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Why I Pay Attention To Details-Tade Ogidan

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Tade Ogidan

Tade Ogidan, is a Producer per excellence who needs no introduction. In this interview, he talks about how he became the man he has grown to become.

You have been tagged eccentric because of your production style, do you complain?

I guess that is just me. I like to do things that will represent us well anywhere we stand in the world; that works for me. If other people want to do the mediocre stuff, the everyday thing, well it’s alright. I put too much into some of these things, they are a whole piles of things. Sometimes, God says that it is the right time and you bring it out and you have people who will say he is too ambitions, he is too black, he is too brown. But at the end of the day, we get it done. And sometimes, when we even do that ambitious one, I see myself saying do you know we can still do this better, do you know we can do it this way. My team finally ends up telling me Tade “your trouble is too much”, but at the end of the day, those things we are talking about makes the difference in the movie. That is what the people talk about and that is the reward you get for all those efforts. So, I am patient when it comes to achieving what we have to achieve and we do it in such a way that anywhere people talk about that particular project, anywhere in the world where Nigerians are talking they speak with pride, you can’t get a better reward.

You are patient when you work, how do you make the client understand?

We strike that balance. There are clients who walk up to me because they have seen things that I have done, and they go “can you help us package something like this”. I look at it and sometimes I tell them it is not going to work with this kind of time they have. Sometimes, they want it within that time and we go back to the drawing board and look at what we were able to achieve within that time. Sometimes, you find out that we actually just blow right through the roof and it then shock them. Then, you hear “is this what has become of the simple idea within this short period?”. There are a lot of times when even people you are collaborating with think it’s taking a lot of time. It is not the speed to get things done, you can speedily rush through cut, it’s a piece of cake. But you see that thing that gives that edge; that little difference must be there. You make a project and then play it back over and over again. Am looking and asking what are the weak points of this, can we do this better, what if we remove sound from here to here, what if we remove music from here to here. So sometimes, I even leave it for a little bit just so I can clear my head. Sometimes, when you are so close to it, you can’t see things around it. Then, I take delight in calling people to sit and watch and they go whoa. And then I go I don’t even think that scene worked, and they will go on and on telling me how it made this perfect and that well. So sometimes, you say to the client just calm down. What will eventually come out will be more than you can see. So, just let it be finished and they say it’s okay. It is your job and you know how you do your things. I also say to them that you came to me for one reason, you could have gone to any other person, but you came to me, so let that reason play out, and we are all happy at the end of the day.

At what point did you become the Mr. Perfect you are now known for?

Since I was in NTA. I have always been like this. During my stint working at NTA, I tried to resign twice but they won’t let me go, and they were retrenching people. At that point, I needed space, and my bosses loved me to the moon. They just didn’t see where I was going to. It is not like nowadays when you have tons of television stations, plenty productions. My bosses told me that I would endanger all of these talents and I would be frustrated. I wrote a letter of resignation the first time, my boss held on to it and called my father. It wasn’t like he even knew the man, he said that they should go and look for the man’s number. So, he called my father and told him to prevail on me. So, my father goes “they are sacking people, they are begging you to stay, what is wrong with you, where are you going to, what are you going to do out there, when people love you like this they will take you places, and then I would stay.” NTA is a good learning point, it tame you. You could have the greatest wings to fly, but you need to have the budget to fly with it. You have to belong to the right circle in the system and all of that. But somehow I managed. I get along with people easily; I manage to strike the balance. Some of the things that you guys saw and were mesmerized were the things I did when I left NTA. I ran away from NTA practically. When I left my next letter, I just took a flight and just left. They held on to the letter for over a year.

How easy are your projects?

Some of these projects were difficult to do then. I would have done them at that level when it would not have given the value I desired. It would be screened for the audience. Don’t forget that at that time there were not many stations NTA 10, NTA 7, NTA 5, LTV 8, at least in Lagos. It would be screened, but I would look at those things and say this can’t be like this, this can’t be like that. So, when I got out, I experimented with the first one, “Hostages”.

‘Hostages’ was a blockbuster movie that was capital intensive, how did you finance it?

I didn’t have money. So, I would do something for Lintas and they would say take thirty thousand Naira, take fifty thousand Naira and I would put it into the movie and I would be broke again. Someone would say go and shoot Pepsodent commercial and they would give me some money and I would put the money into the movie, and then we finished it. At some point in the line, I thought if we have gone this far let us apply to the police. We watch these movies from abroad, why won’t the police want to be promoted positively and in greater light?. People were like these things that you have written, why will they give you their helicopter, I replied, but I saw it parked doing nothing. So, if they are not using it, why can’t we use it to promote them?  And so we wrote, and at this time we had finished shooting the drama, we had finished a while back. So, police approved, and it didn’t take them long to approve. However, five unit of police had to come together, Air wing, the man power, the guns, the vehicle and one other unit. When this one has time the other won’t have and when the other has time one would say he didn’t have. Sometimes, a unit head would say he didn’t know anything about the project because he was just transferred into the state and we should give him time. So, finally, it keyed in. There were people on that project who had walked away. They said my problem was too much. This would have been the biggest thing anybody has ever seen, but I would say if we add this police scene it will now go beyoung the biggest thing we have ever seen. And so when it keyed, everybody were telling me “this man you are crazy.  You are just an impossible person”. And then everybody just went into over drive. I am particular. I don’t want to do one hundred projects in my life time. Whatever I do must be memorable, and that opens the door to bigger things. People you don’t know from anywhere would say you have to go and get the person that did this. And when you meet them, they will ask you to help them do something and then they will pay you the money that you couldn’t have made from one film. So, we are all happy, we do things that makes us proud, we do things that makes the family proud, and we keep striving and we learn every day. We execute when we can.

