Eric Aghimien brews award winning action movies, makes ‘Stars’

Eric Enomamien Aghimien

The story of how the winners of the 2014 and this year’s African Magic Viewers Choice Award (AMVCA) for Best Actor in a drama, Tope Tedela and Sambasa Nzeribe, shot into reckoning cannot be complete without a mention of the emerging and award-winning Nigerian director, producer, editor and screenwriter, Eric Enomamien Aghimien.

Both Tedela and Nzeribe have been lavish with thanks to Aghimien, who as they always don’t fail to mention, provided the platform on which they rode on to prominenceWhen the script for Aghimien’s first full-length feature, A Mile From Home, was ready, it was to the University of Lagos that Aghimien heeled to in search of new and raw talents that would breathe life into the characters he has created for the gun-trotting narrative.

A Mile From Home revolved around a university student, Jude Odaro, aka Lala, who joined a gang, led by Suku, in his quest to avenge an injustice meted out on him by Stone, a notorious gangster, who forcefully disposed him of his prized possession.

After a rigorous audition exercise, which, as Aghimien revealed was held over three days at the Creative Arts Department of the University of Lagos, Aghimien found Tedela, then an undergraduate of the University of Lagos, fit to interprete the role of Lala.

He also found Nzeribe, who was also then an undergraduate at the Department of Creative Arts of the University of Lagos, fit to play Suku. Production and post-production lasted for almost a year and when it was ready, Aghimien offered it for viewing and it received largely positive reviews from an audience that were eager to see a thrilling action drama.

The movie also received a number of industry validations, including the Blueprint awards as Movie Producer of the Year in 2013, Africa Movie Academy Awards for Achievement in Visual Effect 2013 and Best of Nollywood awards for Best-edited Movie, Best Director and Best Use of Special Effects 2013.

Aghimien revealed that so far, the movie has fetched him 14 awards, with over 25 nominations. Born in Benin City, the Edo State capital, Aghimien, the fourth of seven children, obtained a National Diploma in Science Laboratory Technology from the Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State.

A gifted talent, Aghimien’s story as a creative spirit and filmmaker did not begin at the polytechnic. He told the story of how he used to draw comic images for sale whilst in primary school.

He said: “I was called a little wonder or child wonder whilst growing up and that is because I could draw, mould and sing. “I remember that at just eight years old, people used to gather to see my artistic creations. I recall that back then, whenever my big cousins and friends had art works to do, I did it for a fee for them. So, I was very good in the arts.

“Although my dream was to become a medical doctor, but that didn’t work out because of resources and so I went back to the arts and I got the encouragement I needed to venture fully into the arts from my late uncle, Imeuntinyan Osaghae, who kind of noticed my artistic abilities.”

With that charge, Aghimien didn’t think it was necessary to continue to study for a Higher National Diploma (HND). So, he suspended the idea of furthering his education in the sciences for a career in the arts.

“A few family members didn’t like the decision, but I had to convince them that my mind was made up. I mean, of what use is pursuing a certificate that you will eventually not use?” he recalled.

But the turning point for Aghimien, as he revealed, was when he took the decision to move over to Lagos, which he described as the ‘city of possibilities.’ It was in Lagos that he enrolled in a computer school, where he learnt how to use the graphic design and the video editing software.

In between, he also chased a career in music. “I actually came to Lagos to sing. When I arrived, I attended many auditions, including Star Quest. It was actually at a venue of a popular talent show that I saw the cameras and other equipment that were used to cover the show.

“Something leapt within me and that was how I developed the urge to become a filmmaker. That was how I enrolled in that computer school to learn graphics and how to use certain film software,” he reminisced.

On completion of the course, Aghimien, a former member of the musical group, Da TED, registered a production company, Hills Picture. He had stories to tell, but he realised that he needed funds to tell the stories. So, he took on professional graphic design and event coverage briefs to make ends meet and to raise enough funds to further his research and training in filmmaking.

Aghimien stated that he wanted to study filmmaking abroad, but could not raise enough funds to see that dream through. Although he later formally learnt filmmaking at Del-York Creative Academy and at the Berlinale Talent Campus in Berlin, Germany, Aghimien noted that much of what he knows as a filmmaker was “by sourcing tutorials online.”

A self-taught filmmaker, who was nick named Spike Lee by Mr. Ryan Gibson, a New York Film Academy instructor, Aghimien wrote and directed Heckto, a short action film in 2011, followed it up with the award-winning A Mile From Home in 2013 and then another shot film, Leeway in 2014.

Leeway won two awards at the 2014 International Short Film Festival (In-Short) and a nomination for Best Online New Media at the 2015 AMVCA.An alumnus of the 2015 Berlinale Talent Campus, Aghimien’s latest offering is a powerful thriller highlighting the perilous world of human and drug trafficking crimes in Nigeria.

He wrote, edited and directed the film that features amazing actors, such as Tedela, Nzeribe, Majid Michel and Ivie Okujaye. It was the movie that earned Nzeribe his best acting crest at this year’s AMVCA.

A multiple award winner and a big fan of the Hollywood director, Mel Gibson, and some Nollywood heavyweights, such as Steve Gukas, Tunde Kelani, Kunle Afolayan and Kenneth Gyang, Aghimien’s career ambition is to be reputed as one of the best filmmakers in the world.

“I want to keep learning, improving and making films. I want to get to the level where I will be listed as one of the best filmmakers in the world. “Filmmaking is my life. I drink and eat it. I won’t trade it for anything else,” he enthused.

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Eric Enomamien Aghimien
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