Oyeniran speaks to Pulse Nigeria about his new movie, the experience of bringing it to his country of birth and his other projects.
Oyeniran who is popular for his role in British drama Kidulthood" and "Adulthood" had his film screen in Nigeria for the first time at the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF).
The actor had his big break when he played the character 'Moony' in "Kidulthood" in 2006. He went on to star in the sequel "Adulthood" two years later.
In 2013, Oyeniran decided to wear multiple hats and ventured into writing, directing and producing on his first feature film "It's A Lot".
The actor speaks to Pulse Nigeria about his new movie, the experience of bringing it to his country of birth and his other projects.
What was it like having your film "The Intent" screen at AFRIFF?
It was an absolute honour to have my film screened at AFRIFF. It felt great to bring THE INTENT, which is a film that I have invested a lot of time and money in, back home to Lagos. I was born in Lagos so for me being able to share my work at home is a real joy. It felt like a homecoming.
What was it like watching this film in Nigeria?
It was great to watch the film with a different audience and gauge their reaction to it. It meant so much to me. The sole reason of my trip was to witness the screening of my second film, which I co-wrote, co-directed, produced and acted in play out at home.
What's the core message of "The Intent"?
THE INTENT is an action thriller. It's the story of an undercover police officer sent to infiltrate a gang of robbers by the police. He develops a bond with the robbers and is torn between his relationship with his newfound friends and his obligation to the police. It explores themes of deception, religion, the vanity of criminality and much more.
Why is this story important?
The story is important because it shows that crime doesn't pay, there's always a comeuppance. Also it explores how ill-gotten money can drive a wedge between relationships. It also shows the dangers of being a police officer.
What role do you play in the film?
I play the role of Mitch. He is so shocked by the actions of his friends that he retreats into an almost suicidal state before finding direction with God and his family. His daughter is responsible for getting him out of the state of worthlessness he feels after committing his first crime.
What do the projects you work on say about the world we live in?
My first film IT'S A LOT is about a middle class Black British boy who hates his privilege and attempts to trade it for being "cool". The film is a statement about the portrayal of Black British people because it showed a wealthy black family and the trappings that comes with that. This had never been done on British screens before.
THE INTENT is the opposite. It explores the world of crime and how it damages society and the people involved.
I am developing other films that will focus on different elements of society. Ideally, I want to make films that challenge the way we look at the world. I feel I haven't quite achieved that yet but I'm getting there.
What was it like starring in "Kidulthood and "Adulthood"?
These films put me on the map! I love them! I have travelled the world and met people that have seen the films. I was in New York last September and a girl was literally going crazy because she was such a fan of these films. I was in a place called Banff, near Calgary in Canada in October this year and got the same reaction. The majority of the cast and crew are still very dear to me.
What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
For me a great film is the below:
1. Great story.
2. Great acting.
3. Great technical execution.
What platform do you love more TV, film or stage? And why?
I love film because of the scale of it. I love TV because it allows you to get to the heart of a story and truly explore every element of it. I love stage because I have learnt the most as an actor on stage and it is physically demanding. I can't pick my favourite but I watch films more than I do anything else.
Growing up overseas, how much of the Nigerian culture were you exposed to?
I think music is the element that we are most exposed to. When we were young (me and my sister), my mum would take us to parties and we'd listen to Yinka Ayefele, Sunny Ade, and more.
I love Shina Peters as well - from when I lived in Nigeria - I left when I was 10. My sister and I came home in 2006 and since then we've followed the Afrobeats movement and stay up to date with the music.
I have 2 boys (5 and 3), who do not speak much Yoruba but if they start singing you an Olamide, Burna Boy or Wizkid song, you'd be shocked. At the moment, their favourite songs are: Wizkid and Olamide - 'Confam ni' and Tekno - 'Pana'. My older son loves Wizkid and has done for most of his life! This is a child that has spent less that two weeks in Nigeria in his whole life. So to answer your question, we are most exposed to music and to a lesser extent films.