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Behind the Scenes: Director Taiwo Egunjobi Opens Up About ‘A Green Fever’

The gripping neo-noir “A Green Fever” takes viewers on a tense journey through 1980s Nigeria, where family ties are tested against a backdrop of power, corruption, and moral ambiguity.
March 8, 2024
9:49 pm
A Green Fever

The 1980s have made a stylish comeback on the silver screen with the neo-noir thriller “A Green Fever,” now streaming on Prime Video. Penned by Isaac Ayodeji and directed by Taiwo Egunjobi, this cinematic fever dream immerses viewers in a world where power, corruption, and family ties converge under one ominous roof.


The narrative follows architect Kunmi and his daughter Ireti, who suffers from a rare medical condition. When their journey takes an unexpected detour, they seek refuge in a mysterious mansion owned by the enigmatic Matilda. However, the arrival of Matilda’s lover, the formidable Colonel Bashiru, plunges the night into a tense and increasingly unsettling experience.


In an exclusive interview with TNR, Taiwo Egunjobi shed light on the making of “A Green Fever” and his artistic vision for this haunting tale.


Taiwo Egunjobi

TNR: A green fever has both a literal and symbolic meaning. Please elaborate on the symbolism and the overarching message you aim to convey to the audience with the film a green fever.

Taiwo Egunjobi: A lot of what we’re trying to do with the story boils down to our exploration of human greed as regard these characters that are locked in this situation and how they are affected by greed, both personal and institutional and it’s really interesting for me to explore this sickness and look at it from this lens. It’s really like throwing a lot of elements together – different type of people and seeing how they react with each other.


But if you ask me about the theme for the story, it’s about greed: using the Nigerian past, especially the 80s era, as backdrop. It’s all in the title “A Green Fever.” Green is a symbolic color of greed, it’s also the color of money. It also means people who are sickened in their haste for inordinate wealth.



Considering your aim to transport viewers to an intimate and claustrophobic version of the 1970s and 1980s in Nigeria, what kind of emotional and immersive experience did you hope audience will have and what aspect of the film do you think will resonate with them the most?

What we tried to do was trap the audience along with these characters. It’s a film that begins in the evening and doesn’t end until the next morning. So, we tried our best to keep the audience, emotionally, in that space: To let them feel what the characters feeling, the paranoia, the claustrophobia, a sense of danger lurking – if you go outside there’s danger, if you’re indoors there’s danger. That sense of continuous worry is what we hope the audience is able to take away when it comes to how they feel, the consistent tension that continues to rise and then blows up in a crescendo in the end. That’s what we tried to design here. I hope we succeeded.



Earlier, in your previous answer, you mentioned that the major theme is greed. How did you manage the exploration of greed, power and corruption within the context of a single day in “A Green Fever”?

The backdrop tells you the entire story. It’s a story that has military officers planning a coup and a lot of their talk is about money, nothing about service, and you also find a man and his daughter trying to survive the night and, maybe, their intentions are not so honest too. So, you find greed being explored in this environment we’ve created.


I always like visiting this type of world for various reasons, especially for the opportunity it offers us in experiencing events that we’ve forgotten or that we never had the opportunity to capture as movies made during the era.



How did the collaboration between Nemsia films and Sable productions influence the overall creative direction of the film, especially considering that it marks the debut of the partnership between both production houses.

It was easy for that collaboration to happen because these two houses have similar ideas about the stories they want to tell and what they hope to achieve with the stories. They both have a clear commitment to the art of storytelling This snowballs, of course, into valuable periods of story development and conversations around craft.


The story was developed over a year and, in that period, both studios were interacting, exchanging notes with the top brass, discussing characters and how to improve the story. It was a very comfortable and successful interaction.



With a background in Psychology and varied filmography, how did your personal journey and experiences shape your approach to directing, especially in the context of “A Green fever”?

More than my study of Psychology, I think the most important part of me that continues to shape my approach to directing is growing up in Ibadan with my father and our shared interest in history.


The old man was born in 1935, and that meant we had many fascinating conversations about Nigerian history. As a result, I grew up around a library of Nigerian history and I was fascinated a lot about these things. Ancient Nigeria and Ibadan retains a lot of these feelings – a time travel of a city:  Ibadan.



You said earlier that, due to your background, you were fascinated by the 80s, the ancient era in Ibadan, the cultural and historical aspect of that period. Consequently, this fascination contributed to the narrative of “A Green Fever.” Were there specific challenges or rewards you had in bringing that era back to life?

If you’re familiar with the 70s and 80s, that was a period where we had a lot of coups. The 80s were a time of serious paranoia, and Nigerians were tired of the military. However, the military didn’t mind.


There was violence, chaos but there was oil wealth. Corruption was getting entrenched in the national life, the get rich quick mentality was just taking off in the minds of young men, crime was on the increase as well, but the 80s were also a beautiful period. Nigeria was producing a lot of culture, via the films, literature and music industry. I’m taking all of that inspiration from that period for “A Green Fever.”


What are the rewards? These are the things I enjoy seeing and I don’t see enough of them. I want audiences to travel to these places. Creating something like that is rewarding for me.


A Green Fever

Back to your transition from Psychology into film making despite the fact that they’re both distinct fields. Can you say that your background in Psychology had led to a special kind of understanding about human behavior, which influenced your portrayal of characters and their motivation in “A Green Fever”?

I would like to think so. However, frankly, some of the greatest explorations of human behavior that I’ve seen are films made by regular filmmakers who just had an insight into human characters and psychology. Films like “Taxi” from Martin Scorsese or the “Joker” from Todd Haynes, “12 Angry Men” or “One Flew Over The Cuckoo” are all explorations of the human psyche from people who are not psychologists.


So, I wouldn’t say classically that my education in psychology gives me special advantages.  What it’s really done is to awaken me to the academic material. This is invaluable but, like I said earlier, I’m not going to over index it.



Do you mind sharing insights into the unique process behind crafting the inimitable style that involves a rare medical condition, a mysterious mansion and unexpected twists that happened in “A Green Fever”?

I think it’s something I’ve always been interested in. One of the films I did – a short film called “Amope” – wasn’t great technically, but it was about three people in the 50s discussing a coup. I also had a scene where it was just young Soyinka and Obasanjo having a conversation about a woman named Amope. So, I’ve always been interested in throwing characters together in environments and photographing the conflict. Sure, you also take inspiration from films like “Reservoir Dogs,” “The Lighthouse” or even more recently “The Outfit.”


To get back to the story, it’s just what we enjoy seeing and writing, myself and my writer: Issac Ayodeji.


A Green Fever

While actualizing the creative ideas behind the story, were there any challenges or breakthrough moments you’d like to share?

We came across several breakthrough moments and, of course, there was several challenges during principal photography where we had issues with some locations. We also had breakthrough moments in story development. The story was initially about a thief who breaks into a house and a sculpture land on his head. You can imagine how much we travelled to get to the final point.


I also remember when we decided to work on a coup as the backdrop of the story. We wanted to add another layer of paranoia; subsequently, that’s another breakthrough moment.


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