Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Production pt. 2

.......The new hotel we moved into was large and spacious and I was checked into it at about eleven pm by the production manager and the producer who did not speak to me throughout the journey and remained in the vehicle while I was being checked in. I supposed she was busied by her thoughts. I was to find out later that she had had a disagreement with the director’s wife over his wife’s rejection of some dingy rooms she tried to lodge us in.

A good week to everyone and many many thanks for the wonderful support you’ve shown me in my good, bad and funny times. You are truly a remarkable bunch! I liked the room; it was spacious and had enough room to practice my new found love; martial taekwondo kicks. I had a good night’s rest and the next morning after my stretches, I sauntered outside to see what the neighbourhood was like and to my pleasant surprise I met one of my colleagues I’d worked with before in Nigeria and another man I did not know on their way back to the hotel I was lodged. After exchanging pleasantries I asked them what they were doing in Ghana and they told me they were in the middle of a movie production (the other man was the producer of the project) and were just coming back form the police station. Curious, I asked them what had happened and Victor, the producer said, they had gone to report an armed robbery incident in his hotel room the night before – the very hotel I was checked into the night before! Shocked, I asked him what had happened. He narrated the story of how the night before at about 2am, he woke suddenly to see two armed men in his room bending over him. They were armed with a machete and an axe and in hushed tones ordered him to bring his suitcase which he did. They rifled through it and took all the tapes he had with him, his passport and little else, then ordered him to get into the bathroom, locked him in and made off into the darkness. Fortunately for him, he said, he had kept the tapes of the scenes he had shot on the production in a different place and only had the master tapes of old projects on him at the time of the robbery. I didn’t know what to think. What I did know was that I did not feel safe in that hotel and I told my producer as such. We, the director and I, were soon moved to another hotel in the Dzorwulu district of Accra which was much nearer the locations that had been earmarked for shooting in.

We still did not start production until Sunday the 10th of July and when we did, the pace was slow. We did not begin recording until about 11am daily even though some of us were ready for work by 8am. Most of the challenges were due to poor logistics and costuming problems. The director was very particular about his shots – he was very meticulous about his work - and went to great lengths to rehearse and put the actors through their blockings. We managed a range of two to seven scenes a day. I had told the director I would be starting another job on Monday the 19th of July and would be leaving for Nigeria on Friday the 16th. If I couldn’t finish my scenes before I left, I could still come back to finish them when I was done with Nigeria. He said no problem and we worked on. On Monday I called the
producer and told her I would be leaving on Friday and would appreciate it if the scenes I had to do were given priority so I’d have less time to spend on set were I to have to come back to complete and she told me she’d see to it.

Wednesday came and at the end of production for the day I was called to a meeting with the producer, the production manager and my friend the director. They told me that after checking the schedule and the amount of work I had left, it was clear that my leaving on Friday would be detrimental to their production. You know that agape feeling you get when you are being blamed for your mother’s (don’t mean to be crude but I’m trying to look for the most monstrous illogic) loss of her virginity? They honestly had to be absolutely mad to brazenly make that request! After two weeks of indolence, and giving them an additional three days? Abeg abeg! Make I no jus vex for here as I just de think am! I politely told them where to jump into; my set date was fixed and there was no turning back. My friend the director told me he would see to it that I did not leave till I finished his shoot and that I would do well to comply because I would have my good image tarnished in Ghana and he would bring in the bigwigs from either of the two countries to compel me to do my duty. I told him his threats would fall flat in his face and left before I said or did anything I would regret. The producer and the production ran to my room begging me to give them a few more days and I told them I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to give them an answer but that we could talk at the end of production the next day.

The next day being Thursday, at the end of production at about 1am, the producer came to my room again with her production manager to implore me to give them an extra four days on set. She asked me to think of her situation and think of my own mother and take pity on her. I told her I had obligations as well and would have to pay the other production I was scheduled to work with their money if I didn’t turn up for theirs. She said she didn’t have any money left and it was back to square one. After prevailing on me for quite a while I agreed to give them three extra days from Friday where I would return Monday’s first flight to Nigeria on the condition that they would buy me a ticket for the first flight to Nigeria on Monday the 19th of July, and that I would have the ticket in my possession by 10am that Friday. They readily agreed thanked me and we called it a night.

