Film editing is now something almost everyone can do at a simple level and enjoy it, but to take it to a higher level requires the same dedication and persistence that any art form does – Walter Murch.
Martini Akande’s editing profile cuts across genres and forms; from short films to documentaries to award-winning blockbusters: Crushed Roses, Road2Blow, Nneka the Pretty Serpent, Glamour Girls, and most recently Brotherhood – the sprawling crime action film by Jade Osiberu. From the film’s trailer, Martini is able to get throats wet with timely cuts and seamless sequencing. Brotherhood is the talk on and off social media and it all started with the release of the trailer. Martini Akande proves that those behind the scene deserve to be seen and heard and, now, it’s only I right I pour the man a glass of tall martini as he’s arguably the most sought-after film editor in Africa.
Is there any particular rule or principle that guides you as an editor?
That would be to give my best on every job. No matter the scale or budget, because you’re only as good as your last job in this business. You want to make every job as good as possible.
What is the one thing I must not do if I am in your workspace?
Hmmm. Don’t comment on a cut until I’m done with it. Lol
I can understand. So who sat down with you during Brotherhood’s editing sessions?
Was she holding a ‘knife’ to your neck at any point? Lol.
Lol. No knives. It was a very collaborative process, Jade is the type who trusts the creative inputs of her editor.
I’d like know more about Brotherhood. What is unique about it?
Brotherhood is a very ambitious project. It’s daring. The producer, the director, the entire production team just decided to do something that has never been done before in Nollywood. I mean, we have made big films in Nollywood but Brotherhood takes it even further with higher stakes, higher production values and it tries to make situations and effects very real. It’s an action film that actually tried to be an action film. They shut down the bridge, the third mainland bridge, for like five days and they put the actors in situations as it would be in real life. It was a daring and ambitious project and the entire production team down to the editor, me, had to come through and try to reward these massive efforts.
What was your process to editing Brotherhood? What was at stake for you?
Omo, this is a very good question. Well… So when I came into Brotherhood, about 60 to like 70 percent of the first cut, or rough cut had been done. And they were far behind schedule, so I had to first look at what was available, and try to first finish doing a first cut or a rough cut, before finalizing it.
As I said, this is the biggest action film we’ve ever shot and this is the first time I’d be editing an action feature film in this capacity. Even amidst personal issues and fighting the imposter syndrome. The thing is that there was a project (name withheld) that I had done some time ago but it just got released and the reception was awful. I didn’t really feel great about that. So I really needed a comeback. I needed to prove myself to myself and to whoever my next client might be. I had said to myself “omo, this is the one that will expose you”. So that’s why when I was cutting the trailer for Brotherhood, I had to go all in and attempt something I know that’s never done like this in Nollywood. So, there was a lot at stake.
Yes, my ego was at stake. Let me just put it that way. And when it came, I really wanted to show off. I wanted to show that I can do this. So, that’s the way I went to it. It just came at the right time. It came and I grabbed it by the neck.
How would you describe Loukman Ali and his work on Brotherhood? Did you get to meet him at any point during production?
I think Loukman is a very excellent director. He’s very creative. I don’t think Brotherhood would be what it is right now if any other person had directed it. So I think it was a great decision from the producer to bring Loukman into the project. I’m not surprised that he pulled it off. He has some good works to his credit. I came on the project after the shoot so I couldn’t meet him. I wish I did, though. I would have loved to share ideas with him and understand his thought process.
What was your most challenging scene to cut in Brotherhood?
This would be the scene on the Third Mainland bridge. The sequence appears toward the end of the film. It took about 11 days to edit that sequence and this was because I had a very tight deadline. There was a lot of setup, a lot of takes, a lot was going on. Cutting an action scene like that requires so much. You have to borrow from your arsenal as an editor to make sure it looks and feels real. It’s in editing that you make a jump look bigger than it is. You make a slap, a punch or a shoot bigger than it is. That was challenging and I enjoyed every bit of it.
What future do you see for the Nigeria Film industry?
Like I always say, this is like the best time to come into Nollywood. There’s so much FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) now coming into Nollywood. The streamers are here. Our content is in the face of the world and the opportunity is open to fringe filmmakers. We still do have a lot of work both technical and story wise. We still need a lot of foreign influence. Some of us like to think we are self-sufficient but we need expert training. We need more training from the right people who have been doing it well. We need them to come down and train us some more.
And for any serious, hardworking filmmaker, I believe you have a better chance than our predecessors. I see some of our Yoruba veteran actors just actually making some decent money after all these years. And I’m happy some of them are still alive to make some real money unlike what they were making back in the days. The future is bright but we just need to be honest with ourselves. Know where you are and know what you need to do to get where you want to be. Be self-aware.
Check out www.martiniakande.com/ for Martini’s journey as an editor in Nollywood.