From the magic of capturing moving images to the meticulous process of post-production, filmmaking is an intricate dance that brings narratives to life on the silver screen.
Over the past few decades, Nollywood has grown from a modest local industry to one of global significance, making a substantial impact on the world of cinema.
With the growth of the industry, young people like Godfirst Ahiabuike are creating new ideas to break through in the industry. In this Interview with CrispNG Godfirst shares his experience in the filmmaking industry and the creation of a new film genre, ‘Pseudo-Ethereal’
Tell us about yourself
My name is Godfirst Chidera Ahiabuike. I was born into the family of Rev. & Pastor Mrs. Nathan Onyekachi Ahiabuike and I am a graduate of Theatre and Film Studies, from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I am the owner/CEO of Auxano-phos; a cynosure containing Auxano-phos production company (for filmmaking), Auxano-phos TV (still emerging), Auxano-phos drama ministry, Auxano-phos quote cite, and other Auxano-phos offline and online business related ventures.
CrispNG: Can you share your journey and what inspired you to become a filmmaker?
My journey through life had been complicated but it all orchestrated to the shaping of my destiny. My initial aspiration right from secondary school and as a science student then was to study Electronics Engineering but God had something else in mind for me. Having been born into a Christian home and grew up within numerous church activities I regarded myself then to be a Christian and to know God.
But my life had a great turnaround after secondary school graduation from Shalom Academy Nsukka. That’s when I had my first encounter with God and I came to know his will for me. From the divine knowledge of myself and my call, I switched from science to Arts and finally went to the university to study Theatre & film studies. I went into Film, Documentary, Drama, and social-artistic content creation as a means of expressing the dictates and core messages of my call to a wider audience. Today, filmmaking is becoming one of my major means of artistic expression that is aimed at the emancipation of the entirety of the human race and as a major tool for the therapy of the human spirit, soul and body.
CrispNG: What genres or styles of filmmaking do you enjoy the most, and why?
I enjoy having the experience of the different film genres ranging from action, crime, adventure, comedy, horror, romance, historical, animation, sci-fi, mystery, fantasy, romance, documentary, etc but due to the nature and uniqueness of my call, I tend to dwell and enjoy more on a non-widely known genre that has been from time memorial but not having a distinct tagged name as others. This genre is what I called ‘pseudo-ethereal”. Having borrowed most elements from spiritual mysteries, it also encompasses some theatrical elements and film elements. Sometimes, the actor takes cognisance of the watching audience through the camera and enters into a conscious state of his environment converting it to a found stage, sometimes looks into the eyes of the audience to express the required action lines.
CrispNG: Can you tell us about your most recent project or work in progress?
The project at hand is the movie titled ‘OFFBOOK’. The film is currently undergoing editing at Auxano-phos studio and we hope to get it to the cinema or TV either at the end of the fading year or at the beginning of the new year. Off book is a story that reflects our typical society with all the key societal dramas of political tussles and corruptions inherent, the strive for strata upgrade of the middle class, and the day-to-day daily bread hustle of the common man. The film is of the crime genre and centers on the theme of ‘beauty in anarchy ’ as it strives to bring order to societal chaos by using the same disordered system. Off book becomes my first movie to come out to the limelight and which in turn portrays my new style of storytelling (that combines theatrical and film elements of narration).
CrispNG: How do you approach the creative process of coming up with a new film idea or concept?
Most times, to come up with a new film idea or concept, I usually go into solemn prayers, constant meditation, fervent uninterrupted connection and paying attention to nature and day-to-day human relational emanating clues. Also, I get inspiration from intense research through reading but mostly, I get inspiration from the divine and I give God all the glory.
CrispNG: What challenges have you faced in your filmmaking career, and how did you overcome them?
Most upcoming filmmakers face a lot of challenges, but to me, the greatest of them all is to be heard or recognized. That was my first challenge, and I kept wondering how a man like me can become a figure in this career that is vast and rapidly growing with new vibes and concepts. How can a man like me get to the very top of this career with no or little resources and connections? And how do I stand out to be unique?
In a bid to be outstanding, I still wondered how will I get to imbibe within my actors the new style I wish to create that combines both the theatrical and film elements of narration.
To overcome these challenges, I decided to stop pursuing and running after Nollywood as I previously did and got no result. Hence, I decided to stoop low to build capacity and, in turn, build my own production company that will stand out with her unique style of narration cum storytelling.
I went into technical training sessions with both my crew and cast. During the training process, we shot an experimental epic movie titled ‘CLASH OF CHICLANS’ where most of the scenes were shot in front of a green screen as a new artistic training to imbibe the consciousness of a stage and that of a movie at the same time by the actor. We had to realize ‘HUT SETTINGS with its SCENES’ using green screen, and that successful experiment launched the creation and narrative elements of the historical, crime, actions, adventure, and horror genres.
This unique and new genre of filmmaking is where I can perfectly dissect and express the spiritual and ‘soulish’ realities through a pseudo-creation of the ethereal in augmented realities.
