Current Project: With Studio 11 Films, I directed Nathan Gregory and will also be directing the eleventh film in the 11 Eleven11 Project. I’m working on a series of travelogue videos for Road Scholar. Also, I’m producing a series of NASCAR marketing videos involving various companies led by the team behind veteran NASCAR driver, Mike Wallace. I’m also working on setting up a few film, TV and web projects with my production partners through my company Works of Bawbee Films.
What drew you to this project?
It’s a great story and it was quite different from the other films on deck in the sense that it had a supernatural twist and also had kids as the primary cast. The opportunity to work with veteran actor Tommy Ford was also a great motivation for taking on this project. I was also looking forward to working with the DP, Howard Gibson from HGP Productions who is a veteran industry heavyweight.
Where you were born/where you were raised:
I was born in the eastern part of Canada and raised in Igboland, in the eastern part of Nigeria, so I got the best of both worlds.
What do you hope viewers walk away with after seeing this project?
The bullying aspect of this film is very important to me. The moral of the story is very topical because it deals with bullying and the exchange of power. Our hero goes from being the bullied to perhaps being a bully so he must learn how to control his newfound powers. Bullying is never cool. I produced a wonderful video project for 3M Atlanta last year and anti-bullying was a big part of the program. I also produced educational videos for one of the largest school boards in Canada and some of the most powerful projects we worked on had to do with bullying as well; so the topic means a lot to me.
Who are your personals idols in the industry?
I idolize no one. However, I admire people that have figured out how to transform their passion into an honest money making venture. I deal with the now and the tangible so I truly have to lift up the Studio 11 trifecta – Mel Jackson, Sharon Tomlinson and Breyuna Williams. These guys have worked tirelessly to ensure we execute this ambitious project of knocking out 11 films in a few weeks. They are right there in the trenches with us and I’ve seen them put in insane hours, working ‘round the clock to ensure challenges are overcome and that the needs of the films are being served in light of the tight deadlines and budget, especially Sharon and Breyuna who handle all the daily challenges locally. Despite Mel’s hectic schedule of plenty travels and out of state work, he still makes himself available to us for extensive periods of time.
For example, on one of the films I was the 1st AD and we had some challenges, the Studio 11 executives stayed up all night with us, working through things and even ran some errands. Mel Jackson even called in his personal barber in the wee hours of the morning and the guys on the crew took a break to get cuts and lined up and went straight back to work. This was around 2 a.m. By the time call time rolled, around Mel disappeared and we found out he went on a breakfast run for us. Such passion, energy and hard work are why Studio 11 will succeed and grow into a powerful model for the industry.
Performer you would drop everything to go see:
Pop culture guilty pleasure:
I can’t say. My rep will take a massive hit if I do. Let this be my secret.
What’s on your music playlist?
Traditional Igbo music, gospel music, jazz, R&B – mostly old school but also into some new school greats like Kem, Ledisi, to name a few, wide variety of African and World music.
MAC or PC?
I work on both platforms and go with whatever serves my client’s needs, will get the job done and ensure they cut my check, swiftly and happily. The MAC-PC marketing war is not my concern.
Worst job you ever had:
Worst, hmm. I’ve had many bad ones but I must say that I appreciate them all because they were great learning experiences.
Three things you can’t live without:
My connection with God, my connection with family and my awareness of myself – anytime these three things are not in order or I’m not focused on them I tend to make mistakes.
Gmail.com because I serve my client’s needs all day and Espn.com, it’s very necessary.
Last book you read:
Tales from the Script, its essential reading for screenwriters.
Last good movie you saw:
The Secret in their Eyes is a modern day classic film from Argentina. Riveting story, great acting and a challenging continuous shot sequence that will make your eyes pop.
Some films you consider classics:
So many, but I’ll mention a few. The Apostle, directed and starring Robert Duvall, is all around greatness. Training Day, Denzel has no rival but David Ayer’s writing particularly stood out to me. The first thing I did after I saw the film was go on a hunt for the script. The Good The Bad & The Ugly, Sergio Leone’s directing, Tonino Colli’s cinematography, Ennio Marricone’s scoring and the performances of Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cliff and Eli Wallach – epic. I also love certain musicals and these are still very essential viewing for me – The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Favorite screen or commercial opportunities:
I’m constantly working and continue to look for opportunities that will lead me to writing and directing feature films. But, I will not lose sight of my professional DNA which is producing corporate, marketing and creative videos for my clients in order to help them grow their business and organization. It gives me great pleasure to know that I served my clients’ needs effectively and helped them achieve the marketing results they intended.
I’m humbled to see the results I continue to get through my company Works of Bawbee Films. I have to mention Corvette Generation, a Chevy Route 66 short film I wrote, shot and edited, which was one of five films that was awarded a prize at MOFILM/CHEVY’s competition in Cannes Lions Chevy for their worldwide Super Bowl competition organized by the agency, MOFILM. My 30-second spot went on to be one of the worldwide shortlisted finalists. I worked with some amazing Atlanta actors that I admire. I had such a good time with my co-producers that months later we are forming a new partnership called Jiko Collective. Jiko in the Igbo language means unity.
The Walk by Faith music video is also special to me because I fulfilled the lifelong dream of musician and band leader Gene Evans. He has been jamming since the 60s with some soul music greats but I had the opportunity to direct his first music video in 2009. I’m especially fond of all the work I did while working for the Peel District School Board in Canada. We produced some great work that helped positively impact the educational system and also nabbed some major corporate video awards.
Above all, I’m proud of all the work I’ve produced for my clients.