‘C.O.L.D’ Goes East to Spite the Economics of Production. Its Message Goes Beyond That
Bakia T. Thomas recently released a faith-based movie, C.O.L.D, which was set in Eastern Nigeria, Enugu precisely. He deviated from the norm by his choice, which is Lagos since most Nollywood blockbusters are recorded there.
“Every film has its setting which is a geographic location, and every Director has an eye for interpreting a script differently. If you give 10 directors the same budget and same script to go make a film, they will bring back different interpretations for the same script. Enugu was my perfect location for C. O. L. D, so my decision was to film in the East,” Thomas, who is a Doctor of Philosophy, points out to TNR.
Many film makers choose Lagos as the location for their shoot because numerous actors reside in the former federal capital of Nigeria, which remains the country’s business nerve center. As first choice location, film makers avoid incurring expenses associated with hotel accommodation and flight tickets. Thomas, however, says that isn’t a priority for him. “I consider a lot in making films; not just what suits the budget, but the consideration will have to be on the location that gives me what I need in terms of telling the story.”
The movie, which has some of Nigeria’s legendary actors in it – Pete Edochie, Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD), Kanayo O. Kanayo, Ireti Doyle, and Hilda Dokubo – showcases how inordinate power, mundane pride and unchecked materialism constantly implode Christian tenets even among those in the highest hierarch of Christendom. Thomas hopes that the movie “corrects the rot created by religion.” For this reason, he asserts, “This movie is for all created by God” [and not just for Christians].
Thomas acknowledges that there is a serious moral decay within the Nigerian society, and he excoriates the values that were dumped on the people during pre-colonial era and the era of slave trade. “The white man in trying to explore our mineral resources in Africa used religion as a tool to enslave the people to pave way for the theft of mineral resources. Since after slave trade was abolished, the ideas they sold were not questioned, so the people carried on with that enslaved mentality and that has greatly affected our people in the way we pursue religion and religious activities,” Thomas says. The need for a critical mindset is evident in how Thomas interrogates religious activities in the movie with the way church leaders are centered on and portrayed in the film. Their conduct exposes their flanks for satanic attack.
The C.O.L.D director was effusively bitter as he reacts to discriminatory practices aimed at him as some people questioned the activities of his NGO, Neighborhood Child Foundation because of their benevolence to Muslims. “I laugh because like I keep saying, I only see their humanity, I don’t see their religion.” Thus, through this movie, Thomas is adding his voice to the many other voices trying to unlock people held in captivity with religious shackles.
Audacious as the message of the film is, what could be considered its biggest challenge is the deployment of visual effects. In C.O.L.D, Thomas seems to question the massive expenditure that visual effects cost in the making of a movie in Nigeria. “There are studios in Nollywood that charge almost 10 million Naira for 30-seconds visual effects or even more. So, you can imagine what it took us to achieve almost 25minutes of visual effects in the Throne Room,” Thomas posits.
His insights on the cost of making a movie with copious realistic visual effects is a downer for film lovers who yearn for better quality films with visual effects. To be as real as Hollywood, Nollywood films need a massive injection of funds by investors because “film trick” is not very cheap to achieve. “The visual affects you see in the movie took us eight months to achieve giving the limited time we had at our disposal and the resources available,” Thomas reveals to TNR.
Tough as it may be for a Nigerian film maker, Thomas discountenances the huddles and focuses on the moral lessons his movies provide to the moviegoer: and not just the commercial value. This motivation is evident in Bakassi, a movie written, produced, and directed by him which portrays the struggle of a people as it “details the plight of the homeless indigenous people of the oil rich portion of Cross River State of Nigeria that was ceded to Cameroon following a transfer of sovereignty by Neighboring Nigeria after a judgment by the Int’l court of Justice.”