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Alagogo Ide is a 2021 mystery film by Bogunbe Abiola Paul. The director is no new comer as he has well over ten films to his directorial credit. The film stars Omowunmi Dada in a rather undistinguished performance as a young woman split between her christian faith and the unrelenting world of witches where she must take her rightful place and save an ailing world. Faith and Fate clash fists, one must win her over.
In this interview, the film’s writer, Chris Ikechi Anyanya reverbs his creative journey and process.
This is your debut feature as a writer correct? How does it feel to have your work on the big screen?
Chris: Debut on the big screen, yes. It’s amazing, I’m glad and I give thanks to God for this. It doesn’t feel bad at all. I started writing after my National Youth Service Corps, before then I tried my craft on stage plays and documentaries. But professionally, I started in 2015. I started with sitcoms, then television series and gradually it had grown to what it is now.
Is there a difference when you’re working outside the Yoruba film industry?
Chris: There’s no difference to me, honestly. It’s writing. I just try to understand my role as a writer and give my best, there is no restriction. If I get the chance to write a Zulu film I will gladly do so.
You’ve become quite the catch. You’ve been busy. What’s the secret?
Chris: God… Of course, I try to always give my best when I get to work and I am certain I put in quite an effort. But I’m aware that I am not the only writer around so it has to be the grace of God and the fact that I do a decent job.
Are you a spiritual man?
Chris: Yes I am. Still growing spiritually though
Do you believe in supernatural elements and powers?
Chris: Yes, I do
Let’s talk about your recent cinema debut Alagogo Ide a film about the supernatural. A film about witches. What was the plot to writing this film?
Chris: Well, the director got in touch with me and told me his story and what he intended to achieve and we just took it from there. After the conversation with the director and identifying that it is a surrealist film, we tried to explore element of surrealism. Hence the dreams and supernatural forces which are inherent in the film. I tried to get myself in the mood by listening to Dead Can Dance and allow their sound play in my head while I imagine
Looking into the world of the surreal, were there influences from cinema?
Chris: From literature, yes. I explored William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the three witches and their prophecy. What I had hoped to achieve with this is the concept of Fate. Cinema, not really. However, I researched elements of surrealism and I played a lot with them. What I like to with my screenplays is to borrow from personal accounts. So personal accounts shared with me during the conferences and those that’s been shared with me over time were recreated. The “Owambe” for instance, comprises of personal account and a bit of fiction. Then there is the Amala offering which came as dream and reality immediately, that’s also personal account just adjust to suit the screenplay. These accounts shows that spiritual forces are playing with us and we should always be aware of them while we work our physical realm. This idea is something we emphatically push. Through encounters, both physically and metaphysically
What did you find most challenging about writing? And what would you say about the vision from script to screen?
Chris: Ending it was a bit cumbersome for me, her struggles had to be unbearable and how we started the story made the task harder. Already, we took a stand that she is taking witchcraft, but how? She is a believe and we are not saying she is a hypocrite, something in life, we have to do some things for the greater good, you see a thing like that in Scorsese’ Silence. She has to take the witchcraft she loathes for the greater good. We had to have her meet her mother and lover on her journey to the coven and some other elements which didn’t make it to the final cut, I’m only saying this part because I am the writer anyway. To answer your question, ending this gave me a little tough time.
I’m a dreamer, I believe no dream is too big so when I write I don’t like to stay limited, I believe that nothing is impossible, yet, not everything is possible so I can understand why some visions may not get their spotlight.
We were very adventurous, we had bigger dreams than what what was eventually presented if I am to be honest, but I believe we’ve done something. The mind is a limitless place, another Creative mind would tell a totally different story with the material, yes, but we have done something here.
What is it like working with the director?
Chris: Amazing, he is an amazing person and you can see clearly that he wants to grow and he does not want to do it alone, he listens and he always carried me along on the project, this to me shows he values the job I did for him and that is very endearing.
Good to have a good collaborator
Chris: I agree.
Can you work us through how you write?.
Chris: It depends on how I’m feeling sometimes. Also as I work, I ask questions regarding the world I’m writing about if I’m unable to be present in it. It’s quite flexible, sometimes I do a breakdown before I start writing, sometimes I know what my intended ending is and I just workshop the process till the end
Does being a rapper and songwriter influence your style of writing?
Chris: I believe so. I believe our personalities always has a way of showing in our arts, sometimes when you listen to my music you will find dramatic elements, characters and a bit of poetry, I guess we are who we are at the core of it all.
You were also an actor in the film, how did you handle being on set with the characters you have created?
Chris: Well, I tried to separate myself from the material and allow the artist do their thing, but on some occasions I surely was itching and wishing some things were interpreted as it was in my head. But then, it’s a collaborative and one has to allow every artist live their role
What are your thoughts about the Nigerian film industry and the Yoruba sect especially?
Chris: I believe good things are on the way, most of the people I have worked with understand the importance of planning from the script so they know the importance of a good scriptwriter. That way, I don’t have to explain the importance of my job. As for the rest, it would be nice if production is not rushed, more time could be spent on planning and details that go into production up to the colour and so on, sometimes these things drop the quality of productions. Good stories are good, but good stories shot shabbily will just look bad and make the people who did a good job blend in and look awful
Generally, scrutiny would really go a long way in fixing things, not everybody has a business making films, and this is no disrespect to anyone. At least, the criteria should be beyond having money or being popular or knowing people, at least know the job. You see a lot of films and what they do and you wonder why, what this does is give the good artists bad names because when they categorize, they put everybody together. And this makes the really talented and hardworking talents look mediocre. However, if we all know what is required of us and we put in work and do our job diligently, the whole industry will show more respect
What are you doing to make the needed change?
Chris: Well, I do my best with the scripts I write and I try to encourage competence with the artists I have had the chance to work with. Nobody is an island of knowledge, so I’m always learning what to and what not to do with every production because the goal is to be better
Hopefully, if I get to make my film, I won’t make the mistakes I have seen from other films