A few days ago, the teaser poster for the VIRI trailer was released online. The Cameroonian film industry is evolving everyday as more and more home movies are shot and produced. Some of which are obvious in the manner of story-telling and others, a true depiction of our culture, heritage and evolution. Nevertheless, since we are known for always bringing only the best, we have been presenting you with VIRI. VIRI, a movie by film producer Nkanya Nkwai that intends to be different in story-telling and in technicality has hijacked our blog and we will ensure you are fully informed.
VIRI is an exciting film to be. A a drama thriller, a fictional trilogy of lack of communication, love and impunity. A perfect combination of sadistic, humorous, glamorous and adventurous characters that go through the known and the unknown, through a life path of different sequences that will ultimately lead them to their destiny.
Today we bring you our chat with its award winning DOP…
MMPR: Name, profession, role in VIRI. We have also heard people call you Ancestor, why is that haha?
YEAC: I am called Yibain Emile-Aimé Chah aka Ancestor. I am a Visual Artist / Filmmaker. I did play the role of a Director of Photography (Cinematographer) in VIRI.
Haha! Ancestor??? … many say that it is because I reason more than my age or a mobile encyclopedia / Wikipedia, others say because I like to talk about things beyond or even go as far as to think that I am a mystic being and a recent few are attributing the name to the grey hair that is invading my head…To me, ‘Ancestor’ is just my artistic name. I had a group of friends; we were fond of addressing each other as “Ancestor” stemming from the adjectival expressions “My Grand or My Grand e Grand etc.” I liked the reactions I noticed each time I was called that name by the other ancestors (Ice Ndelle and his brother Leo), so I decided to sign all my Visual Art works with “Ancestor”.
MMPR: What motivates you as a Director of Photography?
YEAC: My passion for Visual Arts and Design, Wave, Optics and Motion Dynamics are the things that first of all turned me into a Director of Photography when I got introduced into film making sometime in early 2000 by Mr. Mfuh Ebenezer of KM Productions and Honoree Mbecha of blessed memory.
What motivates me as a D.O.P. is the passion to create aesthetically beautiful / artistic images which are self-expressive, the availability of the right logistics / personnel to play with and a handsome paycheque.
MMPR: How demanding is it being a D.O.P? Is it hugely dependent on creativity?
YEAC: The D.O.P. has many decisions to make before accepting a job offer, and a lot more to make after accepting the job before telling a film director he/she is ready to film.
1st –Read understand and appreciate the script and the story line in order to make critical suggestions about the film to determine the audience’s emotional reactions..
He/she chooses the kind of camera, lenses / lens stops, film format, camera speed, shutter angle, filters, the kind of lighting needed to create his shots based on an understanding with the D.O.P, the Production Designer and the Director.
2nd –Before the D.O.P tells the film director that he/she is ready to film, he/she must have made a decision on where to set the first lights, verify the foot candles, choose the T/F –stop at which to set the lens, sets the right exposure, filters and ISO.
3rd–Because he/she is accountable for the way the picture looks, he/she does everything possible to render the director’s vision. The job of a D.O.P ends actually in the editing booth, for he influences and makes sure the final look of the film or movie is achieved and the director is satisfied.
So, being a D.O.P. is highly dependent not only on creativity, but on extensive reading, practice and above all honesty. A camera and all the accessories in my hands is like a pencil and a blank sheet in my hands. The question is what can I do with them?… what if…? My answer can only be ‘It is possible’.
MMPR: What other projects have you worked on before and which has been most challenging?
