Entertainment

April 20, 2024

Jnr Pope: You’re wrong; Film producer Ofuonye tells AGN for suspending Adanma

Jnr Pope: You’re wrong; Film producer Ofuonye tells AGN for suspending Adanma

*Says suspended producer should have been allowed to complete the movie

*Recalls similar experience that led to death of JT Tom-West 18 years ago

By BENJAMIN NJOKU

A film producer, Michael Ofuonye, has faulted the Actors Guild of Nigeria, AGN for suspending the ill-fated movie, “Another Side of Life” as well as the producer, Adanma Luke, following the boat mishap that claimed the life of Nollywood actor, Jnr Pope and four other victims.

Ofuonye was the producer of the film which one of Nollywood finest actors back then, J.T. Tom West was shooting before he was involved in an accident while returning from a movie location in September 2006 which claimed his life. Reliving the memories of that sad incident, he bemoaned how millions of naira he invested in the project went down the drain following a wrong decision to strike off the set.

Ofuonye, who’s currently based in the United States, frowned at the decision of the leadership of the Actors Guild of Nigeria,AGN, to suspend Adanma’s movie, insisting that completing the movie as a tribute to Jnr. Pope’s memory would be a beautiful way to honor the legacy of the late actor. He said it would also provide closure for his family, the cast, and the crew of the production.

In a WhatsApp chat, Ofuonye said, “donating a portion of the profits to his family is also a thoughtful gesture. It’s important to consider the impact of our actions on the affected producers by simply calling for punishment or cancellation of the movie in question. By completing the movie, you can create a lasting tribute to Jnr Pope and raise funds for his family. Many Nigerians will be eager to see the movie and completing it would be a fitting way to honor Jnr Pope’s memory. Imagine if we had gone back to finish the movie for JT’s sake, figure out what would have happened. In the US, Alec Balwin shot the cinematographer in a movie “Rust” by mistake, it didn’t stop the production team from coming together and finishing the movie”.

He regretted that his unreleased movie, which he wanted to use to revolutionize Nollywood back then, was not allowed to see the light of the day. Ofuonye also revealed that he lost millions of naira as a result of that tragic incident. He said if the movie had been completed, it would have afforded fans and Nigerians the rare opportunity to see the last movie of JT Tom West.

How Tom-West died

Reliving memories of the circumstances that led to the death of the talented actor-turned-dancer and singer, Ofuonye said Tom-West died as a result of internal bleeding, contrary to reports then that the late actor was allegedly shot dead with live bullets while they were shooting the movie.

READ ALSO: Jnr Pope: Untold story of the boat mishap that killed 5

He narrated on the accident that killed JT Tom West: “We shot the film till about 2 am in the morning and it was while returning to our hotel room when the tragic accident occurred. We rushed him (JT Tom West) to a private hospital on Lagos Island for immediate attention. Unfortunately, he was later diagnosed with internal bleeding and required specialized care at a general hospital. Despite the efforts of the medical team, we received the devastating news that he didn’t make it. We were working on a film project that was going to change the face of Nollywood.

We had assembled a team of talented cast and crew, and we were committed to telling this important story. It was a challenging journey but we were determined to make a difference until the unexpected happened. Back then, movies were shot within two weeks. But for the actors, it was strange for you to gather them for a month. We had to make difficult decisions and part ways with them, but our determination to revolutionize Nollywood remained unwavering. Unfortunately, the rejected actors began spreading rumours and exhibiting unprofessional behavior, exposing the darker side of the industry. Despite these setbacks, we persisted and continued working on our project until the unfortunate accident occurred.

Millions of naira invested went down the drain

“We invested a significant amount of resources into the production, including securing high-end camera equipment from CNN Nigeria. That’s a substantial loss, including the effort that went into setting up the production. It was a notable production, and the actors involved were all impressed by the scale and professionalism of the project. Millions of Naira went down the drain because of a wrong decision to strike off the set.

Blaming a producer for accident on a movie set

“Holding producers and directors solely responsible for accidents on set isn’t the solution. A thorough investigation by a panel of experts to determine the root cause of the accident is crucial. Additionally, implementing safety protocols and mandatory insurance policies can help prevent such incidents in the future.

Closing down the entire project or punishing individuals without addressing the underlying issues won’t solve the problem. Instead, we need to focus on finding solutions and implementing measures to prevent similar accidents from happening again. In the film industry, safety protocols and regulations can be put in place to minimize risks, such as conducting thorough risk assessments, providing proper training for cast and crew and ensuring that all the equipment are well-maintained. Insurance policies can also provide financial protection for cast and crew members in case of accidents, as well as for the production company itself. We should work towards creating a safer and more responsible industry for everyone involved”.