It is professionally believed that a film is owned by the Director. Generally speaking of a movie is good people give kudos to the director and if it’s bad people talk down the director. Both Evang. Isaac Femi-Akintunde and Pastor Joseph Yemi Adepoju are the directors of the trending Mount Zion movie, ‘The Train’. In this exclusive Interview with Gospel Film News, both directors disclosed what gave them success, the challenges and advise to movie directors amongst others. Excerpt:
Talking about The Train movie, as one of the Directors, what measures did you put in place in ensuring the Actors enter their roles since it is a true life story?
ISAAC FEMI-AKINTUNDE: One of the measures we took in order to ensure that the Actors fit well into their roles was to make a few selections of individuals for a little auditioning in order to place properly the factors of dialect speaking, resemblance (no matter how little) and gesticulations of the prominent roles in the movie.
JOSEPH YEMI ADEPOJU: Actually, we depend more on the Holy SPirit to help them. The script is true life story and we try to make sure that the temperament, gesticultion, the chracter trait they are potraying and there is synergy between the two. Like the person playing the role of Mike Bamiloye, we know Daddy Mike Bamiloye’s temperament, we know the kind of person he is, so when Seun Adejumobi was to take the role we made sure that by the help of the Holy Spirit he didn’t go out of that part and made sure that the comportment was there.
When you first go through the script, what did you do/came to your mind?
ISAAC FEMI-AKINTUNDE: While going through the final script, the first thing that came to my mind was to pray about the proposed movie and then to take a close look at the things needed to align in place to make the movie an overall success. I remember contacting the producer to ask about how we could lay hands on the props and costumes needed for the movie since it is a Biopic one, because those few elements would add to the beauty of the movie. The proposed locations for the movie gave me concerns as well and I tried making arrangements for that. It was an enormous work that required enormous preparations and we couldn’t do all that without the help of God to strengthen us.
JOSEPH YEMI ADEPOJU: When I first read the scrpit I….. because there were different versions, the first version Damilola wrote and i read it, i said whao this is big job and when Daddy Mike read it he came up with another version. When i went through it i said this is a great and challenging script, anything that is historical you know we are going back to the 60s, we are to make sure that the props and costumes were depicting the years, and we were shooting that kind of film in time when its not that time, so we have to pay lot of attention to details. When i went through the script i said God you just have to help us, this is a massive project.
You are a director of many years standing with Track records, What are your experiences on this particular Biopic movie like, are they the same with the ones you have Directed before?
ISAAC FEMI-AKINTUNDE: (Smiles) First, I am not a director of many years… And, no; I have not directed a movie of such before. I would like to use this opportunity to thank my father in the Lord in person of Evangelist Mike Bamiloye for his love and support and his belief in me and his undying desire to bring out the best in me at all times. I thank him for taking I and the other director of this movie in person of Evangelist Joseph Yemi Adepoju to a movie location with a similar genre, titled “The Chronicles”. From this location, I gathered a little bit of experience from how Biopic movies are shot and directed to tell an actual story in moving pictures. Based on this, it seemed like I was being prepared for a bigger assignment and I thank God for the opportunity. This movie is different from other movies in the sense that, it was more challenging because we had to accurately shoot some scenes the way they were back then and if not exactly the same way, at least very close to reality since, it is a true life story. Above all, I thank God for the success of the production.
JOSEPH YEMI ADEPOJU: Looking at this message, Although we co-directed ‘The Chronicles’ by The Gospel Faith Mission, it was an historic story and Daddy Mike was the director, i and Bro Isaac Femi-Akintunde were co-directors, so that was the first time we had this kind of challenging script but this one took another dimension because we weren’t directing then but now this is our own thing and we had to make things the way its supposed to be. It was very challenging and one thing i appreciate is the team work. Myself and Bro Isaac, Damilola, Tayo all of us did a team work. Actually you know film production is a team work, a lot of brainstorming, planning, series of meetings even when we will shoot the next day, we had meetings in the night to discuss, and plan, so it was just God.
Does the story have any impact on your life?
ISAAC FEMI-AKINTUNDE: Very well! Right from the script level of the production to the location level and to cap it all, the day for the final preview… I could not hold back tears because of the power that lied within the message! The story of faith taught me a lot and caused shades of reflections. I was indeed blessed!
JOSEPH YEMI ADEPOJU: The story had a lot to do in my life because this is a very challenging story actually, tracing the life of an icon, a great man of God and having to relate with it, and the reality. It’s really touching to know the level of sacrifice, commitment and how God could raise someone from a very humble background and make his life great. The crudity, the business, and as we began to shoot we are begining to see the reality that whao so this is what this Man of God went through and at the end it was from story to glory.
How did you cope with Actors that have probably not acted before or acting in a movie for the first time?
ISAAC FEMI-AKINTUNDE: How did I cope? I honestly cannot explain how we managed to talk inexperienced actors through… The presence of the Holy Spirit was in our midst and even the success of this movie remains a mystery! It is beyond ordinary and thus, I am of a truth, certain that is all God.