In the morning on Friday I went on set with the director and other members of the crew and waited for the other actors to turn up. We waited till about 11am and still they hadn’t showed up – and neither had my ticket. I called the producer and asked her what was going on. She told me she had purchased the ticket and invited the lady at the travel agency she had booked to confirm it to me. She did and I relaxed. 2pm came and still none of the other actors I was to work with had turned up. With quite some irritation and some unease, I called the airline my flight was supposed to be on and asked to confirm my flight. I was told that my flight had indeed been booked but had not been paid for. I saw red. Here I was on set with a view to finish as many scenes as I could as agreed and the production manager had not even ensured his production was running smoothly by getting all his actors to work on time and worse still, the production did not seem interested in fulfilling its own end of the bargain. I picked my bag and headed for the road and hailed a passing taxi. I got in, told the driver to take me to my hotel but before he could move the production manager and some of the crew members prevented the driver from moving off. Not many pretty words escaped my mouth that afternoon and I did utter some expletives my mother would be shocked at hearing from me. It seemed someone had alerted the producer on what was going on because a short while later someone came to me and told me the ticket had been paid for. I called the airline again and this they did confirm that the ticket for the flight had been paid. I went back to work but it was not until 5.30pm that the other actors showed up. We could only do two scenes that day.

I got back to the hotel at 12.30am and immediately went to bed, only to be woken up from my sleep a while later by a knock on my door. I checked the time on my watch; it was 1.30am. I went to the door and asked who it was and heard the voice of the producer saying it was she. I opened the door to see the producer and three fierce looking men I had not seen before. I asked her what she wanted and she told me she wanted to give me my ticket. When I asked her who the men with her where and why they were with her, she told me they were her brothers and they were there to have a talk with me. I was compelled to go downstairs with them to the poolside.

As soon as we got there they brandished a document they called a contract and told me I was going to sign the contract and state that I was going to stay on the producer’s set until I finished the job. I told them I would not sign the contract at that time of the night with people I did not know. They told me if I did not sign it, they (two of them were soldiers) would drag me to their barracks and deal with me mercilessly there. I explained to them that it would be foolish of me to sign something I didn’t know about without any witness on my side. The younger of the two soldiers( they were in plain clothes) lost his patience. He pushed his chair back, stood up and barked out to his colleagues to allow him bundle me into a waiting SUV that was parked nearby. I kept my cool, appearing unruffled but inside I was quaking in my sweaty boots. Here I was in the middle of the night, no one to see what was going on, nobody to call, in a country I knew nobody. I could be taken to anywhere and anything could be done to me. My family didn’t even know where I was! I remembered I had God who was everywhere with me and the fear melted away. I sat resolute. Exasperated they called my director friend to come downstairs and talk some sense into his stupid Nigerian brother.

When he came down, they told me I now had a friend I could rely on my side and so I had just found a reliable witness; I should sign. I refused and my friend the director asked for their permission to speak with me in private. We went to a corner and he told me I could be taken anywhere and whatever happened to me, it would be their word against mine – and I would lose because I wasn’t an indigene. Furthermore, they could tarnish my hard earned name I had worked so hard for in a beat. I was to reconsider my position, sign the contract and let everyone go in peace. It kind of smacked of a ‘good cop’, ‘bad cop’ game to me – my very own director friend who was purported to be on the lookout for me selling me down the river to my face! I chose not to do so and was forced to get into the backseat of the waiting car, a man seated on either side of me. I asked them where they were taking me but they refused to answer me, telling me I would find out soon enough. We drove for what seemed like ten minutes before we parked in front of a police station. We went in and the producer began to narrate her version of the story to two desk officers in charge. She told them of how I was trying to abandon her job after only six days of work when I was contracted to stay on for sixteen days. My friend the director came to the same station moments later and corroborated her story. I told the police it was not true, that I had given twenty one days of my time, and was still in the middle of production when I was abducted from my hotel in the middle of the night and forced to sign a document I did not know about.

The police told them that according to the Ghanaian law, I could not be compelled to sign a document against my will and the fact that I had begun working with them and had not refused to work with them, I could not be held. They did insist though, that the time I had spent prior to the commencement of shoot was of no significance and I was to complete the ten remaining days. I objected to this and we were told we’d have to wait at the station until the senior officer in charge of the station arrived at 9am. We waited. As we waited I noticed the producer having some surreptitious conversation in the darkness behind some trees with a uniformed man whose rank I would later recognise to be that of an inspector. In self preservation I called the director and told him I was willing to sign the documents on the condition that the producer would let me board my flight for Monday to do my one shoot with Tinsel after which I would come back on Thursday for a four day shoot with them. He told them and they readily agreed. We sat down and I signed the papers; it was 6am. I went to bed at 7am and got up at 11am and went to work. We did quite some work that Saturday but had to strike set early on Sunday – 6pm- because some locations had not been confirmed.

