Interview with Nollywood Movie Producer Prince Iyke Olisa

Prince Iyke Olisa is a famous Nollywood movie producer, director, script writer, actor and a marketer who has been in the Nigeria movie industry for decades. He has gained so much experience and knowledge in the Nigeria movie industry. He is a man of many parts, with over 20 years experience in the Nigeria movie industry.

The Anambra born entertainer who is currently a law student at the National Open University is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Prime World Productions, one of the top film production company in Nigeria and which has produced several blockbuster movies like Royal Vampires, Girls in the Mood, The More You Look The Less You See, Adams Desire, Illicit Romance, The Lesbians and several others. In this interview, he speaks of his humble beginning as a script writer in 1994, success story in the industry and how the industry can be improved.

Who is Prince Iyke? 

My name is Prince Iyke Olisa. I’m from Nnewi North in Anambra state. I’m from a family of eight, six brothers and two sisters. I’m a film producer, director, actor and marketer. I remember my humble beginning in Nollywood.
It was in 1994, I started as a commercial script writer, I sold scripts and I got contracted to write scripts too, so that was how I started and after sometime, I decided to go into film production, from there I got into directing.

I entered acting by accident. It was actually on the set of one of my movies, I was directing and on set one actor couldn’t turn up due to circumstances beyond his control, so we were thinking of a better alternative and one actor on set suggested that I do it, and I thought to myself that if I can direct and tell people what to do and they do it, then I can as well try and do it myself too.

So, I just got into character and that was how my acting career began, but most times, I don’t really do commercial acting, I mostly act in my own movies or on special requests by close friends.

Paint a picture of your times as a script writer?

For me, it began as a passion. I started writing drama in my secondary school days. I used to be in charge of harmonising my school drama and theatre productions. So I kept at it till I met a TV presenter at Onitsha. He liked what I did, so he directed me to some marketers. At the end of the day, the marketers showed me some professionally written scripts and I knew I had to learn and work on my own scripts, till I got it right. And the script I wrote which really brought me into limelight was Last Vote in 1995.

Do you still write scripts now?

Yes, I do, but now I have a team that works with me, but don’t get me wrong I still write scripts too. For instance, my latest movie Reverend Sister Ibu was written by me. I got the idea while I was with a friend. A reverend sister came and she had beards (smiles), from that moment, I thought of a story around it. I began writing the script and the job is ready for release now.

Let’s talk about you as a movie director, were you trained in it or you just picked it up?

Seriously, it began as a talent I nurtured, and in 2010, I decided to take it professionally, so I went for a 2 year training in film making at Walden University in America. Before then I’d been directing. So, I just went to school to learn more about the technicality of filmmaking.

How do you juggle your roles as an actor, marketer, producer, director and script writer?

I believe in the saying that if you need something properly done, then you need to do it yourself. I really don’t see anything wrong in multi tasking so long as you are doing it very well. If you can handle them well like I do, then it’s cool. I don’t have any problem with it at all. As you grow, you build a team and assume lesser roles. You basically coordinate.

As a film producer, what’s the average budget to make a film?

I think the average budget to produce an average Nollywood movie would be around 20,000 dollars. However, the budget of any film depends on the script you are working with. Every script is unique and different in its own way. Some scripts would require a budget of millions of dollar. There are other factors like cast, location, props and stuffs that come into play as well.

Having been in the industry since 1994, how would you describe the growth of Nollywood?

To tell you the truth, Nollywood has tried a lot, especially in the technical aspect. If you look at our picture quality back then compared to movies of today, you’ll see the astronomical improvement. Everywhere in the world, no matter the growth of any industry, you’ll still have some things that look substandard in the eyes of the viewers, but regardless, we’ve had tremendous growth given the kind of challenges we’ve had to contend with.

That’s why we are trying very hard to get the corporate world involved as sponsors, because the moment we realise the kind of power movies hold, then we would appreciate the industry more. Movies are very great ways of portraying the country in positive light and passing across messages.

How challenging is movie making?

The first challenge is piracy, and it’s difficult because some of the pirates are within the industry as well. It’s something we all need to stand up against. We need to protect our intellectual property so our efforts don’t just waste. Then, there’s also the problem of light. Most of the sub standard jobs you see out there today is caused by lack of electricity. Most times you run on generator and the noise distorts the production. At times you’ll be on set shooting and the neighbour in the next building would just switch on his/her generator and all those things cause interference. There’s also the issue of funding.

Getting sponsorship and funds for film production is a great challenge. Despite the grants from all corners, it’s still difficult because people can’t gain access to these funds. Like I say, any solution that is not affordable is definitely not a solution at all. You can’t be asking people for buildings and landed property as collaterals. If I have these things then I really don’t need the grants anymore.

How profitable is film making?

Filmmaking is something I tell people that you just can’t jump into it as a businessman that wants to make money. You need to have passion for it. And it’s just like every other business, sometimes you lose, sometimes you gain, but if I can be and still remain in the business for over a decade, then it means the business is not absolutely bad (smiles). So it’s quite profitable, especially when you do your homework very well, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t lost money invested over the years. That’s where the passion comes in, you just have to keep at it, win or lose, because eventually it’s about influencing lives.

Tell us more about your new movie?

Like I said, the movie is entitled Reverend Sister Ibu. It’s an idea I conceived while I was with a friend, a reverend sister walked into his office and she had moustache, and from that encounter, I came up with the idea and I started writing the script. Today, it’s set to be released as a full comic movie.

What’s your greatest fear?

As much as I’ll love to say I don’t have any fears, one thing I’m very afraid of is Failure. I don’t want to be a failure at all. I always do things carefully so I don’t fail.

Looking at where you stand now, would you say you are fulfilled?

Yes, I would say I am. I am a good Christian and I am very contented, I believe that everything I have is superior to what every other person has, because I worked hard to get them. I appreciate everything I have, even though am aware of the fact that I know responsibilities grow as we grow too, but God is faithful enough to provide accordingly. So I am very happy with myself. Especially when you earn money from doing what you love, it’s like making free money (smiles).

Would you at some point practice as a lawyer?

I hope so, but really that’s not the primary target. I believe that no knowledge is a waste, and in this world, you need to equip yourself, you never can tell where you’ll find yourself in future.

How do you relax?

I’m so sorry, I live a very boring life, but it’s no more boring to me, it’s now a way of life. Most times, I relax by writing or working on my computer. These are things that are not very far from my job and I’ve made it a form of relaxation for myself. Aside that, I love watching movies too.

Related Article: Prince Iyke Olisa Biography, History, Asset and Net Worth

Austine Ikeru
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