Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ishaya Bako: Daytime Chat with The Director Of Genevieve Nnaji’s Road To Yesterday.


Ishaya Bako might just be coming to a lot of people’s consciousness but the 28 year old filmmaker has been getting his hands dirty for a while now.

After graduating from Covenant University, Ishaya attended London Film School where he learnt about filmmaking.

He then went ahead to script and direct his AMAA award winning Braids On A Bald Headwhich was his first major award as a Nigerian filmmaker.

But the average Nigerian audience does not know a Director who has not made a commercially successful movie and that is probably why Ishaya’s collaboration with Nollywood’s sweetheart, Genevieve Nnaji is the major reason he has been thrust into a lot of people’s consciousness.

And even though the Road To Yesterday Director claims he is not popular, we know that once the movie hits the big screen next month, his story is most likely going to change.

And that was why we grabbed him for an exclusive interview, throwing in as many questions as possible for him to answer in the short time he can spare, so that you our beloved readers can have an insight into the mind of the man who Genevieve Nnaji trusted with her first effort as a Producer.

In this interview (which was put together by Bankole Jamgbadi and I), Ishaya discusses the Genevieve mystic, his thoughts on Producers trying to have an opinion on a Director’s work and why there has never been a film like Road To Yesterday.

Grab your soda and popcorn, it would be a thrilling ride!

Some people believe Genevieve might have come back too late, but you worked with her, is there any surprise/new Genny we would be meeting?

Some people believe she never left and just took a bit longer between projects. It was a really positive experience working with Ms. Nnaji. She’s a really talented and dedicated artist and she’s truly committed to her work. I don’t know about a ‘surprise/new Gene’; I don’t even know if we need a ‘surprise/new Gene’. I know she’s a really good actress and I think she’s been really consistent in delivering good and memorable performances and in Road to Yesterday; she’s delivered a really good and memorable performance.
Ishaya and Genevieve while promoting Road To Yesterday at the Naija fm studio

She’s considered Nollywood’s sweetheart, could you decipher why that is? Any extraordinary, supernatural moves? Magic wand? Rituals? You know, anything that contributes to the mystic

I think she has a magic lantern and carpet… that may be it. Jokes aside, I think Ms. Nnaji is highly regarded as an actress and a celebrity because of her dedication to her craft and her undeniable talent.

You have made a lot of short films and documentaries; this is your first feature. How was the experience?

It was a really rewarding experience. There’s no knowledge lost in my training and my experience in short subject narratives and I suppose all of that prepared me for this.

Has anyone made anything like this (Road to Yesterday)? Ever?

In art, and in entertainment, people draw similarities in different ways. And it also depends on what your criteria is for drawing these similarities. Films have been made before, films about couples in distress have been made before, and films about couples in distress in Nigeria have been made before.

A film about a couple in distress who go on a road trip from Lagos to the east and try to save their marriage directed by Ishaya Bako and starring Genevieve Nnaji, Oris Erheuro, Majid Michel, Chioma Omeruah, Ebele Okaro and a host of others hasn’t been made before. This is the first time a film like this has been made, ever.

What’s your favourite time on set?

Wrap time is my favourite.

Is there something we should expect?

A really good film with really good performances.

What separates a good director from a great director?

I think attention to detail is important, and also being a great communicator. I’m still on my journey to being a great director; I’ll pick up some more ideas along the way.

What is Road to Yesterday about?

It’s the story of a couple trying to save a troubled relationship. It’s a road film, a modern love story.

As a filmmaker, we’d love to know what your perception of Nollywood is?

Nollywood is unique in so many amazing and fascinating ways. I think it’s quite amazing that the industry was created organically and despite very many odds to be what it is today. Obviously there’s a lot to criticize; but at the same time, I think there’s a lot to appreciate and acknowledge too. Is the industry as a whole underperforming? Probably, but you’d be hard-pressed finding any industry in the country that isn’t underperforming.

But we have to be optimistic; just as we’re optimistic about the country’s economic and socio-political outlook despite the clear arrival of austere times; I’m optimistic about the film industry in Nigeria.

On the international scene, What talent would you like to work with?

The list is endless. As a writer, I’d love to work with Aaron Sorkin, I imagine his process to be amazing; as a director, Abderrahmane Sissako and Sam Mendes… and Christopher Nolan. I imagine it’d be amazing to work with Lupita Nyong’o, Jennifer Lawrence and their mother, Meryl Streep… although I think I’ll just be saying ‘yes ma’ to anything Ms. Streep would say. I’d also love the opportunity to work with Nkem Owoh and Francis Duru; I think they are really talented.

What is your network like? What Director, Actress or Entertainer is within your network?

I don’t know how to answer this question. It’s like asking who’s on my phone list or email. I sadly don’t know that many people. I’m not that popular.

Do you sometimes get notes on set maybe from producers challenging/tweaking your ideas? Basically, how do you know when they are right/wrong? How do you handle situations like this?

I think the best filmmakers excel at collaboration. And I think it’s essential to know the value of collaboration, even though you are the director, the captain of the ship. I also think instinct plays a huge role in the making of a film almost as much as the nuts and bolts, the story structure, shooting format, post production workflow and all. And it’s instinct that tells you if an observation or an idea from not only the producers but also the actors, sound recordist, art director and even runners is something that enhances the story or the film. It’s essential to keep the big picture in mind but also understand that you’re making the film for an audience, not just yourself. And ideas that make the film clearer, more interesting, more believable or more entertaining are ideas that are always valued.

Road To Yesterday hits cinemas November 27th.


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