Monday morning came without a hitch. I got to the airport, boarded my plane and got home without any ado. This post wasn’t created to exacerbate the silly (as far as I'm concerned) feud between Nollywood vs Gollywood, Most of my therapy has come from writing about my experience. There’s something very exorcising about writing about trauma. Everything good or bad is forced to be put in perspective. My relationship with Frieda was sorely tested through this incident, and I have resolved to review the way I do business in future, to be watchful in my dealings with people to weigh their words with their actions. I must at this point iterate that this was a unique incident borne out of lack of communication, lack of planning and rash decision making on the part of the producer instigated by my friend, the director (who happens to be Nigerian). I say unique because this in no way affects the goodwill I bear towards my beloved Ghanaians with whom I have had benevolent dealings for the past fifteen years and have proved to be exceptional hosts to me in my time in Ghana. I still haven’t abandoned the project but have prudently stayed my hand until we (the production company and my management team) both conclude on the legal matters that will ensure we both work in harmony. I want to especially thank those of you who have made it this far. I promise you that missives like this will not come often. Let’s pray my next post will be on a much lighter note than this hairy, dreary drudgery. Have a great week everyone!

22 comments:

  1. Hmmm...at least it is all in the past. But that was some scary business. It is unfortunate that professionals have to work with such production thats so clearly uncoordinated. Na wa o...

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  2. So sorry u had such an auwful experience K,we thank God you're okay......

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  3. Amazing, sounds like some scenes from a film! Thank God that you are ok, but I would find it very difficult to resume working with such unprofessional bullies.

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  4. wow that producer is scatter brained....ppl r funny though, her taking that kind of action and your director friend..........what a snitch!
    i am feeling all gangsta...........feel like pointing my black plastic toy gun at 'em and screaming "break yoself! break yoself bishes!"lol......pishaun pishaun

    just glad u r ok. u get courage smallo u no gree sign paper for hotel..........i respect that, they were trying to bully u.
    i guess in ghana just like nigeria........police isnt really your friend lol

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  5. Wow!!..what an ordeal... in all of this, you still were the gentleman..Shame on them.

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  6. It really does sound like a horror movie...I'm still so shocked...

    I kept waiting for the part where they hit you or did something more terrible...thank God it never happened...

    Pls next time, try and check the kind of producers/directors etc. that you agree to work with, especially when they are outside Naija where you can hala at any time...

    Wish you the very best all the time...

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  7. am sure d nigerian director was frank rajah ......our nigerian stars should please stop doing productions with ghana not because am trying to instigate any negativity but for the purpose of peace afterall the nigerian market is huge and big enough to contain as many stars as nigeria can produce...How i wish d likes of Dangote ,otedola, and ADenuga can invest in the nigerian movie industry .....we wont hear of all dese rubbish anymore

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  8. And I thot it was only in Naija dis happuns...Anyways, am glad that u r aiight...b/c I would hv personally "cried a river" if anything happun to u

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  9. This is really spooky,like what you see or watch in a movie,I can not imagine the chill that was going down your spine at that ungodly hour,what sort of desparation was that,anyway I thank God that you came out alive and ok pls next time if there will ever be,try to have a legal document/contract at least to protect you and always tell someone where you are going and whom to contact in case of anything be it good or bad,it's quite a pity my brother.Stay Blessed.Ify London

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  10. This should serve as an eye opener to all Nigerian actors. Is it really worth it to risk your life in an unruly country like Ghana. Make no mistake about it, Nigerian actors are not welcome here.You could have been killed in a fake accident.Once bitten, twice shy.

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  11. Hi K, we give God the glory. I don`t want to sound rude but must everyone be a producer??
    Be careful next time!

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  12. Ikpeyen - Ghana is an UNRULY country - than where? Really? i see. Thanks - Get of ya bitter high horse. You r talking too much

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  13. To your tents O' Israel! A word is enough for the wise!

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  14. WOW!!! that sure is scary!

    But, seriously, when the woman was planning to send those two thugs to harass you, didnt she think she may need you in future for another production? That was not a good way to threat anyone at all! I am pissed.

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  15. WOW!!! that sure is scary!

    But, seriously, when the woman was planning to send those two thugs to harass you, didnt she think she may need you in future for another production? That was not a good way to threat anyone at all! I am pissed.

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  16. YOU KNOW I HAVE DONE A BIT OF TRAVELLING IN MY LIFE, AND MY EXPERIENCES WITH MY FELLOW NIGERIANS ABROAD, ISN'T A GREAT STORY TO TELL, THEY ARE PREPARED AT ANY GIVEN TIME TO SNITCH YOU UP SO BADLY,THAT YOU WOULDN'T HAVE AN ITCH OF DIGNITY LEFT IN YOU. I TELL YOU SOMETHING KALU NO ONE IS A FRIEND WHEN IT COMES TO BUSINESS, THEY ALL ARE MUCH MORE CONCERNED ABOUT THEMSELVES, BUT I TELL YOU IT IS THE GREATEST TEACHER, YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE WHETHER GOOD OR BAD, KEEP RIDING HIGH MY LOVE THE SKY IS THE LIMIT, YOU ARE ON.BLESS YOU.

