In this interview, popular movie director, actor and son to veteran actor Adebayo Salami (Oga Bello), Tope Adebayo expresses his displeasure towards half-baked producers affecting the Nigerian movie industry, as they produce low budget movies with poor contents. ADEOLA OTEMADE brings excerpts.
Would it be correct to say that the Adebayo Salami’s dynasty has over the years crafted a niche for themselves through their tremendous influence in the movie industry?
Yes, it would be correct to say the Adebayo Salami family had created an empire in the movie industry, because, obviously we are doing well in the industry, and taking after our father’s footstep was not as a result of being influenced by his career, but it was passion that brought us thus far. Our father has never has never imposed anything on us, if he discovers something unique about you, all he can do is encourage you. All that we have achieved from the industry is not as a result of our father’s influence, but our own passion, we never knew we are going to make it a profession, we are doing it based on the passion we have for it, even before we left our institutions, we have been into it, even before we finished our national youth service corps, we already have a job, we just built on what is already on ground. Being born in the industry is different from knowing what you are doing. You might be born into the industry and not know the pros and cons of the thing, so we worked on ourselves, developed ourselves to be where we are today.
How would you describe your Father?
So many people cover up for their father, when they are being asked a question like this, but I would say the truth about him. He is a father that someone needs to have, he listens and tries as much as possible to see things from your own angle. I am telling you, I can count the number of times my father has ever raised his hands at me. I sat and I thought about how he was able to achieve that, we still fear him, and we still respect him, despite the fact that he does not beat us. Some parents believe that when you beat your children, when you are harsh on them, you can order them and they will obey, but we do all these things without our father beating us. I discovered that he has shown us much love to the point that we would not want to hurt him, so we always want to do the things that will make him happy. He is someone that won’t back you up whenever you are wrong, he will tell you where you are wrong and correct you regardless of who you are to him.
Growing up in a polygamous family, has it in any way affected your perspective about life?
It has affected me in a positive way because it is rare for a polygamous family to be like that, because we have heard stories about how embittered some polygamous families are, due to lack of love, unity, oneness, envy and what have you. But growing up in a family like ours has taught me so much about unity, we were able to love ourselves as a result of the love our father showed to us, he loved us equally, and treated us the same. I can meet up with any of my siblings for help if need be, and they will rally round to help, and my siblings can meet up with anyone among us for help and we will support also. So it’s been a family that taught me so much about love and respect. I don’t know how God did it for my father, we so much love ourselves, and we are always supporting one another. It’s been a wonderful family for all the Adebayo family and not for me alone.
As a young man, if you were given the chance to do something differently, what would that be?
Definitely I would have become an engineer.
At this point in time, do you have any regrets as regards your choice of career?
Not at all, not for a single moment did I ever regret becoming a director or an actor. I am happy with what I do, I find satisfaction in what I do, I believe there is nothing you do in life that you won’t face challenges, it’s bound for man to face difficult and trying times, but the only thing that keeps us forging ahead is the fact that we are happy with what we do. The only way challenges can overwhelm a man is when he is not deriving happiness and satisfaction from whatsoever he is into. Every job has its own hazard and risk, if you choose to do a job, be ready to face its risk and challenges.
As a movie director and actor, how would you say you have evolved to the peak of directing blockbuster movies?
I was able to do that through my handwork, I tried as much as possible to do that from my handwork. The ISO we are using years back is no longer the ISO we use today, years back we used 2g, then as technology improved we had 3g, 4g, and now 5g. The world is advancing on a daily basis; in the industry too things are not the same way we started. If you want to remain relevant, you have to be updated, move along with the trends of things, you have to upgrade yourself.
2020 has been a year full of various happenings, especially the pandemic. How hard has it been to produce and direct movies?
It’s been very hard, not easy at all, but I see it as a year that God has taught everybody on how to make plans for their lives. Many things have been discovered through the pandemic, it has affected both positively and negatively. I believe that in any situation you find yourself, always find a way around such a situation, and look for opportunities surrounding the situation. The pandemic has forced us to go and re-strategise on how to do things differently, and coming back it has been difficult to produce movies, with the social distancing and all, people do not really want to come out like that anymore.
There are displeasures from some Nollywood audience about the poor content, concept, errors in subtitling, grammatical constructions and what have you, how would you, as an actor and a movie director, react to this?
Well, I would want to implore our viewers to please help our situation; they are the ones to help our situation, but how? I would like to liken the movie industry to that of those who produce fake drugs; we have legit producers of original drugs while we have producers of fake drugs also, when you as a person want to get a particular drug, which you know has its fake product outside, you buy with the consciousness of getting the original drug. We have good producers, the producers that we have in the movie industry are many, but good producers are few. When you as a viewer identify yourself with a good producer, you appreciate his work and enjoy his work; you won’t want to settle for less. But our viewers want to watch everything, then, they get home and start complaining. I would implore our producers to step up their game and work on themselves. When you come to me and tell me you want to produce a movie simply because you have the money and I tell you don’t produce, the next question you would ask me is ‘is it your money?’ Of course it’s not my money. Our country is not even helping matters, we don’t have rules, in a situation where anyone can come up tomorrow and create his own association and start producing is disheartening. In our association we are trying to curb people from producing bad movies but the people we were complaining about felt we did not want them to produce movies, they went to gather themselves together and started producing. We cannot stop them from creating an association, we cannot stop them from producing, but what everyone would say is that we are all filmmakers.
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