By Oluwafemi Dosu
When you talk about gospel movie that is produced by a Nigerian and meet up with world standard, Melita is one of the movies that pops up in the mind. ‘Melita’ movie is a gospel movie directed by Ace movie director, Reverend David Kola Okeowo who has put in about 30 years of experience in movie directing. ‘Melita’ was produced under the aegis of Gospel Film Alliance, UK. The movie has both black and white as actors. Most white in the movie travelled down to Nigeria from UK just to act Nigeria scenes. You see how far people can go because of the gospel?
The movie, ‘Melita’ is very unique and has certain criteria that others can borrow from. Let’s examine the uniqueness of the movie below:
1. SPIRITUAL; the spiritual investment on this movie is second to none. It will be interesting to know that prayer altar was raised 15 months before the movie shoot and the prayer team meets every week for fervent prayers of intercession. The prayer team also included fasting just for the success of the production. How then will Melita movie not be a success, how will heaven not release resources for the project?
in an interview session with Gospel Film News, the movie director, Evang. David Kola Okeowo disclosed that there was nothing done as touching the film production that was outside God’s leading, including assigning roles to actors. The atmosphere throughout the location was so secured and everyone on set of Melita enjoyed the presence of God.
Despite the over 15 months spiritual preparation, there was still daily devotion throughout the 9 days shoot. The devotion is usually prayers, with short but powerful word charged and praise.
2. TECHNICALITY; it would be on record that Melita movie will be the first Nigeria Gospel movie to be shot on 6k resolution, and not just ordinary 6k resolution but 6K RAW. That means a whole lot of achievement to the industry/ministry.
It will also be on record that two of the best cinematographers in Nigeria were behind the camera for this shoot. It is not a new thing to use 2 cameras to shoot a movie in Nigeria but having 2 great institutions of cinematography to be behind the 2 cameras used is a plus. The audience might not really know these great icons by face but their works are world-class. Who are these icons I’m talking about? Evangelist Kunle Adepoju and Evangelist Ben Ope Johnson A.K.A Asiwaju Beejay are the ones I’m talking about. You can google their names or read their biography up on www.gospelfilmnews.com.
To emphasis the fact that nothing just happen, proper planning was put in place as Vfx (Visual Effect) editor and film editor were on the location from day 1 to the last day to be well acquainted with each scene especially scenes that has effects. In summary, all crew on the Melita movie project are professionals who knows how to cross their ‘T’, dot their ‘I’ and curve their ‘Y.’
3. NEW INNOVATION; this is a point where every drama and film ministry need to pay attention. There are certain innovations brought into ‘Melita’ movie one of which is the introduction of a crew known as “Culture Consultant.” An average film maker may not see the necessity for a Culture Consultant, but I can tell you that there are a lot of blunders film makers commit in their movies as a result of improper knowledge of what is obtainable in the setting of the movie, especially if the movie is a traditional, cultural, epic or periodic movie. While responding to interview questions by Gospel Film News, the Culture Consultant of ‘Melita’ movie, Evangelist Idowu Oluwaferanmi noted that her responsibility is to ensure that the movie align with the cultural standard that is obtainable in the 19th century which the movie was set. She monitored properly the lines, costumes, sets, and make up. At different times when some scenes are about to be shot, the director will call Culture Consultant to verify if the particular costume, props, make up, language or dressing is acceptable in those days. There are scenes where the culture consultant will tell director that a particular actor is not saying the right proverb or pronouncing the wrong proverb. This is an excerpt from the veteran Idowu Oluwaferanmi: “This is a new office for us in film production, it has not been like this before. There are many blunders we commit in our movie when it comes to our language because most of us don’t even know the interpretation of this Yoruba language. Some of use mis-use and mis-pronounce Yoruba proverbs. I encouraged film makers that if you are doing an English movie, get someone who is good in that area, if it’s Yoruba, get someone who knows details because we don’t really know our culture. Recently, there has been some Yoruba films that make up artiste cover one eye of Ifa priest with black, such is never a Yoruba culture.” Kudos to Idowu Oluwaferanmi who ensures ‘Melita’ movie doesn’t commit cultural blunder.
Another innovation introduced in Melita movie was having 2 Production Manager (Administrative and Technical). Some people may see it as unnecessary, but you need to know that if you have a large production, you need two PM and many agile production assistances just like it was on ‘Melita’ film location. With these, the work load will be relieved. How do you even handle a production with over 40 crew and over 300 casts like ‘Melita’ without proper planning administratively and technically?
Art Director is another office that was actively employed for productivity in ‘Melita’ movie. In most cases, when Art Director is mentioned or employed in gospel film, such personnel usually work as set designer only, which means most people use the word Art Director for Set Designers, but little did production people know that an Art Director supervises Costume department, Make Up department, Set design department and Props department. On ‘Melita’ film location, we saw practically the job of an Art Director (Abayomi Ojo).
Insurance for Casts and Crew and Equipment on set was done before the location in case of any unforeseen circumstances. The bible has counselled believers to ‘watch and pray,’ which the producer and director of ‘Melita’ movie did not ignore. Aside several months of prayers, fasting and other spiritual exercises, yet they insured all casts and crew.
