Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Emem Isong: The Lady With the Golden Hands on Screen

Spotlight on Emem Isong... The lady with the golden hands on screen!


When it comes to film making in Nigeria, one cannot overlook excellence. Some have made their work speak for them and one of such people is pretty Movie producer and screen writer, Emem Isong who is the CEO of Royal Arts Academy, Lagos. The Theatre Arts graduate of the University of Calabar has done professional courses in Screen writing at home and abroad including one with BOB TV and the London Film School.

She produced her first movie ‘Breaking point’ in 1996. The movie professional has produced many movies like Critical decision, Reloaded and others. Emem has won many awards like City People ‘Best Producer Of The Year 2009, Zafaa award ‘Best Producer Of The Year 2011, Pamsa Award 2012 ‘Best Movie Producer of The Decade, Lifetime Achievement Awards (GIAMA 2012) and AMAA 2013 Special Recognition Award. She tells GERALDINE AKUTU about her movies and success so far.

What was growing up like?

Well... it was a wonderful experience for me. I am the eldest of my parents’ three children. We are close and support each other.

How did you venture into movie making?

After my National Youth Service, I worked at the then Lion bank for two years. I had interest in movies and my theatre background made me go into it. I opened a company called Theatre Images in 1996.

At what point did you decide to call your company Royal Arts Academy?

Hmm... I had done about five movies while running Theatre Images before changing it to Royal Arts Academy. I was working as an Independent producer with a Movie marketer in Onitsha called Remmy Jes while running my own company, Theatre Images. After seven years of working with him, I left and founded Royal Arts Academy in 2008. I’ve been making movies for 16 years now.

What does it take to be a Film producer?

It takes focus, dedication and hard work to be good. You have to know how to bring everybody together to make a movie.

What do you consider before writing?

I look at the environment, things happening around me, sometimes true life stories, things that happened to me and things I read. Originally, I did advocacy stories, stories that talk about the ills in our society.

When did you discover you wanted to be a Filmmaker?

I’ve always loved the arts. Right from my secondary school days, I would create stories and I want to say here that, it is an inborn thing as well as a gift from the almighty God.

What motivated you to make a success out of your career?

Wow! I am the kind of person that puts my mind to what I do and do it to the best of my ability. I am a determined lady and I give what I do my best shot.

Your role model

In Nigeria, I admire the works of Amaka Igwe, Tunde Kelani while internationally I love Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee and other notable film producers.

Are you doing what you have always wanted to do?

Yes! I have always wanted to be part of the movie world. I love everything about the arts.

Women love shoes, bag and jewellery, what are you into?

I like bags but I love watches. I have a lot of them.

What is your beauty routine like?

I drink water a lot to detoxify my system, moisturise daily and eat right.

What’s your favourite food?

My favourite food is Afang soup. Everyone who knows me knows that (laughs).

What do you consider before getting dressed?

I look at where I am going. I really don’t believe in following trends but love to look good. I love simple things and I’m not a loud dresser. I believe that less is more!

What project are you working on at the moment?

I just finished a production called ‘ Knocking on heaven’s door’, a straight to DVD movie titled ‘Forgetting June’ and others waiting to come out.

What is the best movie you’ve ever produced?

Hmm... I absolutely love a couple of the movies I’ve produced like Emotional crack, Critical decision, Games women play, Reloaded, Weekend getaway and I’ll take my chance.

On the subject of sexual harassment in the film industry, have you experienced any?

Not at all! Well... I don’t know because I am not an actress. For me, I have never faced such a thing.

When you are not working, how do you unwind?

I love reading books.

Advice to upcoming young people

Be passionate, believe in yourself and never, ever give up!

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