Eric Aghimien is a Nollywood producer and director. In 2013, he premiered his first feature, A Mile From Home. He shares his on set experience, the film’s message and why switching from art to science is one of the greatest mistakes he made.
Describe your education background.
I studied Science Laboratory Technology in Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State. Since childhood, I’ve been very creative; I could draw, paint and mould. When I was in primary school, I used to draw comics with little stories and take them to school to sell. People loved them and would book down for the next day. So, I used to make money for lunch and it was fun. After my Junior WAEC, I switched to science class because I wanted to become a medical doctor. People I grew up around made me believe that the only way to be successful in life is if you are a doctor or lawyer. Switching from art to science is one of the greatest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life. But I have no regrets because I didn’t do badly as a science student and my knowledge in science added up and made me a better filmmaker.
Why did you decide to cast new and fresh faces in A Mile From Home?
The reason I casted new faces in my movie is just one of the ways I planned to introduce myself into the industry. Moreso, I love to make stars; give fresh talents a starting chance. I intend to do this in all my movies but that doesn’t mean I will not use known faces because I’m fully aware of what impact their faces can have in any movie project.
Wearing the cap of a director was easy and not easy at the same time. It was easy because as a producer, you work more during pre-production and directors do more work during production. So, the point is time made it easy. It was not easy because of inadequate finance which made it a bit stressful. Wearing the cap of the producer and director helped me to cut down cost of production.
Describe your experience directing an action drama.
Directing an action movie is something I’m naturally good at because I didn’t go to any film school to learn how to direct, let alone an action movie. It feels great.
What did you enjoy most about directing the movie?
What I enjoyed most directing this movie was that it gave me the freedom to be creative as against if I wasn’t the director. A lot of things were changed on set while we were shooting because we had to accommodate some shortcomings and inadequacies.
What message do you want viewers to take home with them after watching the movie?
The message I want the viewers to take home is that forgiveness is really not for the one who wronged you but a chance for you to be free.
What were some of the challenges in producing the movie and how were you able to overcome them?
Like every other filmmaker, my major challenge was funding and working with some difficult cast and crew members. I overcame the challenges by planning. I wrote the story to suit my plan and budget by creating characters, situations, scenarios, costumes and props I could manage. I had to put all my skills to use i.e. writing, directing, shooting and editing etc. I enjoy doing these things ordinarily. One of the strategies I used was to shoot in locations really close by to reduce cost. I also saved for about two years to be able to raise funds and I had an understanding with some of the cast and crew. My friend also gave me his camera to use. While working with difficult cast and crew members, I had to be myself. I was plain from the onset. I told them what to expect and I gave them the chance to back out if they were not sure. Some quit and I had to work with those who stayed. Some started acting up halfway in the production and I just had to try to manage our differences, considering the project and the impact it could have on its success.
What movie do you wish you directed?
Half of A Yellow Sun is one movie I wish I’d directed, It’s such a great movie. Biyi Bandele did a fantastic job with the movie. Watching the trailer makes me proud that such a great movie came from a Nigerian and makes me believe there is hope for Nollywood.
Do you have any plans to go in front of the camera?
NOOOOO! There’s no need to stress this. I love staying behind the camera, thank you.
Expect nothing less because it can only get better. I’ve got a lot of stories to work on but I’m yet to choose which to produce next but r it will be a blockbuster by God’s grace.
What is your most prized possession?
My most prized possession is family. Let’s leave it that way for now.
What is your take on fashion and style?
Personally, I love to look good and comfortable in whatever I wear and it doesn’t have to be very expensive or made abroad. Anything of good quality whether made in Nigeria or abroad is good enough for me.
What advice do you have for people interested in film making?
Don’t be afraid to dream. Make it as big as possible but don’t wait for the big budget to start doing something. Start small, look around you, there are stories to tell and trash waiting to be turned into treasure and don’t forget, people don’t want to know what you say you can do but what you can do.
What is the one thing you’ll love to be remembered for?
I’ll love people to appreciate my courage to come up with something fresh, ACTION…I forgot to mention I was detained for nine days by Customs when I imported my props from the US but I didn’t let all that discourage me.
Interviewed by Isabella Akinseye.
Pictures courtesy of Eric Aghimien .