‘I’m confident in rising to the next awesome level’

Nollywood actor and model Samuel Oniyitan is back on location for his latest movie, Abeke.

The film, which revolves around a love triangle that takes viewers back to the late 70’s, tells the story of beautiful Abeke, who comes from a wealthy home. Thanks to her father, who is a Cocoa merchant.

In love with Abeke is Fayele, a handsome, humble, poor graduate, who is a primary school teacher of Ifa descent.

Also in love with her is Aderoju, a rich, arrogant, handsome timber seller.

Abeke falls in love with the poor teacher as well, but there’s another lady in the picture, who also loves Fayele.

“I don’t want to give out so much, but I assure you it’s going to be an interesting viewing,” Oniyitan said.

On the inspiration behind the project, the marketer turned actor explained, “This is my first major work and I got the story and precise cast in the dream. I was lying on the couch listening to a Yoruba song relating to Abeke and slept off. In the dream, I saw what the movie was about including the actors who played those roles. When I awoke, I quickly wrote down all I had seen and then called my project coordinator, Moses Adeyemo. I told him the revelation I had and he told me to call the scriptwriter and explain what I had seen, which I did. When he was done writing, everyone who read it wanted to be a part of it because it was unique, strange and a potential awards winning movie,” he said.

To ensure the production comes out as he has envisaged it, Oniyitan has assembled some of the best hands in the industry, who are currently working on the project.

“We are using the best hands in the industry, including the director of photography Lukmon Abdulrahman, who handles most of Tunde Kelani’s Mainframe’s movie productions, as well as a brilliant young director Rotimi Raji. We’re even bringing a creative director on board, which is rare to see in productions and of course a crew that knows their onions. The story line is top-notch sequel to our script conference and we’ll be shooting using Red Dragon camera.”

Staring in Abeke are Wole Ojo, Kehinde Bankole, Toyin Abraham Aimakhu, Akin Lewis, Yinka Quadri, the legendary Peter Fatomilola and Oniyitan himself.

“The movie will be 80 per cent in English and 20 per cent Yoruba. It’s a blend of romance, drama, and tragicomedy,” he said.

On the choice of Abeokuta as location for Abeke, he explained, “The film is set in the late 1970’s and the ancient town of Abeokuta provides that exact scenery and set that we need to make the timeline realistic. You won’t find such in Lagos and even in Badagry.”

As for funding, “Abeke is self funded and as you know it certainly hasn’t been easy. Besides filmmaking, I also consult for local and international companies leveraging on my marketing experience in terms of consumer insight to boost sales.”

Already, plans have been put in place for proper distribution of the movie, which will hit cinemas next year.

“Yes it will be shown in cinemas in and outside of Nigeria in 2019 and my team and I are also working on having it on Netflix. It will also make the local and International film festivals circuit.”

An actor and producer, Samuel Oniyitan is the GMD of Green World Entertainment. The trained marketer has over 15 movies under his belt and an acting dexterity that is fast making him one of the most sought after in the Nigerian movie Industry.

“I studied Marketing at LASPOTECH and have a Masters Degree in Marketing as well from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH). I’m a Chartered marketer and Associate member of Nigerian Institute of Management. I was involved in the movie industry say about 21 years ago but left and returned two years ago. Apart from movies, I’m also a Consumer insight personnel and consult for local and international companies.”

Though a trained marketer, entertainment had always been a part of Oniyitan.

“It started when I was five; I was in primary school then and would watch certain local TV series, which showed Abija, Awelu on TV. Then on Monday when I met my friends, I would tell them I was ‘Abija’ and another would say he was ‘Fadeyi’ and then we would begin to recite the incantation as was used on TV. When I got to primary six, they started involving me in the stage drama in school; I started realising that I had a passion for acting. When I got to Secondary school, I was a member of the drama group; I became their president in SS2,” he recalled.

After leaving secondary school, he went into acting fully and was seen in Super Story, though not a major role.

“The situation in the country was not encouraging because nobody knew me and I needed money to feed myself and pay bills. I felt I was wasting my time going for rehearsals especially with the fact that money wasn’t coming in. So, I decided to go to school and made up my mind that when I had money, I would return to the Industry I loved and had passion for, which I did two years ago.”

On how he sustained his passion for entertainment over the years, he said, “I made sure I kept up to date with the movie trend and also watched movies that were released. RMD was and still is my role model; I watched the movies he acted in and I dare say I learnt a lot from that exercise. I follow him on social media as well; it would be an honour to act with him in a movie,” he enthused.

With his background in marketing, Oniyitan is determined to impact the creative industry, especially in the area of distribution.

“Nothing good comes easy but being a consumer insight personnel, I understand the dynamics of marketing. I have put my experience into good use in the movie terrain and working hard to market my brand. Having a good understanding of how the industry works has really helped particularly with the crop of experienced professionals I have in my team as well. Various media platforms have taken interest in my works and my brand. It hasn’t been easy, but with sheer determination, I’m confident in rising to the next awesome level.”

Asked how he combines his role as actor and producer, he said, “It goes side by side. Besides, the economy is not encouraging people to stick to a particular thing. You might not have been paid well by a producer and you’re on set. Then you ask for more money especially if the role is demanding and he or she refuses to pay. The probability that the producer will not call you up anymore for a role is high. What do you do when you stay at home and you’re going nuts because the bills are piling? If you have the talent to sing or someone calls you to be an emcee you’ll jump in because you need money, you need to move on and before you know you’re doing something else. From the onset, I came into the industry to be an actor and a producer.”

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