By Damilola Fatumise
Blessing Amidu has always had interest in the performing arts. Initially, she’d been nursing dreams of opening an entertainment facility in Nigeria. But she realized that the facility would need kid friendly characters to keep the little ones entertained. This challenge finally led to the idea of creating a series that revolves around the characters.
And guess what, Amidu ultimately decided that the characters were better suited for the big screen, and so the production of her new movie, Ladybuckit and the Motley Mopsters was set in motion.
Described as Nigeria’s first feature length animation film and starring a top cast of Kalu Ikeagwu, Patrick Doyle, Bimbo Akintola and Bola Edwards among others, Ladybuckit and the Motley Mopsters will be screened privately to a select guest of celebrities today in Lagos. It will finally hit cinemas across the country and internationally on Friday December 11, 2020. In this interview, Blessing Amidu opens up on the journey so far. Enjoy it.
Tell us briefly about yourself
I am Blessing Amidu. I grew up in a family of six – my parents and four children. I was a tomboy who loved to climb trees and play football, even at university level. I have a degree in Geology and worked in the Oil & Gas industry for many years. I have always had interest in the theatrical arts. I used to write scripts and participate in church drama presentations.
If you could describe yourself in a sentence, what would it be?
I am a bold, very daring and adventurous woman who has no impossibilities in her vocabulary.
You studied Geology but then veered so far off-course, why?
That was me in an attempt to escape destiny and not toe the path of my siblings. I have always loved the arts, and it was only a matter of time that that aspect of me would find expression.
Your children inspired the new movie, Ladybuckit and the Motley Mopsters (LBMM). How did that happen? What’s the story behind that?
I love to spend time with my kids especially when I’m not working. And on one of those occasions, the idea struck me as we sat watching cartoons together. I discovered (that) my kids especially the twin boys exhibited mannerisms similar to cartoons; and my daughter who was about 12 at the time, helped bring to life some of those ideas on paper. She did sample sketches for the first set of characters after our first brain storming session, and the rest as they say, is history.
When did you realize that this child’s play was a movie and how did it move from your bathroom to the big screens?
It was in my bedroom actually. It dawned on us we were onto something really huge after we presented our sketches to an animator and in turn received the first set of 3D models of the characters.
You have a 30-member cast that includes Patrick Doyle, Kalu Ikeagwu, Bimbo Akintola and many more, how were you able to get everyone on board?
This was the easiest part as mostly everyone saw the huge potential of the project and latched on easily. But so far, the journey has been very, very challenging. We have had two failed attempts and succeeded at the third. Essentially, we learnt from our mistakes and applied them. One takeaway in all of those was the ability to remain focused and to constantly keep the objective in view, and that helped a lot in bringing us to this point today.
How much was invested in this project?
A little less than a million dollars which in actual fact would be nothing compared to the commitment and hard work exhibited by everyone on the team thus far. In fact, I dare say this whole investment would probably have gone down the drain otherwise.
You are releasing a movie during a pandemic that has shaken the world, are there any fears?
I am not one to usually be afraid. We are releasing a movie that was borne more out of passion than financial rewards, and so, fear doesn’t readily find its place here. We’re hoping that regardless of all the challenges in this year alone, that Ladybuckit and the Motley Mopsters would provide the needed escape for families and movie lovers at large. In fact, since the release of the first teaser in August 2020, interest for the movie has been steadily growing, especially amongst fans of animation, cartoons and Nollywood movies. With scenes showing notable Nigerian landmarks and historical places such as Oloibiri, a community in Bayelsa State, where crude oil was first discovered in commercial quantity in 1956, it is expected that parts of the movie will serve as a flashback to Nigeria’s early years.
Which LBMM character has taught you the biggest lesson?
That would be Ladybuckit. There’s so much to learn from our protagonist and everyone, young or old, will be able to relate to the situation she finds herself.
As a businesswoman, how would you describe your work ethic?
Astute. I see opportunities even in the most daunting situations. I never say never once I have my heart set to getting a task accomplished.
What do you hope to achieve with this movie? One of the key elements in our storyline is to teach kids to grow up to be responsible adults. Another key element is that we all make mistakes sometimes, and we can try to or in the least take deliberate steps to getting our mistakes corrected.
What are the biggest lessons and challenges in this two-year-journey?
One of the greatest challenges was finding the right team with the right combination of skill sets. But the biggest challenge was finding people who had a certain level of integrity and commitment. We must also not forget the part that financing had to play in all of these, and finding a financial institution that was willing to go with you all the way especially for a genre that never had much to show in the Nigerian entertainment industry a priori.
Where do you see the Nigerian animation industry in five years?
I see an overflow in creativity taking over the animation space in Nigeria, as more and more people would suddenly awaken to the idea that this is indeed achievable and would go for it.
How would you advise that young girl who hopes to be in your shoes someday?
Dream it, believe it, and get it!