Samuel Oniyitan is an actor, producer and the GMD of Green World Entertainment. The professionally trained Marketer has over fifteen movies under his belt and an acting dexterity that is fast making him sought after in the Nigerian movie Industry. He unveils his latest movie project and his passion for telling African stories.
Tell us briefly about yourself?
I’m a filmmaker, an actor and aspiring model. I studied Marketing at LASPOTECH and have a Masters degree in Marketing as well from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH). I’m a Chartered marketer and Associate member of Nigerian Institute of Management. I’m the GMD of Green World Entertainment, a production company with a vision to produce outstanding movies. I was involved in the movie industry say about twenty one years ago but left and returned two years ago. Within the space of two years, I have featured in more than fifteen movies, turned down some roles and produced a couple of movies as well. Among the fifteen, I played the lead role in about five of them. Apart from movies, I’m also a Consumer insight personnel and consult for local and International companies.
How did you become an actor and what made you leave the movie circuit for a while?
Entertainment generally has been my passion but basically I love acting. It started when I was five, I was in primary school then and would watch certain local TV series which showed Abija, Awelu on TV. Then on Monday when I met my friends I would tell them I was Abija and another would say he was Fadeyi and then we would begin to recite the incantation as was used on TV. When I got to primary six they started involving me in the stage drama in school. I started realizing that I had a passion for acting. When I got to Secondary school, I was a member of the drama group in Jss2 and in SS2, I became their president. After leaving secondary school, I went into it acting fully and was seen in super story but it wasn’t a major role, i was put there to add to the figure. The situation in the country was not encouraging because nobody knew me and I needed money to feed myself and pay bills. I felt I was wasting my time going for rehearsals especially with the fact that money wasn’t coming in. So I decided to go to school and made up my mind that when I had money I would return to the Industry I loved and had passion for, which I did two years ago.
How did you sustain the passion all through till you were able to return?
I made sure I kept up to date with the movie trend and also watched movies that were released. RMD was and still is my role model. I watched the movies he acted in and I dare say I learnt a lot from that exercise until he stopped acting and of course when he returned to the screens. I follow him on social media as well. It would be an honour to act with him in a movie.
What movies have you featured in since you returned?
I featured in Impulse which was directed by the talented Rotimi Raji , The Snatch, in which I played the lead role as officer Obi, Adura by Ajani, Ase , My PA, Desert, among others
With your professional training as a marketer how has it been getting into the Industry?
Nothing good comes easy but being a consumer insight personnel, I understand the dynamics of marketing. I have put my experience into good use in the movie terrain and working hard to market my brand. Having a good understanding of how the industry works has really helped particularly with the crop of experienced professionals I have in my team as well. Various Media platforms have taken interest in my works and my brand and I have been interviewed by them. It hasn’t been easy but with sheer determination I’m confident in rising to the next awesome level
What do you think will make you get to the pinnacle of the Industry in no distant time?
I’m a good actor and can take on Yoruba and English speaking roles and execute them brilliantly. As a producer, word has begun to spread about my zero tolerance for non quality based movies. I don’t compromise quality because I believe what is worth doing is worth doing well. I remember when I wanted to produce a Yoruba movie, my project coordinator said N600,000 would get it done. However, because I wanted something a lot better we produced it for N1.6million. When we were done with the job, word spread in the industry about its good quality. Before Kunle Afolayan started, some people had already been in the industry but now many look up to him. It’s just a matter of time for me and with my great team of sound professionals dedicated to telling our unique African stories and God’s grace, I believe it will happen.
You’ve acted and produced various movies. Which of your works do you consider dear to you and why?
It’s the one we’re about to shoot and that’s “Abeke”. It is my first major work and I got the story and precise cast in the dream. I was lying on the couch listening to a Yoruba song relating to Abeke and slept off. In the dream I saw what the movie was about including the actors who played those roles. When I awoke I quickly wrote down all I had seen and then called my project coordinator, Moses Adeyemo. I told him the revelation I had and he told me to call the script writer and explain what I had seen, which I did. When he was done writing, everyone who read it wanted to be a part of it because it was unique, strange and a potential awards winning movie. Dreams are powerful and being privileged to have seen this through this medium makes it special to me
Tell us about Abeke?
