TARILA THOMPSON MAKES HISTORY ‘IN THE CREEK’
Simple Magazine met with the man at the brink of making history with his soon to be released movie ‘IN THE CREEK.’ In this excerpt, the Veteran Director, TARILA THOMPSON, tells us about the movie, how it all began, and his take generally on the Nigerian Entertainment Industry.
Nigeria, the most populous Black Nation of the world and the Giant of Africa, derives its major economic power from the exportation of Crude Oil and its products. Over the years, it has been assumed that the moment you step feet on the soil of the nation you immediately begin to breathe oil, oh how superficial!! Before other regions of the nation began to discover oil, there was a region noted historically to have been the birth place and the first place where this major economy determinant was discovered in 1958. It is called the NIGER-DELTA REGION, we call it ‘THE CREEK’; arguably the most marginalized and less developed places in NIGERIA. Isn’t it ironic that the region that makes a nation wealthy is in itself poverty-stricken and in complete neglect?
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE CREEK?
Not many people can answer this question as only few people have been to this creek, not to talk of knowing what happens there. Nollywood, the world’s second largest movie industry in terms of output and the third largest in terms of overall generated revenue is telling the story of the NIGER-DELTA REGION in a way it has never been told and in a first of its kind type of movie titled ‘IN THE CREEK.
IN THE CREEK is adjudged Africa’s biggest export movie yet. Coming from the stable of EL MONTAGE STUDIOS and directed by one of Nigeria’s very best, and the producer of Nigeria’s first English home video, the movie is of Hollywood standard and can compete favorably at international movie festivals.
Tarila Thompson left no stone unturned in ensuring that the movie achieves the kind of quality that we now attribute to it.
The movie, which is not just a piece of entertainment, tells in the most compelling way possible, the story of the deprived and disintegrated people of the Niger-Delta. It is a subtle expository of the acts of the multi-national oil companies and the equally destructive role of the government, which is supposed to be the custodian of the welfare of the people.
The movie tells the story of the exploitation of the people in the region by politicians who take advantage of their vulnerability. We also see in the movie, the unethical exploration and spillage of oil by the multinational oil companies, destroying the land and water of the people; thereby subjecting them to untold hardship as the main occupation of the people is fishing and farming. The lands are too infertile to be cultivated and the water too polluted to be used or fished from. The movie depicts the anger of the people which resonates from having been taken for granted for the past 70 years, wishing that the discovery of this crude which is supposed to make their lives better, was never found in their land in the first place.
A movie of this magnitude is no doubt a high budget movie. I mean this is a movie shot with standard technology, with light/sound engineers, cinematographers and production designers coming from abroad. Not that we didn’t have indigenous professionals, but we are trying to set a standard so most of the crew that worked on this movie were the same that worked on world class movies such as Expendable 6 and Spartacus. To shoot a Hollywood standard movie, you certainly need a Hollywood standard budget. Thankfully we had people that supported us financially.
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By now you would have figured out that we would have nothing but the best hands on a project like this. The movie boasts of an array of African and Foreign ‘A’ list actors. From Africa, we have the likes of Omotola, Van Vicker, Patience Ozokwor, Segun Arinze, Beverly Naya, Paul Obazele and many others.
We didn’t have much difficulty with that because we knew almost at a glance who best fitted into a role, though there were a few adjustments here and there, it wasn’t much of an issue except for one. There was a character called ‘Diongoli’. He is a centric figure that embodies the agitation. He is a philosophical figure in the struggle for change. A real down-to-earth, traditional character who had to look it and sound it because of the language input. It was just this character we had a little issue casting and somewhere along the line, the mantle fell on me to play that role.
CHALLENGES AND PRODUCTION
We encountered a lot of challenges but much of it were already planned for. Partly dealing with the fear and having the belief that a movie of this magnitude can be shot. But the major challenge which any movie of this standard out of Nollywood is likely to face, which we of course did have, is Financial. In Nollywood you are prepared to do the impossible. We filmed for over 4 years because we had to work with available resources, thus we had to keep extending contracts.
