Friday, 29th September 2023

Zeb Ejiro… ‘Movie Sheik’ returns with Nollywood classic, Domitila

By Shaibu Husseini
25 July 2020   |   4:20 am
It is the season of adaption of literary classics and a season of remakes and the production of sequels of some Nollywood classics. Notable Nollywood actor Ramsey Noah has just led a crew that delivered...

It is the season of adaption of literary classics and a season of remakes and the production of sequels of some Nollywood classics.

Notable Nollywood actor Ramsey Noah has just led a crew that delivered on the sequel to the phenomenal two-part movie Living in Bondage, which they titled Living In Bondage: Breaking Free.

The amazon Mo Abudu is waiting in the wings to lead the EbonyLife Network crew to produce the screen adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s Death and The Kings Horseman and Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. EbonyLife is partnering with the streaming company Netflix to produce the literary works.

If fans of Nollywood found Living In Bondage Breaking Free engaging and refreshing, they should look out for the planned remake of the 1996 crime drama Domitila, which was produced and directed by the veteran movie producer Zeb Ejiro.

When Domitila, which starred some of Nollywood’s notable actors such as Anne Njemanze, Sandra Achums, and Kate Henshaw was released in 1996 – first in the cinemas and later on DVD – it caused a delirium and was one of the favourites on home screens in the 90’s. Moviegoers thronged the National Theatre to see the drama, which tells the story of an average prostitute named Domitilla and her quest for survival. Domitila, a character played then by Anne Njemanze, joined a gang of prostitutes, who much later in the movie are caught up in the mysterious death of a politician and must do everything possible to prove their innocence.

But this diet of the production is not going to be produced by just Zeb Ejiro productions; two other renowned film production companies— FilmOne Entertainment and Omoni Oboli’s Dioni Vision have signed a partnership with Zeb Ejiro’s production company to produce the sequel to Domitilla in response to what the Executive Producers say is ‘a response to recent demands by the huge fan base of the first Domitilla, which was a favourite on home screens in the ‘90s’.

Production of the film is set to kick-start later in the year, while its release in cinemas is scheduled for the first quarter of 2021.

Speaking on the upcoming project, FilmOne Entertainment co-founders Kene Okwuosa and Moses Babatope shared their excitement for the forthcoming project this way: “We are happy to once again, bring magic to the big screen by producing this breathtaking movie. In Domitila, we have identified an entertaining and artistic masterpiece that would appeal to different generations of film lovers. And to know we are partnering with great professionals in Zeb Ejiro and Omoni Oboli is soothing. Thus, we look forward to a phenomenal accomplishment.”

Award winning actress, director and producer Omoni Oboli has been named as Creative Director of the sequel, outside her role as Executive Producer. But it is Zeb Ejiro, who is popularly called ‘The Sheik’ that will be calling the shots when principal photography begins in a few weeks and the veteran director, who holds the national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) is excited about the prospect of the sequel.

“When we first made Domitila, it was a story inspired by societal challenges that have over time, proven to not only be akin to the ’90s, but trans-generational. So, in recognition of its relevance in these times, we have decided to make a sequel to the story, factoring recent socio-cultural advancements. It will be a show stopper,” he enthused.

Also called Presido, Zeb’s antecedents as a writer, producer and motion picture director and his contribution towards the development of the motion picture industry in Nigeria is to say the least legendary. Indeed, the story of the transition from television to home movie production cannot be complete without a mention of the self made and well built Isoko, Delta State born motion picture practitioner, who rightly qualifies to be listed among the founding fathers of the Nigerian motion picture industry.

A devotee of the motion picture business, who has remained steadfast and has led a production outfit that has in the last couple of decades produced quite a number of well-received movies and soap operas, Zeb is one of the leading figures of the era of the best of television drama in Nigeria. Indeed, Zeb called the shots at a time (the 90’s) that many consider the defining moments of Nigeria television drama. Those were the periods when soaps like Ripples which Ejiro produced and which ran on national television for so many years, were a must watch for most television viewers.

From Ripples to Goodbye Tomorrow, Mortal Inheritance to another gripping television soap Fortunes, Zeb is regarded for superintending over the productions of movies that tackle societal vices and issues. His two part movie Sakobi was produced to discourage the get rich quick syndrome, so too for Domitila, which was designed to discourage prostitution in the society.

In fact, it is public knowledge that Domitila turned out a box office hit and observers say it ranks among the biggest selling movie in the history of the Nigerian home movie industry. His other movie and television credits include Conflicting Shadows, Intimate Strangers, the two-part movie Fatal Desire, the two-part movie Maniac, Faces of Evil, Fortunes and Broad street, two other soaps that occupied the air time between 1994 and 1999.

Raised in Ajegunle in Lagos where his parents lived for several years, Zeb’s love for motion picture was ingrained from birth. As kids, it became a sort of routine for Zeb and his younger brother Chico Ejiro, also a notable movie producer and director, to be taken almost daily to watch films. Zeb had his early education in Lagos, worked briefly as a civil servant before he took the decision to air his talent at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

From television production, Zeb, like his contemporaries, ventured into home video productions and it has been motion picture business for the one time President of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP), member of the Board of Trustees of the Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN) and AMP.

A recipient of several industry awards, who currently runs a movie academy in his hometown Ozoro, Delta State, he said, “I cannot count the number of awards and recognition I have received. But for all I say to God be the glory. It has not been an easy road here, but I thank God for the journey thus far and the journey ahead. We are in it already so no going back. It is forward ever,” he enthused.