Know how we’re always saying that if you want to “make it” in TV you need to move to L.A.? Could be that isn’t the case after all. International production is booming, and the biz is alive and doing very well, thank you, in Europe, Asia, and, yes, Africa.
Here, for example, is what working in TV is like in Nigeria:
by Isiguzo Destiny
Victor Sanchez Aghahowa is a multitalented film maker. He is a screen writer, director and a producer. Victor is one of Tinsel’s directors and currently, the director and head of Creative Writers’ School of the Africa Magic Telenovella, Hush. He is popular for his web series ‘Why She Left My Brother’. In this interview with ISIGUZO DESTINY, he reveals why he dropped out of school and what he cherishes most in filmmaking. Excerpts:
Let’s start on a personal note. You once told an inspiring story of how you were frustrated at the beginning of your career as a film maker. Can you give me more insight into that experience? I don’t know if the experience is unique, I just think the fact I chose to write about it openly is what is interesting about it. But I think every creative person goes through that. At a point you feel like “what have I done?” “Why have I chosen this part?” When the money gets tight, jobs are not coming the way you expected, when your mates are getting g married and buying cars before you. Everyone has their own version of the story. The story does not have particularly anything unique about it. Everybody gets there, everyone who have gone past through that stage knows that everyone gets there. Everyone who is yet to get to that stage knows he/she will get there and then you say, “It has happened to everybody and I know I will get past this”.
In one of your social media posts, you wrote “I remember the days I prayed for the things I have now”, what are these things? I mean… Again like a lot of people I respect and has worked with, some of us came up the hard way. Emmmm, I dropped out of school and came to Lagos with a dream, but I got to a point where I don’t have anything. The times I slept on the floor, the times you have to stretch your money and sometimes there are more months than the money you have, and when you run out of money what happens? Things that I’ve always prayed for… for everybody it’s different. Now I am married, I have kids and a career. The things that at a point in my life I didn’t think I will get. Everyone wants different things out of life. When you have and make money from the business or job you love, it’s a feat. Some people hate their jobs even though they make money out of it. It’s different when you genuinely love what you do and you can make a living out of it. For more than 10 years now, I make a living from writing stories and when I meet people and tell them I’m a writer, they say okay, but ask “what is your real job?” Well, that’s how I pay my rent. If we have a chance we thank God.
You said film making is like story telling in one of your interviews, what kind of stories do you tell? Film making is story telling. I started with music business which I also consider as storytelling. People may differ but I am interested in all forms of storytelling. Talking about my kind of story, people have said I make films for certain demographic set of people. I don’t know about that I just tell stories from experiences of things that I lived or know people that lived it. But I’m interested in telling contemporary Nigerian stories. I don’t like cut and ride like: here is the good guy and there is the bad guy. I like fairy tells but I also like to tell it as it is.
Does that mean you are just after a style, or what would you say you go after when writing your scripts or directing, to impress or to be pragmatic? People learning from entertainment are not pragmatic as far as I’m concerned. It is being preachy. I’m of the school of thought you must tell a story that has point. There must be a reason why you want to tell the story. Every religion in the world is proliferated by big time stories. The bible is a collection of stories. Everything we do is story telling buat you must ask the question: “why telling the story?” I am not a huge fan of aesthetics, thank God I’ve never deceived or called myself a cinematographer. I am more interested in the power of the story, to move people’s mind. You don’t do that by preaching stories or preaching messages because so long as you don’t care about the story you are telling, you’ve lost it. For me, every story has a point but I am not going to tell you that “oh corruption is bad”. I am more interested in an investigative divide. If you don’t investigate that divide, it comes out clumsy. Yes what we do is bad but we do it. I will give you an example with stories that just reads “it’s bad, you don’t have to do it” but if you keep saying that and every one watching or making the film does it, what is the point? I am only interested in opening the discourse, for instance, is bribing part of our national psyche? If it is, how do we get past it? So I’m interested in telling stories that generates conversations as opposed to stories that preach them in messages.