Akin died. He couldn’t take it.
I invited flies to my funeral. These parasites devoured my film scene by scene, theme by theme, editing my film with their lips, and insulting my actors – Yes! Insults I tell you. The critics decided to take power into their hands and throw words around like careless bridesmaids jostling for the symbolic bouquet. I never thought it could happen to me. But they got me. They got me real good.
I was twenty two years old when I made my first film. It was around that time I had called it off with my girlfriend of six months and started something new with some other girl. I agreed on a life reset, moving away from unhinged sexual odysseys to agreeing with my parents to just wait until marriage. As reward for contrition, they gifted me a Canon 60d for my 22nd birthday. “Finally! after all these years, I wonder what took them so long. Now I can shoot these crazy ideas without procrastinating.” Yeah, that excited. I had refused to get a camera from friends to shoot my wonderful ideas. I believed it’s bad luck to start a film career with someone else’s camera. Just my principle of “business and ownership equals great success”. The details of my academic performance don’t count here. I was doing okay and that is all you need to know.
The title of my film is THE CEO. No, not the one you think you saw, this one featured no superstars and has a better storyline with intriguing scenes and emotional depth. I cried watching my film. I was trying to sell it to some platforms before … They said it doesn’t have the required star power amongst other nonsense things, but fuck them. My film is a beautiful story of love and betrayal set against the background of a society thrown into turbulence by ongoing political unrest. We managed a ten-man team, many of whom were tireless extras playing different roles in different situations. You wouldn’t notice this in the film though, we made it work really well. Anyway, I shouldn’t bore you with how awesome the film is. You can check it out for yourselves here.
I put everything into it. I had worked on this story for two years. I dreamt about every scene, every character motivation. I envisioned every tiny detail of the production design and how festival audiences would applaud my creative attempt. I said to myself, perhaps I could join the Surreal 16 and be the 5th wave. This film is going to be treated like Afolayan’s “October One” with better characterizations, fiery intrigues and a more concealed opening. It’s going to have an Izu Ojukwu like grandiosity, the most intriguing trailer ever and it’s going to give all the unknown actors their big break in the industry. It’s going to be legendary. I had it all figured out.
I finished the film in two months (school work always took most of the time), after one week of rigorous set life. I did have to figure it out a lot on set while shooting. I was directing a crew consisting of one Director of Photography and his assistant, Gaffer and his assistant, Makeup and Wardrobe specialist and his assistant (I did most of the work), Production Manager and her assistant (I did most of the work), Continuity Manager and her boyfriend – who was soon promoted to BTS and Utility guy (If he was going to be eating on my set, he’d better work for it). I soon lost count of how many people were on my set, I just wanted to get the work done.
We scheduled 3 days to shoot. I had done my story board. We had secured equipment and I had rehearsed some scenes with some actors. I was a constant visitor on Niyi Akinmolayan’s blog so I had a manual. I was doing everything creatively and logistically right – I was sure of it. We spent over five hundred thousand naira. The film’s outcome was a justification of all our hard-work, a success. After shooting came the post production delays and setbacks. We lost some footages, but since we still had to tell the story somehow, I managed to reshoot some scenes. A lot of compromises were made, but in the end we made a film and we were happy.
I took my mentor’s advice and hyped this film. It got a lot of attention. At twenty two, I did not think I was doing badly at all. There was just one thing I had never come across – Critics. I had always heard about the word “critic” and “criticism” but never really bothered about it until now. So, in keeping with the tradition of my growth as a filmmaker, we had an official premiere of my debut film and my dependable overambitious theatre friends had asked me to invite some press people to the event for the sake of publicity. It was going to be free, so no harm or so I thought.
Post Mortem Narration by unknown observer since Akin is now dead.
You see, Akin’s well-meaning film premiered to a seemingly excited audience. It was praised for daring to venture into a new world, with a simplified approach to the action sequence, the manipulation of the big crowd, the effortless presentation of the story of the characters and their obstacles. The mild mannered enigma made a lot of efficient production choices and but these petty bloggers and so called critics had vile things to say about it:
“Akin Oloye’s debut is a classroom joke that nobody got” – Papa Z
“A misygnostic reminder in Akin Oloye’s THE CEO”. – William Ochicha
“THE CEO” by Akin Oloye might be the worst film in his career yet but let’s see if he’s actually going to have a career” – Cinemapointer
“Angry and Funny, but lacked originality” – Film Rats
Akin was angry at these nonsense comments; they tormented him in his sleep. Voices in his head trampling all his effort. One of the clownish film bloggers even asked where he got the money to burn. These critics had questions Akin couldn’t answer. Everywhere he looked, there were fingers pointed. This was when the thought was born and took root – Suicide.
Akin made a video as he fixed himself a cup of hypo and rat poison. In his final words he said “It’s naïve to think that negative reviews have no effect on an artist’s psychology or career, and critics should consider what it takes to recover from wounds before inflicting them.”