Saturday 18 January 2014

Sunny Okwori, taking ‘Idoma Nollywood’ to the global map

Eze, Linda Adaeze

Sunny Okwori
Sunny Okwori has carved a niche for himself in the entertainment industry. As a Director/Producer of many Nigerian movies, the Efekwo Otukpa born promoter of Eftown Productions decided to step out of his lucrative movie productions in Ghana and Lagos for an indigenous Idoma Nollywood to be nurtured. Let’s meet him!

Can we meet you?

My name is Sunny Okwori, a member of Director’s Guide of Nigeria (DGN); the acting PRO/Task Force Chairman, Association of Movies Producers, Northern Region and the President, Idoma Nollywood.

From the forgoing, you are an Actor, Producer and a Director…

Yeah. I am an experienced Director-Producer.

How long have you been in the movie industry?

I’m as old as Nollywood itself!

Can you tell us more about Idoma Nollywood?

As the name implies, Idoma Nolywood is the Idoma version of Nigeria Nollywood as it gave birth to Idoma Nollywood. By the grace of God we have been making waves to see that the Association of Movies Producers, a body responsible for regulating the activities of movies industries in Nigeria approves Idoma Nollywood.
From some of our movies so far, you would believe that some notable faces in the industry have endorsed Idoma Nollywood and we are trying our best to see that it becomes a global name.

Can you mention a few hands in Idomaland that are behind this Idoma Nollywood?

First and foremost, I would like to give kudos to Och’Otukpo, Chief John Eyimonye who has been instrumental to our movement. He said that anything that has to do with the promotion of Idoma culture he has full support for it and he has been linking us to other prominent personalities in Idomaland. We have also met with the NCC Boss, the Commissioner of Finance in Benue and Hon. Chris Adabah Abbah (Mad Lion) and they are all fully in support of Idoma Nollywood. Worthy of mention also is the Och’Idoma, HRH Agabaidu Elias Ikoyi Obekpa who strongly believes in us.

Are you fanning the ember of Idoma Nollywood all alone or there are other Idoma Actors in the train?

Though I’m the arrow head but I’m not alone in the struggle. I have the likes of St. Godwin Ochola as the Assistant President; Prince Agbo who is the Secretary General of the industry; Sunny Obeka as the Treasurer; Michael Onoja (Focus) as Task Force Chairman; Peter Ochigbo as the PRO.

Do you have any plans to bring all the notable Idoma Stars in Nigeria Nollywood together to shoot a single movie in Idoma language?

Yeah, I have always had that in my mind. The problem is that we are always faced with financial challenges, you know, doing movie business is not a chicken business, we really need the money in order to get there. The Idoma people are so selective when it comes to watching movies and they think Idoma Nollywood is a local thing.

I want to correct this impression because in the movies industries across the world, there are categories for indigenous movies which Idoma Nollywood is not an exception. But they keep calling it local movies, it’s not local, it’s an indigenous industry! We have more professional hands in the industry outside me which makes me believe that the Idoma Nollywood will find itself way into the global map soon.

Over the years, all the movies that have been awarded the ‘best movie of the year’ have never been English – we have ‘Epockelito’, ‘Passion of the Christ’, ‘Tupsy’ (a South African Film). They are not English movies, why can’t the Idoma people encourage us to be able to compete with those internationally acclaimed industries?

Now, what are the differences between Nigerian Nollywood and Idoma Nollywood?

The difference is just the language. The Nollywood Nigeria is encompassing – they mostly shoot in English. But there are other indigenous industries under Nollywood, ours is ‘Idoma Nollywood’ which is exclusively done in Idoma language. We are doing all these things to see that Idoma register is not missing in the world. We have the Yorubas, the Hausas, The Igbos, The Igalas, even the Calabar Nollywood, so why can’t we have our own Idoma Nollywood?

Nollywood Nigeria is 20 years, now, what is the way forward for the industry?

As the 20th anniversary of Nollywood is coming up, definitely if the mother industry is celebrating, the children shall also celebrate. We at the Idoma Nollywood are also putting stuffs together to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Nigeria Nollywwod. Though the Idoma Nollywood is still a baby,but we must celebrate with our mother body.

What are your major challenges in Idoma Nollywood?

Basically, we need equipments and financial support. Like I said earlier, movie business is not what one can jump into; we need good financial base to be able to produce qualitative Idoma movies. It’s much possible to have the Idoma movies competing with English movies on the screen, it’s very much possible!

What about piracy in Idoma Nollywood?

As small as the industry is, the piracy is very high! Virtually every distributor of these movies has a duplicating machine and because the producers are still producing from the lean resources in their pockets, they cannot go to companies to mass-dub from Lagos because it’s more expensive. So, they have to resolve to print it locally, so the piracy level gets higher.
Can you imagine that virtually all the local governments in Idoma land has 2 – 3 duplicating machines, because we don’t go round to check their dubious activities that’s why we are always short-changed. Some people would sell their lands and properties to be able to produce these movies and at the end of the day they end up achieving nothing.

How many Idoma movies have you produced or directed?

I have so many of them – like ‘Nwalu k’ole’; ‘Ehi’; ‘Opum’; ‘Imeli’; ‘Okpikwu’; ‘Agwo ml’Ochagwu’; ‘Akwuna’; ‘Ageje’. I have also produced and or directed many Nigerian movies, most of them are on DSTV, like ‘dirty language’, ‘one heart’, ‘power of sin’, ‘blunder’, it’s endless.

How do you scout for Actors and Actresses in Idomaland?

One good thing about Idoma Nollywood is that it is very encompassing. The channel is disseminating of information through Idoma language. Our grand nees back home can understand what we are doing because they understand Idoma language. So, either educated or non-educated, you can still be part of Idoma Nollywood because it’s only by speaking and understanding the language that you are qualified.

Are we expecting any movie from the Idoma Nollywood soon?

Yes. We are currently working on ‘Akwuna’ and it’s 80% done because we have to make it standard as we hope to take it to AMA award, the indigenous language category.

How do you generate fund for your production?

As a matter of fact, I drive for fund! It’s not easy at all because, leaving my lucrative production business in Ghana and Lagos and coming home to build the Idoma Nollywood has not been rosy for me. It’s a new ball game – no marketers, no financiers, I and other practitioners in it are doing it all by ourselves, so, it has not been easy at all.

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