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The Director's Chair Issue #62 – Jan. 15, 2006 (More About African Cinema)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

January 15, 2006          Scene 7 – Take 1

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Web Site: http://www.actioncutprint.com


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1.  Introduction
2.  Film Directing Workshop – Vancouver, February, 2006
3.  Subscriber Question – Filmmaking in Thailand
4.  Feature Article – “More About African Cinema”
5.  Filmmaking Resource Center Blog
6.  Action-Cut-Print
7.  Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
8.  Share This Ezine
9.  Suggestions & Comments
10.  Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
11.  Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #62 of The Director’s Chair (Jan. 15, 2006)

I would like to wish a fabulous New Year to all my
subscribers from around the world: Canada, USA, Australia,
New Zealand, Switzerland, Israel, India, Russian Federation,
Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Spain, United Kingdom, South
Africa, Portugal, Sweden, Yugoslavia, Japan, Italy, Germany,
Brazil, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, Netherlands, France,
Hong Kong, Belgium, Ethiopia, Romania, Indonesia, Saudi
Arabia, Cuba, Nepal, Uruguay, Sri Lanka, Puerto Rico,
Zimbabwe, Uganda, Mexico, Nigeria.

NOTE: If your country isn’t represented here, please let me
know and I will add it to my list.

1) DUBAI DIRECTING WORKSHOP – I will be in Dubai from
January 20-22 presenting a film workshop called “The Art of
the Film Director.”

2) VANCOUVER DIRECTING WORKSHOP – I am also presenting a 3
day film directing workshop called “The Art and Craft of the
Director – How to Become a Successful Working Film Director”
in Vancouver, Canada on February 17,18,19, 2006.

To find out more about this directing workshop, click here:

3) FEATURE ARTICLE – This month’s Feature Article is unique
in that it is a response to the last month’s article on
African Cinema. Uba Atkins Onyenedum is a writer and
philosopher from Nigeria and his difficulties in Nigeria are
a universal lament that personifies ‘Truth’ to all

4) VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – If you would like to contribute
articles, tips, links of interest, industry news,
interviews, special event dates or other resources to The
Director’s Chair please email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com



Peter D. Marshall

2. DIRECTING WORKSHOP – Vancouver, February 2006

(NOTE – There are only 11 seats left for this workshop!)

To be a successful film or video director today, you need to
know what is expected of you when you begin pre-production,
when you step on the set, and when you are in the editing

And to accomplish this, you need to know certain film
directing techniques and secrets that will give you the
skills to have complete confidence in yourself and an
unshakable faith in your talent and ability.

On February 17,18,19 in Vancouver, Canada, I am presenting a
3 day film directing workshop called “The Art and Craft of
the Director – How to Become a Successful, Working Film
Director.” http://www.actioncutprint.com/AOTDxWorkshop1.html

This unique workshop focuses on what I believe to be the
film and TV director’s most important role – understanding
the story, determining the intent of a scene and identifying
the character objectives.

Once you know how to accomplish these tasks efficiently, you
then have the tools to communicate your vision, create your
visual style and get believable performances from actors.

To find out what you will learn at this directing workshop,
click here: http://www.actioncutprint.com/AOTDxWorkshop1.html

For three days, you will have the opportunity to meet
filmmakers from around the world; to share your own personal
experiences; and to discover powerful tips and techniques
that will help you become a successful film or TV director.

This workshop is available to only 24 directors. So far,
filmmakers from Canada, USA, Mexico and India have
confirmed. (As of today, there are only 11 seats left.)

I hope you’ll come join us for this unique event.

Peter D. Marshall

P.S. When this 3 day workshop is completed, you will see for
yourself how any director, even someone with very little
experience, can effectively block a scene and get a
believable performance from an actor!

