Kemi Adetiba successfully crafted a movie about a typical Nigerian wedding - and ended up making the best comedy movie of 2016.
After years of directing great music videos, the New York Film Academy alumna, who is popularly known as “Bruce Lee of Visuals," made her debut with the star-studded romantic comedy, "The Wedding Party."
"The Wedding Party" is a typical Nigerian wedding party; the crowd, the colourful asoebi, the music, the humour, the fun and the stress.
It tells the story of Dunni Coker, a 24-year-old art gallery owner and only daughter of her parents about to marry the love of her life, IT entrepreneur Dozie. The couple took a vow of chastity and is looking forward to a ground-breaking first night together as a married couple.
"The Wedding Party" is a star-studded comedy movie. It stars at least one of your favourite Nollywood actor. It stars talented Nigerian actors. It stars over 300 cast. It stars veterans - It is just simply star-studded.
Despite its cast and the fact that everything happens in a day, Adetiba makes an outstanding debut, directing a movie that can be called 'the best comedy movie of the year 2016.'
"You see the movie, there were loads of people in there and everything happens in one day. So I had to deal with everyone every day - with the cast, crew, extras. I think we were pushing towards 300 and more," the filmmaker said during a press screening.
"And then we had just two weeks. We had 14 days and no retakes, everything was done right there. Was it easy? Absolutely not. But I will never ever give up the experience for anything," adds Adetiba.
The romantic comedy stars Adesua Etomi as Dunni Coker, Banky W as Dozie, Alibaba and Sola Sobowale as Dunni’s parents, and Ireti Doyle and Richard Mofe-Damijo as Dozie’s parents.
"The Wedding Party" also stars Zainab Balogun, Enyinna Nwigwe, Frank Donga, Saka, AY, Ikechukwu, Beverly Naya, Emma OhMaGod, Lepacious Bose amongst others.
In 2012, Desmond Elliot made a star-studded movie, in 2016, Greg Odutayo kicked off 2016 with a star-studded movie. The above-mentioned movies feature so many veterans and talented actors, yet, in a bid to make everyone important, these movies dragged longer than they should, with the former losing its direction and beauty.
The most beautiful thing about Adebita's feature film debut is the fact that it is entertaining, fast-paced, and every character is important. None of the actors seemed like they were making cameo appearances. Nobody seemed like a last minute choice. Nobody seemed like they were struggling to fit in. Everyone was perfect and comfortable.
It's a fresh story and a well-executed plot, and for a Nigerian comedy movie, "The Wedding Party" is devoid of slapstick, exaggerated humour. The characters and their actions are believable - you have met one of them at one point of your wedding outings.
On working with such cast, Adetiba said, "They made it so easy for me. I know it sounds cliche, but they made it super easy for me. I'm hoping it's because they trusted me and I made myself trustable. They knew it was my first feature film. I mean, shooting anything in Nigeria is not the easiest thing. One of the things I wanted to do with this movie was include everyone. Everyone had their script, but I would ask, "is this believable for this character? "Is this something this character would say?" "Should we change this?"
Another great thing about "The Wedding Party" is its music. The movie features a compilation of amazing Nigerian songs. On their choice of music, Adetiba says, "The music was intentional. We wanted it to be like one of those old American comedy movies where you know, the movie would come out, and then the soundtrack would even do better than the movie itself.
"We are Nigerians, we have an amazing crazy catalogue of good music. We wanted to showcase African music. We were trying to export our type of music and lifestyle," she added.
Adetiba is a popular music director who has directed works including Waje's "Onye," Olamide's "Sitting on the Throne," Niyola's "Toh Bad," Omawunmi's "Today na Today," among others.
Speaking at the press screening of "The Wedding Party," the filmmaker revealed that it wasn't difficult transitioning from music videos to a feature film.
"Anyone that's familiar with my work would know that I try to tell a lot of stories in my music videos. Even if they are like 3 minutes, 4 minutes. So, there wasn't really much of a transitioning. What I had to work on was stamina," Adetiba said.
A mix of relatble storytelling, embedded humour, familiar characters, familiar events, Kemi Adetiba has made a distinct comedy movie.
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"It wasn't the easiest movie to shoot. I always say that it feels like they dropped me in the middle of the ocean and it's the same distance to the shore as it is to the next destination, and I just wanted to go home so many times," Adetiba starts with a smile. "But, if it's the same distance from the shore to the next destination, I might as well just keep going," she adds.
A collaboration between EbonyLife Films, FilmOne Distribution, Koga Studios and Inkblot Productions, the movie is written by playwright, Tosin Otudeko, "The Wedding Party" will debut in cinemas nationwide on December 16, 2016.