Opeyemi Omobolanle Olakanmi: I started Mightypen Entertainment to produce film that embodies humanity
Passion, patience, and perseverance are three qualities you need to have as a filmmaker. These are the qualities that make Opeyemi Omobolanle Olakanmi story inspiring.
Scriptwriter, location manager, actor and film producer who understands the power of sacrifice to success, she founded Mightypen Production to produce films and web series in Nigeria, while supporting young writers, actors, producers, and cinematographers to showcase their talents.
The Polytechnic of Ibadan trained Computer Scientist who quit her job as a Customer Care Officer at Skye Bank (now Polaris) to follow her passion and pitched her tent with Nollywood in 2017.
Her sojourn in the film industry paved the way for Opeyemi to explore her skillset. Starting out as a writer and location manager, she then went ahead to study Cinematography at Iris Film Academy, Ibadan to perfect her skills.
She produced her first movie, IRORA (Abuse) in 2019, a Yoruba language film that campaigned against gender inequality, as well as highlighted the pain and ugly side sides of domestic violence.
Her latest film, Mirror, a short film produced in 2022, is currently showing on Mightypen TV on YouTube. She is currently working on her first web series, Mecho, a production that highlights the joy and struggles of artisans in Nigeria.
Opeyemi, who was nominated as the best scriptwriter in 2021 at the Yoruba movie gist award, shares her inspiring story with ESTHER IJEWERE in this interview.
GROWING up has to do with what I am and the orientation I have at the moment because I could remember vividly that several times, my mum would call me and say, ‘look at your front, who do you see? Look at your back, what do you see? You can only see me, right? It is because I’m the only one you have.’ As much as my mum was a teacher and my stepfather a lecturer, I wasn’t deprived of any social life. I had free movement even though I am an introvert; I rarely go out. I am always at home reading one book or the other.
I enjoyed reading storybooks to the extent that I started writing my own stories. I remember I met Agbo Areo, the author of Wives and Mother at a time and I told him how much I have a passion for writing and how badly I wanted to be an author, but my mum was never in support of that; though she was a loving mother and wanted me to be something else. I appreciate her for the kind of mother she was and the kind of support she gave me while she was still alive. She raised me into a strong and positive woman; she always made me believe that I can get whatever I want.
Inspiration Behind Mightypen Production
I started Mightypen Entertainment as a writer because I believe everything worth doing is worth doing well. My opinion is that as a writer, it is good to have a registered company or brand so that your clients can trust you enough. And this is what informed my desire to get my company registered. It was along this line that I realised that I am more of a filmmaker than just a writer.
I then decided to go to film school and studied Cinematography to know more about filmmaking in general. My desire to be a filmmaker and my interest in contributing my own efforts to developing and expanding the film industry are parts of what made me take Mightypen beyond just a writing company into a film production company. And this is also to help young talents to realise their potential and bring their dreams to reality.
Impact Of Working On Different Movie Projects
I joined the Yoruba film industry through the TAMPAN president, Mr Bolaji Amusan, popularly known as Mr Latin, but deep down in me, I knew I didn’t want to limit myself to the Yoruba film industry; I wanted to be an all-rounder. I want to be an excellent filmmaker that produces both Yoruba and English movies.
There was an opportunity that came my way in 2018 that changed my mind entirely. It was when they shot a project that starred Bimbo Akintola, and Rahama Sadau and was directed by Taiwo Shitu. I have forgotten the title of the production, but that particular project changed my orientation about filmmaking and opened my eyes to see how production should be done properly. It was then I decided to join the English sector of Nollywood.
Also, being a writer, a location manager, an actor and a producer has opened my eyes to know a lot of things in the film industry which has greatly contributed to my progress as an independent filmmaker.
The Journey So Far
The journey has been rough and tough. Since I started Mightypen Entertainment, it has been tough for me to get jobs from other productions. A lot of people and colleagues stopped calling me for jobs because according to them, I am now a CEO and I have what it takes to produce my own productions and I really don’t need their jobs.
In fact, I needed to call producers, production managers, directors etc to say that I am still available for jobs, even though I have my own production company. So, the journey has been tough, but the passion and the love for filmmaking keep me going.
My New project Mirror
Mirror is a short film that talks about child molestation and its effects on the victims and society at large. I wrote the story to shed more light on the trauma that the victims of child abuse and their parents go through. This film was produced to contribute my voice to the campaign against child abuse and rape.
