By Ogova Ondego
Published August 15, 2013
REALLY SURPRISING, a full feature film directed by Nigerian cinematographer Emmanuel Olabode and starring poet and actor Feyisayo Anjorin and Nollywood actress Nkechi Nnaji, is set for theatrical release in Nigeria and across Africa.
Olabode, whose ‘street experiences’ following family disruption in his childhood is said to have helped shape his determination to change people’s lives through movies, says the film was shot on location in Enugu, the heart of filmmaking in Nollywood, with a Canon 5D camera over seven days.
Olabode does not only describe his project as “a sort of first-of-its-kind film in the Nigerian film industry”, but also believes that the level of filmmaking in Nollywood should be raised to match the standards of the First World to enable Nollywood compete internationally and to broaden the market base.
“This is why I have declined offers from international production companies to set up base in Lagos. This is my mission,” says the director whose foray into filmmaking began with him as a camera assistant.
Olabode trained at the AFDA School of Motion Picture and Live Performance in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Motion Picture Medium with specialisation in Cinematography and Directing.
Besides directing music videos, Olabode has also worked on short films like HOPE and BOPHELO.
Like cinematographer and director Olabode, writer, co-producer and lead actor Anjorin—whose acting credits include South African films MAN ON GROUND, THE HAJJ, JOZI KINGS and television series JACOB’S CROSS and SCANDAL—is also an alumnus of Jozi’s AFDA.
He says of REALLY SURPRISING, the story of a young pastor and his wife at the hands of robbers within two hours after their relocation to the affluent section of a small town, “Nigeria is a nation with big Pentecostal churches with multi-million dollar properties including large expanses of land and private jets; hence I thought the story would resonate well with the audience.”
Lead actress Nkechi Nnaji, whose real names are Nkechi Victoria Nnachi, is a graduate of the Institute of Science and Technology in Enugu. She says she joined Nollywood at the age of 14 as “a kid actress” but left when it adversely affected her studies. She came back in 2011 and has since made appearances in films like TEARS OF THE INNOCENT, SORROW OF THE ORPHAN, PLEASURE BOOSTER, EXPORT SERVICE, SCHOOL RUNS, IBU AND BEYONCE, WAHALA MARRIAGE, and KING OF MADNESS, among several other titles.
Director Emmanuel Olabode’s story would provide fodder for a most intriguing motion picture, especially that part touching on his life in gangsterism and drugs for survival on the streets and how his conversion to Christianity that changed him forever.
In 1998, at the age of 20, Olabode is said to have got his first chance as a camera assistant on the set of a movie called SCORES TO SETTLE. However, the watershed in his career came on the set of the movie, SHARON STONE, which launched the career of Genevieve Nnaji.
Together with Anjorin and Nnaji in REALLY SURPRISING, Olabode’s eyes are set on success: “We have had a successful shoot; we have stayed true to the story and have explored the flow of creativity” he says. “We are now focusing on bringing out the best in post-production. A good film would speak for itself anywhere and in all seasons.”