Born in Yakasai, Masallacin-jalli ward in Kano municipality, Ishaq Sidi Ishaq ‘Dan Kwalisa’, began his film career during his secondary school days. He started featuring in the TV soap, Echo In The Dark, where he won the hearts of television viewers in the state. Ishaq was one of the pioneers of the Kannywood comic group, Rabiu Musa Ibro’s cluster. He worked with the group for a while, after which he ventured into filmmaking in a directorial capacity. In this interview with Al-Amin CiromA, ISHAQ SIDI ISHAQ, he bares his mind on his sudden disappearance from the industry. He also reveals the craziest thing he’s ever done in his life and much more. Excerpts:
You have been a famous movie director in Kannywood for a very long time but you have been silent for sometime now. What has been happening to your career and what is responsible for this silence?
I went back to school. I’m now a graduate from National Fils Institute (NFI), Jos, where I did my first degree in filmmaking techniques. Not only that, I made myself very busy attending series of seminars, workshops, conferences both locally and internationally on film related matters.
It’s not that I’ve been silent or out of business, but since I have always believed in quality, rather than quantity, I chose to suspend all film activities for a particular period of time.
Share with us your experience while in school and how do you cope with the change of environment?
As a student, it was fun for me. I love what I did, made friends and the lectures and all hurdles were fantastic. The change of environment was exciting. It has virtually changed almost everything about me.
My life style has changed. Before now, I had been busy scheduling shootings i.e. one film after the other, having at least a month or more between them. But now, I had to go back to the drawing board and really actualize what I gained from the school.
Another exciting thing is that most of the practicals were purely field works. What we normally do on location is that we produce short films as well as explore some trends in the motion picture world. With this contrast, and as a practising filmmaker who has been shooting films in drama format, it is surely a plus for me.
I remember the day, a colleague approached me and said, ‘Ishaq, I’m going to start shooting my project very soon and I’m directing it. Please what role would you like to take in the crew?’ When I went to the location, I found myself carrying the extension cables, fixing the lights and other minor things that ordinarily I would have employed my boys (gaffers) to do. But then, I love what I did as a student.
How do you intend to galvanize the industry?
Obviously, there would be a great change. I’ve attended several trainings and workshops, especially intensive filmmaking trainings in various fields. I also attended a training programme, that was organised by the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) where experienced filmmakers trained participants on certain issues concerning filmmaking.
I have been a regular student of such workshops. Despite all these, I felt it was not enough. I felt I lacked the academic background, or let me say the indepth theoretical aspect of filmmaking which I did with clear enthusiasm.
How would you rate the Nigerian motion picture industry, the Hausa genre in particular?
It is progressing with the trainings and re-training sessions of the practitioners and stakeholders. I believe it will get better by the day. Thanks to the Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN), especially the men behind it, who made my dream become a reality.
Do you think Kannywood is catching up with trends in the motion picture world?
Every industry has its peculiarities; its culture, morales, economic and social values that go with it. To some extent, yes. But it is not yet uhuru, there are quite a lot of things that need to be done.
How did you joggle between your job as a filmmaker and the challenges while in school?
I have not been on set for some time now. Then, when I concluded El-Mustapha 2, I refused to go on set until I got fully settled with my studies, which I successfully completed now. Very soon I hope to see what the experience would look like when I go on set.
Would you say there is a difference with what you are going to do now as a professional filmmaker and what it was before?
Of course, there is quite a difference, a very big one. In school you maintain the professional ethics and aesthetics of filmmaking. Everything has to be done the way it should be from concept script and to screen.
I guess the audiences are going to be the judges or answer this question. Some say it’s because of my style of directing, while some others attribute it to my experience as one of the pioneers of the Hausa film industry.
What do you think helped your career to blossom Do you think you have a rival?
A couple of reasons: I have never compromised quality no matter what. I also refused to be misused. I see a lot of movies to analyse the styles as well as read books, either on the internet or elsewhere. Secondly, if I had a rival, he would have come to school as well. Therefore, I don’t have any rival.
When you are not on set, what is your day like?
I hang out with friends. Sometimes I visit my relatives whom I missed so much, while in school, due to the nature of my work.
From what we are witnessing, a lot of film stars are riding in expensive cars and live in high ranks. It seems the industry is now lucrative.
Having strived so long and made your mark over the years, how wealthy would you say you are? I am content with what I have, Alhamdulillah.
You have done a thousand and one movies, which one do you think projected you most?
The movie that projected me most and added a feather to my cap is Wasila. I’ve done quite a number of blockbusters that drew the attention of producers in Kannywood, yet Wasila is my box office.
Although in the North, the industry is bound by some cultural ethics, have you ever had an experience where an actress tried to seduce you to get roles?
Whatever happens, the wiser ones know the implications, morally and religiously. I have never had any experience like that before.