Being a filmmaker in Nigeria is not an easy one at all and you have to be very strong if you want to embark on that journey because it is a journey that is filled with a lot of hurdles.
Filmmakers in Nigeria are facing a lot of challenges; lack of financial support, harassment on locations by thugs, piracy, expensive locations and security problems. It is a lot.
Other Projects And Activities
My first production as a producer is a Yoruba film titled Irora, which is on YouTube and I have also produced another Yoruba film, Orisun, which is currently showing on YouTube as well. I worked as a location manager for an English film Last Request, which is on Netflix and I’m currently working to produce my first web series titled Mecho.
I’m also a social media influencer and I have worked with different individuals and organisations to promote products and programmes on social media. I have worked with Global Factory T-shirts where we organised empowerment programmes for women in the slums.
What I Enjoy Most About My Work
The part I enjoy most about my job is when I employ people I grow up seeing in the movie industry. Having legends, people I adore and love so much on my set gives me so much joy. When I employed Ayo Mogaji to feature in my first production, Irora, I was so full of joy.
And another part I enjoy is seeing myself helping young talents in the industry to grow. This gives me a great sense of fulfilment. And the joy of seeing a lot of people seeing and talking about your works can’t be quantified.
Three Women Who Inspire Me And Why
The first woman who inspired me is my mum; she is my idol and a woman of great courage. I admire her so much and her courage to keep going even in the toughest situation. Whenever I look at myself, I see myself in her. She was a great woman. I am very happy to have had her as a mother.
The second woman that inspires me is Mo Abudu, the founder and owner of EbonyLife TV and Film. The Hollywood Reporter has rated her as one of the 25 most powerful women in Global Television. She has made a great impact in Nollywood by producing amazing and quality films that have travelled even beyond Africa. She has become a household name.
The third person is Iyabo Ojo. She’s another woman that has made a name for herself in Nollywood. She’s one of the few people that dived from Yoruba film industry into producing and acting in English films successfully. I admire her passion and courage a lot. She is a single mother like me and anytime I look at her, I draw courage. These are the three women that have really inspired me.
What We Can Do Better As A Society To Encourage More Women To Go Into Movie Production
For a long time, men dominated the Industry and called the shots in the filmmaking industry. But now, we are beginning to see women taking over the industry by producing and directing great movies. We have seen the likes of Mo Abudu, Kemi Adetiba, Jade Osiberu, Mildred Okwo and many more. So, a foundation has been laid already for more women who are interested in making films.
However, we need to keep educating, orientating and supporting women and young girls in the industry. We need to also let them know that aside from beauty, they need talent and that they have to be very humble and respectful because talent without virtue is nothing.
We also need to tell them that they don’t need to sell their bodies before they can make it; they don’t have to date anybody. They must also know as well that the industry thrives on collaboration and not on competing with fellow filmmakers.
One Thing I Wish To Change In The Art And Entertainment Sector
What I wish to change, especially in the Yoruba movie industry, is to stop this idea of a producer also being the lead cast in his or her film; it is getting tiring and boring now. Once people see a Yoruba film, they already know that the lead character is a producer. My argument is that you don’t need to appear in your film as a producer. If your film is good, people will know you.
And if you are an actor-producer, you can take a minor role, because combining producing with acting is not easy and this can make you lose focus and not concentrate on the job. This may affect the quality of the work. I would also like to change the habit of not crediting the writers for their works and the ill-treatment of crewmembers on set.
Being A Woman Of Rubies
What makes me a woman of rubies is the fact that I have been able to stand out in the industry without any scandal. It is really a great feeling. And also, combining the role of a mother, father and entrepreneur makes me a woman of rubies.
Advice For Young Women Who Want To Pitch Their Tent In The Movie Industry
For the young women who want to join the industry, I will advise them to have a side hustle. Having a side hustle is very important and this will put money in your pocket, because it is not that easy to make money in the movie industry.
If you are coming into the industry as a full-time filmmaker it means you’re coming with a lot of money. I understand that the industry is lucrative and it has a lot of financial benefits, but you won’t get all the money you are expecting in a year. So, the best thing is to have a financial support system.
Lastly, be humble and respectful. This will take you far and open a lot of doors for you. It is very important that you must know this.