ColumnsDon OkoloFilmOpinionThis Is Not Happening, Or Is It? ──A Day in the Life of a Filmmaker

Twenty-twenty A.D. (Anno Domini: The year of our Lord) has already left its mark as the one year that would live notoriously in disrepute following the cascading effects of every imaginable horribleness. The seen and unseen magnets woke up one dreary day and huddled together, mano e mano (head-to-head) for a one-two punch against humanity.

While humans are still reeling, trying to catch their collective breaths…all pun intended, the flame-throwers are in a two-way partner act mambo: Ms. Covid Nineteen and Mr. Derek Chauvin, are a husband and wife team…Hell’s newest creations…and they are great at two-stepping. This is the same song and dance, Satan himself had written and choreographed to revamp his dying Jazz and Salsa combo from the Hitler era. I had enough. To sit with measured complacency while one’s heart is seething, readying for an eruption is not the best way to write it all off. I couldn’t drink it away. I must find me a panacea (Healing Potion) to relive me from this deep-set, maddening funk with the potential to cause me lasting damage. Thank God for little favors. I found something that has no mind-altering properties like you would find with a rolled hemp, the size of a Cuban cigar, whose THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) content would drop a horse.

I couldn’t drink it away. I must find me a panacea (Healing Potion) to relive me from this deep-set, maddening funk with the potential to cause me lasting damage. Thank God for little favors.

The life of the new kid on the block, the one that had recently discovered the joy and gladness of making movies is immeasurable. It is a high, most who delve into the crannies of filmmaking could and would never find an exit ramp…ever…that is, if they have had it, and were seeking for a way out. The initial, heart-stomping exhilaration would never wane, unless you have lost your arse creating magic most people have a problem following…appreciating.

Welcome to the first day of shoot…the day you are expecting to make the world move. The world in your pocket moment…the brand, spanking new girlfriend under your wings…literally…and you are in control of…the world you would soon ask to move on this your first day at directing, producing with your nimble thrusts. That world would ask you to move, instead. Got it? I know you do. The world would not abandon you for that lackluster performance, and you must not quit her engaging embrace to seek out newer endeavors. It is the same with the girlfriend; she knows you are green. The world knows you are a rookie at the complex game of chess and would readily grant you all the room you would ever need to grow…and yes, to perform better next time you engaged her.

Filmmaking is the love of your life. You must travel through tortuous pathways to find her, though. She would always be seated with an indolent stare watching as you are making your approach. Should your method and swagger look stilted, unappealing, she would walk away…without  making it obvious. But if she stayed and offered her hands be tied, you are in luck, dude. Thereafter, you dress her up in gorgeous clothing, especially if you are going to take her out and show her prettiness to people. This is where you must remember that there are filmmakers, and then, there are filmmakers. And the new girl does not care so much the size of your canons, or how long you have been in the game. She is drawn to your intransigence (Stubbornness) in the arts game. Never mind about those with obscene budgets in escrow, enough in the cash box to buy the Taj Mahal and Buckingham Palace in one deal. She knows all you have is a pizza and a six-pack kind of cash to make a daring, full-fledged motion picture. You see, you are hooked. The ones I have in mind writing this piece is you, Johnny, and you, Julie. It is in your type one would find the most creative wunderkinds (Wizards) in the creative game. You are the true Indy filmmakers.

The Art of Filmmaking owes its virtues from a seasoned master.

For the sake of clarity, Indy filmmakers vary. I am talking about your run-of-the-mill enthusiast…the guy or gal next door with the searing compunction of having not discovered this medium years ago. This is one trade, in my opinion, you do not have to go to school for. Having said that, you should know the importance and value of aesthetics and its application in the contours of absolute confusion…the delicate assemblage in finessing the fabrics of a story into that flattering entertainment wardrobe. The Art of Filmmaking owes its virtues from a seasoned master. Only in a school setting would you learn about this wicked strutting of virtuosity. But you would remain a genius in the minds of many if you could figure this phenomenon on your own.

The sordid tales of bad art are numerous. Believe this; they are all from one camp. You start to wonder why would one require hundreds of millions of dollars to make a motion picture…and your lead cast is an earthling…and you do not have a cure for cancer, or the dreaded combo of Hate and Covid? Determination and that flaming, elastic tenacity are great facets to own; they will burn down those barriers set against you. A second set of attributes to own would be the willingness to listen to suggestions from your team, and that one monumental understanding that you are not the be all and end all in the scheme. For some one with no cash and an ego, the height of Kilimanjaro, the film is destined to end up in a scrap heap. Instances of great, unwritten dramatic changes occur in almost every movie ever made. Your film should not be an exception. The Collaboration Theory is an asset, and the best tool to have if you want your creative juices propagated while on location. As my friend, Errol Anthony Wilks, would say: ‘SEE YOU AT THE CINEMA.’

♦ Don Okolo, Professor and filmmaker, is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of many books.

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