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  17. Most Nigerian actors are unprofessional, selfish and heartless as you have exposed here.

    1. All what you did are without formal document e.g start of production, fees, etc.
    2. From 1 above, you did not confirm a day to your journey before you joined the next available flight. a sign of desperation.
    3. If you had waited for the confirmation of the start of production, there wouldn't have been a need for you to stay in the hotel waiting for the commencement.
    4. Despite that the producer was paying for your hotel bills without complaint while running around to sort out things.
    5. You should understand that perhaps unforeseen circumstances made her run into some of these hitches.
    6. Imagine what your exit would mean to the entire production.
    7. Nigeria actors misfire the moment they become stars. I am sure if you are an upcoming actor, you will be ready to stay in the location.
    8. Please think of what the woman might have invested and go back to location.
    9. Two wrongs can never make a right.
    10. From your Nigerian fan.

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  18. The poster above is obviously somehow affiliated with the bootleg production that tried to strongarm Kalu. Instead of making sweeping judgements to cover your unprofessional behaviour, own your part of the problem, and stop selling your countrymen up the river...... Kalu has proven himself to be a gentleman through and through, because others in his position would be listing names, and taking no prisoner.
    You should be ashamed of what you wrote, and If you aren't, how sad for you?

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  19. To answer the other Annoymous 10 points..

    1. All what you did are without formal document e.g start of production, fees, etc.

    This is actually a good point! All documents should have been signed before he boarded a plane to Ghana.

    2. From 1 above, you did not confirm a day to your journey before you joined the next available flight. a sign of desperation.

    He was not informed by the production company of the delay in time. Completely the fault of the production company. And if they didn't know before the original date of his travel, they eat the cost. The onus of on them to keep the schedule.


    3. If you had waited for the confirmation of the start of production, there wouldn't have been a need for you to stay in the hotel waiting for the commencement.

    This is completely the fault of the producers and production company! It is their job to keep EVERYONE informed of the scheduled and changes therein. It is not the job of the actor to continually check if the schedule is still in effect. Any professional production company in the world knows this..

    4. Despite that the producer was paying for your hotel bills without complaint while running around to sort out things.

    That is the job of a producer. Did they not know this?


    5. You should understand that perhaps unforeseen circumstances made her run into some of these hitches.

    True, but not sure if this means he should be dragged out of his hotel room and forced to sign a contract days, under the threat of bodily harm.


    6. Imagine what your exit would mean to the entire production.

    What does this have to do with his other committments? What about them? They should not suffer because of the lack of organization of this production.

    7. Nigeria actors misfire the moment they become stars. I am sure if you are an upcoming actor, you will be ready to stay in the location.

    Mistreating anyone is not right. Regardless of who they are. If he didn't have another obligation, I am sure he would have stayed. He stayed a whole week before shooting a scene.

    8. Please think of what the woman might have invested and go back to location.

    This is COMPLETELY her issue! You put up money for anything, business, movies, anything, the onus is on you to make sure all is done professionally and properly, so you can get the benefits of your hard work and investment. You don't do that, you have no-one to blame but yourself.

    9. Two wrongs can never make a right.

    What was his wrong?

    10. From your Nigerian fan.

    Suuuurrrreeeee you are....

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  20. C'est tres shocking. Gees. I'm new in here so, I guess this is like delayed response.
    But who's Freida??? I'll keep stalking till you answer? Is she a pussy-cat?

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  21. can u imagine such intimidation from those fakula so called ghollywood rubbish people.without nigerians they would be no where in d film industry,such backward dry fucking accent idiotic people.i dont like ghana people,never did and neva will.they dont like nigerians and always have inferior complex when they are around us,well they better cos we will send them packing away from their own country,useless miserable bush people trying to compete with us.really glad they didnt harm u else we wil burn down all fucking ghanians and their their country.fakulas

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  22. all of you guys have to find yourselves and redifine who you are... this stories don't sound like you know what you are about... peace has to find its way in what ever you do that puts food on your table... K, I have read some comments you have made about ghanaians and some ghanaian actors and its sounds like you are not that 'crazy' about then, so, why do you go to work there? besides you had another engagement in nigeria so you had a choice not to accept this gig... pls pls take life a little easy and God is always with his own love you ... stay focused...

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