We’re spending a lot more time these days streaming some of our favorite television shows and films as the coronavirus-induced stay-at-home order enters its fourth month. Each week, there seems to be several new Nollywood film joining the Netflix Naija catalogue ready for us to watch and then debate later on Twitter.
A few weeks ago, Akay Mason’s latest film ‘Elevator Baby’, made its Netflix debut, and many film lovers finally got to watch Timini Egbuson and Toyin Aimakhua’s world collide on their screens. When I asked Akay Mason about his feelings towards people watching for the first time, he tells me: ‘It’s always amazing when people watch your movies and people love it or hate it. I guess one of the biggest fears when you create content is that no one reacts to it so you don’t want to create content that no one reacts to’.
‘Elevator Baby’ may not have all-round raving reviews, but he’s been more concerned with those who his craft is positively impacting. He tells me the story of a woman who called him crying after a tragic experience with childbirth, and felt really happy to find that the child in ‘Elevator Baby’ survived. To him, ‘This is the reason why you make movies, to touch people and make them find things they relate to in the movie’.
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As he currently works on his upcoming film ‘DOD’ with co-director Abosi Ogba, we caught up with Akay Mason as he quarantines in Lagos. He’s spending his time indoors wisely and trying to keep his brain engaged by reading as many Hollywood screenplays as he can, and watching some of his favourite movies from Niyi Akimolayan’s The Set Up to Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood.
On how he’s adjusting creatively and personally to the change
It’s pretty much been business as usual for me. My life has mostly been indoors before this, so it’s my normal routine except that I can’t go to the cinema or hang out with friends.
We are currently working on the sound design for my next film ‘DOD’ and it’s been strange to talk to my sound designer over Zoom. The Zoom audio quality doesn’t really give you the actual authentic sound, so it’s hard to judge and give notes. But as human beings, we immediately know how to adapt so I’ve adapted to organising script conferences over Zoom. It’s been challenging because the energy in the writer’s room is where you debate and engage with everyone but over zoom, it can get lost in translation. Someone’s wifi may be messing up but we are making it work.
I also stumbled upon a book called Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s a very interesting book that touches on how we have dealt with past pandemics and what the possible next threat for humanity would be. It brought out some really interesting notes, for someone that wrote a book a few years ago, the book is quite relatable to the current situation of the world. It doesn’t add to my anxieties about the current pandemic because I don’t really suffer from anxiety, but it makes me understand that with everything in human history, things come and things go, so this too shall pass.
On how the pandemic has affected his film projects
With the coronavirus, it’s impossible to put your movie in the cinema right now because no cinema is open and you don’t really want to release it only on Netflix because you miss the opportunity to test the cinema audience. The best bet for us right now is to hold unto the movie.
Our distributors are working right now with Film One and the cinema houses so that when the cinema opens again, and we gauge the reaction from audiences; whether they resume watching films at the cinema or not, then we will have a proper release date. The cloud of uncertainty that is covering everyone is also covering us as well. That’s one of our fears, are people even going to be able to enjoy the cinema experience post-pandemic.
There are projects that I should be directing right now but because of the pandemic, we can’t move ahead with that, and that’s understandable because you don’t want to put any of your cast/crew in harm’s way at the moment. You don’t want to contribute to the problem, you want to be part of the solution so I am gladly putting all my directing projects on hold till this blows over. Until we find a way to work around this.
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On his quarantine watch list
I have been watching a lot of Netflix. The Last Dance, yes I am part of the statistic that has watched it and raved about it online. I have also been watching Paul Thomas Anderson movies, he’s my favourite director after Christopher Nolan. I have been streaming a lot on Netflix and Amazon.
So on my list are; Magnolia and There Will Be Blood by Paul Thomas Anderson. Adu which is on Netflix. The Set Up by Niyi Akinmolayan, Elevator Baby by yours truly and Django Unchained.
One thing he loves, likes and hates
I hate Zoom as I mentioned earlier.
I like my solitude – I’m an introvert and I don’t like going out that much, but this quarantine has given me more time to myself. It’s been really introspective.
I love my Play Station and Jumia food – I don’t have to deal with rude cashiers anymore, I just call order my phone and pay.
Featured image credits/Guardian
Written by Tami Makinde