In my subsequent movie project, I will throw more light on this new genre as my newly coined film genre with the creative augmented reality of the ethereal or the spiritual civilization and their supposed interference in the affairs of man. Hence, pseudo-ethereal is more of a spiritual action juxtaposed with the physical realities of the accompanied or manifested history, adventures, crime, and horror.
Also, I developed a new style of film making which apparently, encompasses some establishment of our new filmmaking style and also formed the earnest move to establish Auxano-phos studio for further chromatic shootings and effects.
CrispNG: Are there any specific themes or messages you aim to convey through your films?
I do not intend to remain in any particular genre. I intend to touch all the genres of filmmaking in this career and call. And like I said before, the theme of my movies will vary, and the genre will surely vary too, but one thing will remain constant and certain in all my film projects. And that is the target to emancipate man and to use my film projects as a therapy for the entire welfare of man.
CrispNG: Could you describe your collaboration experiences with actors, crew members, and other filmmakers?
My experiences with actors and actresses and the crew who were called upon to join us and who responded with the normal expectations weren’t easy as I gradually introduced the new style I envisioned.
It was a tough experience to introduce and insist on establishing a new way of storytelling that encompasses guerrilla filmmaking, new historicism, and the modern technique of artists knowing the offline realistic and dramatic simulation in relation to the online and final augmented reality in postproduction. But I thank God, the experiences, and efforts were worth it. The entire crew and cast of Auxano-phos production, I believe, enjoyed the result of the experiment and training.
CrispNG: How do you stay updated with the latest trends and developments in the film industry?
I stay updated on the latest trends and developments in the film industry by following up latest filmmaking and behind-the-scenes, documentaries, commentaries, reviews, etc. I also follow up and enroll in film competitions of various and latest film festivals. Finally, I follow up those ahead of me in the career to learn from them.
What are your favorite films or directors that have influenced your filmmaking style? My favorite films or directors that have influenced my filmmaking style are numerous, ranging from James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Wolfgang Petersen, Melanie Gibson, Morgan Sullivan, Michael Hirst, Ahmed Khan, Danny Wolf, Gina Prince-Bythe-Wood, Alejandro Hidalgo, Laura Andrews, Michael Zinberg, Loukman Ali, Teco Benson, Chidiebere Tchikere, Kunle Afoloyan, Jet Amata to mention but a few.
CrispNG: What do you hope to achieve or accomplish with your future projects in the world of filmmaking?
My future projects in the world of filmmaking are aimed at highlighting new creative artistic impressions that will leave an unforgettable landmark, serving as a guide to others who are rising. That’s why I delve into more creatively challenging projects that will force me into artistic research for efficiency.
Also, if my projects can spur or challenge the audience, artists, and the entire world at large to learn, be inspired, and have insight into the deep mysteries of life, man, and his environment cum God, then I am fulfilled.
CrispNG: Could you highlight a particularly memorable or challenging moment from one of your past film projects?
The most challenging moment I had from my previous and recent film projects was the issue of finance. After discussing and hoping on a sponsor, I was disappointed at the dying minute. Everything was set, actors were already arriving, and everyone was depending on the production for all expenses. At that great production heat, full of confusion, something great happened and saved the situation. I had a sponsor who freely volunteered without prior meetings.
CrispNG: Can you share any upcoming projects or goals you have in the pipeline for your filmmaking career?
Having produced an action film, I intend to go into my own most loved Genre; Pseudo-ethereal. Two scripts on this genre are ready and undergoing budget analysis to know the one plausible to achieve in consideration of the available resources. Though my crew members are suggesting we go back to develop our experimental epic movie “CLASH OF CHICLANS”. But, considerably, I intend delving into a movie more ethereal conscious.
CrispNG: Can you share any advice for aspiring filmmakers who are just starting their journey in this field?
For young and aspiring filmmakers who are just starting their journey in this field, my first advice is to be tenacious in the pursuit and not let the challenges stop that passion.
Apparently, to beat the second prevalent challenge of upcoming filmmakers, you have to start on time to think and carve for yourself a final output (a digital media audience) for making profit from your efforts. Otherwise, you may get frustrated by the already established, wired and weird system of our entertainment industry. Funny enough, there is no breaking in without challenges.
It’s not far-fetched to say the film industry here is not favorable for upcoming filmmakers, but just as you think and strive to make a film, also strive to create a digital platform for the marketing and making of the required revenue.
Finally, I will tell you not to waste your time looking for sponsors for your filmmaking projects, especially if based in the East. Other tribes are doing far better than ours in supporting young talents. I tried meeting, writing, and doing all possible to impress and make the prominent rich men around to sponsor any of the presented prospective projects, but they all ended up teaching me a lesson. A lesson not spoken in words but in a responsive attitude to your request that nobody is ready to give you a dime until they have seen something to prove you can do what you profess.
But, if you are favored to have someone bold enough to believe you without any physical proof at first and with no evil or unfavorable conditions, you are blessed. Don’t play sense with such a person. All you owe such a person is sincerity. In the absence of that, stop wasting time and stop procrastinating. To begin is to consider the available resources you can get around you.