The screen adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half Of A Yellow Sun directed by Biyi Bandele starring Dominic Cooper, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Zack Orji and Genevive Nnaji is one that would have people talking for a while till its released and even afterwards.
The movie which is set for a 2013 release and currently in post-production phase follows Olanna (Newton) and Kainene (Rose), glamorous twins from a wealthy Nigerian family. Returning to a privileged city life in newly independent 1960s Nigeria after their expensive English education, Olanna shocks her family by going to live with her lover in the dusty university town of Nsukka, and Kainene turns out to be a successful businesswoman when she takes over the family interests — and surprises herself when she falls in love with Richard (Mawle), an English writer
In this interview with The Guardian, producer of the movie Andrea Calderwood talks about shooting the movie in Calabar, the cast and more.
You have been here for five weeks now shooting a new film, Half of A Yellow Sun, what is the budget size?
I guess this is the biggest movie ever in Nigeria’s film industry. It is an international co-production between Nigeria and United Kingdom. It has a mixture of Nigerian and International actresses and crew.
Why Calabar for this kind of big movie when we have other cities like Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Ibadan?
It was four years ago when B. Bandele, the Director, heard there was a studio in Calabar and he came to look at the studio and was convinced that Calabar is the city you can film the whole Half Of A Yellow Sun. Besides, it a well-organized and preserved city to work in and two years later the production designer came back and discovered that they can actually represent the whole of Nigeria in one city. We are using Calabar to represent Lagos in the 1960s; Kano and different parts of Eastern Nigeria, including Aba, Nsukka, Orlu, Aba. So, it has advantage of wide range of different architecture and different looks.
We are using Creek town in Calabar to represent all parts of Nigeria. But what makes it completely unique is the studio as in other parts of the world where we can build the sets and other props with its fantastic location for the filming.
Furthermore, the support of his Excellency, Governor Liyel Imoke, and Cross River State Government made it possible for us to be here. When we came here, we met with the governor and told him we could not make the film if he did not support us.
You see, a film is a complicated enterprise and here we are screening a whole range of about 200 people from Calabar, Lagos, South Africa and UK. To work on such a big movie, you need a lot of structures and designers. Again, the local government has been very supportive because anytime you need them they are there to assist. So, Calabar city, the studio and the government made it actually possible for us to come down here for the filming.
How would you categorize the movie, Hollywood or Nollywood type?
It is neither of it. Rather it is an international co-production that mainstreams international and home-based stars. I have produced a number of films in different parts of Africa. So, I can tell you that this one’s a different type altogether because it has international stars from UK; the writer and the Director, B. Bandele, are Nigerians and that makes it interesting.
This one is all about Nigerians participating in telling their own story in a unique perspective. It is a love story of two young people falling in love and what happened to them in the cause of their romances.
But what gave the story the depth is the context of the civil war in which families were torn apart; a country trying to be divided and some still trying to stay together in the midst of the war. So, we can only tell that story in Nigeria. It is an international film and we want to an touch international audience. We want to tell a universal story to the universe using a particular incident and locale.
What is the percentage participation by Nigerians?
I think it is about 70 per cent Nigerian. In casting, majority are Nigerian, the crew is about 50-50.
Could you tell us some of the historical sites you are using?
We have filmed at Tinapa studio, Government Lodge, Creek Town, Boco Street in Calabar South, various government edifices, including Okoi Arikpo House, the secretariat and a wide range of buildings in Calabar and Creek town
Source: The Guardian