WHAT MAKES THE MOVIE STAND-OUT
First, many movies have tried to tell the story of the Niger-Delta people but like I said they only tried. Some just read about it and came up with a script. We had to go into the creeks to hear from the horses’ mouth, we saw for ourselves, we had discussions with the people and stakeholders in the region. The most fascinating and somewhat scary part is that we met with the dreaded militants and interestingly we had a good number of them act in the movie; yes you read right, a good number of the militants in the movie were REAL militants. That’s why we couldn’t find any title more suitable for this project than ‘IN THE CREEK’ because that’s where it all happened. Secondly, the movie is not the regular kind of Nollywood movie. I mean, we are not known for ACTION movies as it were and that’s what this movie is about. Since we figured that this genre of movie (ACTION) isn’t well received in this part of the world, we had to engage the best of stunt masters and hands who have worked on award-winning action movies across the globe. We used real battle field equipment, we dramatized the story and not narrated. Thirdly, this is a movie currently being awaited in different countries and continents; so we had to, again, ‘LIP SYNC’ not subtitle it in over 5 foreign languages including French, Cantonese, Portuguese, etc. These are just a few, you can log on to our website to see more distinguishing factors. www.inthecreekglobalmovie.com
IN THE CREEK CONCERT VS IN THE CREEK MOVIE
You can see it’s all about the creek. For a project like this, we will leverage on any tool that will market, promote or help to put the movie on the screens of our viewers and we recognize music as one of, if not the most powerful tool to help achieve this. It’s going to be a massive concert as we plan to have it in about 14 countries across Europe, UK, America, and the Caribbean’s. Regarding when this will take place, we are working on the modalities.
TARILA THOMPSON: THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY AND I
I knew for a long time that I was going to end up in the industry because I grew up liking entertainment. Even though there wasn’t any structure when I started, I knew I was going to make a living from the industry. Forget what any of the stars who had been in the industry for long tell you now, when we all started, it was like a gamble, we didn’t know what we really wanted out of it. We just had passion and that was what sustained us. Then, we did it just for the show not the business.
FROM THE START
My first movie was shot in 1993, titled ‘Love Without Language’. It was the first home video shot in English Language. This was where the likes of Ramsey Noah, JT Tom West, Eucheria Annunobi etc. had their first feature. It was very challenging but I decided to try it. I knew marketers were going to question the acceptance and marketability of the movie; then, we were more into indigenous language movies; you were either producing Igbo or Yoruba speaking movies because of the audience. The movie finally made it to the screens 2 years after, 1995, because nobody was ready to invest in a risk as that. Though it crawled for a while, it eventually became massive.
The movie ‘Love Without Language’ has always been the pioneer of my filmmaking journey. Then I later followed it up with ‘Back Stab’ where I featured Charley Boy, it was his first film and also another experiment because people had just started accepting English movies. Despite the complaints about high budgets on our movies by marketers; of course we didn’t care because we knew we would achieve someday, ‘Back Stab’ was a master class at that time and a success too.
MY PERSON, GENERALLY
Professionally, I am what you may call ‘Jack of all Trade, Master of All’. I am an actor, director, producer and a musician. I do straight stories, love stories spiced with action sequences when necessary. As a director and father on set, I try to accommodate and assimilate things from all parties involved. Personally, I am a very natural person who believes in reality, especially as an African. I am a family man, married to a beautiful wife who is also into acting.
MY VIEW ABOUT THE INDUSTRY AND ADVICE TO THE UPCOMERS
One of the banes of Nollywood, though not limited to it, is Piracy. Government should recognize that they are part of the industry and build structures that will make piracy difficult. The private sector, especially the corporate industries have tried but many of them just do lip service. The banks are the biggest disappointments. They are so uncertain and unorganized, rendering little or no support to entrepreneurs. The entertainment industry in Nigeria, if well invested into by government and stakeholders, can rake in as much revenue as is realized from Crude Oil. But beyond all that, the industry is a fantastic one for anybody interested in film-making. It’s an open-market and can only be best understood when you experience it for yourself. Don’t be discouraged by what you hear, you just have to be mentally strong, have the ‘CAN DO’ mindset and attitude, most importantly, have the spirit and attitude of excellence, that’s the best niche you can carve for yourself in this industry…..ALL THE BEST!!!