Friday, 1st December 2023

Filmmaker Matthew Simpa ready with second big fruit as an author 

By Shaibu Husseini
08 July 2023   |   1:44 am
His first book From Reversal Filmmaking To God’s Bedroom and Back: Untold Story of the Nollywood Revolution, which basically addressed the journey of the Nigerian screen of the mid-1980s to early 1990s was well received by people within and outside the film industry when it was released in 2021.

His first book From Reversal Filmmaking To God’s Bedroom and Back: Untold Story of the Nollywood Revolution, which basically addressed the journey of the Nigerian screen of the mid-1980s to early 1990s was well received by people within and outside the film industry when it was released in 2021. The veteran filmmaker Matthew Simpa, popular for producing films in an unconventional film format known as “reversal” has a follow-up publication. Simpa’s new offering is not in motion picture, but it is a novel, which the producer of To Okunrin and the producer and director of Outside The Box is hoping could lead to acquisition for movies or TV series. Moviedom caught up with the Kogi state-born filmmaker, screenwriter, video editor, and motion graphics designer who is acclaimed to have pioneered evangelical films in Lagos with his debut Osuwon Aye exhibited at the National Theatre in the early ’90s and he spoke on the new offering and career. 

Inspiration For The First And The New Offering 
THE inspiration for my first book was an article written by Steve Ayorinde, a former Commissioner for Culture in Lagos State. In the article, which he wrote on Nollywood’s 20th anniversary, he stated clearly that I, the late Yemi Meshioye, and others who made movies using reversal film stocks really should have the credit for what became Nollywood. It was after reading the article that I realised that we had done something outstanding. Later, the same Steve Ayorinde created a WhatsApp group, which has many filmmakers on it. He added me. One day, people were discussing reversal filmmaking of the 1980s and they were seeking information about it. I told them I was one of the people involved in that process of filmmaking. I wrote a brief account of what we did; how we did it, and the results that we got. Someone then suggested that I should write a book on our exploits. As at that time, no one had chronicled that aspect of the history of the Nigerian film industry. As for the novel, the inspiration came from a suggestion made by Awele Ilusanmi, the president of an authors’ cooperative society that I joined sometime this year. She said that publishing on Wattpad could lead to the acquisition of movies or TV series. I had this serial that I had commissioned someone to write for me some years back. So, I decided it would be a good idea to adapt it into a novel. That’s how I began to adapt it into a novel. I hope that by so doing, it will eventually end up on the screen.

Reception For Book On Nollywood’s History 
I have received high praise for the book. Those who have read the book believe it bridges an important gap in the history of the Nigerian film industry. The National Film Institute uses it as one of the texts for its students. Even some people from the University of Ibadan bought copies for their bookshop. However, not everyone in Nollywood is happy about the book probably because it punctured some previously held notions about the catalysation of the film industry. People from a particular section of the country don’t seem to agree that some important milestones were achieved before their incursion into the industry. I will leave it there for now. 

Genre And Theme Of The New Book 
THE main theme is pedophilia. But it’s also about high-wire politics in the country, love, and parenthood. It tells the story of a politician’s search for a long-lost daughter. It is strictly a work of fiction. But as we all know, works of fiction oftentimes are based on real-life incidents. So, while the book is non-fiction, much of the story is based on real-life incidents. For example, the main theme of the story is based loosely on the story of one of the landlords and another couple in the area where the book is set. The landlord was a Pedophile while the couple treated their house girl (who by the way fits the description of Juliet, the main character in the novel) the same way I described it in the book. The political story is actually based on political incidents around the area. For example, a local government chairman dies during an election. That incident actually happened in Kosofe Local Council some years ago.

No, I Am Not Saying Bye To Filmmaking 
NOT at all. Though I have always loved writing (I wanted to be a writer in my youth). I am very passionate about filmmaking. It is just that it is becoming very difficult for me to put up a production. Most of those I know would rather do their thing than work for the development of the industry. I have been canvassing for co-productions and collaborations for a while now, but no one seems to be keen on that. I have been working with an association now for about two years. It is just been flipping and flopping. The association isn’t doing much for its members. You had asked me earlier how I see the motion picture industry in Nigeria. I see a rudderless industry where everyone is doing his/her own thing. Only a few people who have connections and money are making it. Practitioners are too self-centered and pedestrian. As for my expectations, I want to see an industry that develops along with international best practices. In terms of stories, professional conduct and what have you. 

Future Of My Literary Career 
WELL, I am very ambitious. I intend to churn out as many books as possible within the next few years. I have written quite a lot of stuff: poems, Christian books, and short stories. I plan to convert some of my screenplays into novels. But I am not done making films. I see myself like the proverbial ram that steps back. I am planning my things quietly and hoping to make a big comeback. But I must say that Nollywood isn’t ready for me yet. I gave a screenplay to a fellow recently, and he found it to be different from the run-of-the-mill screenplays he has seen so far. However, he is not willing to pay my price. So, I decided not to sell the screenplay to him. And to answer your question on whether it has been easy integrating and working in the industry, integrating hasn’t been easy. I have made a brief foray into the mainstream, but I discover that I am like Rip Van Winkle. My foray has been more on television. The experience has not been very pleasant. I seem to be more meticulous than the system allows. The only time I tried to work on a movie was in 2016. I had to help in formatting the screenplay, which was badly written. I could not make input in the directing because the director was directing as a theatre person, and I am a filmmaker to the core. A lot of times when I canvass sterling ideas on professional platforms, people are like, “What do you mean? Who has time for this?” 
But I won’t be deterred. I will keep trudging on until I find the right people to work with and or collaborate with. 

In this article