To join the league of interviews on Teesdairy, I caught up with the Chief Operations Officer of Studio 84 Connect, a fast rising film production company, Miss Theresa Ananenu.
Theresa Ananenu is a recent graduate of the New York Film Academy. She bagged her first degree in Mass Communication from Covenant University, Nigeria. When Teesdiary met with Theresa, she kept gushing about her love for the art of filmmaking, especially as a producer. It was obvious this was a young woman who had found her passion. To Theresa, filmmaking is more than just a story being told in moving pictures. It’s also about the emotions it elicits, the retentive message that sinks into the psyche of the audience, the director’s shots and angles and quality of the pictures, the sweat, frustration and push…. However, despite the pressure, Theresa is certain she is into this for life, and would give filmmaking her all.
Theresa, introduce us to Studio84Connect
Studio84Connect is an upcoming film company that has its prime objective centered on using Nigeria and Africa’s film industry to promote and increase knowledge and understanding of our arts, literature and culture. We also aim to develop a wider non- African audience for our cinemas. The pursuit of possibilities and excellence in entertainment is what drives our desire to make a change in the film industry of today.
It must be quite challenging to attract non-African audience to your predominantly African films. How do you intend to achieve this feat?
Well, for starters it will be like watching an American movie but it will have Nigerian content. It will have new African elements and tell the stories as we see them. We intend to premiere in cinemas, not just in Nigeria but outside as well. As it is, Nigeria is on the world’s film radar and by the time we produce and release our movies, it will definitely come to light. We are also going to leverage on social networks to throw this video out. When it’s everywhere, it will create the publicity we need and attract this audience. Another thing is that we intend to sell it and our company generally, to Nigerians. With the great apathy for homemade products, if we can sell it to them, they will boast about it. Knowing how many of us are in Diaspora, it will be worldwide soon enough
What is The Awakening?
The Awakening is a product of studio 84. It is a film we are currently putting together with Hungry Artists. Awakening tells the story of a young man whose life is changed when he begins to have premonitions of death that come true. Eventually, these premonitions lead him to a place he never would have imagined. So far, we have shot an excerpt of the film. It’s a 3-min shoot, a prelude to the main film. The reason for this is to show investors and the world what we can create and get them to buy into this dream and join the exhilarating world of filmmaking.
How did you come about the name Hungry Artists, and who are they?
Hungry Artists is a conglomeration of skilled professionals from different facets of the filmmaking industry – directors, producers, cinematographers, editors and actors. They have different individual projects, but want to work on them as a team since we are all diversified.
The name Hungry Artists is inspired by our desire to see a change in the approach to filmmaking in Nigeria. Professionalism needs to be introduced to the game so we can earn some respect for the art we love.
Well, contrary to the general notion that something is wrong with Nollywood, I dare say that Nollywood is just fine. They have a strategy that works. As opposed to the Indian and American movie industries that thrive on professionalism, Nollywood was birthed with a focus, business! With that, they have succeeded because they have a structure that works and brings in a certain amount of money weekly; they also have some producers and directors who are able to churn out a particular number of movies in a month or less. These movies are given to a particular set of distributors who deliver to certain marketers and they have a market for it. They make their money and everyone is happy and, as far as I am concerned, it is a success, based on the fact that they are maintaining their focus and meeting their targets. Success is defined by objectives; therefore it is a highly successful industry. Also, their effort has put Nigeria as no. 3 in filmmaking worldwide and that is a positive thing, no matter how we look at it.
However, we have a new breed of professionals who have a different focus – quality, content, cinematic elements and general world standards. This group of people will have to study the market and define their own metrics of success. They may decide to join Nollywood or carve out a niche for themselves. We at Studio84 have decided to carve out a niche for ourselves. We are professionals and we will give a new approach and outlook to filmmaking in Nigeria. Much as home videos have a market to sell to, we also have a rising market that want more in terms of all the elements stated above and we intend to satisfy them. Nollywood has done well and we respect their hard work and they have earned our honor but, we have different outlooks to filmmaking and variety is really the spice of creativity.
In other words, are you saying Studio 84 Connect is not a part of Nollywood?
No we are not…maybe we are an arm, a new generation. A new crop of talents, but I won’t classify us as Nollywood.
Do you have any strategies in place to combat piracy once the film is released?
Oh definitely! Piracy can be tamed by premiering in cinemas first and releasing to DVD only after we think it is necessary. We have laws protecting us and we are also doing more research, as the strategies, which work outside the country, may not necessarily work here. We may have to become friends of these pirates and find out how they work and then ensure we cover all the loopholes. We will do whatever it takes.
Have you featured at any film festivals yet… or any event like the national theatre etc.?No, we have not featured in any film festivals yet but we intend to this year.
THE TRAILER:: THE AWAKENING!
For more on the Nolly-Scene, watch Zambia-born Fraco Sacchi, as he tours Nigeria’s Nollywood on TEDtalks