Only a few filmmakers dare to thread into his area of speciality due to the intricacies involved in creating them – epic movies that tell tales of occurrences past, cultures that remain only in books or the lips of the elderly, and times that are no more.
He has had quite a long itinerary of these historical movies under his belt. Notable of them are Invasion 1897, The Prince, Esohe, Anini, Queen of Queens, Ebomisi, Trials of Ekuase, Iyare, Home in Exile and several more.
Recently, Africa Movies Hub (AMH) came in contact with this extraordinary Nollywood veteran – Henry Legemah Here are excerpts from that discussion. Enjoy the read:
AMH: Please introduce yourself, your brand, and tell us about what you do.
Henry: My name is Deacon Henry Iyobosa Legemah. I am an actor, director, producer and scriptwriter.
I started the art even when I was not art student in the late 70s when a young graduate teacher from Ife came to my primary school for teaching-practice and introduced stage performance, pantomime, drama to my primary school. That’s how I became his acolyte and never looked back from then onwards.
I have personally written and shot over 80 films and I have acted, produced and directed over a hundred films.
As a producer, I got 9 nominations for my movie, Anini at the AMAA in 2006 (I hope I got the date correctly) which was the first and only time any film got such nominations. I was also inducted into the Nollywood hall of fame in 2018 and I think I am the only Edo person who has been so inducted.
See More AMH Interviews:
- I Played 32 Different Characters in Two Hours on Live Stage – Jude Orhorha
- Not Every Nollywood Actress is a Prostitute – Darlene Odogbili
- We Need Improved Policies and Regulations for Nollywood Industry – Ene Victor Kene
AMH: What are some of the most common misconceptions about what you do?
Henry: One of the biggest misconceptions people have about us today is that they think that actors are dropouts. That is a very wrong misconception. I have been through four educational programs in higher institutions of learning – all in engineering. I have an OND and HND in Electrical/Electronics. I also hold a BSC and an MSC in the same discipline but majored in power and power generation respectively.
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about us today is that they think that actors are dropouts. That is a very wrong misconception. I have been through four educational programs in higher institutions of learning – all in engineering
AMH: Since you started your career, what has been the most challenging job you took on, and why?
Henry: Anini was the most challenging job I ever produced. This is so because it was a dated film and we had to get props and costumes depicting that time and period. Then, of course, we had challenges with the ‘almighty’ finance too.
Let me expatiate a little further; Victor Ogiemwonyi of Partnership Investments gave me N3.45million and i raised another N2.5million plus to make the production cost N6million.
As regards props and costumes, I literarily sourced, made and borrowed all the props costumes for Anini, for each character and set. Anini was a bold statement!
AMH: In your opinion, with regards to film productions and distributions, is Nollywood where it should be?
Henry: No, Nollywood is not where it ought to be, but it’s not where it used to be.
AMH: If you had the opportunity to go back right from when you started, what will you do differently?
Henry: Nothing, it’s been challenging but rewarding
AMH: You have always toed the path of historical, cultural and traditional stories in your productions. Are there reasons behind it? If yes, what are they?
Henry: We need to tell our stories. Our youths no longer care about our culture and traditional values, so for me, historical or epic movies that propagate our core traditional values, history and culture is my thing.
We need to tell our stories. Our youths no longer care about our culture and traditional values, so for me, historical or epic movies that propagate our core traditional values, history and culture is my thing.
AMH: Was there a time you almost gave up your art? If yes, how were you able to pull through?
Henry: No, there was never a time i almost gave up my art. This is where I find completeness, it’s not about the money, only those who came into the art because of the money and glamour can regret going into a venture.
AMH: A lot of experts in Nigeria’s entertainment industry advise that you must have a side-hustle in order to survive and become successful. How true is this? And what’s your side hustle?
Henry: I don’t need a side hustle because I am a complete thespian and show-businessman
AMH: With regards to camera types, models and lenses, which are your favourites?
Henry: The Black Magic URSA Series is my favourite camera with its accessories and chain
AMH: Please share 4 tips for new-comers who are hoping to become successful like you in the entertainment industry.
Henry: Learn the art (mentorship/school), be patient, hone your skills and be humble.
AMH: As regards films, the producer chooses the script, directors, characters, location, etc. He also takes key decisions for every project. Asides funding, government support, societal issues, etc, can we say that the ineptitude of producers is a major chunk of the issues plaguing the Nollywood industry today?
Henry: Ineptitude? I don’t agree that producers’ ineptitude is plaguing the industry, we producers turned Nollywood into an economic hub without government intervention, and I think we need to be encouraged.
I don’t agree that producers’ ineptitude is plaguing the industry, we producers turned Nollywood into an economic hub without government intervention, and I think we need to be encouraged.
AMH: When movies stay in the cinemas for a while, the rights are bought over by content aggregators, TVs, etc. Do you think that film distributors and producers are doing right by cutting off the DVD sellers? Are we not losing a lot of money from cutting that chain?
Henry: Cutting off DVD market, for now, is a deliberate strategy to ward off pirates; we will definitely go back to that window of distribution soon. And yes, distributors are planning and strategising to beat these pirates at their game.
AMH: Can you tell us more about other projects and plans you are hatching?
Henry: We will be shooting more epic movies such as Emotan, Imaguero and Atakparakpa back to back in a couple of months. And we are building the sets already. These movies will be out in the first quarter of next year, and we are going to have a world tour afterwards. These movies will feature top-flight acts such as Sam Dede, Nosa Obaseki, Fred Amata, Paul Obaseki, Nosa Red, Helen Nado and a host of others.
Writer – Film Critique – Entrepreneur – Gospel Musician