In just its first season, the Accelerate Filmmaker Project has produced one AMVCA winner from two of the student short films nominated for the awards. We had a quick chat with the project manager, Bolanle Olosunde-Jenrola for insight into what the project is about.
By Ayandola Ayanleke
Tell us what the Accelerate Filmmaker Project is all about and the inspiration behind it.
The Accelerate Filmmaker Project was a birth child of our nation’s need for a major metamorphosis in the Nigerian film industry. With our inaugural edition of the filmmaker project held last year, the tenacity and resolve that drives the event were birthed from an innate desire to improve the quality of motion pictures made in Nollywood.
They say the youth are the future and that is the belief we share, here at Accelerate. With a handful of handpicked- determined, passionate, young- filmmakers, the plot is to raise talented, unique storytellers who want nothing more than to tell their own stories to a domestic and global audience.
How many people have gone through the project since it started?
Oh whoa, that’s a good question. Since we started in 2017, about fifty young persons have passed through the doors of the Accelerate Filmmaker Project. Although, with close to a thousand individual entries to be part of the filmmaker project, it is quite a scrupulous process, picking the people that make the final cut.
Well- we don’t mean to brag, but to be the best, one must work with the best. In fact, the selection process was so strenuous this year that we ended up calling back one of the entries that we had previously declined because we felt that her love for the art was so evident and her work was just that good.
What are some of the challenges and successes of the project so far?
As stated earlier, one of the hardest parts of the filmmaker project is chopping the thousands of entries down to a select few. So much so that in this year’s edition of the filmmaker project, we unanimously agreed to join forces with two of our creative contestants- to make one great short (film).
In just a year, one of our greatest achievements so far would have to be our recent success at this year’s Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards, where we took home the prize for Best Short Film. Another success story in the early days of the Accelerate Filmmaker Project goes by the name, Priye. Priye was a contestant during the first edition of the Accelerate Filmmaker Project who went on to receive an international scholarship from the African International Film Festival (AFRIFF) to the CineFabrique film school in Lyon, France.
Winning the awards and receiving the recognition is all well and good, but at the end of the day, there is no greater feeling than to see the vision of one’s work finally come to fruition.
Students from the project got nominated for the AMVCA. What boost has that given the project?
At this year’s AMVCAs, two finalists from the filmmaker project were nominated for the award of Best Short Film. Not only where we nominated, but we won! Winning the AMVCA for Best Short Film has just been absolutely brilliant because this award is for the entire team. It’s for all of us – Michael, whose short film – Penance- won, Bolanle, Lala, our faculty coordinator. It’s for Tosin, Nkem and the entire Access crew who put in their all to ensure that we created the content that we set out to create from the get-go. It’s such a joy that all our hard work is being recognized and celebrated.
What are some of the partnerships that the project has taken advantage of?
We have such an amazing team here at Access Bank. It’s just an amazing partnership like we always say, we won’t be here without the bank’s support and vision. It’s so important that they have given us the leg room and leeway to tell our stories the way we want to tell them and reach out to not just an African, but an international audience.
We also have AFRIFF, as mentioned earlier. AFRIFF gives the filmmaker project the credibility it needs, and the young filmmakers something great to aspire towards. They have been so organized, and are a delight to work with. We look forward to our time with them every year, as the films get premiered during the festival week.
What should we be expecting next from the Accelerate Filmmakers Project?
We plan great things for 2019. It’s definitely going to be bigger and better. The plan is for this project to become a movement in the Nigerian film industry. As Nollywood begins to capture the rest of the world’s imagination, it is important that we position people who can help build the cause. That is what the Accelerate Filmmaker Project is all about. In ten to twenty years, I honestly believe that the Nollywood of our dreams will become a reality.
We encourage aspiring filmmakers to stay tuned on all Accelerate TV channels. Our doors are always open to receive and assist the best entries as they begin their filmmaking careers.
The Award Winner – Michael ‘AMA Psalmist’ Akinrogunde
The young screenwriter, director, and producer had always been involved with drama and related arts, but it wasn’t until 2013 he became decided about filmmaking while in the 3rd year if his Mechanical Engineering course.
“Film gives us the amazing privilege to influence what people would see, hear, think, feel and experience and this, in no small measure can determine the next decisions they make. It’s a beautiful collaborative art and one I’m absolutely excited about.”
His award-winning short film, Penance was birthed under the Accelerate Filmmaker Project in 2017. The film addressed issues of stereotypes in our society.
“I don’t like that people are entirely judged solely on what they look like or what society expects so, I made a film about that. I didn’t have so much experience so I was guided by my mentors and the Accelerate TV team, who helped me make Penance the success it is today.”
Speaking on the award, he noted that he wasn’t expecting to win, considering the brilliance of the other nominated filmmakers.
“I remember being overly excited from when the nominees were announced to when I was announced the winner. My first line of thoughts and feelings were relief, gratitude and a determination to do more.”
“Looking ahead, I am excited about doing more films and media content. There is the issue of funding to consider for my big dreams but I am most challenged and happy at how the industry is breaking free from typecasts. There are typical stories that keep recycling but in recent years, filmmakers are a lot more daring and that’s beautiful. I sincerely desire to be part of the community and movement to stamp Nigeria and Africa on global platforms as a beautiful place to be, highlighting both our strengths and weaknesses and the will we have to rise and be better.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.