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‘My story as a screenplay writer’ – Kemi Adesoye

By Benjamin Njoku

I didn’t know anything about script writing. But as a child, I loved watching films. The stories I came across then were those I saw in books before films. I have always wanted to be part of that story telling world. In fact, I didn’t know there was a profession called script writing.

Kemi-Adesoye
Kemi-Adesoye

With successful feature films like Figurine, Phone Swap, and a catalogue of scripts for favourite television series under her belt, Kemi Adesoye has built a solid career in scriptwriting. But becoming a scriptwriter was something Kemi never dreamt of.

“I didn’t plan to become a script writer, she revealed, while speaking at this month’s edition of the Nollywood Studies Centre’s Filmmakers Forum, which held last Saturday at Pattaya Oriental restaurant, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Kemi confessed that she never knew screenwriting was a profession, but always loved watching films and grew up with a vast film library of comedies, thrillers, westerns, drama’s and soaps.

“I didn’t know anything about script writing. But as a child, I loved watching films. The stories I came across then were those I saw in books before films. I have always wanted to be part of that story telling world. In fact, I didn’t know there was a profession called script writing.”

However, as a student of   Architectural Studies, Kemi has no business venturing into writing. But her passion for it was ignited when she stumbled upon a script writing book called, “The Elements of Script Writing”while as an undergraduate. The book, domicile in her institution’s science library lighted a spark in her and that was the beginning of her career in script writing.

Speaking on the topic,”Writing a Successful path into filmdom:The thrills and Challenges of being a Scriptwriter in Nollywood”, Kemi, who has masters degree from the University of Technology Minna,Niger State shared with the audience the various hurdles she had to face in order to   actualize her dream of becoming a successful script writer after graduation.

She cited non-existence of script writing school as part of the hurdles she faced at the early stage of her career. According to her, “The first school of script writers I attended was in a book I discovered in a science library. Secondly, there was no one to encourage me. As a result, I had to build myself from the scratch.

Another hurdle was the problem of working with people who do not appreciate or understand the role of a script writer in a film; meeting people who can’t tell the difference between a good story and a bad story because if they are crticizing your story which is good, then they are actually making it worse.

I am not against criticism but there’s a good criticism that makes the script better and there’s a bad one that makes it worse. So, these were the hurdles I faced earlier in my career.”

For Kemi, “script writing is a passion; I give it all. It’s something you do because you love it, first before it loves you. People have different experiences when it comes to script writing. To some people, their first attempt is a write-off. To some, they hit goldmine and that’s it, and to many others, it takes a bit longer.”

While delving into script writing, Kemi said, “I thought I was totally a stranger to the profession”, adding “that defeat was the first lesson, I learnt as a writer.”

My journey into script writing

Narrating how her journey into script writing began, Kemi who was born and raised in the northern part of the country, by Yoruba parents who originated from Kwara State, said “ I didn’t plan to go into screenwriting. I worked in a radio station after graduation. But I wrote my first script in 1999.

I attended a workshop at IFBA International Film and Broadcast Academy where I learnt of an M-net sponsored project called New Directions. They were looking for short stories. I sent in my first written short script and was picked along with four other semi finalists. That script was called “ The special Gele”.

I didn’t win but it offered some validation and made me realize, “I can do this”. The New directions offered me the opportunity to meet Nigerian filmmakers like late Amaka Igwe and other film producers.   But the second and third time, I won the competition. Those stories were converted into short films.

When Dstv decided to produce a medical series known as “Doctors Quarters”, I came on board. Gradually, things started looking good for me as I was called for more jobs along the way. It continued until I met Kunle Afolayan, and that was when we worked on his award-winning film, “Figurine.”

He asked me to work on an idea he had, which I did. I remember that I typed and printed the script which I took to Kunle’s office. When I handed over the script to him, I left because I don’t like to stay around while you are reading my script. Few days later, Kunle called me and said, “wow…that’s a nice script. Sometimes, it’s good to get all the ‘wows.’

That’s how my career in script writing started. I began writing TV series including “Doctors Quarters”, “Edge of Paradise”, “Tinsel”, “Hotel Majestic” and various feature films. I must state here that I have improved on my craft over the years. Definitely, you have to grow up and keep updating yourself.

As a writer, Kemi said, you must develop your own unique style. “There is need for you to have a particular pattern of writing especially now that the industry is growing and the world becoming a global village. You must come out of your comfort zone to write yourself into prominence.”

 


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