Step Up Nigeria just launched Emeka’s Money Animated Film on our YouTube Page Step Up TV. The film features Emeka, who works for the Governor of his State, Governor Teso Chinedu Olayinka. Emeka’s friends pay Emeka a visit at the governor’s office that changes the lives of many people in the state. To get the full story, please watch the full short film.
Ahead of the launch, Step Up Nigeria podcast host Feranmi Adeola interviewed the cast members of the film. Here’s the interview with Ovie Paul-Ejukorlem who played the Governor’s personal assistant, Emeka, the protagonist in the film.
Feranmi: Hello, please introduce yourself.
Ovie: Thank you Feranmi. It’s a pleasure being here. I am Ovie Paul-Ejukorlem, I’m a designer, strategist, animation enthusiast, and advocate for the industry. I am into a lot of creative things. Generally, I’m creative and I like to get my hands into a lot of things.
Feranmi: Thank you Ovie. It’s good having you on our podcast today. Tell us a bit about yourself. Have you ever been in an animated film or any other film before this particular film?
Ovie: Prior to this, my only experience would have to be in voice over for animated ads not really a full length film because we have very few of those. I have also auditioned for a couple of full length movies in the industry. Also, work related to this would be voice over for poetry and video compositions but nothing like an animated movie. This would be the first of its kind.
Feranmi: When you first got the script, what stood out to you most? How did it feel to play Emeka?
Ovie: My first reaction was *yaaay* a new project. I immediately told Rodney to give me directions and as usual, he gave epic directions. It was a lot of takes because you are actually acting while you have no audience which is a bit awkward. A lot of visualising has to come in to play in addition to the story telling from the sound director. It’s a really exciting place to be because when it comes to animation as a form of storytelling you can play around with it, and it has a different imprint in people. To add life to that is really exciting.
Feranmi: You played Emeka, and I feel like in real life, it’s difficult to be Emeka. It’s difficult to make that decision to get out of a place that you know is leading to loss of lives and livelihoods, accidents and things like that. How did you get into character to play Emeka and how has playing Emeka affected you personally?
Ovie: The message from Emeka’s point of view was, ‘I am living life, doing the regular thing, getting my friends’ jobs then asking them to give “kolanut” and that wouldn’t be a big deal because that’s the way the system works’. But when he sees the negative effects of that, he chose to take action, resigned from his job and moved to doing things better. That was instrumental for me.
Funny enough, now thinking about it, my job at the time of recording for this film wasn’t directly involved in corruption but they were not doing things the best way. I had been saying I was going to resign for a while and move on to something that was a lot more fulfilling. Between the time I did the voice over and now, I have resigned. I think unconsciously there was that influence I really didn’t figure out until now.
Feranmi: So what part did you enjoy most in recording this film? And do you think the creative industry should have more content like this out?
Ovie: What I liked the most was seeing all parts come together. Initially I thought that doing my part and recording my voice was cool but what blew my mind was when I went back for take backs after the scenes had been developed and when I saw the characters. I hadn’t even seen the full film yet but from the clips I saw, I was already like “oh no” it is amazing. I am actually anticipating the premier on YouTube.
The film is a step into a new direction. I think this is the first time there would be an infusion of this type of African content with this type of production quality. It’s really exciting to see it all come together. So for me, that is the most exciting part.
Feranmi: What message do you have for anyone who watches this film?
Ovie: Emeka’s money to me is a fusion of someone’s vision, creatively written stories, and idea of a better Nigeria. It beautifully combines the hard work of a creative industry that hasn’t quite blossomed in Africa yet, the hard work of people, the creative work that came in form of the digital artist, the animator, voice over cast and producers, the concept, the time, and patience of the producers to see the whole process through because animation isn’t an easy process at all.
We should all be excited for the next phase which is the launch and adoption. I would like to see a lot of people engaging with it and for children who enjoyed it to expect more. I would like to see a lot more people investing in this so that this movie is not the first and last of its kind. With a lot more funding, we could have more people with these ideas come up and expand the studios who make them, and in turn expand production causing a positive ripple effect. When that happens, our whole view of morality is rewired based on what we watch. I personally was really influenced by the cartoons I watched growing up. So I would like to see this medium of storytelling used in scaling up advocacy.
Every parent needs to get this film, play it every day for their kids because the more you play it, the more it registers in the child. Let it become like an anthem and a lifestyle for them. Anyone who watches this and thinks it’s really good and is looking for a way to plug in should either reach out to Step Up Nigeria, the studio or the creatives to accelerate the whole movement. It was quite a privilege to be part of this project.
To listen to the full podcast, see below;