Movie Director Amaechi Ukeje Reveals
Nollywood Movie director Amaechi Ukeje is one act who is renowned in the movie industry for his Midas touch when it comes to directing and also script writing. He came into Nollywood as a script writer in 2003 and later became a director. A graduate of International Relations from Abia State university, Andy who cuts the picture of a very disciplined young man has a lot of movies to his credit and he is respected as one of the directors who don’t mix business with pleasure. In this interview with Vivian Onuorah,he reveals what most directors go through in Nollywood.
Can you tell us about you?
My name is Amechi Ukeje,am from a village called Acha in Isiukwuato LGA.of Abia State.
Am married with kids and am a graduate of Abia state university, I studied International Relations.
And your journey into Nollywood,how did it all start?
My journey into Nollywood was like an accident, it started from telling stories and cracking jokes with my cousins, one day one of them told me this my stories could be transformed into a movie because you are a fantastic writer.
Are you a script writer or a director?
I started as a script writer, After my cousin said that, I got home and having waited for long after graduating without any job, I started writing a lot of movie scripts, and I took it to so many people but one person whom I respect today as my boss in Nollywood Andy Chukwu, when I took it to him, he laughed so hard and told me to tell him the story. He now gave me some movie scripts and said I should go through those ones and then write my own. that was how I started out in nollywood as a script writer, then coupled with the help of a couple of friends like oj productions, late Chinedu Nwani Get Rich productions, I started coming to movie sets, at first it was so boring that I felt it wasn’t a place I could pursue a career. Accidentally as it started, one day I found myself with Martins Onyemaeze of Onye Eze productions, I gave him a script I wrote and he said to me, can you direct? I told him yes I can try it and that was how I became a director and that’s what I have been doing till date.
Being a script writer and a director, which would you say pays off?
I will say am more of a script writer because that’s what I derive more joy in doing but I do more of directing.
For how long have you been in the movie industry?
I have been in Nollywood since 2003.
What are some of the jobs you are identified with?
My first movie script was done by OJ productions, Paint My Love and I have scripted movies like Kingdom Apart, Throne of Tears, Tears of A Princess. The first one I scripted and directed was Anointed Queen, Palace of Blood, and so many others.
As a scriptwriter, how do you derive your inspirations?
I derive inspiration from things and activities around me. Even as am sitting with you, you can become my inspiration tomorrow without knowing it.
General, the Nollywood storylines are always predictable, what can you say about this since you are also a script writer?
It’s an area in nollywood that script writers and directors really need to look into. I have also observed that in a couple of movies but for me. I hate talking about my jobs; I like my jobs talking about me. I think my jobs are quite different, you can’t predict where the movie is heading. it’s something we will keep working on until we get it right. There are lots of shallow jobs out there and that is due to poverty, most people are just out to make the money and that’s it.
How rewarding has the movie career been for you?
It has been so rewarding, I have been directing since March 2010, and I must say its been a good experience so far. I have a name that rings bell and as for the financial aspect, it puts food on my table.
It’s very challenging especially when you are the originator of the story and you have someone who is not getting it the way you want. sometimes it gets very frustrating but you have to be patient with them, especially the upcomers.no one becomes a professional in just a day. If Andy hadn’t been patient with me maybe I wouldn’t have had the opportunity I had. but the passion and eagerness to learn must be there, the ambition to get it right. When you see, work with it because that’s the ingredient you need in any actor. unfortunately a lot of these young actresses now want to come from top and not the root. it is very challenging.
How does your wife cope with your busy schedule?
She knew what I was doing even before we got married. I had my traditional marriage and few days after, I was off to work. So it has been like that and there’s nothing we can do about it. The point is that whenever I go home, I spend quality time with them and they always have the best of me but when its time for work, I go back to my job.
How do you cope with advances from female actresses?
We just have to cope with them, I always tell people that nobody loves you; they only come to you because they feel you are this and that, and the moment you stop being that, they will desert you.
How true is the fact about sexual harassment in Nollywood?
The ones who have got talent are not the problem but those ones who have absolutely nothing to offer are the ones harassing us all the time thats why it’s difficult for producers to resist them. I don’t know if it’s like that in other industries but the entertainment industry, especially Nollywood, am saying it with no apology, the directors and producers don’t harass ladies, it’s the other way round. These actresses who have no talent harass us sexually just to get what they want. They Sexually harass us both physically, on the phone and they really have to be disciplined. For the strong ones among us, we always know how to walk across it but for those who aren’t that strong,it’s difficult for them.