JOSEPH YEMI ADEPOJU: Coping with Actors and Actresses that have never acted before, some of them have never been on set especially people from Ijesha land, those brethren from Ilesha but we were so amazed by their level of commitment, dedication and willingness. Some of the challenges we had, someone was directing those little boys when they were speaking Ilesha language and having to get them into character, some of them are facing camera for the first time and so many of them especially the extras we had to go to schools, use the crowd to make sure that they get used to what we are doing. So, it was really challenging working with those people but they were actually cooperating and that really encouraged us. The little boy in DreadLock was one of the challenges, trying to get him sing the song and all that was one of those things but we thank God.
What was your most challenging moment/scene while shooting The Train movie?
ISAAC FEMI-AKINTUNDE: For me, I’d say a couple of scenes were challenging but the most challenging, was achieving the scene where hot oil poured onto Mike’s body. Not of a great challenge though, but for hindrances caused by fear, it became a little challenge but, we thank God.
JOSEPH YEMI ADEPOJU: One of those things was when we were thinking about how we are going to achieve them (the small boys) going to the cinema, how are we going to see them be in cinema and no cinema in the Western Region that shows and depits this cinema, and amazingly the last place we got in Ilesha was a place prepared by God for us and that was perfect. All the things that gave us sleepless night God actually helped us out.
The locations seems real than imaginary. Did you shoot at the real locations where those things take place?
ISAAC FEMI-AKINTUNDE: Well, some of the scenes were shot at the original locations where the exact occurrences took place. Some others, were close to the actual locations. For example, the scene where Mike’s father was talking to Mike about the wife he was going to get married to; the room where the conversation ensued was the same room that conversation occurred several years ago. That was one out of others.
JOSEPH YEMI ADEPOJU: For some of the locations we have to go to Ilesha. For example, the market scene where the boy stole something, Mummy Gloria was telling us that that was actually where Daddy mike lived that his house was behind the market. So, to make reality out of it we have to go to Ilesha, sometimes we come to our base in Habittion of Faith, Ile-Ife and we have to go to Ilesha almost everyday for about four days. It was really chllenging actually and we make sure that when we want to talk about Ilesha, we saw Ilesha, though some were adaptation but by and large we saw the hand of God mightily in this project.
If you have opportunity of directing the movie again or directing another Biopic movie, what would you have done better?
ISAAC FEMI-AKINTUNDE: If I had another opportunity, I would improve on costumes and the right people that can speak the dialect of the environment, town, village or hamlet we are portraying. I think those are the areas I would take cognisance of next time.
JOSEPH YEMI ADEPOJU: If i have to direct movie of this sort again, definately if we would handle this kind of project again it will be better because the Bible says the path of righteous is like a shining light, shinning brighter and brighter unto the perfect day, so, definately we have gained more experience, we’ve learnt perseverance, we’ve learnt so many things. If i have to direct this again i think it’s going to be a lot better than what it is now but for us to be able to achieve this, i give glory to Jesus.
Different people from different parts of the world have been making comments, sharing testimonies on the movie since Sunday, how do you feel?
ISAAC FEMI-AKINTUNDE: I feel fulfilled! All glory to God Almighty!.
JOSEPH YEMI ADEPOJU: I am very happy, i thank God for all the responses we’ve been getting about The Train. For this kind of thing to come to pass it’s God and i’m so happy with the responses. We know where we were coming from, we know it’s just by faith, how God can bring something great out of nothing, out of raw faith is really amazing. The more we see the testimonies the more people say things, the more we return the glory unto God because if not for God, the bible says Paul plants, Apollo waters but God gives the increase. For all the testimonies we give all glory to God.
Your advice to upcoming Directors/Drama Ministers in general?
ISAAC FEMI-AKINTUNDE: Everybody has a purpose for his/her existence and one can only know what that is when moving closer to God is a priority. It pays to serve God and leave the rest to Him to handle! The reason why we are working in His vineyard is not for our benefits but for the expansion of His kingdom and that, is the ultimate goal of service. Also, as we serve and work for God, we are to work on ourselves! Our characters and skill set are to improve with every passing day! It must be a priority to balance working on ourselves with working for God! And I believe God will continually strengthen us in His grace and wisdom. It is well! That is the little advise I have for both Drama Ministers and Christian Movie Directors.
JOSEPH YEMI ADEPOJU: My advice for upcoming directors is to Stick to God, Holy Spirit is the greatest Director, be more passionate. Directing is not about title it’s a call actually and God is the one that leads. I want to thank God for our daddy in the Lord, Daddy Mike Bamiloye for this great opportunity and grace to direct this kind of movie. So, by and large we return all the glory to Jesus.
Thank you for your time with Gospel Film News sir.
ISAAC FEMI-AKINTUNDE: God bless you
JOSEPH YEMI ADEPOJU: You are welcome. Stay blessed