It’s usually not easy to navigate the waters of directing a film, especially for younger, newer, and emerging directors; This has inspired Nollywood filmmaker Steve Gukas to embark on a new project he calls “First Features.”
The Plateau-State-born filmmaker is training emerging directors and mentoring them in the film business, an opportunity he did not enjoy during his early days.
In this interview, the multi-award-winning film director, known for his directorial works such as ‘Living in Bondage’ the remake, ’93 Days’ and ‘Keeping Faith’, talks more about his drive and his latest film piece, ‘Kill Boro. ‘
PT: Can you tell us about your latest project, Kill Boro?
Steve Gukas: Kill Boro, a film we just finished shooting in Port Harcourt, is the fourth film in the list of twelve films that make up the first feature film. The story of Kill Boro is set in Port Hacourt, so we needed to shoot the film in Port Hacourt, on the actual location. So we were in Port Harcourt for four weeks for the production.
PT: What is the film about?
Steve Gukas: Kill Boro is a father and son story about understanding and appreciating each other more. It is the story of an estranged father and his son and their journey towards reconciliation, understanding and mutual appreciation.
PT: Who are some of the cast members?
Steve Gukas: Philip Asaya played Boro, the father; Kosichukwu, a new act, played the son; and Ini Dima-Okojie played the mother. Other actors are in the mix: Gregory Ogefor, Micheal Dapa and another child played by Beloved Osagie and Hilda Dokubo. We had quite an interesting cast and we also had a nice time filming this in Port Harcourt.
PT: So when would the film be ready?
Steve Gukas: Kill Boro should be ready in early December, but at the moment we don’t have any concrete description plans. We are focused on the post-production process and have been discussing distribution.
PT: Is Kill Boro one of the films in the First Features project?
Steve Gukas: The project is called First Features and Kill Boro is the fourth in a list of twelve films. We are making twelve films with twelve new directors.
PT: Why is it called First Performances?
Steve Gukas: The idea was to define, nurture, support, train and provide an enabling platform for the next generation of filmmakers. So that’s the initiative that is First Features. It started about three years ago, when we had a year to identify talent, provide training, work on a story, and then start actual production. We produced three of these films last year. And we resume this year with the fourth and we are preparing for the fifth.
PT: Let’s analyze the first functions; What inspired the idea?
Steve Gukas: I came up with the idea of the first films because, when starting out as a director, I didn’t have a platform that allowed you to find support and people to hold your hand during the first experience of making your films. , in fact and at any time. I had to go to film school, get out of film school, and find money for ‘A Place in the Stars,’ which is my first feature film as a director after film school, having made ‘Keeping Faith’ before. to attend film school.
PT: Did you receive any help or training when you started as a director?
Steve Gukas: I know we had a window into what training and support could be with the New Direction Initiatives with M-NET Africa, where aspiring directors and writers were shortlisted and given training to a certain extent. But only the one who came out first could direct short films.
I was concerned about the degree and extent to which people provide training as it has become a source of income for some people whose idea was to provide training to earn money. Still, more was needed to support people who received training on how to enter the industry and how to progress. He had always thought about training younger directors, not only teaching them but also making it possible for the person who receives his training to make a film, which gives him a business card for the industry. And the rest can be for them.
PT: How has the First Features project grown over the years?
Steve Gukas: I’ve always had the idea of doing this. The idea metamorphosed and became First Films and, based on that, we called directors of new feature films. These people have yet to make a feature film, but the criteria was to create a short film first.
We received over a thousand submissions and had to narrow them down to twelve, following different stages of interviews, tests and conversations.
Those twelve people were merged into twelve writers and the writer-director team, then dedicated to the development of the different feature film projects that we are embarking on, and we have twelve of them.
The first three films featured various nollywood talents because what we are doing is more than just giving them the resources and the platform to make the film.
The 12 directors formed by the debut feature project photographed with Steve Gukas.
Still, we also have experienced industry professionals, both in front of and behind the camera, to ensure you get the best support possible to get the best image possible, given your level of experience.
PT: Which Nollywood superstars have you worked with on this project?
Steve Gukas: We have had actors like Rita Dominic, Esie Etim, Femi Jacobs, Michelle Dede, Chidi Mokeme and many others who have appeared in these films. We’ve had directors, photographers and crew from Nigeria, South Africa and the UK, and they’ve supported them all.
PT: It should be largely capital intensive. Are you self-funded or do you have partners who work with you?
Steve Gukas: You’re right; It requires a lot of capital, but what we have done is, since the films themselves are going to be shown, we have financial partners who provide some sponsorship, but Native Films provides most of the financing for the works and Michelangelo Productions. .
PT: What do you hope to achieve with the First Films project?
Steve Gukas: The joy of watching these young directors go from doubting themselves to having complete confidence on set and seeing their imagination come to life is very rewarding; It is something that I enjoy watching, and I say this more because technically I take them by the hand throughout the entire training process as a director.
I know that several people who claim to be directors need to first understand what a director does. So, being able to prepare a group of twelve young directors to enter the industry by fully understanding what the role of a director is and having fully expressed that by directing their first feature film and then knowing that they would enter the industry and set a different benchmark. simply because of the nature of the work they would do and the nature of the growth trajectory they would enjoy.