This week an incredibly generous producer, Emem Isong, invited me onto the set of her latest film so I could witness the magic happen. Rumors that Nollywood prefers improvising on the job to all that pesky planning ahead have proven delightfully true. On the first day, the director and producer arrived at the mansion that they had arranged to use as the main location, only to decide it wouldn’t suit their needs. So they began walking down the street of the wealthy neighborhood, ringing doorbells. Soon they met a teenager whose parents weren’t home. It seemed this youngster was an aspiring musician, and he offered the filmmakers a deal: he’d hand over the house to them if the director agreed to shoot a music video for him, free of charge, and make a cameo in it, along with the film’s A-list lead actor. Already hours behind schedule, the filmmakers hastily agreed. Oh, and the kid had one more stipulation: everyone had to be out of the house by 8:00.
Well, 8:00 came and went, and we still had four scenes to shoot. That’s when we heard a car pulling into the driveway. A production assistant rushed inside: “It’s the parents! The parents are home!” We were all about to be caught like sitcom teenagers whose parents left town for the weekend but, due to bad weather or a change of plans or what have you, come home early to find half the high school doing keg stands in their living room. Frantically, the director pushed the lead actor out the front door to intercept the parents in the driveway, where he delivered an Oscar-worthy performance about how grateful the crew was for their generosity. For a Nigerian, this would roughly be the equivalent of coming home from work and having Brad Pitt walk out of your house to thank you for the sodas he found in the fridge. The actor's charm did the trick; we stayed until 11 pm and finished off Day 1 of a ten-day shoot.