YEAC: I have worked on quite a number of projects including on theatre as a stage designer and an actor, on music videos, TV spot Adverts, graphic designs and animations, TV programs, movies etc. either as an actor , art director/production designer, lighting director, sets and prop manager, costume designer, D.O.P, sound score and sound track design, editor writer, director and producer. Yes, there are so many things I do well, but my focus is on Visual Arts and Photography. I will like to list a few major projects I have worked on:
Peace Offering (Assistant Costume Designer); Mission to Damunza (Set Designer, Actor)
Leather Gangsters (Lighting Director , Prop Design); Retribution (Lighting, Art Director, Sound Track ); A Woman’s World (Lighting Director, 2nd Camera Operator)
The Way To The Cross (Producer, Director, D.O.P., Editor); For Bitter For Woes (D.O.P)
Ninah’s Dowry (D.O.P., Actor); Ndolo Seka Chopstick (Director , Production Designer, D.O.P., Editor)
Obsession (D.O.P / Art Director); Door Mat (D.O.P); Memoire Du Sans (D.O.P)
Belleh (D.O.P); VIRI (D.O.P); COBWEB(D.O.P); A Little Lie a Little Kill (D.O.P)
Villagoise (2nd Unit D.O.P)
MMPR: How did you come across VIRI? So far what has been your best memory of VIRI?
YEAC: I was first told the story by Melvis the person who conceived the story line, and then I had a completely different image of the movie. I thought of it as a short length till I finally saw a full length version with an interesting twist Mr. Nkanya and his team had developed. He approached me to come in as D.O.P.
MMPR: We have gathered that you worked on the award winning Ninah’s Dowry as D.O.P. what was it like being a part of this project?
YEAC: That is so far the best project I have worked on, because the director Victor Viyuoh knew exactly what he wanted; the challenges at hand, and his wonderful human resource management skills .The project was an intensive 3 months film making course for me, because we were on set for 3 months and I learned a great deal from Victor within the three months.
I was quite timid during the first few days of shooting because I joined the crew not expecting to be the D.O.P, but a lighting director. Somehow, Victor thought he should trust me as a D.O.P… to me it was a miraculous challenge he had thrown on me, knowing the calibre of person he is and his cinematic experience that was far beyond mine.
What is it like being a part of this project? – It is like a young bird that learned to fly, I won’t say I am proud to be part of it, I’ll rather say thank God for leading me into the project, because there was a thin line between me being part of the project and not being part of it, a very thin line.
MMPR: To put you on the spot a little, compare and contrast these two projects.
YEAC: VIRI is a very good project and has its own potentials that people should watch out for. Nkanya I will confess has the same kind of temperament with Victor. I enjoy working with those kind of people. He had two major things that worked against him, but which he finally overcame. The first one is time, and the second is the irrational behaviour of some of the actors else something greater than Ninah’s Dowry would have emerged. Nkanya in VIRI is a revelation, awards are waiting for him.
N.D. is the way it is because more time was taken, we were shooting a maximum of 3 scenes a day, we had time to do daily reviews , auto critics and even reshoot scenes not well shot and more to that, the cast and crew were very committed.
The common thing with both projects is that they are true representations of Cameroon’s rich and diverse cultures both urban and royal.
MMPR: The thing we have heard most about this movie is the location and the demanding languages the actors used. What is your take on that?
YEAC: This was an excellent move that would be of global interest to the global film market. It is a good step towards what we say in cinema language “approaching verisimilitude”. It was challenging. Originality is the best quality a piece of artwork can have, and it goes with reality or near reality (Verisimilitude). To me that is the essence of film making – using relevant equipment at our disposal to tell our indigenous stories, both in the urban and rural settings.
MMPR: Who is a D.O.P most likely to be handicapped without in a movie production?
YEAC: There are two key people: an experienced director and an experienced production designer.
The D.O.P has in his department which he/she runs lighting lirectors, camera operators and camera assistants. *He/she must not necessarily operate the camera in exercising his/her function as D.O.P.
MMPR: Why should people rush to watch this movie when it is out?
YEAC: Because it is not only teaching and entertaining, because you and I and anyone exposed to the movie will feel that he/she is part of the unfolding story. It touches all age groups , and socio-cultural subjects.
MMPR: Your last word?
YEAC: Courage brothers and sisters! There is more coming from the Cameroon Film Industry and there is hope. Stay focused and stay blessed. Signed – Ancestor.
And that concludes our little chat! Watch out for the official trailer coming soon on Youtube!
Follow the producer on Twitter: @NkanyaNkwai
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