Theatre and filmmaking is an art form that has been around for as long as humanity can recall. According to American actress and acting teacher Stella Adler, “The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation. The theatre is a spiritual and social x-ray of its time.”

Thanks to history we know that great playwrights lived in ancient Greece, early India and the English Elizabethan Era. Some of these great innovators include Aristophanes, Aeschylus, Bhฤsa and of course Shakespeare, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s greatest dramatist. Though there are still disputes on whether he wrote all his works. Well, that’s a tale for another time.

Every country has a perspective on filmmaking and Nigeria is no exception, especially in this rise of Afrobeats to the world evangelism. Filmmaking might seem nothing but entertainment, a distraction for some or relaxation for others. However, this is not so every time. It is one of the most ‘human’ art forms where your acting, especially your character interpretation and script can take a philosophical or political stance on issues we encounter in society.

I had a great time with Chima Igbokwe, a budding Filmmaker who is bringing a different feel to Nollywood. It was quite an engaging interview, do have a fun time digesting.

Q: May we meet you?

A: I am Chima Igbokwe, a Writer and Filmmaker. I also produce for Television and the Theatre.

Chima Igbokwe

Q: Wow nice.

So what was your childhood like?

A: Growing up was great. I’m the last Child from a family of ten. Six boys and four girls. It has always been such an experience. I have had most of my life in Northern Nigeria. One thing growing up in a large family teaches you is survival and competition. You learn how to pitch your need so it can be considered before a person’s own. So like Jay Z, I learnt how to sell water to a well.

Q: Fascinating.

So what inspired you to join the world of film?

A: Drama runs in my family line. My father of blessed memory was a great storyteller, a historian, and an orator, even though he chose and practised Law. My Mum has a great sense of humour. Growing up, my siblings and I engaged in a lot of storytelling, sketching, painting, etc. We also organized wordings (yabbing moments). That used to be very humorous. I remember writing my first piece in Primary 5. It was an Autobiography. Then in JSS 3, I wrote my first film script, which was 87 scenes and that same year, I attended my first audition for a movie role in Abuja. From SS1 during my Secondary School days, I became the Drama Director in our Drama Club. I acted a lot and engaged in a lot of readings. I just knew I had to do this thing. Eventually, I applied to study Theatre Arts after trying severally to go for Law.

One thing growing up in a large family teaches you is survival and competition. You learn how to pitch your need so it can be considered before a person’s own. So like Jay Z, I learnt how to sell water to a well.

Q: Why did you initially opt to study Law?

A: My Dad’s influence. If he had his way everyone in my family would have been Lawyers. However, only two of my siblings got to study Law and it is a very reputable course to study.

Q: Alright.

How did you convince your Father to let you study Theatre Arts?

A: Ahhh my father died before I got the admission.

Q: Oh sorry to hear that. Do take heart.

A: Thank you.

From SS1 during my Secondary School days, I became the Drama Director in our Drama Club. I acted a lot and engaged in a lot of readings. I just knew I had to do this thing. Eventually, I applied to study Theatre Arts after trying severally to go for Law.

Q: Alright.

Did your studies help shape your creativity?

A: Of course! Theatre is highly addictive except you did not let it pass through you. A lot of people who studied Theatre passed through the course, but the course did not pass through them which is why some are either creatively mediocre or not practising at all. Theatre helped build my artistic stamina and spontaneity. In this Art, you cannot outwork me, you cannot out-research me and you cannot out-learn me. I also have a Certificate in Film Arts from National Film Institute, Jos. Understanding principles and theories make our art stand out. As I was taught, theories and principles are quality assurance mechanisms.

Q: Wonderful.

So when did you make your first official film?

A: I have always been behind the Camera either as a Production Assistant or a Script Supervisor, Set Designer and Assistant Director. But I directed & produced my first film 12 years ago.

Q: Okay.

Can you elaborate on that?

A: On my first film?

Theatre is highly addictive except you did not let it pass through you. A lot of people who studied Theatre passed through the course, but the course did not pass through them which is why some are either creatively mediocre or not practising at all. Theatre helped build my artistic stamina and spontaneity.

