Cheta Chukwu a Film Director, Screenwriter and Chief Executive Officer, Dreamboat Pictures in this interview with JULIANA AGBO, speaks on his passion for grooming young talents to develop themselves in whatever capacity they want and tell authentic African stories with a global appeal.
About Dreamboat Pictures
Dreamboat Pictures is a multi-media Production Company dedicated to producing innovative non-fiction films that reflect the diversity and vibrancy of the human spirit while re-imaging Africa. Cheta Chukwu founded the company with extensive experience in conceiving, producing, shooting and editing award wining non-fiction television series. Our mission and vision is to take youths off the streets.
About Dreamboat Pictures’ first feature film
Dreamboat first narrative feature film is a Nigerian crime comedy film ‘Payday’ it centers on the themes of love, friendship and homelessness. Payday is a lighthearted, fun film that banks on its strong humor to address societal issues such as unemployment, youth empowerment through skills acquisition, productivity, and community development. The idea of the film was inspired by the escalating number of unemployed young people and even communities waiting on the government to better their lives, while undermining their potentials as individuals.
It featured Zac Orji, Bisola Aiyeola, Baaj Adebule, 2017 AMVCA winner Meg Otanwa, Comedian Ebiye Victor and Ghanaian actor Mawuli Gavor.
Payday was shot on locations in Abuja and Lagos, and it will hit cinemas nationwide in April.
Dreamboat Pictures hopes to change so many lives in the society through film making
Dreamboat Pictures is very passionate about churning out useful contents that will not only be for entertainment purposes but will also be educative for the human mind. Film is a reflection of the society, both past and present and has a uniquely powerful ubiquity within the human culture. There’s a magic that happens when people from different ethnic backgrounds and social orientation sit in a room or a theater and connect to the story on screen. That magic cannot be described, and as a film production company, we take responsibility for the types of stories we want to tell. Every time we embark on a new project, the big question is always, ‘what do we want people to take with them when they walk out of the movies? Once you are able to answer that question as a filmmaker, you may just have found purpose. And purpose is what drives your desire. And our desire is to help shape the human mind through the type of stories that we put out.
Our main vision is to impact on youths
Working with young people is one of our vital concerns at Dreamboat, we are steadily providing young people passionate about film with internship positions, to develop themselves in whatever capacity they want and to help them get into the industry. Soon, we will also be able to offer scholarships and free summer classes for young people aspiring to go into filmmaking. Also, as mentioned previously, we want to make more youth related films as well that is almost none existent right now in Nollywood.
Why our first feature film is generating buzz among film lovers
Millions of young Nigerians are ardent moviegoers and for an industry such as ours, there aren’t a lot of films out there that represent young people, surprisingly. People are shoved contents that they don’t want and because there aren’t a lot of options for them, they have no choice but to take what’s available. Sadly, this is the situation of things in Nollywood right now. Hollywood is successful, because there is quite a range of genres to choose from and explore. Moviegoers can make a choice of what they want to see. As a production company, we want to give moviegoers a lot of options, especially young people and this is the reason why we have made Payday, a contemporary youthful and urban Nigerian film with a global appeal. Recently, we released the official film poster with a synopsis of the film and it has been met with an incredible warm welcome by Nigerian fans. Not only do we have a killer film poster but also a humorous story that is very relatable. All over the Internet, people are retweeting, posting and talking about Payday and the love from the fans have been very humbling. So, yes, the buss about Payday is because for a long time, movie fans are about to be treated with something different, relatable and fun. Many young people, want to see themselves represented on screen and with Payday, that can finally happen.
Why I delved into movie making as a mass communications graduate
Before I got admitted into the University to study Mass Communication, my passion for writing stories has been there. Anyone with a journalistic background have natural love for the society and interest for storytelling. And there are various ways to tell stories and engage the society. Film happens to be one of them. While I was in school, I never Skipped film production classes because I was interested in the filmmaking aspects and I excelled in assessments and exams. I was already navigating my way into the film industry while studying, writing for various film projects and helping out on set as a production assistant or whatever position I was allowed and those experiences helped me learn on the field. Together with the theory aspects I learned in school, I was on my way. Four years after graduating and getting more experience in film, I decided to start my own film company.
My influences and inspirations are from various people who I continue to be in awe of. Some of my biggest influences are Steven Spielberg, Wooden Allen, Orson Welles, James Cameron, Spike Lee, Ava Duvernay, Will Parker and F Gary Gray. I guess there are too many of them that inspire me and I aspire to be like. Steven Spielberg’s ‘Color Purple’ changed my life forever and was my greatest influence in becoming a filmmaker. I see him as the greatest filmmaker on earth.
Why the world should expect any kind of films from me
Apart from the mainstream media that brings factual information to our door steps, the next thing people should look up to is movie, most of the stories people see everyday on screen are not lies, they were all compiled from what we see everyday in the society. The world should expect every kind of films from me as long as it will bring total change to the society. I do not believe in boxes. I want to tell authentic African stories with a global appeal. Some of the greatest filmmakers of all time have transited from one genre to the other and they have gone ahead to break records. I’m not limited to any genres. I can take a story, no matter what genre it is, and put my own spin in it. As a filmmaker, I want to tell a story I am inspired to make, depending on what’s going on at that moment in the society. If I pick up a story and can’t put it down and it haunts me around for a couple of days, it’s possibly an indication that I have to tell that story.
Our plan for the film industry
Nollywood has undergone a massive transformation in the last few years and the quality of productions springing out of the industry has greatly improved, but there’s still a great need for professionally trained actors and crew members, to get the industry to the same level like its Hollywood and Bollywood counterparts. This is where Dreamboat Pictures fills the void. It trains actors through series of drama classes and field work, getting them equipped to embark on the journey as professional actors locally and internationally and also improves skill sets of crew members such as Cinematographers, Writers, Art Directors, Production Managers and many more to provide better services on production sets that can be comparable to any other one in the world.
As a multi media company, Dreamboat Pictures, conceives, produces, shoots and edits contents for TV, film and cooperate brands looking to push the bar with their ideas.
At the moment, we are dedicated to promoting African films at the international film market where African films are not very popular. Our goal is that the ordinary man knows about the film ‘Payday’ and gets the chance to see it at the cinemas or whatever mediums that are available afterwards. On the side, we are working on several other projects with our investors to make this a huge success.
Why we are investing in the youths
One of the biggest challenges filmmakers are facing is the lack of skilled actors in the film industry and this can affect all facets of production and limit the quality of films coming out of Nigeria.
You can’t just pick anyone to interpret movie because of relationship with the person. Highly professional actors and skilled crewmembers are lacking in the film industry. What should be considered first is talent, it makes work easier for producers and directors. There are so many talents out there wasting. Dreamboat Pictures is out to change that by grooming young people out there who have the talent to interpret roles and work in various parts of filmmaking and attracting various external investors into partnership, to enable us tell stories better with the best production value.
Advice to aspiring CEOs
Don’t be afraid to start small. Trust your own instincts. Educate yourself. Go out there and do more than dreaming. Whatever you do with your youthful age today determines your tomorrow. We can’t wait for government to give us all we need, think of what you can offer. Always think smart and be creative.