Thursday, May 20, 2021

Piracy Is Sinking The Northern Movie Industry–Uzee Usman

Uzee Usman is a top Nollywood cum Kannywood movie maker, producer, actor and presenter. The die-hard thespian in this interview with ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM in Abuja speaks on his latest movie "Voiceless" and why they aren't getting support from the northerners

We know you to be one of the most creative and prolific filmmaker and actor in Nollywood and Kannywood. We also learnt you made a movie about the insurgency going on. Can you give us an insight on what the movie is about?
The movie about the insurgency are two, one is "Voiceless" is a huge one and produced by Rogers Ofime. It's going to be on Netflix I think from next month. It's already in cinema now. I played the role of the second in command of the terrorists who took over the camp. The movie is about the relationship between the government and the insurgents. We tried to paint a picture of their motifs and the effect it has. And then "Eagle Wings", it's in cinema now produced and directed by Paul Apel Papel, in collaboration with Nigerian Air Force. It's about how the Nigerian Air Force is tackling insurgency in northern Nigeria. In this movie I'm the leader of the insurgents. Trust me it's something different and unique. It's something nice. The Nigerian Air Force came all out to back the project with fighter jets and everything we needed to shoot the movie. And it's in the cinema right now. These are the two movies I have don recently. The one I'm currently shooting is called "White Blood" (Fain Jini), and it's my personal project.

Is it a traditional Hausa movie?
No... it's an English series with a northern touch. It's my company in collaboration with Roc Production.

What should your fans expect from your new project "White Blood?"
The movie is a different feel entirely in terms of  making of a series. It's star-studded. Everyone that knows me know that I love collaborating with the southern and northern stars , infusing the northern story into English. It's same concept I'm bringing into this movie but with more panache and stars from the southern part to come interprete the roles. I brought in the guy that won the best actor last year, Timini Egbuson from AMVCA, Yvonne Jegede, I brought in a veteran called Barbra Udoh to play the biggest Hajiya you can ever imagine. Those who have been watching Nollywood would know her. I'm also in the movie too as an actor, Yakubu Mohammed and others. It's a northern story with glamour, pain. It's a story of "Aljenu" that's common in the north and we want the world to know what it is better.

That's Roc TV ...
Yes. It's a big collaboration, first of its kind. The movie is about how the northern society lavishes wealth.

What have you been doing aside shooting movies?
I have been working as an actor on other people's job. They are numerous that I can't count. I have also been doing other stuff that would be in the public soon.

Should we be expecting any traditional Hausa movie(s) from you soon?
I do have some scripts that are traditional Hausa stories. But they are heavy to shoot and you don't want to step on toes. You know how delicate the northern society is. You must be careful with extremely cultural or religious storylines. You may not know where you got it wrong, and they would take it personal. I'm still sceptical in shooting them. But I'm working on it.

What's your take on Northern movie makers grooming their own actors?
It's not that we don't support them, I keep saying this, government needs to come into the entertainment sector, especially the northern part. Because you'll find out that alot of northern filmmaker are reluctant to support themselves or even produced more movie now because when they go to borrow money from the bank or use their personal money to finance their movies, their fellow northerners don't support them to be able to recoup thor money. So it's a huge problem. We need the government to intervene and end piracy. Only government can help in extinguishing piracy. Piracy in the north is a huge problem. Investing money in the northern movies is a no for me. For instance, you got a loan of N10million to produce a movie, you will be struggling to get N2million back because pirates are on standby to hijack it. The northern Movie industry is sinking because pirates have hijacked the entire system.

What about shooting movies for Netflix, do you still encounter piracy?
If you want to shoot a movie for Netflix, you must shoot it very well. For example "Voiceless" is an Hausa movie and it was done with a huge amount of money. The movie is 100 per cent an Hausa film. An English investor came in to invest close to $1million. Which investor in the north that can support you with such an amount? "Voiceless" went to the Cinema and Netflix is because it was shot properly. We were on location shooting for three months. It was an Hausa movie but was shot internationally. These people in the north don't even believe in you.

What more should we be expecting from Uzee Usman?
Keep expecting good movies as an actor in every platform. Kepep expecting good production from Uzee Multi-Concept limited. We'll continue to give you comfortable, educative, informative movies you will learn something from.

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