My last few (aka almost all) of my posts on Nollywood have been big abstract posts about the industry in general. However I’ve decided to change tack on this one and write something a little more personal — about my favorite Inkblot Film.
When people always ask me what my favorite film of ours is they’re always surprised that my answer is Out of Luck.
It’s random, because it’s not our first film (The Department), not our most critically acclaimed film, (The Arbitration), or our record breaking 1(The Wedding Party), or our record breaking 2 (The Wedding Party 2), but rather it’s our smallest film both budget and box office wise.
So why is it my favorite film? Walk this way:
Zulu’s First Production
So Zulu was not able to work on The Department, and so this was her first production as an on-set producer. Needless to say she discovered that production was in her blood and the rest as they say is history. Most people (even in the industry) have probably never heard of my partner (or me for that matter) but she is as far as we’re concerned one of the elite producers in Nollywood. Now if only she could learn how to smile for the camera :-p
Out of luck was also the first time we worked with some of our most frequent collaborators.
Niyi Akinmolayan: So Out of Luck was the first film Niyi Akinmolayan directed for Inkblot. It wasn’t the first time he worked with us in general as he was the editor on The Department, but it was his first directing job. He’s gone on to direct 4 of our 10 films including our highest grossing — The Wedding Party 2. He actually got the job because I attached myself to Uduak Isong’s Falling as a co-producer which Niyi directed, and I decided that he was a halfway decent director :-p.
But seriously Niyi is a great guy and a great collaborator. His (and Anthill’s) hands have touched all but one of our projects — though technically we used some footage he shot for another film in Moms at War so if that counts then he’s touched all of our projects.
Adesua Etomi: I met Adesua for the first time at the casting for Falling — needless to say she got the part as even in 2015 her talent was evident. Though I must say that for someone who is supposedly a “good” actress she couldn’t hide the fact that she couldn’t stand me initially. She claims it’s my fault but we all know better.
However, being the bigger person I rose above her initial poor judgment :-p and we worked together on Out of Luck. Since then we’ve worked on five other projects — The Wedding Party series, The Arbitration, Up North and our upcoming project — in which I wrote a role for her. It’s random to say this about someone who is now a megastar but I feel that there is so much more to come from her — if only she just now stops memorising the whole script (no one likes a show off :-p.)
Isioma Osaje: Isioma is another Falling connect. She was Adesua’s manager/agent at the time. I was impressed with her derring do on Falling (basically becoming our stand-in medical consultant) and I found her not annoying when we negotiated Adesua’s fee on Out of Luck . We became almost friends when she saved us in a major way by getting us Ihuoma (Linda) Ejiofor to play the lead. Isioma struck me as a hardworking dedicated woman who kept taking production duties on her head without being asked. We eventually made it official on My Wife and I and she’s now worked with us as a producer on 4 of our productions. You know when they say that your desire is for the next generation to far surpass you. That’s the feeling I get when I watch this woman work.
Last Time In The Trenches
So Out of Luck was the last time I was fully in the day to day production trenches. I took time off work for the entire shoot and was there every day from when we started to when we wrapped. I still go on set these days but the realisation that I had to face development if we were to meet our strategic objectives had started to sink in even then, so I look back fondly on those carefree guns blazing production warrior days.
Low Ass Budget Spent With Care
I mean it was only slightly cheaper than The Arbitration but the majority of that film took place in the arbitration room. Out of Luck was a bit more ambitious for its budget. We built a set (for Innocent’s drug den). We built our own lottery operation (Baba Oregun FTW!) We staged a robbery (well its aftermath). We staged a shoot out (in beautiful slow motion for that matter :-p). We made every single last kobo count — and almost everyone was on the screen.
The Story and the Characters
This was my first real genre-bender — a mixture of a crime thriller, a family reconciliation drama, a buddy comedy and a love story. We spent a lot of time making sure that all the pieces were well calibrated and all the actors brought it. A special mention goes out to the villain of the story — Innocent.
Innocent is one of my favorite characters. An active villain who is smarter than the heroes. A force of nature who cannot be stopped. Femi Branch killed that role dead. I’m so happy that he agreed to do the role.
The Trailer (and the Marketing Campaign In General)
I love this trailer and most people who saw it did as well. I mean one critic even wrote a review titled — Never Trust A Trailer. It seemed that we apparently lied to her about the type of film it was. I also liked the whole GTA inspired artwork. I thought it did a good job of settling the film in a genre.
This is the only film Inkblot ever released to not get a wide release. Silverbird declined the film; citing solid reasons that they didn’t feel it was commercial enough to deserve a wide release. We took that to heart and ensured that going forward what ever film we did that was targeting a wide release would get a wide release. We felt so cool when The Arbitration made in a weekend what Out of Luck made through its entire run. These days we make films that make the same gross in a day, and some that make it in a quarter of a day (The Wedding Party — natch) but this little film where it all started.
This is the film where we started growing up — and that more than anything else is why it’s nearest and dearest to my heart. This is the film that showed us that we belonged in this game and the rest as they say is sorta kinda history.
P.S. You can also watch the film on Netflix. How cool is that — our little film that could made the big time.