Q: Yes the one you made yourself?

A: Okay. The title is Oh No. I had just concluded my task on the set of School of Thoughts produced by Mescley Uzoma. I was an Assistant Director on the set, so as soon as we wrapped, I approached him that I’d love to film with the camera since we had an extra day before the rental expires. He agreed, so I quickly dusted up one of my short film scripts, I got a friend, Chiemela Peters, who worked as a BTS person on the finished project. I told him I was gonna make him a DOP, and he laughed but agreed. I called up some actors I knew and boom, we shot my first short film. After that, I went ahead to make a feature-length some months after.

On set Lizzy’s Memorial
Chima Igbokwe directing Shawn Faqua, Lotachukwu and Ivie Okujaye on the set of Card Yard

Q: Wow nice.

How many years have you spent in the industry?

A: I can’t be exact about that. I have been in the Creative Industry for as long as I can remember. When I was in Primary 6 acted in a professional stage play – This is Our Chance by James Ene Henshaw. When I was in JSS 3, I attended my first film audition while I was in secondary school I acted in a few films as an extra. Immediately after secondary school, I started following film crews as a Production Assistant. Infact, I got my AGN card while I was still in Secondary School.

Q: Interesting.

So do you have any projects in the works?

A: Yeah. Journey to Martyrdom. We are about to premiere it this April. Easter Monday to be precise in Abuja.

Q: Okay.

Can you talk about it?

A: It is a project that is very dear to me. I am the Writer and Director. It’s a film that tells the story of Ladi, a young ambitious girl who is kidnapped alongside other girls by some unknown men. While in captivity, Ladi proves to be tougher than the rest and of course, there is always a price to pay for standing out. It is a battle of two forces. Very high in conflict and full of surprises and intrigues. Like I always say, I don’t like suspense. I dish out a lot of surprises.

I have been in the Creative Industry for as long as I can remember. When I was in Primary 6 acted in a professional stage play – This is Our Chance by James Ene Henshaw. When I was in JSS 3, I attended my first film audition while I was in secondary school I acted in a few films as an extra.

Q: Okay nice.

A: So in this film, everyone should get ready to be surprised.

Q: Alright.

So what do you expect this movie to achieve?

A: I expect that this film will score very high entertainment-wise. Globally, it will excite, especially culturally. The socio-political elements in it will serve well in National orientation.

Q: Great.

So what advice do you have for other upcoming filmmakers?

Like I always say, I don’t like suspense. I dish out a lot of surprises.

A: This is the area I usually disagree with the Legendary James Cameron who advised that to be a Filmmaker, pick up a camera and shoot something then you will be a Filmmaker. For me, I advise that to be a Filmmaker, get something to say then look for a camera to shoot it. Again, while you are at it be ready to persevere. It is not easy. Be ready to put in genuine hard work. Of course, let God lead while you follow.

Q: Amazing.

So let’s get personal, are you in a relationship?

A: Unfortunately, I don’t discuss my personal life in public space. No vex.

Q: Alright. It’s fine.

Thanks for your time.

A: Thank you very much.

Q: It’s a pleasure.

For me, I advise that to be a Filmmaker, get something to say then look for a camera to shoot it. Again, while you are at it be ready to persevere. It is not easy. Be ready to put in genuine hard work. Of course, let God lead while you follow.

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3 replies on “CHIMA IGBOKWE: A MAN OF SURPRISES”

  • John Abanaze
    March 21, 2023 at 9:02 pm

    I must say you had an adventurous childhood and a very competitive one at that. I admire your tenacity and dedication toward your passion. You’re indeed a man of consistency.

  • El james
    March 22, 2023 at 12:08 am

    this man is a big bag of theatre knowledge put together,,
    this is one filmmaker i have always been glad to work with and for,
    he always bring something you will learn from
    both in story telling or any aspect at all

  • April 30, 2023 at 11:10 pm

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis. Its always useful to read content from other authors and practice something from their websites.