Ufuoma returns with what just happened
After years of working on the project, Nollywood star Ufoma McDermott is set for the release of her latest movie, What Just Happened. The hilarious movie, which took the actress three years to produce, will hit the big screens across the country on September 14.
Aside from Ufuoma, who played the lead role, the comedy work also parades notable names in the industry, including the likes of Funny Bone, Segun Arinze, Toyin Abraham, MC Abbey, Mike Ezuruonye, Afeez Ayetoro and others. In fact, from the cast, you already have and idea of what to expect in the movie, which is a follow up to Ufuoma’s 2017 work, Christmas Is Coming.
Shot on locations in Lagos, What Just Happened tells the story of a Professor of Mathematics, who returned home after many years of living in the United States and trying to find a man. She yielded to pressure to return to Nigeria in a bid to avoid the humiliation of finding a man. An intelligent and extremely disciplined woman, she loves to have her way because of her principles. The plot of the movie is woven around her excesses and encounter with other characters while trying to settle down in Nigeria as a returnee.
“I like to call it my first feature film, though I produced Christmas Is Coming Last Year. However, What Just Happened has been in the works for three years. I was pregnant with my daughter when I was filming it; we had to go through many hitches. But I’m very happy that it is finally being released,” Ufuoma said.
Describing the film as a hilarious movie, McDermott said, “the lead character feels because she is a professor, she is better that everyone else. But she was dealt with the Nigerian way when she returned. What was supposed to be an hour journey from Lagos to Ibadan turns out to be a total day of disaster.”She continued: The funny part of all of this is that the story itself is a testimony, so, she’s recounting all these in front of an audience; there’s a lot of wahala with that one as well. So, she’s a bit of a funny character, you might say a bit self centered; but all the other characters kind of brought her down from her high horse,” she hinted.
In most cases, a good movie starts with a good script and this is one lesson Ufuoma learnt a long time.“I got the story and I got a writer; we went through treatment and he did the first draft. But it lacked the humour that I wanted for a comedy because of the character the professor was; she was very serious, so, we needed everyone else around her to use what she brought to ensure there was comedy conscious in it; it lacked that.”
To rescue the scrip and give it a lift, the actress, who once featured in Lagbaja’s music video, turned to comedian Bovi.“I had to consult my friend Bovi, who is also a scriptwriter; that guy is a genius. He read the story and it came soo easy to him; he was able to put the comedy punches. He was interested in how we can make the story relatable, which worked for us. I learned from Chris Ihidero that to do comedy, you don’t stress it; just allow everybody live his/her life and then you find homour in it. So, I have Bovi to thank for part of the story; I dare say we have a fantastic story,” she enthused.
On why it took a whole three years to get the work ready for the cinema, she explained, “Let me just confess, the idea of perfection for this movie was my husband’s; let me just say the truth. You know, when we did the first one, we had spent too much money and I said, ‘please let’s just release it like that.’ He looked at me and said, ‘your name is not going on that, you must be kidding.’ I said, ‘Okay, we are not doing cinema, let’s just throw it online, DVD or something.’ He said, ‘unless you just want to keep it under your bed; this film is not leaving this house.”
So, with the insistence of her white husband, who is also a creative person, Ufuoma and his team went back to the drawing board.“We had to start budgeting for the reshoot and all of that; it was a huge strain on me. At some point, I just turned off from it; I closed my mind and said, ‘you know what, this one is a lost cause; let me just leave it,’ but he was insistent. He says, “Ufuoma, there’s not work of art that is useless; watch it over and over again and see what can be done.’ I said, ‘I know what can be done, but it will cost us more money; we have to reshoot, we have to bring new actors onboard…’ and he said, ‘well, we have to do what we have to do. You’ve put money into it already, so, if you put more money to get the best out, it’s worth it, ’ which was what we eventually did,” he recalled.
McDermott started a career in modelling before she discovered her talent for acting, which eventually took the centre stage. Now her latest movie is a testament to her versatility in Nollywood. “I never thought of acting professionally, she says. I was already modelling when I started acting. I think acting took the upper hand because it pays better.”
Sharing her experience as both stage and screen actor over the years, she said, “Before now, all you needed to be was a good actor and you were fine; you get on set and the whole creative department will make you the character you need to be. So, all you needed to do was come there with your skill set as an actor.”
“Right now,” he noted, “it’s a bit different and I think, maybe social media has to be blamed. People just don’t want to see you as an actor; they also want to pick into your life as a person; they want to see you beyond the character that you play. So, it’s a bit different. For us, acting is like a job and work is work. When you are home, family time is family. Unfortunately, it’s not so anymore. I think for now, my experience, as an actor is the ability to balance your private life with your career as an actor, without losing focus of what you want from your life and your career. So, I’ve learnt a lot,” said.
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