Actor and filmmaker, Olushola Michaels is an angry man. He has invested so much in Nollywood but got nothing or little in return.
In this interview, Michaels reveals how his multi-million-naira investment on movie projects went down the drain. He also talks about his fear for marriage, among other issues.
You are well known to be jack-of-all-trades. What aspect of entertainment are you venturing into now?
I’m focusing on movie production because I’m looking into changing the narrative from the cartel that has been in the industry for long. I don’t like the situation where each time I switch on my television, I see the same people who do the so-called English movies. Also, as a producer, each time I wanted to produce a movie, I was told, ‘if this or that person is not going to be in the movie, we won’t buy it’. I actually produced a movie, gave it to a marketer but he rejected it simply because the director was a Yoruba, and was not part of their caucus. But why is it so? As long as the storyline is good, why do I have to bring your clique into my production? In the next two years, I’m looking into changing that narrative.
What are your strategies in changing the narrative?
Of course, I will keep doing what I know how to do best. Over the years, I’ve worked for many people and my observation is that, once you are creative and unique, if you’re in a hole, clients will look out for you. So, my approach is, continue producing good movies. If the content is good, the storyline is fantastic and picture quality is perfect, fans will look out for you.
Do you partner with digital platforms?
No, that is another problem, getting a link with Netflix, Showmax, ROK and the likes. Hopefully, we would get a link someday because I am so passionate about dominating the Nigerian movie industry. Over six years ago, with my little savings together with a loan, I had a plan to buy a house in Ajah (Lagos), but the plan changed when I was coming back from France and I met an actress at the airport. I told her my desire to become a popular actor and she was like, ‘I could help you if you really want to be a popular actor’. As we speak, I have invested almost N100 million and I’ve not got a penny back.
Going into details is annoying. The first movie I made, Igbekele was shot for N2.1 million. It was hell before I could get a marketer to buy it for N600,000. In fact, the marketer told me, ‘I am just doing you a favour’. Since then, I have produced about 13 movies and they are here on my table, and the cheapest of them is N2.1 million. I recently finished one for N4.7 million.
Do you think that’s what is affecting movie entrepreneurs?
Many producers who have been here before me said, ‘I give you just one year, you might not have money to feed yourself’. And honestly, they are not lying because in less than six months, I have spent N47 million and have not got a penny back. Even the N600,000 for which a marketer bought my movie has not been paid; he promised to pay in four or five months. And guess what, people buy movies from us and sell to online platforms for millions.
So, what do you think is the way forward?
What I think will help is when companies such as DStv, ROK open their doors (to us); they only accommodate few people who go to them. At a point, I was willing to give my movies to DStv for free. All they need to do is to make the movie popular, and after a while, people will pay for it. I’m not asking them to give me money to produce movies. I have the resources and equipment to produce movies, but at least, they should see the content. But rather, they accept movies from their own people. Also, it’s not easy for your movie to be in cinemas in Nigeria, except you are a popular actor or actress.
Despite these challenges, you keep producing movies, what’s your motivation?
I will keep producing movies, except I don‘t have money. But as long as there is fund, I don’t think I will stop. Honestly, I should get tired because of the house I’m hoping to buy. Since I don’t have a house to stay, I will keep shooting. I just hope that I won’t get tired one day.
Which project are you currently working on?
We just rounded off shooting a movie and we are shooting another three. Right now, we are waiting for the two titans, Omotola and Genevieve. I am working on featuring the two together in one of our projects.
As an actor, what do you look out for in a script?
Deep storyline. In Nigeria, most scriptwriters narrow their storylines, they write based on one family. One of the best movies I saw recently was ‘King of Boys’. In the movie, there are lots of stories. You might just be seeing only Shola Shobowale but there over seven different stories in the movie.
As a filmmaker, do you think it’s ideal to produce a movie in two or three days?
It depends on the story. I wouldn’t say it is wrong or right. When I came into the industry; that was what was being done. I’ve been on a movie set in Asaba, and at a point, I wanted to run away because that’s what I was used to in the Yoruba setting, shooting a movie for two or three days. If you go more than three days, they will tell you, it has become a project.
For the English movie, a project will take years but in Yoruba movie sector, we are through with a movie in three days because of the cost, and that is why there is no substance. I’m challenging all that with my movie project.
What would you describe as your best achievement?
I have been able to touch lives. I am passionate about empowering and doing charity work. I believe that if you are from nowhere, you will understand what it takes when someone begs you for food. Sometimes, I don’t like giving cash but prefers to donate the machine or equipment needed. While growing up, I had nobody to help me. The worst that can happen to someone is to be poor without having someone to help.
Do you have any plan to venture into politics?
Yes, eventually, I am hoping to become a governor or senator.
Are you married?
I’m not married, and I don’t intend to. Truth be told, I’m scared of marriage and I don’t think I will ever get married. I wanted to have kids when I was younger but not now, it is too late. Why I said it’s too late for having children is that I am a workaholic and I don’t like a situation where I would want to sleep and then a baby starts crying. My parents have been begging me to get married, but never.
What do you look out for in a woman?
I am jealous. If I marry an actress and I see her kissing another actor on set, I will never tolerate such. Also, if I marry a beautiful woman, I might never concentrate on my work because I will be on the look out to protect her.