To say he's one of Nigeria's finest filmmakers is like saying the obvious. Aquila Njamah is sure an A-lister as far as movie directing is concerned in Nigeria. Apart from been a face to reckon with in the movie industry, Aquila has stepped up to join the league of gentlemen in politics. He has summoned the courage to contest for the post of executive council in one of the local government areas in Lagos state. In this interview with National Enquirer's DamilolaDaramola, he shared his experience and many escapades as a movie director/actor as well as flair for politics.
How did it all begin?
Well, it started in the 80s, 1987 to be precise. I had wanted to be in the art world, I started with television programmes at LTV 8, and stage production, I worked with EnebeliElebuwa because he actually discovered me. My first movie was in 1996 and I also won an international award in 2007 (NIIFF) with the movie titled, THE RIVALS by Mercy Effiong which was directed by me.
Can you talk about some of the challenges in filming?
Yes, the major challenge in filming is lack of fund because to a large extent, we have not been able to create a good platform for investors to come in. Filmmakers have not been branding movies, for instance, you can't see a Nigerian movie where Toyota is the branded car used throughout. We are number 2 in the world in terms of movie production and yet, we don't have a database of how our movies are scripted, no annual collation of returns from the movies.
As a movie director, who can you say is your favourite actor, or someone that interprets your script even beyond expectation?
I won't say I have a favourite, because for me as a director, I believe in everything you do, discipline is the key word. Any idiot can be a star, but it takes a morally inclined person to go all the way. The likes of my late friend J.T Tom West (RIP), Mike Ezuruonye, Ramsey Noah and Majid Michel are the kind of people I love to work with because they are versatile.
Does anyone need to be talented in acting to direct a movie?
Not necessarily, but one must have the interpretation prowess to be able to get what you want out of an actor. However, it is easier when you are an actor and also directs because it makes your job as a director less cumbersome as you already have an idea or picture of what you want e.g., Mel Gibson.
Name one actor you will like to get naughty with?
This is a tricky question. Well I will say we are lucky in our industry because 70% of our female actors are beautiful, but the one I will like to be romantically involved with is the sensual Mercy Johnson.
Why are you not married?
You know, at some point, I noticed I was too engrossed with work rather than settling down, but trying to get the conception of what marriage truly is, from the industry where divorce is rampant, I'd rather get married and stay married. You know, being in this line of work, you need a partner that will understand and support you. Anyway, its work in progress
Is there any new project you're working on that you will like to talk about?
Yes, I am working on something, it will be coming out soon, it's a multimillion naira project, a movie I shot in 2011 which is yet to be released titled, SAND CASTLE. You know, a friend of mine said it's going to be a comeback for me but told him I did not go away, I only stepped aside.
Are there any personal ambitions yet unattained?
Yes, but currently I am running for the post of Executive Council of AmuwoOdofin L.G.A, under the PDP platform.
Well, I have been a member of PDP since 2010, and I think as a party I like the way they do their thing. There's a lot of decorum there, they have respect for humanity, PDP is not tribalistic and it allows everyone freedom of speech. It is a level playground for everyone.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
I will say Matt MA Ghandi; he was a man who has genuine love for humanity and he was someone that carried peace everywhere. He was ready to die for unity, highly disciplined, and a great hero. You know, being who I am, when I heard about him, I was rest assured that good people still exist in this world. Also, will like to point out that my father G.C. Njamah, has impacted my life, even in death.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a movie director and in this your new found love, politics?
Being a Council Executive, it will determine my involvement in the movie industry. In my manifesto, I will talk about how my position will influence the movie industry in a positive way; I will reach out to talented ones, filmmakers, directors and I will also use the industry to search and develop talents.
What word of motivation do you have for the young ones coming into the industry be it as a director or an actor?
First of all, I will say passion before money; you have to be passionate and also good at what you do, if you can abide with this, money will come. There's a difference between being a celebrity and being a star, if you're eccentric, it's an added advantage. You have to do a lot of research, homework, and watch news so as to improve your creative mind and automatically, you will climb the ladder of fame and success.