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‘The support a female producer needs is within her’

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Tope Oshin

Tope Oshin is a film producer, director and casting director.

The former Nigerian Television Authority programmes producer and director was at a time at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, where she had a stint in Economics but left the course for Public Administration and then Theatre Arts, before settling for Television and Film Production at Lagos State University.

With a passion for theatrical arts, she later studied at the Colorado Film School of the Community College of Aurora, Denver, United States, and majored in Film Directing.

Known for her 2012 feature film, Journey to Self, the actor with over 12 years experience before venturing into film directing, worked as an assistant director on The Apprentice Africa, a business TV reality show. In this Interview with ENIOLA DANIEL, shared her experience as a female filmmaker and talked about her new projects and new movie.

What is New Money all about and what lessons (s) are there to be learnt?

It is the beautiful grass to grace story of a young girl, Toun Odumosu, who got a sudden inheritance and is then faced with grappling the success and maintaining a healthy balance between her old and new life.

We follow her battles through family, legacy, friendship and love. Toun Odumosu’s story is inspirational and could be the dream life of any Nigerian, any human, but then, when faced with the real challenges of life, how do we handle it?

How did you arrive at the people you featured in the movie?

Casting for New Money was a collaborative process between the producers and I. We had closed casting sessions where we invited actors befitting the profile of each character we had in the script.

We had screen tests for up to six seasoned actors per role, and ended up with the very best for each role.

What informed your decision to make this movie with Inkblot and FilmOne?

I am always one to go after a good and unusual story above and beyond everything else. During the filming of Wedding Party 2, which I was part of as a producer, Naz of Inkblot approached me and said he had a script he was sure I would love, and would love me to direct.

When the script was ready, he sent it and he was absolutely right! It’s doubtless a beautiful and sweet story, and I fell in love instantly. Naz is an amazing writer, and I haven’t seen any script he’s written that I haven’t liked.

You worked with Jemima on Shuga and now New Money, what informed the decision?

Jemima is easily Nigeria’s newest screen sweetheart. She has certain freshness and a bundle of talent. She reaches out and grabs your heart with her compelling performances, so it’s no surprise that she was an easy choice for the producers and I on both projects, in different roles.

She connects with the audience easily and constantly improving her craft and role per project.

How long did it take to shoot new money?

Altogether we filmed for about two and a half weeks.

What is the most challenging aspect working on the project?

Aside from the normal humongous challenges of filming in Nigeria, Lagos to be precise, I honestly can’t think of this project in terms of the word ‘challenge’. It was a creatively fulfilling project for me, right from the pre-production stages to the end of post-production.

What is the level of support for female film producer?

All the support a female producer needs is within her. Identify, create, and write the film she wants to make, find funding/fund for it, put together the right team and get it made.

Could you share your experience so far as a female filmmaker?

My personal journey as a filmmaker is quite the unusual one. Born an artist, I have always sought expression for the creativity in me. The yearning to create and bring my imaginations to reality pushes me further.

After a long journey of drawing, dancing, and acting, I finally found full and satisfying expression in the film and TV.

Each part of my artistic journey led me here. I didn’t stop, I don’t stop, and I won’t stop. Art and creativity evolves. The human mind is wide and boundless, and so am I as an artist and storyteller.

What future do you see for female film producers?

I see a boundless future for any producer — male or female. If you have a story to tell, go ahead and find ways to tell it. Female film producers are thriving and I’m sure they will continue to do so, as long as the stories continue to improve and entertain. Content is king, as we say.

Of all other ventures, why did you choose filmmaking?

Filmmaking chose me. In my foray as an artist seeking expression, I exploited every form of art I had access to. Along the way, I found theatre, acting, and then filmmaking.

Filmmaking gives the beautiful ability to tell stories working with people, light, and pictures to create and elicit real human emotions and feelings and change in the audience. Creating a tangible world from nothing but the power of imagination.

Aside New Money, what project(s) are you working on at the moment?

Apart from MTV Shuga that has just been released and currently screening on MTV Base and online, I’m currently in post-production for Castle and Castle, a very compelling first-of-it’s-kind legal series I shot for Ebonylife TV.

I’m in pre-production to direct a Pan-African film collaboration mid-year, as well as prepping to produce another film for a client in the next couple of months.

And lastly, before year-end, focused filmmaking-training workshops for young women and young people in general.


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