SOME TESTIMONIALS – From previous workshop participants

“I have taken several directing courses and Peter’s course
by far, takes the gold star. This impressive, condensed
seminar saturates years of experience and learning and
presents it in an easy to use package. A definite
recommendation.” Trevor McWhinney – Vancouver, Canada

“Valuable insights into not only the mind set of the
director, but also the actor, the character and the value of
interpreting the story. I learned a lot about the director’s
strategy about how to connect with the actors to bring
vision to the story. Thanks Peter for sharing your
excitement about directing. Fun, Fun, Fun! Great film clips
– really felt as though we all grew from your constructive
criticism and allowing and encouraging us to go for it!”
Julie Slater – Vancouver, Canada

“Peter’s course in directing is a great insight into the
process of film direction from a practical perspective.
Combining theory with nuts and bolts, I got a good idea of
how to make the emotional content of a scene work – and how
to isolate the problems when it doesn’t. Great involvement
in the process.” Chris Baudat – New Westminster, Canada

“Very in-depth class with a great way to express the
director’s role. The role playing was a fantastic way for me
to learn to compose a scene, deal with actors and understand
what is needed for the story, Peter, you have obviously put
a lot of work into preparing and delivering this workshop. I
learned a lot. Thank you.”
Alexandra Pacheco – Burnaby, Canada

3. SUBSCRIBER QUESTION – Filmmaking in Thailand

One of my subscribers is working for a large film equipment
house in Bangkok, Thailand. She would like to contact anyone
who has worked on any film projects in Thailand to ask them
some questions about their experiences.

If you have worked in Thailand and would like to help her
out, just contact me at mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com and
I will forward your email address to her.

4. FEATURE ARTICLE – More About African Cinema

Introduction by John Gaskin.

There are different voices that express universal themes
from different perspectives. Uba Atkins Onyenedum, a writer
and philosopher from Nigeria, has blown me away with his
talent to impinge with a different voice. His difficulties
in Nigeria are a universal lament that personifies ‘Truth’
to all filmmakers. I couldn’t help but see his difficulties
with financiers in the same league as our financiers in
North America – see if you agree with me.

Recently I sent Mr. Uba Atlkins Onyenedum, an internet
acquaintance from Nigeria, an article issued by “The
Director’s Chair.” That article was written by Shirley Okwi,
University of Uganda, where she says that African films are
primarily didactic (dealing with moral issues). Uba’s
heartfelt response was so truthful, so meaningful to all of
us in the business of making films, that I felt it deserved
to be shown to others as inspiration. Some of his notes
about the financing of films is a universal lament – see if
you agree with me.

(Uba Onyenedum)

I find the “Overview article” written by Shirley Okwi on
AFRICAN CINEMA interesting and think that it elicits a
reaction such as the one I am offering hereunder. Africa is
rich with stories that, when shot into films, can linger in
the minds of their viewers for a long time. Good films are
like good music. They transcend all language barriers.
African cinema should be encouraged, viewed as moving, and
not simply dismissed as “static and naïve”.

As a Nigerian living in Nigeria and having experienced the
birth of the movie industry here and its concomitant “flared
up” (using the words of Shirley) growth, I honestly think
that there are issues and recent developments within Nigeria
and by extension Africa, which Shirley missed out on.

It is true that African films are didactic. The African
culture, which is generally simplistic (unsophisticated) is
largely responsible. Africa’s literacy level is sorrowfully
low compared to the rest of the world. However, many films
coming out from Nigeria are starting to tell the stories by
themselves, which is indicative that there is a hunger and a
sincere intention to get better. We are aware that a good
film should tell its story. I think that Nigeria is quietly
pioneering this transition.

Truly, Nigerian movies are made for home consumption but in
its short history, the emphasis has never been on
colonialism but rather on socio-cultural issues and
dilemmas. If writers write from their social and cultural
experiences and backgrounds, then the movies naturally
respond to the tastes of the people at whom the stories are

Very often, return on investment is what powers any business
and from that perspective, social issues of ritual murder of
fellow human beings in order to use their various parts to
make medicine for material wealth, and marital sex scandals,
are part of the big attractions in Nigeria today. These
social topics are not included in Shirley’s periscope. I
strongly submit that Nigeria and the rest of the
English-speaking West African coasts have left behind the
thematic covered by Shirley. Maybe, elsewhere in Africa,
they are still brooding over and dwelling in the past
(colonial and neo-colonial themes) and by so doing, they are
missing the privileges of today and the opportunities of
tomorrow. This is not so in Nigeria and Ghana and some other
English-speaking African countries. (I must admit that I am
totally ignorant about the film industry in the
French-speaking African countries).