Abeke revolves around a love triangle that takes us back to the late 70’s. There’s a beautiful lady called Abeke who comes from a wealthy home thanks to her father who is a Cocoa merchant. There are two men in the picture; one is Fayele, a handsome, humble, poor graduate who is a primary school teacher of Ifa descent in love with Abeke and the other Aderoju, the rich, arrogant, handsome timber seller who also loves Abeke. Abeke falls in love with the poor teacher as well but there’s another lady in the picture who also loves Fayele. I don’t want to give out much details now, but trust me, it’s a fantastic story that is enlightening and entertaining.
What would you say is the selling point?
We are using the best hands in the Industry including the Director of Photography Lukmon Abdulrahman, who handles most of Tunde Kelani’s Mainframe’s movie productions, a brilliant young director Rotimi Raji, we’re even bringing a creative director on board which is rare to see in productions and of course a crew that knows their onions. The story line is top notch sequel to our script conference and we’ll be shooting using Red Dragon camera. The main cast includes; Wole Ojo, Kehinde Bankole, Toyin Abraham Aimakhu, Akin Lewis, Yinka Quadri, the legendary Peter Fatomilola, and my humble self. The movie will be 80% in English and 20% Yoruba. It’s a blend of romance, drama, and tragicomedy
How did you fund this project?
Abeke is self funded and as you know it certainly hasn’t been easy. Besides filmmaking, I also consult for local and international companies leveraging on my marketing experience in terms of consumer insight to boost sales.
Why didn’t you consider other credit facilities in the creative industry?
Will they easily release the funds? I wasn’t ready to have a three days journey turned to one of ten months
What is the film’s budget?
About N15million and I dare say we’re still incurring more expenses
How do you combine being a consultant and then acting and producing movies ? How has the experience been acting in the Industry?
It has not been easy combining both because one will suffer for the other. Now I’m busy with my production that’s why I’m not on another producer’s set acting. Once Abeke’s production is over, my acting schedule which has been fixed till the end of February 2019 will kick in. This makes it difficult to consult but to solve the problem I thankfully have a team I work with who have been engaging brands on my behalf. However I come in when my expertise is needed to deliver the goods. My experience in the Industry has been awesome although it wasn’t easy when I returned two years ago because a lot had changed compared to those days. All things being equal, I have been getting more jobs. I’m not yet popular and sometimes when I go to locations, some people ask me when did I join the industry, I like the way you look and act, they’ll take my number and maybe in the next two, three days, they’ll call me to play a role in their movie
Are there plans for a cinema release?
Yes it will be shown in cinemas in and outside of Nigeria in 2019 and my team and I are also working on having it on Netflix. It will also make the local and International film festivals circuit
Which is your strength, acting or producing?
Then why are you a producer?
It goes side by side, besides, the economy is not encouraging people to stick to a particular thing. You might not have been paid well by a producer and you’re on set. Then you ask for more money especially if the role is demanding and he or she refuses to pay. The probability that the producer will not call you up anymore for a role is high. What do you do when you stay at home and you’re going nuts because the bills are piling? If you have the talent to sing or someone calls you to be an emcee you’ll jump in because you need money, you need to move on and before you know you’re doing something else. From the onset, I came into the Industry to be an actor and a producer
Do you think you’ve acted well enough to double as a producer and an actor?
A producer doesn’t have to act, it’s the money he has that speaks. Once you have the finance, a story and the knowledge to gather the right team to work with from pre to post production, then you’re good to go. However having a good insight into how the market works is key in recouping investment.
What’s next after Abeke?
We have a soap that will happen early next year called Tender Lines and after that another beautiful story titled “The Journey” but that’s still under wraps for now
Where is Abeke being shot?
Why was Abeokuta chosen?
The film is set in the late 1970’s and the ancient town of Abeokuta provides that exact scenery and set that we need to make the timeline realistic. You won’t find such in Lagos and even in Badagry.
How do you cope with the women folk seeing you’re a handsome young man?
I appreciate the women folk including my fans. I’m a disciplined person because I know where I’m going to. Yes I receive all sorts of messages from them especially on IG, some are really shocking but I have to be smart with my response
Do you think Nollywood is still making money?
Yes it totally depends on the quality of the movie you’ve made and if you understand how the local and foreign markets work alongside the various platforms to use in securing ROI
What’s your advice for aspiring actors?
The path to greatness is a lonely one filled with thorns. You have to endure the challenges and forge ahead. Delete the word ‘impossible’ from your mind and never give up. Remain focused, trust God, remain humble and believe in yourself even when those around you are pessimistic. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.