Alexander ‘Lexx’ Ore is an American-based emerging filmmaker, with his works focusing on various social issues. He speaks with DOYIN ADEOYE on what influenced his latest movie, The Dance Movie Project (TDMP) which will be showing in select theatres across Nigeria from today.
The Dance Movie Project has been tagged as Africa’s first Afrobeat dance movie. What inspired it?
Several variables inspired the production of The Dance Movie Project (TDMP). I have a background in dance, so I have always wanted to produce or be a part of a dance film. I love everything dance and I believe that afrobeat is arguably our biggest export right now in the entertainment sector.
Afrobeat dance style is quite fun and entertaining, so TDMP is my platform to share our dance talent with the world.
The movie is also my way of showcasing the richness of Nigeria’s culture, especially to the folks in the diaspora. Africa, at large, is hinged to several stigmas, ranging from digital internet scams to corruption, poverty, lack of access to basic necessities like clean water, among others. So I decided to create a motion picture that celebrates more of the richness of Africa’s culture rather than focus on its struggles.
The movie was shot in Nigeria. What was the experience like for you?
TDMP is my debut film, so the experience was simply magical, regardless of all the challenges I encountered whilst shooting in Nigeria. It was everything I thought it would be and more.
To see a story I put together in my head come to life was quite electrifying. The director, Idahosa Osagie and his team were really awesome, as they captured my vision through the lens of their cameras. It was a fantastic time and I can’t wait to get back on set to shoot more films.
The New York City premiere was extremely successful as well, so we are elated to be bringing the film to Nigerian cinemas starting from today.
You portrayed diabetes in the movie as a life threatening disease in Africa, yet many rarely pay attention to it. Would you say the movie did justice in addressing this?
I would say TDMP did an outstanding job highlighting need to know information about diabetes without being too preachy. The film was carefully crafted to not only entertain, but also educate Africans on dangers and complications associated with diabetes.
Personally, I know a few people living with diabetes and I empathise with them on a daily basis. So I decided to do some research about the ailment just for my personal edification until I uncovered how deadly it is, hence, why I decided to include it in TDMP’s storyline. Based on my findings, diabetes kills more Africans than any other ailment in the continent. It is quite disheartening and unfortunate. As an agent of transformation and hope, my goal is to make sure that all the films I produce have strong messages embedded in the storyline.
Dance as a profession is still frowned upon in this part of the world. Do you think Nigeria and the continent at large is ready to make careers from dance?
This has been an ongoing dialogue between the African youth and African elders for quite some time now. I understand our elders’ reasoning and why they frown on creative arts as a profession, but I also understand the perspective of the youth due to the fact that I had to overcome this challenge myself.
We need more of initiatives like TDMP to prove to our elders that there are other lines of professions, besides being a doctor or a banker, through which one can earn a good living. I am a big proponent of education because it prepares you for the future and allows you to manoeuvre easier within the society. However, if you desire to become a professional dancer, my advice is that you nurture your art in every way you know plus back it up with education via formal training.
Personally, I believe that you can make a business out of any type of talent. It is all about thinking outside the box. Going to school and dabbling with like-minded people will stir your mind into developing a better business acumen and it will only help monetise your talent.
What did it actually take to put TDMP together?
It took patience, focus, hard work, sacrifice, dedication, commitment, resilience, prayer and above all, the grace of God to produce TDMP. Certainly not easy, but we got it done eventually. The cast includes Lizzy Anjorin, Banky W, Chris Okagbue, CEO Dancers from England, Donflexx, who is PSquare’s chief choreographer, Joelschild, Obi Mikel, Eniola Aboluaje and Korede Edih, among others.
The film industry in Nigeria is quite different from what it is in the United States. How would you rate the country’s audio-visual sector and what do you think still need to be done to improve it?
There is always room for improvement. However, I think that Nollywood is a fast growing industry and I believe that filmmakers in Nigeria are working tirelessly to improve the quality of their work.
One recommendation to filmmakers would be to continue to educate oneself with the nuances of this industry because of the rapid growth and technological development in this space. This will only help improve the quality of their work. As we all know, learning is a process and one can never really learn enough.
Foray into filmmaking, when and how did it all start for you?
Filmmaking has always been a passion of mine and when TDMP was conceived and actualised, I was really excited to finally have a platform to showcase Africa’s youth talents.
What role do you think music and dance play in films, do you feel they are misused in projects?
In my opinion, music and dance are widely used in several projects simply because these elements keep the audience engaged in the storyline.
You have also worked with some Nigerian music artistes? What has that part of your career being like?
As a former choreographer, I worked with several Nigerian musical artistes and I had a fantastic time during that timeframe. However filmmaking has always been my ultimate goal.