You are currently working on a new project titled ‘Gold Statue’, can you tell us about it?

‘Gold Statue’ is going to be released towards the end of this year. It is the adventure of two brothers who found out that there is a statue in the tribal family worth half a billion Dollar.  So, they went totally insane trying to find the statue.

So should we expect another epic?

It is a project that stars a whole lot of my friends. Sola Sobowale and Richard Mofe-Damijo are playing parents to Gabriel Afolayan, there is Ali Baba in it. You won’t understand when your son insist that he want to go to jail. We are talking about a boy from a good home.  He has not told you what is going on, this is somebody who is supposed to be doing NYSC, but is somewhere else. You are trying to rescue this person from prison and he is telling you that he wants to remain there. It is a big cast movie. There is Bisola Ayeola of the Big Brother Naija fame, there is Kelvin Ikeduba, Tunji Bamishigbin, Reekado Agbor, and Yinka Akanbi. There is Francis Onoche, it is a massive cast. We built a prison set, it looks like a prison. People come in and say whoa you guys have blown money, but it makes us feel good.

You spend a lot of money on your set, what happens to them after the movie?

We turn it into a tourist attraction. Our partners, High Impact Studios, High Impact Amusement Park, we shot at a location there. We built our set, we built a tunnel. In fact, if you see the tunnel you will be amazed. It looks real, you would feel sand. We had fun shooting this. It was demanding, but look that is film making. If you are not looking for something demanding then you should go and sit on a cruise ship and enjoy yourself.

What inspires the kind of movies you make?

I observe. I sit and study when I hear something that is weird. I then take what I observed to scripting level. For example in ‘Diamond Ring’, the tipping point of that movie was somebody saying some young boys went to raid a burial ground. It is not like nowadays when they are killing people anyhow. That seems like novelty then, were they not afraid. Then, I heard of the challenges of students living in University of Lagos, some of the boys that were working with me didn’t have accommodation when they were in school. They said people sleep in class, so I took all of that and rolled it into something. A kid from a rich home, what more can you have, but there is more to it all. We take things for granted.

Let’s flashback, how did you find yourself in production?

This has been on since when I was a kid. My father’s tenant, somebody we used to call Uncle David Orere, he was one of the big time producers of the 70s, he was a producer at NTA, it was Nigeria Television Service (NTS) then. So, when he needed small boys to play one role or the other he would take me to the studio. In all of that, he will give me something and say memorize these lines. They. And then the first time I was going to act, I just didn’t remember that I didn’t say anything. I think Femi Jarrett was on set. So, he was prompting me, I was so overwhelmed. They built this set in the studio; I was selling Groundnut, and didn’t say anything. That time, you don’t cut, you record everything. Once you start recording you must finish that set. When I come to the studio, I would see this man behind the big console and like magic it just became something that I wanted to do, to be at the back of the camera and not in front because I found it very interesting. You are controlling all of these people, making them do that finish product.

Tell us about your writing skill

I have been writing since when I was in secondary school, and I was a kid hero at that. I can’t study at night, but I would write all night. My mother and I would quarrel. She would say you won’t read at night, but this your script you won’t leave it. I will take it to school and the girls will be all over me because they would want to read. The topics were very matured and at a point they started asking me if I was not writing somebody else’s thing, but I didn’t have access to anybody’s thing then. By then, David Orere had gone away; I think they sent him to Benin. I went to school and by the time I was coming back to NTA, things I had witnessed abroad I couldn’t even try half of them because the structures was not there. The little one I did would make people say whoa and I will say that’s not even the way I wanted that to come out.

At what age did you shoot your first move?

I tried to shoot my first movie at 17 or 18 years. There were no video cameras then, there was this uncle whose name was Wale Fanu, he and Uncle Tunde Kelani used to be partners, obviously we grew up with him. He worked with NTA and had a small camera. I had written something and had done the casting. I had being a producer at 16 even before I went to University. It was very expensive because the roll of film would runout in three minutes or something like that, and I would go and beg my parent for money to buy another one. When I was going to school abroad, I took it along and when I was trying to post-produce it I was really impressed. I never finished the film because I then had to go to school.

Your friends are Managing Directors of Banks and Chief Executive Officers of oil and gas companies, but you are where you are, are you fulfilled?

I am happy. They respect me. They are rich, some of them own gulf courses. In fact, some of them own the Lekki Expressway businesses and all of that. I am not going to mention names, but you can imagine how big they are. Sometime ago, one told me his wife is going to be fifty and he was looking for ideas. By the time I wrap the idea together he was saying just now. When we wanted to implement, he blew money like you cannot start to understand. I say let us do this, this will come in from abroad and they ask how much I say I don’t know. They ask what kind of flight ticket will we buy for them and I answer minimum business class and they saw okay. And then we will put up one of the grandest show and they will just be wondering, the wife of one of them whom we did something like that for was just crying. She was asking when did all of this happen? So, I am happy for them, God has been wonderful to me. It is not everybody who is talent that gets lucky in what we do. So, I am grateful for what I am, I am grateful for the career. So, we all won’t be bankers, we all won’t be oil baron, but we all work together in the beauty of the world.

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