We (Tade Ogidan, Tunji Bamishigbin, Jonathan Gbemuotor, Andy Akamitang, Pat Nebo, Tunji Akingbade, Sola Osofisan, Ebun Ajayi, Dapo Adegboyega, Bimbo Manuel, Ayo Asagba, Lanre Balogun, Bayo Ogori) were young and just left NTA projects, to embark on a massive production that was way above our means at the time.
HOSTAGES was Ambitious, Grand.
We were a bunch of broke and struggling young folks who got carried away by the powerful story of the project.
Our iconic cast included Uncle Yomi Obileye, Aunty Bukky Ajayi, Uncle Layi Ashadele, Uncle JAB Adu.
The others include RMD, Tunji Olugbodi, Antar Laniyan, Francis Onwochei, Sunday Afolabi, Ebele Okaro, Ofuafo Otomewo, Tope Idowu, Mohammed Danjuma, Tunji Sotimirin, Ayo Thomas, Ebis Ogunoyinbo, Detty Dusty, Sam Arogundade, and a host of others, who were as young as we were. The younger ones were used to my passion for ambitious projects when I worked at NTA.
These older icons were shocked at the scale of what we were embarking on at the time. No Nollywood or such supporting structure at that time. No GSM phones. We only filmed (on the grand sets that we constructed in the big flat I just moved into and several other locations in and out of Lagos) when we had money to pay stipends, buy U-matic tapes, make provision for food and buy petrol for my dad’s blue Peugeot 504 (that we had hijacked from him at the time). Ah, we overlaboured that vehicle. We ferried crew and heavy equipment (including dolly and tracks) in that car. 4 people including the driver would sit in front. You can imagine what the back seat will look like.
As we don’t earn salaries from NTA anymore, I was dependent on the productions of small promos Tony Ogunlana and Uncle Ted Mukoro ensured that I got at LINTAS (an ad agency at the time). Then, from time to time, friends came in to support financially and in kind; Akin Olasemo and his lovely wife and kids, Oga Chris Mummy Ebie, Funmi Adeshoga and sisters, Yom Yem, Folake Salami, Sis. Rem, Funke Olagundoye, Mr. Akin Opedu, Funmi Akindele and my wonderful colleagues at NTA, Linda Opara, Uncle Wale Fanu, Daddy and Mummy Ogidan, Kole Odutola, Bukie Adetula, Tunji and Bola Bamishigbin, etc.
Now, this is the kind of production that we went to appeal to a successful star, Uncle Yomi Obileye, to come and be part of. He lived in Ibadan. However, hearing the story and seeing how ambitious we were, he was delighted to be of encouragement to these young lads.
So, when it was his turn to be on set, we will drive all the way to Ibadan to inform him. There were no GSM phones. We will then start to panic what quality of hotel to house this great man from out of town. When he arrived Lagos, and we were twisting fingers about not being able to afford to house him in a 5-star hotel, he said “ki lo nse yin. Nibo le ti fe ri owo hotel? Just show me a bed in this house and we will all crash here.” Ah! This my 3-bedroom flat in Okota, where over 13 young men, working on this project, sleep!
Uncle Yomi brought fun to set. He ensured we were never on our toes just to please him. He would say “This project and the joy of achieving it and blowing the minds of our viewers is all you should focus on.”
There was a time he arrived Lagos; drove himself all the way from Ibadan ahead of shoot time. The Police (who had promised to give us helicopters, police paraphernalia, etc, as they were slated to feature in the mini drama special), cancelled at the last minute. We were heart-broken and concerned that Uncle Yomi’s schedule may not fit into ours anymore. We had pulled in cast (who had eventually migrated to Badagry and Anambra state). How do we break this news to all these people? The coordinating team had to travel to these places to inform these cast of the schedule ahead of shoot. Uncle Yomi took it well. He even joked “E gbe production food jade ojare and let’s celebrate the hit that Hostages will become ahead of its release.” This man endeared himself into our hearts. He was patient with us all through the filming of the HOSTAGES project, which was spread over one year plus. The grand locations and the Police bits just were not available on time.
Uncle Yomi became family to us. Whenever he visited Lagos after the shoot, he would check on us and the progress on the project, until High Chief Dr. Raymond Dokpesi gave the project it’s final boost for release.
Theirs was a generation that didn’t worship money. What was important to them, is to add value to their society via their craft.
Uncle Yomi would be missed. An Icon has gone home to rest. We are full of accolades for this great man.
May his beautiful soul find peace.