INTERVIEW: I grew up without my dad’s presence, Bassey Daniels unveils debut movie ‘The Absentee’

 INTERVIEW: I grew up without my dad’s presence, Bassey Daniels unveils debut movie ‘The Absentee’

Bassey Daniels is a writer, content creator, and boychild advocate. The first child of his parents; he had his primary and secondary education in Akure before proceeding to study Business Administration at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA).

Bassey practically spent all his life in Ondo State before moving to Lagos in 2019 where he met the love of his life.

In this interview with CRISPNG, he talks about his career and his debut movie — ‘The Absentee’ — which talks about fatherhood as the world celebrates Father’s Day.

CrispNG: Please, tell us about ‘The Absentee’ and what inspired it

Bassey: The Absentee is the story of a boychild who lived all his life seeking to meet his estranged father before it gets too late. It takes us on an emotional journey that shows us that teaches the importance of the father-son relationship. The story is inspired by true life events. This is the reality of many children across the world, not just in Nigeria or Africa. I grew up without the presence of my dad and I know how it affected my growing up.

He passed just shortly after we reconnected and started getting close. It remains the saddest event of my life; what if we had reconnected earlier? What if he was present? A lot of what ‘ifs’. After his demise, I thought I wasn’t going to miss him but now, after seeing how much we shared in those few years, I miss him so much. Every day, I wish he was here to see the man I’ve become and becoming.

CrispNG: What are the take homes from the movie and what should people expect?

Bassey: No child deserves to live without the presence of a father figure. No matter how old you become, that void can never be filled. More importantly, I want people to see how important it is for a boychild to have a father figure in his life. Most dysfunctional boys out there have no father figure in their lives. It’s high time fathers start changing the narrative. You are more than a provider.

CrispNG: Tell us about your journey to the big screen

Bassey: It was my dad who brought the writer in me to life during the short period we spent together. I’d sent him text messages from time to time. One day, he called and just before we ended the conversation, he asked if I was a writer. I told him no and asked why. He went ahead to tell me that I had a way with words and that I should consider that path.

Years down the line, after his death, those words didn’t leave me so I started writing and learning to write. Then I figure there are stories I need to tell, stories that need to be seen so I decided to go to movie school where I learned screenwriting for 3 months. Shout out to Ebony Life Creative Academy. Once I graduated, I decided The Absentee was going to be the first story I put out and here we are.

CrispNG: What challenges did you face during production?

Bassey: Boy, was it challenging? So, towards the last week in movie school, I spoke with one of my friends that I’d love to put out this story on Father’s Day. I sent him the script and although we didn’t have the finance, he was able to put together a team who believed in the story and was willing to work on the project. Even at that, there were some things that needed funding and we almost canceled production but I guess these guys wanted this story out more than I did. We could all relate to it and one way or the other, we made it work and here we are. Shout out to Ara and his team.

CrispNG: What contributions do you intend to make in the movie industry and where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Bassey: There’s no denying the fact that the Nigerian movie industry has evolved so much over the years. A lot of work has been done and this gives those of us coming in some sort of foundation to work on. However, I feel like sometimes, we tend to westernize our stories too much and this is not to discredit the works that have been done.

For instance, we tend to create police detectives or fight scenes that the average Nigerian cannot relate to. There’s a way thugs fight in Nigeria. There’s a way we talk and all of that. I hope to create stories that are of international standard without loosing our ‘Nigerianness’.

We need to tell our own story. Where do I want to be in five years? I want to enjoy this journey. I want to put out stories, learn, unlearn, relearn. You know, just enjoying the journey. This is one part of my life I do not want to add pressure. It took a lot of overcoming self doubt to get here. I just want to grow at my own pace.

CrispNG: What’s your thought on fatherhood and parenting?

Bassey: Parenting is hard. I’m not one yet but I can tell it is. I once had a teenage boy live with me for about 2 years or so. You have to be deliberate and present. It takes a lot to be that. Shout out to every parent doing it right.

CrispNG: What advice do you have for fathers?

Bassey: Be present. I know it’s difficult doing all you do and still be emotionally and physically present but being present is not negotiable. Create a system that enables you unburden. Make your wife your friend. Let your home be safe haven for you. Do all you must to be present, please. Nothing is more important.

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