Magazine article African Business

Hollywood Breakthrough for Nigerian Duo

Magazine article African Business

Hollywood Breakthrough for Nigerian Duo

Article excerpt

Being car-jacked by area boys (young street gangs) in Lagos gave filmmaker Omelihu Nwanguma (Mel) the inspiration for the film that has taken him and playwright Oladipo Aboluaje (Dipo) to Hollywood. Their ambition to make an African film that would cross cultural barriers has won backing from a major Hollywood studio.

In Lagos, Mel started thinking about the lives of these boys and their environment. What would happen if one of them wanted to leave? What was stopping them from aiming higher? He had an idea for a story and wanted to make it collaboratively.

Mel had already directed a short film, Seeker, funded by the UK Film council, which won awards and a distribution deal with the US major HBO. He had worked on Batman Returns and as assistant to Hollywood director Ron Howard on The Da Vinci Code.

Safely back in London, Mel and Dipo met and realised they shared the same desire to make films for an international audience.

Dipo's background was in theatre. He had written 11 acclaimed stage plays and four radio plays, one of which, The Estate, he is now adapting for NFH Films and the UK Film Council. Like Mel, he was born in London: he studied Theatre Arts at the University of Benin, also gaining an MA in Literature and a PhD in African Drama in the UK.

Dipo wrote the screenplay and Mel directed and coproduced. The budget was [pounds sterling]20,000, financed by holding club nights and with investor money from Lagos city council. The resulting 25-minute short film, Area Boys, used real area boys as consultants and for security, and has been shown at 30 film festivals. …

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