4. WELFARE; I’ve often said that welfarism is not all about food, though it’s part of it. For the location of ‘Melita’ movie, welfarism was taken with priority. There were 3 square meals for all cast and crew throughout the location and no favoritism among casts and crew (A big kudos to Evang. David and Funmilayo Kola Okeowo because it’s not easy to feed hundreds of people three times a day for about 10 days). Talking about accommodation, well organized accommodation was given to all casts and crew in a serene and conducive environment.
Transportation which is a challenge on some locations is never an issue for casts and crew as there were 2 coaster buses, one 18 passenger bus, one long equipment bus, two cars for transportation of food, three other cars to augment transportation of people. We can confirm to you that there was no lapping in any of the vehicles at any point in time.
5. STORY; the message of ‘Melita’ movie is very exceptional. It is the story of missionaries from abroad who brought gospel to Nigeria. There has probably not been any gospel movie that address such. It portrays what the missionaries passed through and how the gospel was spread.
The movie also explains certain things in the scripture, it was a film that painted biblical stories in form of scripture.
Another interesting thing is that the movie is periodic, i.e it has a time frame.
6. CASTING; a uniqueness of ‘Melita’ movie is the fact that some veterans are playing the role they played in ‘Melita’ for the first time despite their years of experience. A good example is Dr. Adeoye Omoniyi. You will also find out that the movie is star-studded, it’s like gathering of professionals in the gospel film industry/ministry.
Another thing about the casting that was observed is that some actors (veterans especially) whom people no longer invite to locations as before were given privilege and invited to ‘Melita’ film set to play one role or the other. In an interview with Gospel Film News, the movie director, David Kola Okeowo disclosed that all casts of the movie, especially major ones were by leading of Holy Spirit.
7. UNITY & LOVE; the act of unity and love has been the foundation of gospel movie location and any gospel movie location that is void of love and unity among the casts and crew need to be checked or queried, but the love and unity among casts and crew on the set of ‘Melita’ movie was superb, even the whites who came from UK confirmed it.
8. COSTUME, PROPS &MAKE UP; it is pertinent to mention at this point that when it comes to makeup and special effect, gospel film industry/ministry has people that can compete anywhere in the world. God has so much deposited creativity into gospel make up artists. The make up and special effect artist for ‘Melita’ movie is one of the top professionals in that field. You know what the end result will be? Your guess is as good as mine.
There was no costume, props or make up used for ‘Melita’ movie that was not properly researched before used, even on set research and consultations were still on going to be double sure of facts and figures.
9. QUEST FOR EXCELLENCE; the director, David Kola Okeowo and the cinematographers on the job, Ben Ope Johnson and Kunle Adepoju who will never settle for less ensure that excellence was given priority in each scene because even our God is a God of excellence. It was closely observed that they were never in haste while shooting all scenes. They really proved that it’s not about shooting plenty scenes a day and not getting it right. The took time to do lighting, set, camera rehearsal, make up, camera setting, etc., yet no single time was wasted. In case you don’t know, ‘Melita’ is a cinema movie and everything is being put in place to meet the cinema standard.
10. MEDIA PARTNERSHIP; this is an area that Is yet to be properly tapped in the gospel film industry/ministry. Only few gospel film makers see prospect in this and take advantage. Some gospel film makers don’t see the importance of media in creating awareness for their movie, they believe it’s God that will publicize them. Nobody is disputing the fact that God will publicize you and your film/ programme, but remember God is not a magician, He is a miracle worker. Little did such film makers know that if the gospel of Christ is not publicized, unbelievers won’t get to know about it and will not convert to believer. Why do you think Jesus instructed his disciples in Mark 16 vs 15 to go into the world and proclaim the gospel, He even gave them a template to start from Samaria, Judea, and so on? The truth of the matter is, the ministry of film need publicity, awareness. If you publicize your film via a media outfit like gospelfilmnews.com it doesn’t reduce your spirituality, neither will it make you ‘unborn again.’ In fact, you will reach more audience, bless more lives, save more souls if you engage media alongside your film/drama programme planning. There are lots of Gospel Films with powerful and timely messages but its audience reach is very low.
Reverend Kola David Okeowo who understands the significant role of the media partners with Gospel Film News for the media coverage of ‘Melita’ movie and this is a plus. www.gosplefilmnews crew was on ‘Melita’ movie location to take report of happenings, shot Behind The Scene, conducted interview for casts and crew, etc. I agree that it is the hand of God on your movie that will make it go far but there’s a channel (media) which God will use to make it go viral. Tell me a movie either secular or gospel, foreign or local that made wave or went viral, or reached larger audience without the involvement of media.
Gospel Film News is ever ready to partner with any ministry or gospel production company in area of awareness, publicity, media hype.
In conclusion, this analysis is not a comparism with other gospel movies, neither is it a competition but to bring to fore the distinctiveness of the movie called ‘Melita.’ The fact that it has several merits doesn’t mean it is a perfect movie set. I can assure you that it is a work in progress.
No one is an island of knowledge, as a film maker, if there are things you can learn from or borrow from the process of making ‘Melita’ movie, why not go ahead and use it. If you see any area where you have shortcoming and you see such being displayed as strength in the ‘Melita’ movie process, why not embrace it? The success of ‘Melita’ movie is a success for all gospel filmmakers.
On a final note, when ‘Melita’ movie is out in Cinema or Online or Disc, kindly ensure you see the movie and you will do good by telling others about the movie too, it will be a blessing to your body, soul and spirit. God bless you as you do so.