Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stephanie Okereke on the Making of "Through the Glass" Film

Whether in Nollywood or Hollywood, it is rare to find women, especially Black/African women, in executive film roles such as producers and directors. Nollywood A-list Actress Stephanie Okereke bucks the trend with the debut of her first film called "Through the Glass," in which she wrote, produced and directed. "Through the Glass" is about phobias we have in entering committed relationships. It also cuts to the core by addressing some of the reasons we have such phobias, for example, childhood pain. Okereke recently released a trailer of "Through the Glass" and the response has been lots of excitement and buzz! Amidst all the excitement, Ladybrille, official media sponsor of the film at the upcoming premiere in LA, caught up with the A-list actress for an exclusive all access granted on the making of "Through the Glass." http://www.throughtheglassmovie.com/

LADYBRILLE.com: Stephanie, how are you?
Stephanie: I am fine!

LADYBRILLE.com: There has been a lot of excitement lately since your release of "Through the Glass" trailer and website on September 18th, 2008. What's your reaction to the buzz?
Stephanie: I am very excited and overwhelmed! I was a bit nervous but people’s reactions made me realize that I was not crazy in [attempting to make the movie] in the first place.

LADYBRILLE.com: Making a film is so difficult, especially in Hollywood. In fact, lots of times, Blacks/African filmmakers in Hollywood give up. You just got here! What made you decide to write, produce and direct a movie?
Stephanie: I wanted to do something different and I have been writing from when I was little. [I believe] nothing is too difficult. It depends on how much you want it. I was at a stage in my career that I needed to do something unexpected to get to the next level.

LADYBRILLE.com: It is unexpected quite alright. I am still processing your bold move. Were you concerned about "what sells?" in Hollywood in making your movie?
Stephanie: Not exactly. I was just trying to express myself. But, I knew for sure that a good story and performance will always make a movie sell.

LADYBRILLE.com: Why the film "Through the Glass"? What was your vision?
Stephanie: I have been through difficult times in my life. I just wanted to let people know that you can go through difficult situations and still come out of it gracefully without losing yourself or your selfworth. I guess I was going “through the glass” myself and I just came with a story not in anyway related to me but about someone who finds himself in a situation he thought he will never be; and that journey changes his life and opens his eyes to the things that matters most to him.

LADYBRILLE.com: What was the development process for you?
Stephanie: The actual thought of it, doing it and seeing it come to light.

LADYBRILLE.com: One of the questions your fans want to know is how to categorize "Through the Glass?" Is it Indie? Nollywood? American?
Stephanie: I heard people trying to figure out if it is a Nollywood and Hollywood film. Why the argument? It’s a collaborative work that can sell in both markets. Myself as a Nollywood face gives it all the attributes of a Nollywood film. What we are looking for are various ways to reach a broader audience and create room to do collaborative work with other film industries be it Bollywood or Hollywood. Bollywood got more international raves because of their collaborative work with Hollywood.

Must we continue to make films for just ourselves or do we want other people to know about our culture and way of life? Hollywood does it all the time so must Nollywood make movies only for Nollywood? Then why do we watch American Movies and why is Hollywood a yardstick for measuring the degree of success in the film industry? Is it not the height to attain? In terms of production, yes you can say it is an independent movie. I made this movie to have a broader audience and also to tastefully present the Nigerian as person/persons with class and culture. Not one in a foreign land who engages in various negative activities as we are [of late] often stereotyped to be.

LADYBRILLE.com: The trailer opens to a song I think most Africans, especially Nigerians, will know and that is rapper Ikechukwu's "Wind am Well." [Ikechukwu is an artist with the label Storm Records in Nigeria and World Famous Academy]. What were you going for with your music selections?
Stephanie: Africa and Nigeria’s music industry, specifically, has done tremendously well and I am really proud of our entire Nigerian artists. So I thought of incorporating the Nigerian music with the film to give it a Nigerian favor and also it helps them as artists to have their music as a score in a movie. Ikechukwu’s song goes with the theme of the movie that is why I chose it. I also used [rapper] Rugged man and Chioma Okereke’s [upcoming musician, very talented] songs. They are all very talented artists.

LADYBRILLE.com: In the trailer, there is a scene where you seem to be introducing to the lead male character, your native food, "pounded yam and egusi." What was going through your mind in writing that scene and why did you feel the need to add that scene?
Stephanie: It was an opportunity to showcase one of our major delicacies to the world. People here always ask me what kind of food we eat, so I felt it was necessary to let them know that there is a Nigerian food called “Egusi and Pounded yam."

LADYBRILLE.com: [laughs] The food looked delicious, did you make it?
Stephanie: [Laughs] Yes I did, in the middle of the night. It wasn’t funny but it tasted good. At the end of the day, Jeffery [Garrett] in the movie actually finished it. He liked it a lot, not only in the movie.

LADYBRILLE.com: [laughs] How spicy was it? I hope he doesn't die in the movie. [laughs]
Stephanie: [Laughs] Jeffery [Garrett] was amazing. He actually told me he wouldn’t taste the food until I say action in order to give a true reaction, which he did. He survived the spicy side. He loved it. I had to beg him not to finish the food during the shoot. [Switching to pidgin] But I no make am too spicy before oyibo go die for my set. [laughs] {translates to, but I did not make it too spicy so the white man does not die on my set}.

