The Critics: Diamond In The Rough
Can anything good come out of Nigeria? If you are among the many that ponders this, look no further because The Critics, a group of youngsters between the ages of 19 and five came together.
The Critics went viral after Reuters released a video revealing how they use nothing but a
green screen and their smartphones to create incredible sci-fi short films.
The group, which is actually a group of young cousins in subsequent interviews, revealed that they taught themselves special effects by watching YouTube videos. So impressive was their ingenuity and raw talent that the Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, where they reside praised their creativity, and offered the government’s support and constituted a team of senior officials to work on the details with their family.
Guardian Life recently had a chat with them and this was the outcome.
Can we know the members of the group and your ages?
The Critics comprises Godwin Gaza Josiah (19), Raymond Yusuff (17), Victor Josiah (15), Ronald Yusuff (15), Richard Yusuff (14), Lawson Titus (17), Rejoice Josiah (12), Rachael Yusuff (8) and Rachael Ken (5).
How did the idea to start shooting come about?
The idea to start filmmaking came into existence seven years ago. We were five film lovers and during out first meeting, we spent hours criticising big Hollywood films and highlighting basic parts we liked and disliked in the films. Also, we had one other thing in common, we were not big fans of Nollywood films being released at that time. We moved from making comedy videos and criticising Nollywood films to making shirt films so we can contribute
Our quota in shaping it into what we want it to become?
As a group of eight, do you face conflicts and challenges during shooting?
We faced many conflict shooting and making films. The challenges came in different ways. We lacked support even from people close to us as they never saw the worth of what we do. For us, whenever we went out to shoot, we were just going out to play and mess around. We come from a state where you are labelled stupid for doing something different or unusual. The lack of support was demoralising and broke us down in different ways.
There was also the challenge of electricity, our 10 minutes short film Z, the beginning took us seven months to shoot and edit and approximately a year to put out because electricity at that time was inaccessible. The highest we got was two hours supply a day so we had to trek everyday within four months to my aunt’s house to finish editing.
You were able to create amazing projects with very little, what do you hope to achieve with better equipment?
The goal has always been fixed and it is to create better quality projects and go professional with our art.
How do you intend to achieve this in a market such as Nigeria?
Nigeria is a country obviously starving for other cinematic experience in other genres different from what Nollywood currently provides. Nigerians want to see more and if you put out quality content, they are ready to receive it with open arms. The Nigerian market is untapped and quite unexplored when it comes to sci-fi films and we hope to explore it in unimaginable ways.
How were you able to balance shooting sci-fi films with your academics?
We manage shooting without interfering with our studies by writing our scripts based on who is available. Also, we try to balance the time schedule of those of us in school and we tend to shoot mostly during the weekends to avoid it clashing with school.
Kemi Adetiba spearheaded a fundraising for the team that raised over N2 million, how was this money put to use?
We used the money from the crowd funding to get new basic equipment to improve production and make better quality videos.
You also met with the Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, what positive thing came out of the meeting?
The government promised to help in ways they can and are currently working on it but so far, nothing has come out of it but we hope something does soon.
Where do you see The Critics in the next five years?
We see ourselves still creating and inspiring young creatives like us in Africa and beyond. We also aspire to have made films that would not only be watched but also loved by the viewers.
Advice to other young people out there trying to do something great.
Our advice is that there is only one way to get stuffs done and that is by actually doing them. Forget the inspirational talks; it becomes useless if you do not channel it into creating. You do not need anybody’s validation to create so go out and create, put it out and let the world judge you. As humans, we do not fail, we only learn.