Sunday, 16 June 2019



Mr. Cliffmanuel Akoma And His Careers


Tonygists: How did your career unfold?

Cliffmanuel: Well, truth be told, my career is just getting under way. I've been in the industry for years now. So far, the key has been making the right choices in my work, coupled with alot of initiative. As soon as I finished school, I secured an internship at a thriving production company. Since then, I've continued to find crew work on larger production, as well as shooting my own  films on the side. It is all lending itself to the greater scheme of being able to direct my film.



Tonygists: What has been your personal key to success?


Cliffmanuel: The film industry can be intimidating. It's a big and broad field with a lot of people vying for the same piece of the pie. One of my lecturers in school could not stress enough that it takes a "bulldog tenacity" to be successful in the industry. I agree with that, but it all starts with your own creativity and passion. I have always been a storyteller, and I have a passion to reach people with those stories and make films that matter.


Tonygists: How has your experience in theater contributed to your success in film and video?

Cliffmanuel: I was actually really surprised at the differences between telling a story on stage and telling a story on film or video. Theater and film have separate approaches to reaching the viewer's imagination. From the performance standpoint, however, I was able to try a lot of things as a stage actor in front of several different types of audiences.

 When directing actors now, I like to keep it loose and allow for improvisation. I owe that attitude to my experiences in theater.



Tonygists: What do you enjoy most about your job, your career?

Cliffmanuel: I've always been completely intrigued by the concept of capturing moving images, not to mention how fun it is entertaining people.

 Make 'em laugh, cry, or even angry, there's just something magical about it. I get to meet and work with people who just have this monstrous amount of creativity and energy, and it is contagious. Most of all, there is absolutely nothing like seeing an idea born in your head becoming something you can share with your family, friends, and the world. And they last forever.


Tonygists: Who were the biggest inspirations for your career?


Cliffmanuel: I can't really think of anyone that I'm necessarily patterning myself after, but I have to admit that like some others my age, I decided that I wanted to make films for the rest of my life after watching Pulp Fiction. Tarantino definitely left an impression on me. Martin Scorcese's movies have their own particular intense style. As far as I'm concerned, Wes Anderson is one of the most inventive and brilliant storytellers out there right now. Spike Jonze made the jump from directing music videos to features, quite successfully I might add. I draw inspiration from innumerable directors by specifically watching the direction in their movies. The more films you watch, the better understanding you have of the medium. For for nollywood film I will mention Afam Okereke, for his direction in Billionaires Club.


Tonygists: You're currently working on your direction for an upcoming movie Alicia after being off set for a whole year. How important is this to you, personally, and to your career? How did it move from concept to reality?


Cliffmanuel: Until you're actually shooting the picture, it's all concept. The idea started in my head, swam around up there for about a year, and ended up on paper a short while later. After that there are rewrites of rewrites and more rewrites, then it's all about trying to get others to help you get the thing made, whether by craft or with finances.
As far as how important this project is to myself, it's huge! All of my stories mean a lot to me on a personal level. I want my stories to mean something to others as well, which is one of the main reasons it is important to my career. Nobody wants to make a feature that someone else is not going to want to watch.


Read about
This Blockbuster
Nollywood film called Alicia



The Actual Work

Tonygists: What exactly do you do? What are your key responsibilities?

Cliffmanuel: That's all depends on which hat I'm wearing! I've directed lot films source locations for filming, casting, selecting or composing music, and editing.

However, if you work in a crew on a feature film, it's different. Each person on the set is almost like part of a greater organism, and the director is the brain. My job begin at the conception of the story and ended once the final editing of the footage is done. I had complete creative control, from choosing
I've been a Director's Assistant, which is almost like being the boss' personal PA. It involves scheduling and facilitation, and generally reminding the director that there is a world going on outside the set.

Recently, I was an Assistant Director (AD) for a couple days on another film in Spain. I was responsible for directing extras (background) on a busy street scene. Job description: "Keep all background together between takes, and be sure they all move on cue." What I really felt like was a shepherd! People were moving all over the place between set-ups, running off to the restroom without telling anyone, and sometimes completely missing their cues. It's not so bad; you just have to be able to shout louder than a megaphone at times.


Tonygists: Describe a typical day of work for you.

Cliffmanuel: There is no such thing as a typical day on a film set!


Tonygists: Collaboration with your colleagues? How have your professional collaborations benefited your career?

Cliffmanuel: It is essential for all departments on a production to create a team dynamic and collaborate. If even one aspect of the product you make is faulty, it can throw off the atmosphere you're trying to create completely. The better people work together, the better the final result will be.
For me, I have been fortunate in my fledgling career to have met and worked with great many people with superior talents in their respective fields. Without delving into name-dropping, I can safely say that because I have been co-operative and friendly with colleagues in all facets of the productions I have worked on, I have become exposed to a world of future collaboration potential with people whose talent and experience go beyond my comprehension. That goes for actors, actresses, cinematographers, production and costume designers, and so on. It is an incredibly exciting notion.


Tonygists: What are some common myths about your profession?