LADYBRILLE.com: When producing an independent film, lots of producers/filmmakers in Hollywood with limited budgets think they can't go too far. So, they typically ask their friends and family members to be in their movies. You did a casting call for all of these characters. How did you manage to convince mostly non-African Hollywood actors, with a limited budget, to be a part of the movie of an African Actress who just got to Hollywood?
Stephanie: Pre-production is key when setting out to shoot a movie. Also, it was a privilege for them to work with a famous African actress and I was happy to share my experiences with them, now they all want to come to Nigeria!

LADYBRILLE.com: Did you face any challenges directing "Through the Glass?"
Stephanie: Oh yes! Thinking of doing it was enough challenge. I was [so] humbled by the experience because you are thinking about everything, making sure that everything goes according to plan. The fact that I was producing didn’t make it any easier. I was hoping not to go over budget and if I do, how to resolve it, my next shot, lots of things to worry about, unlike when you’re just acting. . .

LADYBRILLE.com: Sound and lighting is a big thing, which makes a lot of movies, especially those attempted by Nollywood directors /producers lose credibility. The sound, lighting and overall quality looks good. How did you manage to get over the challenge of sound and lighting?
Stephanie: It was just a sheer determination to do the best I can making sure that I at least set a certain kind of standard, which if I get to do another film, it would be so much better than my first.

LADYBRILLE.com: Give us an idea of your planned distribution mode for "Through the Glass," especially in the Western markets? Stephanie: I have a lot of distribution offers from Asia, America, Nigeria and Europe. I am in talks with them trying to decide what works best.

LADYBRILLE.com: What were your expectations going into producing and directing "Through the Glass" and what was the actual reality?
Stephanie: I just hoped it will get to be something different and that people would love it and am happy it is looking like it will turn out that way.

LADYBRILLE.com: Sometimes, we learn more from our mistakes than if we get it perfectly the first time. Give us some screw up moments in making “Through the Glass."
Stephanie: I first casted fourteen months twins for the baby role because I was finding it difficult to get a baby that was one or two months old. So, every time I [said] “Action!” the baby [would] crawl out of my shots or start playing with the camera. It was pretty frustrating. I knew I had to find another baby before I loose my mind then Cheyenne came along . . . Another moment was trying to cast a guy that couldn’t get his lines after some many takes. I had to recast. [There were] so many other [moments]. [laughs]

LADYBRILLE.COM: What's the message of your movie?
Stephanie: it’s about love and acceptance, commitment and being responsible. It is also about parents’ relationships with their children and the need to always give a word of encouragement to your child; because it goes a long way to develop their psychological state.

LADYBRILLE.com: Too many times in a male dominated industry, women really want to be so different to play or hang with the fellas. But, how do women, you for example, embrace your femininity, knowing that you are not necessarily trying to prove anything, yet still make waves, the way it is looking like you are with "Through the Glass?"
Stephanie: I just do what I know how to do. Being fulfilled for myself is all that matters. I think a lot of women should take themselves more seriously and do things that make them happy not always trying to prove something to [men]. Knowing your worth determines how far you can go, be it a man or a woman.

Through the Glass" premieres at the Pacific Design Center on Melrose Avenue on October 18th, 2008. It is followed by a red carpet VIP party in Beverly Hills. For more information and to purchase ticktes, visit http://www.throughtheglassmovie.com/.







10 comments:

THE REAL ME! said...

VERY NICE !
i really think they still need a lil more step up in styling and make up but
ITS A BIG STEP UP FOR NOLLYWOOD

!!Estella!! said...

Wow!

U gone done it again! 10thumbs up LadyB.

I was tired of reading about this movie all over the place, now Stephanie has spoken, fine! People can stop making assumptions and just clap for her for setting the bar a bit higher for Nollywood, Gollywood and all the African 'woods'!

These words floored me:
LADYBRILLE.com: Why the film "Through the Glass"? What was your vision? Stephanie: I have been through difficult times in my life. I just wanted to let people know that you can go through difficult situations and still come out of it gracefully without losing yourself or your selfworth.....


U go Steph! Keep ya head high!

I learnt a long time ago that what doesnt kill us, would make us STRONGER and BETTER!

Emilia said...

That´s really inspirational to read about this LB Nice article cant wait for the release, will definitely go for it... I´m excited and inspired by this Very nice

wienna said...

LadyBrille, thanks for the interview. I love me some Stephanie when it comes to her interviews. She's definitely grown and matured since her divorce/accident. Kudos to her. Can't wait to see it.

And awwwwwwwwww@ the picture of the baby. So cute.

Bunmi A said...

History in the making...luv it!
Great job LB & SO.

Gloryus said...

I loved the trailer for this movie and am really hoping that it comes out on DVD here in the USA eventually! Looks like a Nigerian woman in an interracial relationship with a white guy.... that ALWAYS interests me lol.

owolabi tolu said...

Autie you are great. i know is going to be a nice one. i trust you. KEEP IT UP

BESSIE said...

Greaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat job!

ijeoma said...

when is this movie coming out in dvd? i've been looking 4 it all over the internet but i can't seem to find a place to buy it
some help plssssssss!

Anonymous said...

When is it coming out? I've been looking all over so I can watch it!

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin