Director MJ, a Nigerian film director has said that for Nigeria’s Nollywood industry to grow, its practitioners must desist from celebrating mediocrity and set aside tribalism.
MJ, a prolific film director and videographer who started at a young age and has handled hundreds of flicks, is known for his dexterity in handling documentaries, music videos, commercials, short films and the likes.
With over 20 years under his belt in the entertainment industry, the music video director and producer is not looking to slow down as he looks to join the ranks of acclaimed Nollywood producers like Kunle Afolayan, Tunde Kelani and Jeta Amata.
In this interview with Africa Movies Hub (AMH), MJ talks about his love for the art of filmmaking and his career path.
Enjoy the read:
AMH: Please introduce yourself, brand, and tell us about your work
Director MJ: My name is Momodu Joseph, popularly known as Director MJ. I am a cinematographer, the Creative Director of Advanced Teamworks and CEO of Mjeezle Filmworks Company based in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria.
AMH: How did you get into photography?
Director MJ: I picked up the love for photography and filmmaking a long time ago in Benin City, Edo State, way back in 2003 where I was mentoring under my elder brother Kbk Jnr who is the CEO of Ark Musik Int’l. He is also a guru in music productions.
I started with audio studio engineering, recording voices in the studio, but deep down I wasn’t too excited. I needed something that I would enjoy doing. That’s how I dabbled into videos. I then started working on our videos as a set boy, tape boy, light boy and choreographer (yes I used to dance) though there were less materials to learn with – no internet, fewer plugins and fast systems. But I had that determination so I soldiered on.
AMH: At what age did you start and what age do you hope to retire?
Director MJ: I started at the age of 20, and I will retire when my spark and love for art dies.
AMH: All through your career, you have done mainly music videos, and now you hope to delve into shooting movies, why is that?
Director MJ: Throughout my career, I have done more than music videos. I have done lots of documentaries for top local and international firms, lots of adverts and commercials for government and private bodies. Back in my schooling days, while studying Graphic Arts, I made a short film on war against cultism, and I have big plans to make my first feature film.
Read Other AMH Interviews
- Nollywood Has Too Many Movies, Lesser Structures – Chukwuemeka Ejiofor
- I Will Choose Standup Comedy Over Acting Anytime, Any Day – Dr Smile
- Why Blood of Enogie Series Is My Best Work Yet – Charles Uwagbai
- We Need Improved Policies and Regulations for Nollywood Industry – Ene Victor Kene
AMH: Which Nollywood producers do you yearn to work with, and who are your greatest inspirations in the industry?
Director MJ: Truth be told, I have not really been following everything about the Nigerian movie industry trends. The reason is that I didn’t get my zing from Nollywood.
This is why I want to go into the industry proper because I will bring with me some drastic changes in the industry due to my wealth of experiences over the years.
Director MJ: As for people I would love to work with, I have respect for people who are striving to create some dynamism in film making, and that is what I want to be a part of. People like Ishaya Bako (who is a good friend of mine), Kunle Afolayan, Tunde Kelani, Genevieve Nnaji, Kemi Adetigba, Jeta Amata, Niyi, and the entire crew of the 2018 movie God Calling.
AMH: Most people say that in this line of work, over 90 per cent of clients come from referrals. If true, why do you think that is so?
Director MJ: It’s true because in this industry, apart from your work speaking for you, a client or someone who knows your work and worth become your ambassador a positive tool for you somewhere, that’s how it works.
AMH: In your opinion, with regards to film productions, is Nollywood where it should be?
Director MJ: The Nollywood industry should be far better, it’s growing but it’s not where it should be. One way to get there is that we must stop celebrating mediocrity and put tribalism aside.
AMH: What measures do you think can be taken to have a more quality production for our movies?
Every Industry needs support, that’s what Nollywood and every creative human being needs. The Government treat the industry with all seriousness, run it as a business, and see it as a part of their revenue making. When they do that, we the people will also follow suit.
AMH: Tell us about one of the most common misconceptions about photographers in Nigeria
Director MJ: I’ll tell you in one sentence; THAT ART IS CHEAP!
AMH: Since you started your career, what has been the most challenging job you took on, and why?
Director MJ: There was a documentary I shot. I travelled to 10 states (including Boko Haram territories) within 10 days, with too many flights and too many road trips and without a single security detail. But then, I took that job because my slogan is ‘I shoot anything, lol.’
AMH: If you had the opportunity to go back right from when you started, what will you do differently?
Director MJ: I would study more early enough, invest in the right equipment and make the right decisions.
AMH: What makes you different from others who have tried to do what you‘ve done and failed?
Director MJ: Nothing! Just sheer determination and that push to learn more, While I tell myself; YOU KNOW NOTHING!
AMH: With regards to camera types, models and lenses, which are your favourites?
Director MJ: I have been a Canon lover for many years. I love RED, ARRI, BLACKMAGIC and any other I can lay my hands on that works for me.
AMH: Please share 3 tips for new-comers who are hoping to become successful like you, Director MJ in the entertainment industry.
- Please don’t be like me or any other person, just be you
- Believe in you first
- Ask, Listen, Learn
AMH: Anything else you might want to add; like new projects, programs, plans, etc?
Director MJ: Follow me on Instagram; idirectormj for more.
Writer – Film Critique – Entrepreneur – Gospel Musician