By Ayo Onikoyi

Allen Onyige and Adeniyi Joseph Omobulejo are the producers of Yoruba drama series, Elenini currently running on GOTV/DSTV Nigeria and both are graduates of Multichoice Talent Factory. In this interview with Potpourri the duo (Onyige from Rivers State) and (Omobulejo from Ogun State) share their experience in producing the series and how GOTV/Multichoice has impacted them and the movie industry at large.

What inspired the story behind the production of “Elenini”?

ALLEN ONYIGE:

ELENINI is a story about an Igbo man who is married to a Yoruba lady but has a wife in his home town. Hell will break loose when the Igbo wife comes visiting.

I can’t particularly say what event inspired the story. I think, though, that it might have been inspired by my day-to-day conversations with Adeniyi Joseph and the cultural differences that were unearthed. I’m from Rivers State and he is from Ogun state.

ADENIYI JOSEPH OMOBULEJO:

ELENINI is actually a product of another story that we couldn’t afford to do at the time and We knew from the beginning who our audiences were and we had to tell a simple story very relatable to them.

As an African story what message are you sending out?

ALLEN ONYIGE:

Our key message is “Love and Tolerance” We all know the cultural tension we face in Nigeria. If you follow our story, you will understand what we did with our characters. For instance, “Uzor”, our lead character, made decisions out of love and not culture, even though his family tried to tie him down to a cultural marriage he had never accepted.

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ADENIYI JOSEPH OMOBULEJO:

There are a lot of themes that the story explores, such as the consequences of infidelity, dreaming big, friendship, platonic and romantic love. There is just something for everyone to learn while they are entertained.

Is there an ill in the society that you are trying to address by the story?

ALLEN ONYIGE:

We are trying to promote intercultural relationships. In a country like Nigeria where people are constantly looking for a group to align with, it will make sense for us to see ourselves as one. One of the best ways this can happen is through marriages. Well, marriages that happen out of “love”.

ADENIYI JOSEPH OMOBULEJO:

Infidelity is more of a personal issue than it is a societal issue but if we are able to fix the person, then we have fixed the society.

What challenges were there in producing the series?

ALLEN ONYIGE:

In producing this series, the major problem we had was people management. We got to engage almost 300 people (Cast and Crew). Asides the ‘drama’ we were producing, we were dealing with people’s individual drama that sometimes cost us production time.

ADENIYI JOSEPH OMOBULEJO:

Like every production there were challenges and mostly unforeseen but the biggest of them is human management which also happens to be my biggest lesson

How has the exposure of your production on GOtv impacted you and the industry?

ALLEN ONYIGE

There is a popular quote that says “Knowledge is power”. The knowledge that I gained from the production has elevated me and has equipped me with the needed experience that most people seek in the industry. This means that I can easily execute any kind of project without fear. Just bring it on.

ADENIYI JOSEPH OMOBULEJO

The impact is a process. we have however received a lot of good feedback on social media like twitter because GOtv has given the show a very wide coverage and some persons have reached out to applaud the fact that it’s a premium content delivered in Yoruba which raises the standard for other producers and ultimately impacts the industry in terms of the quality of what is produced.

What lessons did you learn from MTF that you deployed in this production?

ALLEN ONYIGE:

MTF is not an academy where one is taught just filmmaking. We were also taught about the business of filmmaking. For me, the project was almost like a practical course from MTF. All I did was put to use what I had learned from MTF. This included people management, integrity, accountability, storytelling, technical skills, business management, emotional intelligence etc.

ADENIYI JOSEPH OMOBULEJO:

MTF is really about fixing mindsets and It helped me further realize my capacity as a leader and that skill was severely tested during the production of ELENINI which has made me find myself and as such I have increased capacity in many ways and increasing capacity is the only way to be relevant.

As MTF graduates, how well have you integrated into the mainstream Nollywood ?

ALLEN ONYIGE:

With the wealth of knowledge and experience, I have had, it is safe to say I can easily find myself in mainstream Nollywood. However, with the challenges facing Nollywood, it is not clear if I have integrated or not. Nollywood has not been able to marry storytelling and the technicalities of storytelling. This results in backwardness. Sometimes, it is traceable to the budget and investors.

ADENIYI JOSEPH OMOBULEJO:

MTF already prepared us for this by introducing us to industry professionals but what’s really important in Nollywood is to show capacity consistently and we have shown a bit of what we can do and we just hope for more opportunities to do more and more and then we can help contribute to the industry and engage people who in turn will contribute to the industry

As film producers, what are the inadequacies of the Yoruba movie industry, both technical and business wise?

ALLEN ONYIGE:

One great thing about the Yoruba movie industry is that they have a loyal audience, despite the inadequacies. One of the obvious inadequacies is poor execution in both story-telling and technicality. If this problem is efficiently addressed, I’m confident the Yoruba movie industry will get the accolades that it deserves.

ADENIYI JOSEPH OMOBULEJO:

First, I don’t think there is a ‘Yoruba movie industry’, I just think that there is a Nigerian film industry that gives us a lot of freedom to tell stories through different languages because of the many ethnicities in Nigeria. So in my opinion, there is no ‘English, Hausa Or Yoruba film industry’ there is just a Nigerian Film Industry.

The Inadequacies are obvious and I think it’s largely dependent on the quality of information that the practitioners have, the level of skill which can be fixed through learning and one way is by merely intentionally watching videos on YouTube and just by being dedicated to self development. A lot of the problems are not even budget related, they are just capacity related. There is so much I can say about this topic.

Can you introduce yourselves and the next fantasies for you, regarding film/series production?

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ALLEN ONYIGE

My name is Allen Onyige. I’m a passionate filmmaker from Nigeria and I run a production company called “ANECDOTE MEDIA”. At “ANECDOTE MEDIA”, we tell human stories in different forms (Documentary, Adverts, Feature-length Films, Series, Music Videos etc.) My fantasy is to keep telling stories and these stories can come in various forms.

ADENIYI JOSEPH OMOBULEJO:

My name is Adeniyi Joseph-Omobulejo also known as TAJ, which is short for ‘The Adeniyi Joseph’ I am the Series Producer of ELENINI and Co Executive Producer with Allen. I started a production company called Nostalgia Media Agency in 2016, where we create content for brands and are also the producers of ELENINI.

I am a storyteller, I make films, commercials, documentaries and all such audio visual content. I like to say that I make stories work. I want to tell stories that actually provide inspiration because I believe that stories can fix people and whatever one is dependent on for information or entertainment has a very high chance of influencing them. The Christian version of that is that faith comes by the continuous hearing of the word of God. I’d like to make a web series!

Vanguard News Nigeria

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