“I LIVED INSIDE A BUS FOR MONTHS” – FILMMAKER, LANCELOT IMASUEN

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Popular Nollywood filmmaker, Lancelot Imasuen also has had his fair share of the bad times before emerging as one of Nollywood’s prolific producers cum directors.

Before leaving Benin 20 years ago for his sojourn in Lagos, he met a female practitioner, Racheal, who told him that his talent and potential were so real that he should not imprison himself in Edo State, where, at most, he would end up as a local champion. She told him that the best thing to do was to move to Lagos, the hotbed of entertainment and practically every other thing.

But Imasuen initially nearly cursed the day he ever met Rachael. The reason is that, at the beginning, things were so rough for him in Lagos that he decided to run back to Benin City. For once, in the first four months, he had no one to provide him shelter. According to the producer, the first reality that dawned on him was that his brother, who received him in Lagos, no longer had a place to live in.

“I ended up in a bus,” he notes. “That was on 172, Old Ojo Road. My brother first took me into a church. We were there till night. After the service ended, I was expecting him to take me to his house. He took me to his bus whose engine had been knocked. He said, ‘Na inside we go stay’.

That was how he started hustling, looking for drama productions and broadcasting houses he could work with. It was the search that led to his encounter with the likes of Peter Igho, Danladi Bako, Cordelia Eke, Chris Obiaku and Bisi Olatilo, among other showbiz personalities. That was how he ended up working at different times at the Nigerian Television Authority and later as a radio presenter. Even as at that time, Imausuen was still living inside the bus.

When things became too rough for him, however, he chose to throw in the towel by returning to Benin City. Unfortunately, the day he was to make the journey, a pickpocket made away with the sum of N600 that a relative gave him. It meant that he either swam or sank in the cold-and-hot water of Lagos. Of course, the tragedy of losing the money eventually became a blessing in disguise as Imasuen has risen to the top of the film industry in Nigeria.

The man, whose latest film, Invasion 1860, is still premiering across the globe, is eager to tell his own story as he is set to mark his 20 years on the entertainment scene. The graduate of Theatre Arts from the University of Port Harcourt says, all together, he has spent 32 years in the industry, having spent the earlier part in Benin City. But he regards the last 20 years as the most significant as they also coincided with the rise of Nollywood.

He recalls how he produced his numerous films that include Adesuwa and Ishakaba. According to him, he is happy to have contributed greatly to the development of the sector. He says he is particularly touched by the number of artistes that have passed through his outfit.

To mark the anniversary, Imasuen has lined up a number of projects and programmes. There is the Project 101 through which he intende to raise what he calls 101 brand new artistes.

“We need to build new actors because we don’t find such any more. When we did not have cranes, red star cameras and all of that, what endeared people to this business was good acting. In this industry, you should first seek the kingdom of good acting and all other things will follow. But nowadays, people are seeking fame from day one. What we have now are selfie and red carpet actors who post all kinds of materials about them on Instagram, Facebook and all other platforms. How can you celebrate yourself and say you are a celebrity? It is only when you have proved your worth and people celebrate you that you can become a celebrity,” Imasuen says.

He wants to organise workshops and renovate a hall at his alma mater, Eghosa Grammar School, Benin City, where, he says, the journey began in the institution’s dramatic club. Besides, the producer is planning a night of performances, a book of compilations of writings about his works and the unveiling of a TV series.

Source: The Punch

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