“JBlaze”: The Man Behind the Camera for ‘The Stand Up: The Movie’
There are only two months left till the year officially wraps up and, so far, we have seen a lot of Nollywood films hit the big screen and small screen. In all their glory, they have had people talking all over social media and have driven hard-hitting conversations on topics such as social change, politics, and culture.
The month of October is packed with an interesting lineup of films for your viewing pleasure, but the one film you should keep an eye on is: The Stand Up: The Movie. It is a Nigerian comedy produced by Peekaboo Productions and FilmOne Entertainment. It is directed by Jide ‘JBlaze’ Oyegbile and it is packed with several A-listers like Richard ‘RMD’ Mofe-Damijo, Richard ‘AY’ Ayodeji Makun, and Babajide Kosoko. It is scheduled for a cinematic release on October 14.
In a conversation with TNR, JBlaze talks us through the making of the film, behind-the-scenes experiences, and what he expects fans to get out of their viewing experience this fall. JBlaze is a familiar face in the film industry; along with directing at least 30 Nollywood films, he has acted in Kemi Adetiba’s political thriller King of Boys: The Return of the King, the African Magic original comedy series My Flatmates, and the period drama Riona.
Can you give us a brief preview of what your new film “The Stand Up: The Movie” is about?
The film is about an electrician that gets entangled in his father’s mess. His father owes a crime boss money, and he (the electrician) has to come up with a means of payment. If he doesn’t, his sister would be married off to that crime boss. To repay his father’s debt, he ventures to Lagos and uses his knack for comedy to his advantage. The plot is more complicated but this is a general summary.
Why did you decide to go with that title? What was the inspiration behind it?
There are two reasons. The first is the main character (the electrician) uses stand-up comedy to come out of situations. Second, the main character and the other characters in the film stand up to various obstacles that life throws at them. If it wasn’t for the incident with his sister, the main character would never have realized that comedy was his calling.
Your film is packed with Nollywood heavyweights like AY, RMD, and the legendary Babajide Kosoko. How did you get them on board for this project?
To get them on board, we had to have them believe in the story. I worked with Darlington Abuda, the exceptional producer of this film and he has a good relationship with these actors. He was able to have a fruitful conversation with them, hence why they are on this project.
What was the most challenging part of making this film?
Everything was well planned so our challenges would be minimal. However, in every production, the biggest challenge is money. No matter how much money you have, you will always feel like you need more because if you have more, you would do more. There were also other natural challenges like rain but that was something we couldn’t control.
Was there an interesting anecdote (incident) from filming that you recall and would like to share with us?
Speaking of rain, we shot in Warri, and I was told that the rains there are long. We were shooting a scene with RMD and Mr. Paul (the actor that plays the main character) and it began to rain. Surprisingly, it worked for the film, the scene, and the actors. We had to ask if they were comfortable shooting in such weather conditions and I recall RMD saying, “Let’s go, let’s go. We can shoot.” You may think that being the A-lister that he is, he wouldn’t want to shoot in the rain, but he did even though it wasn’t part of the script. There was good energy and vibes and I have to admit that God provided the rain at the right time.
How do you juggle being a director and an actor at the same time?
This is my official cinematic debut as a director. I had a film in cinema before, but it was more of rescue directing. I came on board to complete a project for a colleague of mine. On how I juggle the two roles of actor and director, well, when I’m called to act, I act. When I’m called to direct, I direct. It really depends on my schedule; if I’m not booked that day, then I do whatever role I’m assigned. The monetary factor is also important. If the money being paid is fantastic, then it works for me.
I have done a lot of films where I have to act and direct at the same time. The most important factor is having the right team- cinematographer, assistant director, and all that have to be good at what they do. Also, I grew up watching Mount Zion films. I studied them and saw how Mike Bamiloye wore the hats of lead actor, director, and producer. I felt like that was the standard and I brought myself up in that way.
I don’t act and direct in all my films. Sometimes, I don’t pick a role because I feel it may be too challenging for me so I focus solely on directing. Other times, I would push myself to deliver on a role no matter how challenging it is.
Can you tease us on your next project? What are you working on at the moment?
I just made a film that I wrote, acted, directed, produced and executive produced. It is a very sensitive film that I’m not sure would be accepted by the Nollywood fanbase. NBC may not necessarily approve of it because of the extent of foul language and nudity. Nonetheless, it is very special, and I can’t wait for people to see it. The title is “Damage Done.” There are other films in the works, but I can’t speak about them due to contractual obligations. For acting, I’m on the set of the film “On the Edge” and I play the character Razor.
Is there any other thing you would like to share with us at TNR?
Nollywood is here and we have to embrace it. It is our time to shine, and we need to make it count. As filmmakers, we need to give audiences quality, not mediocre material.
What would you want audiences going to see the film in October to get out of it?
If you are going to watch “The Stand Up: The Movie” in cinemas, be prepared to have a good laugh. Nigeria is stressful enough as it is and we all need a good stress reliever. It’s a film you should see with your family so go out there, on October 14, and prepare to have your mind blown.
The film introduces you to actors you may not have heard of. Mr Paul, for example, is a new actor in the industry. Interestingly, most of the jokes in the film were improvised, not written, and I’m really proud of how everything turned out.
I want to say thank you to Darlington Abuda, FilmOne, and my supervising director, Moses Inwang for making sure that this film is as good as it is. I’m excited for people to see it.
Watch the trailer for “The Stand Up: The Movie” here.