May I state here that the average Nigerian viewer is
starting to yearn for films with better plot, settings and
good technical quality. The people would appreciate a good
story and even Nigerian screen writers are beginning to
develop the mind set for stories with a substantial measure
of intricate depth; but, the obstacles are mountainous in
nature and they include:

First, Nigerian Directors are neophytes, untrained and are
also extremely constrained by a serious lack of funds. The
technical aspect of filmmaking in Nigeria is, to say the
least, non existent. Imagine shooting a film with a single
16 mm camera. Little is known here about how to
professionally have a comprehensive film budget. Project
implementation is usually adhoc and this is not good for the

Second, today’s Nigerian movie industry is totally financed
and controlled by uneducated traders who, though are
strikingly rich, would never get into funding a film the
plot of which is way beyond their unschooled minds. For this
class, a plot must be pedestal or mundane. They don’t care
that a story is so neatly plotted that it can win an
international nomination. Their interest is to keep any
story local and within the understanding and easy
assimilation of the huge illiterate populace. They don’t
give a damn about technical quality.

A more pitiable ancillary to the Directors’ dilemma is that
a lot of times, these illiterate financiers usurp the
Director’s job. They decide the actors, sequence of
shootings and the duration. An entire shooting is usually
completed in seven days without much chance of “re-takes”.
It is their money and their distribution network. This is
part of the bane of our industry.

Third, if one adds those issues listed in the earlier part
of this write up to the two above, one can then better
understand why the industry in Nigeria is stuck at the “home

Nigerians are good copycats and therefore, have no problem
learning new tricks. “OSUFIA IN LONDON”, shot in London and
Nigeria, became an instant hit for not only Nigerians living
in Nigeria but even for those resident in the UK. It grossed
a lot of foreign exchange. There are a few more of these
home made movies with marginal artistic quality. Some of our
actors possess potentials that can be easily exploited. They
only need the right grooming. This is no exaggeration.

In Nigeria, the bone is to find investors who will go beyond
these illiterate financiers, and look into the future of
that which has the potential to be the country’s third major
foreign exchange earner. With a population of over one
hundred and twenty million, and a highly resourceful people,
the Nigerian film industry will grow and even win Oscar
(This country has a huge internal market just like America).

This will become real the very day there steps forward
investors that are willing to seriously consider good
stories and then go ahead to take the normal business risk.
Once the initiative is taken away from the present crop of
indigenous investors, the global industry will be surprised
at the number of beautiful scripts from this country. Then
we will no longer be a home consumption industry. Many
writers in Nigeria are already working on stories that go
beyond the stereotypes but they need a lot of “backing up”
and an assurance that attempts will be made to tackle those
inhibiting factors already afore-cited.

Uba Atkins Onyenedum is a Nigerian Writer and Philosopher.
Uba’s keen spirit and powerful voice brings his country of
120 Million people into focus. Like many creative people, he
has experienced life in its many ups and downs. In addition
to his writing, Uba has worked in various walks of life and
is currently part of an international office furniture
business. You can email Uba at mailto:wisemann2k1@yahoo.com
To read an excerpt of Uba’s voice, read “They Came” at


I have started a Filmmaking Resource Center blog at:

Check out the Blog for filmmaking tips, articles, movie news
and film reviews. Please use this resource center to ask
questions (and answer questions;) to read daily film and TV
news; and to submit your own filmmaking tips and stories.

Filmmaking Resource Center – http://www.bloglines.com/blog/PDM

6. ACTION-CUT-PRINT! –  A Website for Filmmakers

If you are a Film or TV Director; a working professional who
wants to Direct; a film student who wants to learn more
about Directing; or a “student of film” who just wants to
know more about Filmmaking from the pros, Action-Cut-Print!
is for you!

Take a moment now to visit http://www.actioncutprint.com
where you will find over 1500 Online Resources for
Filmmakers, Filmmaking Tips and Articles, a Film and TV
Bookstore and Film Directing Workshops.


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Peter D. Marshall
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