Akay Mason: Making Worthy Strides
Akay Mason is a young Nigerian director who has quickly earned his place in the Nollywood industry as the youngest box office film director. At just 27, Akay who directed the award-winning film, Elevator Baby, is keen on exploring and telling stories from a unique angle. In this chat with The Guardian Life, he talks about his fascinations and his new film DOD.
Who is Akay Mason?
My name is Akhigbe Ilozobhie (Akay Mason). I am a 27-year-old filmmaker with two film credits as writer and director of ElevatorBaby and #DOD. I have 5 years of experience as a feature film filmmaker, documentary filmmaker and scriptwriter.
How did your journey as a film director begin?
I have always had a dream of writing and directing my own films but it was 11 years ago, while studying political science at the University of Lagos that I realised that studying political science for the next four years was a waste of my potential so I applied to film schools across Africa. I got accepted into Reel Edge Film Academy, South Africa where I majored in screenwriting and directing. After studying for three years in SA, I returned to Nigeria and started working for Anthill Studios as a content creator and in-house director. Four years later, I got an opportunity to write and direct my first feature film, ElevatorBaby.
Has it always been your dream to be a director?
I have always wanted to make films for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I was the vice-president of the drama and debate club in Secondary school so I have always been drawn to storytelling and performance.
What is it about film directing you find fascinating?
Everything about directing films fascinates me: From the unique daily obstacles to the amazing opportunities to work with talented actors, working with an amazing crew and the daily quest to be better than the previous day. But I am mostly fascinated by the freedom I get to tell unique stories my way.
What was your biggest challenge directing the hit ‘Elevator Baby’?
The biggest challenge wasn’t working with a 7 months old pregnant woman as my lead actor. The biggest challenge was building the elevator set for the film. We knew no building will allow us shoot in their elevator for three days so we built our own. It wasn’t easy but we achieved our goal.
You are about to make history with your new feature DOD. What makes DOD different from every other Nigerian film?
DOD is Nigeria’s first time-travel film. It is a family adventure film and that alone is a largely unexplored genre in Nollywood. So far, the anticipation and the reception has been quite good.
What do you hope to change with DOD in the Nigerian film industry?
We just want to show people that there are more stories to tell. The goal is not to change, the goal is to inspire. Nollywood is too young to try to change things, we just need to contribute to it as young and passionate filmmakers. The goal is to inspire the next generation.
As a young film director, has your age limited your progress in Nollywood?
My age or youth hasn’t restricted me in any way. I see myself as part of a younger generation of Nollywood filmmakers that will define the future of the industry.
Based on your judgment, how are film directors rated in the film industry?
Directors are highly rated in the industry in my opinion.
What misconceptions about film directing would you like to address?
Some people think directing a film is easy but that’s not the case. Being a director is a serious endeavour with lots of responsibilities. It involves people management skills, a clear and articulate artistic vision, a clear understanding of time management and a strong backbone.
How rewarding has the journey of directing been for you?
It has been incredibly rewarding so far.
What are your top tips for being a good film director?
A director must be the ultimate boy scout, he/she must always be prepared.