment?
About ten years ago, I decided to challenge myself in something different, so I enrolled in a drama school called Annah Schel Theatre in London, for a taste of what it is like to be an actor. I have always been interested in photography and acting as a child and as a teenager.
My experience in Annah Schel theartre was exciting because while I was in school, I concentrated all efforts in science subjects but Annah Schel who became my mentor made me discover that I have a natural flair for the arts, which I started taking very seriously.
I was in the school for five years. She was into synchronisatin acting so she taught me that. Later, I took lessons on cinematography to satisfy the urge to be behind the camera. I also enrolled in some courses in a couple of places in London which enabled me expand my skills. What started first as a hobby, became something I enjoyed doing and something I made a living out of.
Any acting experience in Nollywood?
No. I have not featured in any Nollywood film, but I have been acting both in London and in stage plays here in Nigeria. I featured in a stage play titled Cost of Living which was directed by Nick Monu.
Acting actually made me but when I looked at myself and my age, I said I am not going to become the next Tom Cruz. So I decided to be fully committed in something I could go into and be relevant in the industry even at an old age. Now I understand what it takes to make good movies. I have actually paid more attention on producing and directing films.
Any other finished work?
Since I started my production company, I have shot two major movies. The first one is Dangerous Man and it was shot here in Lagos. The second film is Unge’s War which was shot in Calabar, Benue state and Lagos state.
Dangerous Man has strong language because, though we used a fictitious nation, it asks questions people ask about why we are the way we are and why Nigeria is not progressing. We brought out pitfalls of Nigeria which gave us a lot of problems with the classification board. We were forced to get rid of some parts before the film was certified
Why did you decide to put up FMA productions in Nigeria rather than in London?
Having had the opportunity of living in both places, and coming from an illustrious family, it disheartens me a lot when I see the direction we are going as a country. That I wish to change through movies.
One thing I have discovered is that Nigeria has so many individual talents but we don’t seem to care for our country and that leaves us with a long way to go We talk so much and do so little and I think its time we shut up and work the work. In any case, I am here to make an impact through entertainment.
Also I have observed that we have talents in the industry but they get to a certain level and can’t rise anymore. It is sad because that is the level that needs improvement which is why Nollywood celebrates mediocrity.
So I hope to put in some of my skills and merge with other professionals I plan bringing in. Also, I plan establishing a studio system in the likes of MGM and Warner Bros where there will be continuous intensive training for every one involved in productions.
I strongly believe that when we train together for so long we will come out with quality movies.I have also shot musical videos for Muma Gee, Nigga Raw, Flavours, Boby High and others.
The only way to curb piracy in Nigeria is to build classical, local, state theatres and cinemas in the whole 36 states of the federation so that producers can keep statistics on what was made out of their movies.