Cliffmanuel: The glamour. Movie premieres, award shows, magazine spreads, it's very wonderful and magical and has NEXT TO NOTHING to do with the film industry. If you go into it thinking it's going to be all wine and roses, you will be infinitely disappointed. We work long days, eat catered but temperamental food, and things can go frustratingly wrong all the time. There is a lot of pressure to make your day, and people are known to bicker. You can take the strenuous nature two ways: you can let it cave you in, or you can laugh through it and look forward to the end of the picture, when all the hard work has paid off. I choose the latter.


Education Information & Advice


Tonygists: What is your degree in? What did you like and dislike about your film and video education?

Cliffmanuel: I was certified at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology and  and took a further step to Bestwood film school in South Africa. I received a lot of great filmmaking theory, film history, industry lecturers and, of course, a lot of hands-on production. In this time, I made three short films, produced one commercial, and almost drowned in the Pacific one fateful afternoon. What I really enjoyed about the school was the wealth of technical information: understanding and measuring light intensity, photo composition, storyboarding, audio levels, film stock, and so on. Schooling didn't change my perception of how to make films, it just became a platform on which I could test my ability and truly find out if this type of thing was for me. By the time it was finished, I was more excited about film than when I had gotten there in the first place.
If there was anything I disliked, I would have to say that almost nothing can prepare you for being on the job in film. When you are a student making a student film, you have all the ambition and zeal in the world, and I was convinced that I was going to make the greatest movie in history.


Tonygists:  You instantly compare yourself and your style to an established Hollywood filmmaker and set your expectations a bit high.

Cliffmanuel:  Personally, with no budget and no professional actors and a very small crew, I felt my projects did not live up to what I had hoped. I can still look back and be proud of what I did with what I had, but one must remember the large difference between making a film for grades as opposed to making a film for profit points.
In any career, the best way to get a feel for the field you are in is to get out there and learn hands-on. Nothing could have prepared me for this career better than living as an office intern, and then making the jump to the set. I was exposed to both production and principal photography in "real life". Now, I feel confident enough to get out there and run my own set, because I know how a set operates.


Tonygists: How can prospective art students assess their skill and aptitude for film and video?


Cliffmanuel: I think it's natural. Some people have it in them from a young age, through performing and entertaining, or having a natural ability to tell a story. A lot of people test their interest in the genre and play around with little experimental films, ones that often don't have a narrative or are completely unconventional. I have some friends whose primary interest does not lie in film and video, but they are keen on helping me with my own films. I think someone with an aptitude for filmmaking just knows it. It's not quite as simple as having a good singing voice and deciding you want to be a rock star (I ruled that one out some time ago). It's just knowing that you have something to say in a particular way and knowing that out there, someone will enjoy it. It seems now, more than ever, there are festivals and demonstrations featuring every possible type of movie there is to see.


Tonygists: Must a film and video professional also be a gifted artist? What are the specialties within the field?


Cliffmanuel: Anyone with creativity can find a happy home in the film and video industry. People who enjoy building, sculpting, carpentry and painting can find plenty of work in set design and decorating. Folks with an eye for fashion and costuming can design and shop for shows. Production designers, who by the way have one of the most difficult but rewarding jobs in the industry, are simply people with a strong eye for detail and color. They capture the writer and director's vision and create the atmosphere of the entire movie before an inch of film is shot. Composers and musicians are called upon to score the project, as music is crucial to add the perfect touch when called upon. Animators, despite a sometimes long and arduous road to a finished product, are finding new ways to dazzle audiences in alternative environments and worlds.


Tonygists: What factors should prospective students consider when choosing an art school?
Are there any different considerations for those who know that they want to specialize in film and video?


Cliffmanuel: Research, and lots of it. It is always best to test the temperature of the water before jumping in. There are a lot of specialized training centers out there, you just have to know what it is you want from your training. If you just want to study film and video for fun, there are several schools that offer evening courses in continuing education, or semester programs at community college. Of course, if television broadcasting or film is your calling, there are three and four year degree programs available at  universities
And some film schools


Job Information & Advice


Tonygists: Who are three of the most renowned film and video professionals in the world right now?
How did they get to the top of the profession?



Cliffmanuel: That's a tough question to answer. It all depends on what department of the industry you are talking about. Steven Spielberg, for all his success, could be considered one of the most respected and lauded directors in the world. I'm sure that if he wanted to make a movie about people blowing their noses, people would back him because he's Steven Spielberg. He started out like anyone else, making movies as a kid, and keeping that passion right through to adulthood. I may not like a lot of his films, but I respect him for what he is: a great director. With Jeffery Katzenburg and David Geffen, Spielberg has created something of a small empire. In nollywood there are a lot of good directors also.

Tonygists: What will be the benefits of being part of ur forthcoming movie "Alicia"

Cliffmanuel: Like you said earlier, coming out after one year of break, I have strategies so much and want to make a hit, I think Alicia will be the best film I have ever done, I am coming through another dimension now, so it will be so helpful for any one who will be part of the job. The audition is coming up on 29th June 2019




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