Charles Inojie Steps In As Screen Writers ‘President’
IT is not just the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) that has experienced a wind of change in its national leadership. Those who pen the stories that meet moviegoers in their living rooms and in movie theatres as motion picture also have a ‘President and Commander-in-Chief’. Enter the indubitable actor, comedian, screenwriter and director Charles Inojie.
An actor’s actor of vast credit and a screen-writer and director who has his pouch filled with critically acclaimed television and movie productions, Inojie got the right icing on his career cake when members of the screen writing vocation unanimously agreed that it was on his head that the cap of the President of the Screen Writers Guild of Nigeria (SWGN) should sit.
Inojie ran over two top contenders- former Vice-President of SWGN Yinka Ogun and former National Secretary, Stanley Okoronkwo, to emerge as the fourth President of the accredited body overseeing the affairs of screenwriters in Nollywood. He succeeds the writer and director Chike Bryan who did his best to reposition the guild. Observers and stakeholders who witnessed the election, including the founding President of SWGN Mr. Ekenna Igwe and the former President Tony Anih, described the election that produced Inojie and other executives “as the most peaceful, free and fair election” ever conducted in Nollywood.
Congratulatory messages have not ceased pouring in from far and near for Inojie and his team, which include the new National Secretary, Fredrick Atigogo and the Public Relations Officer Ekine Stronghold. The consensus is that with Inojie at the driving seat, things will take shape for screenwriters and screen writing in Nollywood, as he will use his clout as a long-standing practitioner to attract goodwill to the guild.
And Inojie has promised nothing short of a rejuvenated SWGN. “It is time to inject new life into the guild,’’ he told a large gathering that had come to witness his swearing-in ceremony. “I am committed to working for the betterment and well-being of screen writers in Nollywood and for the advancement of the screen writing vocation in Nigeria,’’ he added.
An old boy of Eguari Primary School and Uhoada Mixed Secondary School, both in his native town Uhoardua, Edo State, Inojie, a graduate of Theatre Arts from the University of Port Harcourt, who is the directing force behind the now very popular family comedy drama on African Magic The Johnsons, had always had his eyes on the summit. Although he grew up with a healthy appetite for theatrics, it was an encounter he had with the late poet, author, social commentator and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa that inspired Inojie’s incursion into the world of the theatre.
While waiting for the result of the Joint Admission andMatriculation Board (JAMB) exams that he wrote, Inojie became a regular feature at the Writers Resort at Ijoko-Otta on the outskirts of Lagos, run until a few years back by the late Professor Bode Osayin. The Writers Resort normally play host to accomplished playwrights and Inojie through that platform met ‘face to face’ with some notable authors, one of them Ken Saro Wiwa.
Impressed by Inojie’s performance in a short sketch presented at the resort, Saro Wiwa advised him to go and study drama at the University of Port Harcourt while waiting for his JAMB result as the department has just commenced a certificate programme. Inojie heeded the wise counsel and it was from there that his admiration for the profession heightened.
Hailed for his ability to function well in different aspect of the theatre, a reason some of his admirers describe him as a ‘jack of all trade and master of the theatre’, Inojie left Port Harcourt to Benin and later to Lagos, not sure how he was going to get into the then burgeoning Nigerian movie industry. However, providence twinned the devoted Chelsea fan with notable movie director Lancelot Oduwa Imaseun, an old school mate, who engaged him as an assistant director on a movie set in Enugu, South East Nigeria with specific instruction to rehearse talents before a shoot.
With Lancelot Imaseun who is popular known as ‘De Guvnor’, Inojie had the opportunity to work on a couple of productions including Exodus and Last Burial. But after Exodus, Inojie’s name as a competent director has spread everywhere. Producers sought him out and today, Inojie who is full of gratitude to Imaseun for getting the opportunity to express himself, is not only one of Nollywood’s respected directors and comic actors, but he is also well regarded as one of the few practitioners in the professional class.
A recipient of the 2010 ZAFAA award for best actor, Inojie has at the last count, directed more films than he has acted. But it is as an actor that Inojie has earned fat applauses. Many have still not forgotten his expert portrayal in the ground-breaking comedy film Tortoise starring Okey Bakassi and John Okafor. He is mobbed anytime he walks the street because of his inimitable run in the family comedy show The Johnsons where he plays the role of Lucky Johnson. Caught in the Act, Corporate Maid and Sound of Love are a few of his memorable movie appearances yet.
Asked to pick his most challenging and memorable movie or television run yet, Inojie quickly picked the television drama The Johnsons. He is the lead actor and the director of The Johnsons. “I led a team that just delivered 218 episodes of the show to mark the end of The Johnsons Season 4 after nine months and exactly 200 days of shooting. We shot for six days a week, sometimes into the night. I am proudly grateful to the crack team of cast and crew for their dedication, professionalism and tenacity in the face of daunting challenges, to the Executive Producer for his support and unwavering belief in our ability to deliver and of course our teeming fans and viewers. Next stop is season 5,’’ he enthused.
A great lover of the game of football who revealed that his past time is spent at home with his ‘lovely wife and family’, Inojie’s career ambition is to be named amongst “Nollywood avant-gardist filmmakers” when such a list will be compiled. He explained that these set of filmmakers are those who will be recognized both at home and abroad and who would not be shy to break conventions.
He says: ‘I want to be listed among those who will take our films to some of the big film festivals in the world and win laurels for this great country. I also want to elevate the practice of screen writing in the country. I am working on developing a script bank and organizing a workshop where screenwriters will be educated on how to protect their works and earn good money as writers. ’.