From Hollywood, Gold for Uzodinma Okpechi
This piece of good news is from Hollywood, specifically from Hollywood Weekly Magazine Film Festival (HWMFF) and it is for notable Nollywood filmmaker and one of the pioneer music video directors, Uzodinma Okpechi. HWMFF, a concept initiated eight years ago to honour distinguished Africans in the creative industry, has invited the filmmaker and honcho of Primary TV & Film Production Ltd to receive a prestigious Hollywood ‘Excellence in Cinematic Direction’ award.
According to publisher of Hollywood Weekly Prather Jackson, who signed the letter of award, the award to Uzodinma, which will be presented to the filmmaker at the HWMFF next grand event scheduled to hold on November 6, 2021, is in recognition of his directorial effort in the psychological thriller The Mystic River.
The letter also indicated that Uzodinma was selected for the award based on the nomination and subsequent recommendation by a team of researchers led by HWMFF’s Africa Correspondent and Ambassador Ego Effiok.
“Having interrogated her recommendation, we agreed with her on the grounds that your palpable contributions to the entertainment and creative industry as a film director spanning over two decades, will undoubtedly inspire a creative generation. It is both a legacy of hope for the movie industry in Nigeria and indeed, Africa,” Jackson wrote, adding that the HWMFF was pleased to add the filmmakers name to the list of many distinguished African filmmakers and government officials who have been recipients of HWMFF awards in various categories.
“We would love to have you grace our grand event this year to personally receive your award in the revered presence of iconic Hollywood celebrities, global government officials, captains of industry…’’ Jackson wrote in the two-page letter that was shared on Filmic, the very influential film and creative industry platform on Whataspp founded by the multitalented filmmaker and media entrepreneur Charles Novia.
In a terse response to the invitation and award by HWMFF, Uzo, as the filmmaker is simply called, said he was honoured and humbled by the invitation.
“I thank Egor Effiok and her team; I have never met Egor in person. She saw The Mystic River and did her thing. It’s a good feeling knowing such people still exist. The kind you don’t need to lobby or know before they follow their convictions. Super glad. Of course, I can never stop believing,” he wrote.
A versatile filmmaker who has over 20 years of television and film experience cutting across every aspect of motion picture practice, Uzo never had filmmaking on his career wish list; he had his mind on becoming a medical practitioner. So, he chose Medicine as a course of study, but when results were released, the University of Maiduguri offered him Biochemistry, which he didn’t want. It was while waiting for a transfer, that his childhood friend and foremost special effect director Simisola Opeoluwa asked him over to Lagos “to join the movie industry.”
A bold, courageous and unassuming Uzo heeded the call and straight away, he started learning how to do computer graphics and then moved on to editing. It was not long after he joined the industry that Uzodinma’s talents began to manifest. Uzo, who holds strongly that filmmaking though an art is formulaic, cut his teeth as a producer in 1998 with the movie Above Death, as directed by Simisola Opeoluwa. He moved on from there to directing several musical video and television commercials and whenever he had time he signed movie productions either as director or producer.
Today, the producer and director of critically acclaimed productions such as More Money, Brave Men, Rebels, Eyes In The House, Turntables and the much anticipated big budget feature funded by the Bank of Industry Nollyfund, Kamsi, is well regarded in the industry. He is hailed as one of the Nollywood filmmakers in the professional class.
A creative whose career ambition “is to go global, shoot more movies that will announce the arrival of Nigerian cinema, and in the process make lots of money,” Uzo remarked in response to a question on his most memorable job as a filmmaker in a recent interview, that he is yet to shoot his most memorable job.
“I am yet to shoot my most memorable job, be it music video, television commercial or film. But given the opportunity, I would like to shoot the movie The Battle of Love all over again. Back then, the movie won Best English movie and Overall Best Picture, at the then The Movie Award (THEMA). As the producer, you will think that should be satisfying enough, but the Biafra angle of the story was totally changed by the National Film and Video Censors Board and that left the story highly watered down. So, given the opportunity, I would love to shoot the movie all over again,” he assured.
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