From writing to producing, Bamen Gregs navigates moviedom with ‘Third Avenue’
After years of being in the background, writing big money-making movies for producers, Airebamen Maureen Irene, known widely as Bamen Gregs, has delivered what is set to change the narrative. Her new project, Third Avenue is a 13-episode series about two (Tim and Leo) mischievous flatmates in Lagos.
Though a simple, known plot, it, however, leaves you wondering about the adventurous life of flatmates.
“I wrote the script for Third Avenue three years ago, and I wanted to sell it at that time, but the money I was offered for the script wasn’t worth the effort, so, I took back my script and kept it. In 2021, I produced a pilot when I saw the opportunity and took it to AccelerateTV, and they bought into it. It took me less than a month to produce,” she said.
She said: “I was commissioned by AccelerateTV mid-last year (2021). While working with Africa Magic, I was advised that it’s always good to get ideas from someone else, so, I contacted Elo Oruade, I told her about the story and we both wrote the script together, she wrote about three episodes and she did very well. I got fantastic actors such as Jide Kene, Lilian Afegbai, Tope Olowoniyan and others for the project.
“The first of the 13 episodes is currently on YouTube channel and the traffic is beautiful. And I especially appreciate Esse Akwawa for introducing me to the MD of AccelerateTV, Colette Otusheso and the Accelerate team for trusting me to produce the series. Ese was working on another project at the time of my production and couldn’t come to my set but she trusted that I would deliver.”
The graduate of philosophy from the University of Benin and a master’s degree holder in public and international affairs from the University of Lagos (UNILAG), fell in love with performing art when she was still small and would often sit in her mother’s parlour to perform drama to entertain.
“I would often recite poetry and my mother would clap for me, and that spurred me to look more into my creative part. My father got me a desktop computer before I was a teenager, which I always used to write my scripts with. It was just a happy place for me, even when my siblings were playing or going out, I would stay at home to write scripts. I used to dream a lot of stories to work on.”
After school, Gregs found herself in the marketing department of a Nigerian bank, but soon got bored and felt unfulfilled. Later, she returned to her first love.
“So, after my education at UNIBEN, I came to Lagos, and I got a job in the bank, after a while I got bored with marketing and I just decided to delve into film making, I started writing scripts for Africa Magic, Iroko and other independent producers.
“Control Freak was my first script, which was written in 2015. It did well on African Magic. I wrote ’Nwanyi-Oma for Iroko TV in 2018. I also wrote for other producers, some of them didn’t turn out well, and some did well. But the producers did well with Nwanyi-Oma and Control Freak, and I was happy. Some producers didn’t produce to the level I’d expected, so, I decided to start producing my scripts, so, I wrote Jumbled, which I produced for the cinema in 2019, and that was my first major. I started getting calls. I also started writing more and acting too, I acted in Tinsel for about three years and starred in Hush.
On the plan to keep the actors through the project: “The actors involved in this project are good, they like the story, they like the project, the story draws them to the project, they see it as their vision, they are pushing me, always asking what we needed to do next. Jide Kene called me to ask whether we will be putting in for an award, told me his biggest video before the project hasn’t generated more traffic on Tiktok as Third Avenue. They are committed; I don’t think I will have an issue keeping them through the 13 episodes.
Speaking on how she got into acting, she said: “I did a Shakespeare monologue at a time, I played the role of Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, I delivered it like a man, and I was called the next day.
“I love acting. Actors are able to play different characters and personalities. Acting gives the opportunity to explore different characters.”