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From GUS Season 12 to Morocco for Kamsi: Stalking the cineaste Uzodinma Okpechi

By Shaibu Husseini
15 January 2022   |   4:06 am
For weeks running into months, notable filmmaker, Uzodinma Okpechi, was on set as producer of the Gulder Ultimate Search (GUS) Season 12, dubbed ‘The Age of Craftsmanship.’

For weeks running into months, notable filmmaker, Uzodinma Okpechi, was on set as producer of the Gulder Ultimate Search (GUS) Season 12, dubbed ‘The Age of Craftsmanship.’

The award winning director and huncho of Primary TV & Film Production had settled in as the producer of GUS after a trip to the United States where he had gone to purchase audio visual and lighting equipment for a new production outfit.

A versatile filmmaker, who is well regarded in the Nigerian motion picture space, Uzo as Uzodinma is simply called by close friends is off again to Morrocco to put finishing touches to his next big anticipated feature ‘Kamsi.’

Shot on location in Jos, Plateau State and produced with funding from the Bank of Industry (BOI) Nollywood Fund, moviegoers say they are eager to see Kamsi which a respected industry critic say will break barriers. Moviedom stalked the ace music video director to Morocco and in this encounter, the filmmaker whose career ambition is to break into the international film space through high quality productions and be recognised globally as a filmmaker of Nigerian Origin speaks about his experience as Producer of the GUS and other projects…

2021 Ended On A High
2021 was a good year for me. Early in the year, Jungle Filmworks pitched and won the pitch for GUS Season 12. I went on to produce and direct a television commercial in Enugu for a real estate company based in Lagos. I also produced Radio Commercials for the same company. Then, I rounded up a 13 episode series called ‘Baby Drama’ on African Magic (AM), where I was one of the directors, the postproduction Supervisor and Technical Consultant. I went on to New York City, USA as a consultant to purchase audiovisual and lighting equipment for a new production outfit in Lagos. Then, I settled in as producer for GUS after my trip to the US. It was my first Reality TV Show and the experience was on another level. Working with four different agencies; Creative, Digital, PR & Experiential and being the liaison between Jungle Filmworks, the production company I was representing and NB PLC the owners of the franchise, I had my work well cut out for me and I am glad for the grace to bring it to an entertaining ending. Before then, the ‘Mystic River’ was released on Netflix in May of 2021. It got me an Award in the best cinematic direction category in the Hollywood Weekly Magazine Awards in Los Angeles, in the USA. And the year ended on a high with another award as a Global Filmmaker and Nollywood Icon by Naijagal Entertainment.

Waiting For KAMSI
Kamsi will be ready soon. It is a movie shot in Jos, Plateau State in 2018.  It is a movie funded with the Bank of Industry’s loan and is currently undergoing postproduction in Oasis Studios in Morocco. It will be released in the 3rd quarter of 2022.  I produced, directed and executive produced Kamsi.

Globalising Nollywood
We have conquered Africa and rightly so. Our resilience as a people is our greatest asset as Nigerians. Also, to our advantage was the earlier embrace of the democratisation of the production process of filmmaking, which afforded us the opportunity to tell our stories with low budgets and create an ecosystem of production, buyers and sellers. This process was the beginning of the renaissance, which is today, christened Nollywood.  Moving forward, what we need right now to break into the Global space is to assert our influence through our craft and storytelling techniques, using modern cinema tools. Our influence is, however, linked to our rich reservoir of stories, which are yet untold.

From Medicine To Filmmaking
Yes, I switched from studying medicine to filmmaking and it was never an accident. Raw passion drove me into filmmaking and that raw passion is still my driving force till date. My passion is such that it has generated an audacity, which has led to a reservoir of beliefs. A belief based on professionalism and its attendant harvests. For me, the gains of filmmaking, is just starting as Africa is only about ripping the harvests of years of sowing. Nigeria in particular is about witnessing a windfall of productions and it’s actually a good time to be a good filmmaker.

Music Video Industry
If I were to judge the music video space since I left, I will score the space very high. There is no doubt that available film equipment, editing soft wares and craft have improved. Our music video production techniques have also improved. But my problem with the music video space is that recently, the directors seem to have reached a Plateau in execution and style. Good thing is a few of the directors are starting to take note of this trend and have subsequently started correcting the issue. Another area, which requires improvement, is in telling stories with our music videos. I hope the directors see this as a challenge and improve in that area too.

Some Memorable Works
For music video, I will pick Tuface – African Queen, Sunny Neji – Oruka and Face me, Slam – Ibu Chineke, Mike Aremu – Fuji Instrumental, Timaya – Cutlass, Flavour – Nabania, and Sammie Okposo – I wonder why. For TV productions, it will include directing 17 TV movies for Africa Magic Original Films between 2014 and 2015. And as a producer, No holds barred on AIT with Segun Arinze, was memorable and as director, ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire.’ For direct to DVD movies, I will mention Above death – Producer, Vuga – Producer, The Prostitute – Producer, The Battle of Love – Producer, The Return – Producer, More Money – Producer/Director and The Mystic River – Director (6 episodes series on Netflix)

Next On The Card
I will be producing a New Reality TV Show focusing on Betting on Star Times. It is called STAKERS. This is slated for transmission in March 2022. I have been tipped as a director and co – producer of a historical movie, focusing on the barbaric culture of Igbos. The project is in the script development stage. I have 2 Scripts in development to be produced and directed by me.  One of them is a movie script, documenting our recent history. The second is a 6 episodes series on a story based on African Mythology.