by David Osairemen
Fake it till you make it, a false aphorism or not, summarizes the uncanny success of this young film Director who sustained a lie to his girlfriend until he landed his first [real] Nollywood job.
Congratulations on your film festival selection.
This is your third stint at a festival, am I right?
Wow! You’ve been keeping stock.
I do my best.
Impressive. Yes, this is my third time.
Did you really want to make films or you’re one of those who stumbled on it by chance?
I’d say a bit of both. I caught the spark for films in my second year in the University. I went wild with my hunger to make films. I talked about it everywhere with so much zest as though I had years of experience in film. My friends, then, tagged me Young Spielberg – they knew I love Spielberg – so it was only normal they nicknamed me after him.
Interesting. Why Spielberg though?
His visceral narrative and visual style. Second to none. My opinion and I’m sure you agree.
Of course, you know a Spielberg film when you see it.
Exactly. A class act. My hero.
Hahaha. I see the love. So, what happened with that spark you caught?
Oh, I made a film, as is normal. My friends cum fans talked me into it. I was young and bubbly with energy, eager to begin a journey with no idea what was in front of me. I made the film anyway. I got a friend of mine, a smart-head who had his way with words, write me a script. It was a collaborative effort from everyone. I was the leader of the pack, the director as you’d call it. The enthusiasm from my friends gingered me.
But! The film came out wack.
Very wack. The issues with the film were glaring after the final cut. The reviews were no less disappointing. They were blatant as well as damaging to my barely-formed passion. People consoled me saying it’s not often you hit the mark with the first trial. I struggled to accept their sympathies. I considered the effort myself and everyone put in and how it should have counted for something.
I mean, money was spent and money was lost, seemingly. I felt bad for days. It was a very strange feeling as a reward for passion. I gave it time, then shook it off. I continued with school but that spark stayed with me. I read more about film, studied different renowned directors and their styles. Dabbled into screenwriting too. I just wanted to compensate that painful start with more and more film knowledge. In my final year, I got opportunities to volunteer on movie sets. The learning continued for me. After school, of course, I had to get a job to survive Nigeria. I worked at an advertising agency for some time, first as an assistant, then an associate producer. After a while, I resigned.
I wanted more. The money was good but somehow, the place became boring with routines. Plus, the company introduced policies that did not sit well with me anymore. I knew it was time to leave. With no other job to fall back to, I left. I resigned.
Bold move. Really bold.
Yes, it was. I heard people talk about resigning from well-paying jobs. I never understood why until it happened to me. A few weeks into my joblessness, I met up with an old friend, She begged me to help her direct some spec adverts for brands she was looking to pitch to. I helped her. About three months later, I met a girl who became my girlfriend.
Remember, I was jobless but I managed to hide that detail, only just.
Uh-oh! And so the plot thickens…
Hahaha. I made her believe I was a film director working on several projects. I showed her some of the ads I had produced and directed both at the advertising agency and with that old friend I helped. That bought me time.
I didn’t want her to think I was actually jobless which made the lie worthy to sell. She bought it and everyone was fine, or so I believed.
What happened afterwards?
Many things my brother, many things. My crooked plan soon spiraled back and smacked me in the face.
I’m here for the gist.
Well, I had saved up money from my previous job.
The advertising agency.
Yes, exactly. So, there was money to continue with the lie and save face while I pushed for gigs. Somewhere, somehow, my girlfriend had bragged to her friends that her boyfriend is a Nollywood director with cinemas films in the works.
Then she started asking the dreaded questions “When is your film coming out? Wow, it’s a cinema film? My friends want to know if they will get free tickets to see the film?…
I was in a fix and needed saving. As a smart guy, I levelled up quickly. I told her the projects are in several stages of post-production. That these things take time and all that jazz. From that moment, I started reaching out to people, scouting for jobs like a hungry bear, any directing job whatsoever. I was down for anything; music videos, short films, anything!
A strange motivation.
If I ever had passion, that time I was sure I did. Shit hit the fan when one day she called me and asked where I was. Foolish me said I was on set. She said she wanted to come visit.
Guy, I was at home prancing about in my boxer shorts.
It wasn’t funny o. But I managed to save my head that day. I told her we were wrapping up already. She insisted. I told her to come to the house instead, in 30 minutes.
Oh, it gets worse. About a week later, we were together, she requested for my laptop. I did not know why. I gave her. Minutes later, she went berserk! Screaming and yelling at how I lied to her and betrayed her trust. I was still confused. Until she showed me the droves of recent applications I had sent out. I was numb. The cat was out of the bag.
Then she revealed she had suspected foul play but decided to trust me. She demanded the truth. I had to come clean but it was not enough, she requested a breakup. She was really broken and disappointed. I was back to feeling dejected as I was after making that disaster of a film, even worse.
I can only imagine. How did you cope?
I was heart-broken and jobless. The odds were against me. I was careful not to be depressed.
Two/three weeks later, or a month, really cannot remember now, someone reached out to me on LinkedIn. He said he was fascinated by my bio and was open to working with a young Director, like me, for a web series.
The rest, they say, is history. I worked with him on the web series. It was quite the experience for me. My first real job as a Director. There, I met a few eggheads passionate about film. We formed a team and have since been making films. Two short films and our first feature that recently got our third festival nod.
You’re starting to get the true reward for passion.
Hahaha. True but it came at a cost.
Yea, we still talk. She’s still pissed at me though. Very pissed.
Any chance of getting back together?
I hope. I really hope.
I stand with you, Bro. Thank you for sharing.