Theophilus T. King Akuwudike is a published budding filmmaker, director, investor and artist who has built a brand with a passion for storytelling using visuals, the art of film & music. Theophilus also recently just dabbled into the world of investing. In this dialogue, Theophilus will be sharing experiences, his work process and the challenges he faces in his filmography, building his dream empire and a network of businesses.
What do you do?
The perfect answer to that question would be “I do whatever it takes.” I am now currently a businessman, an investor, a filmmaker, director and artist
How long have you been into film making?
I would say, about 3 years.
How did you get interested in film making and when did you decide to peruse a career in film making
If you subtract the expectations people may have had for me I would say since I was 7 years old. I had an idea of everything I would ever be. I remember asking my uncle to buy me a very tiny camera on his trip abroad. I got this tiny red camera which I took everywhere to just look cool mostly. There was also an era where it was fun to make yourself disappear in phone videos by pausing while recording. If you know you know… I should have picked up my director hat and wits right there. But it mostly all started when I wanted more from graphic designing and took a further step into motion graphics.
I started to develop an eye for motion, and beauty. Not too long after that, I had learnt the basics of video editing and I started cutting different movie scenes into one another and making it into a whole new film. I made unofficial music videos to my favourite songs, shared with my friends and roommates and everyone was feeling this new thing. Soon enough I got tired of editing already shot footage and I started saving for a professional camera. I think the most important stage of my development was learning to learn on my own (Self-education)
There were a lot of books and online material in there to keep me interested while I saved up for a camera. To raise the money I had to develop websites and got paid commissions off both graphic and web designing. Eventually, I did get my camera, but I didn’t decide to pursue it as a career just yet. I started making my own videos but something was still missing, I was really into building up some more knowledge, I needed a mentor. I really love all the works of Miss Kemi Adetiba, she’s been a big mentor, a renowned filmmaker and director, (who has directed two box office feature films and might be working on her third as we speak) she studied at New York Film Academy and has a lot of awards to her name.
I followed her on social media and soon quickly fell in love with her point of view, her style of storytelling and her execution. I was able to email her and tell her of my interest in working with her, shared some of my work. This was really one of the miracles and best parts of my life. She gave me an opportunity to attend a film academy she was tutoring at, she paid the cost. We met and she gave me a gift actually, A book; the Filmmaker’s handbook by. She came and just had that much belief in me and that was so special. Our first day in class, we talked about our dreams, I told her I wanted to make films and own a big record label like Jay Z, she is like a hip hop fanatic and she had been on a set with J.Cole and that was just so sick for me.
I was really learning and getting the hang of it, “I called my mom that night and said this is what I wanna do with my life, I’m really serious..” I finished up the course, got a lil shiny certificate. I couldn’t thank her enough, we got close, we would talk on the phone and she would just always put me in perspective, she would say cool stuff like “you have an eye” “Theo and when you get to the Oscars don’t forget to say my name”.
What are your top 3 favourite movies and why do you like them?
I bet 90% of people wouldn’t know this movie but “Barefoot (2014)” is a big favourite of mine. It’s indie, it’s beautiful. I love independent feature films and romantic comedies. Movies with a great story. I love “The Great Gatsby” and any rom-com from the ’90s. “The Notebook”.
Who are your favourite filmmakers and what do you like most about their film making style?
I would say my real heroes are a lot of indie directors who aren’t too mainstream, many I don’t know their names. I love Ava Duvernay, Spike Lee, I love what 50cent is doing with Power, Tyler Perry. I grew up on Micheal Jackson’s Thriller. My favourite thing about them is their style of storytelling. I love Indies I can say that a couple of times over. I also love music video shooting style techniques, for example, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Hype Williams – Belly 1998 and these new guys out, Kid Studio
What kind of movies do you make or want to make?
I’ve directed over 25 music videos, short films, and ads. I’m currently at a stage where I want to direct a couple more short films first before reaching for a feature. My genre would be love and drama. I’m currently working on a short film, called “Wrapped around Love”
What do you think makes or breaks a film?
I think the story makes or breaks the film.
How would you describe your film making style?
I think being a big fan of music has influenced my film making style. The usage of colour, fashion, camera movements. Maybe timeless? Futuristic
What attracted you to film making?
I am such a movie person. I watch a lot of em. I think the best part is being able to tell a story and make someone somewhere feel something. There are these moments when I see a movie I really like, I say to myself, that could easily be me, that could easily be my movie. It’s exactly the kind of story I would tell.
Can you describe your first experience making a movie?
I think one of my first experiences on an active set was on a trip to Kano with Miss Kemi Adetiba. She flew us out, that was also my first time on a plane. So the whole experience was ecstatic
What skills did you have to acquire to prepare you for a career in film making and how did you acquire these skills?
Skills are definitely necessary because I wanted to be an independent filmmaker and be capable of doing a lot on my own, I started out with graphics then motion graphics, video editing, scripting, cinematography & many more.
What was your biggest fear when perusing a career in film making and how did you overcome it?
First off, my biggest fear was taking on higher budget videos and having to deal with bigger equipment and a bigger crew. I learnt a lot from risking and learning as much as I could.
What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when you were just starting out?
I don’t really consider anything that happens a mistake.
Do you have any mentors and what’s the best advice you’ve gotten from them?
Jay Z is definitely a mentor because he’s been of great service to a lot of people. I remember visiting Roc Nation’s website for the first time and just seeing the diverse catalogue of artists, it just inspired me to want to be of service to a lot of people in the world.
Puff Daddy is another great mentor of mine, I admire his positive work ethic, and his ability to be in a room and just light it up. There’s a video where he says you have to focus on yourself not what anybody else is doing, positive attracts positive negative attracts negative.
Miss Kemi Adetiba and this one is just perfect, she said keep your eye on the ball, focus on your focus.
What are the challenges you face running your type of business in Nigeria?
Mobility, we have to deal with a lot of traffic, also the industries are very competitive. Also, As a Gorilla style filmmaker, security.
With all these challenges you face, how do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated by constantly stimulating my mind with positive material, I read a lot of books, movies, I try to study the greats and learn from their mistakes. I try to focus more on doing what I love and what makes me happy because Warren Buffet says you gotta love it enough to endure it.
Apart from film making what other interest do you have? And do you plan to turn them into a career or business?
I have interests in Music, I own a creative agency and entertainment company sorta like a label, I have a major thing for investing and Automobiles now, foreign exchange, stocks, starting a franchise, of course, asides producing films. I am also currently working on starting an academy. Yes, they are all businesses.
What has been your biggest accomplishment since you started your business?
The first is the highest paycheck I ever got, and then my 2 awards, CHA Student Video Director of the year, NMVA Winner Dancehall Video of the Year. Meeting Director X.
What are your short and long term goals as a filmmaker?
To maximize my profit margin from that particular source of income of mine which is film. Long term, to direct and produce full feature films and tv shows.
Do you have any advice for a young Nigerian like you, who wants to start a business in Nigeria especially people who want to peruse a career in film making?
Get a mentor. Do a lot of studying and research. Carve out a Niche for yourself. Create a solid portfolio. Surround yourself with experts. Collaborate with greater artists. Reinvest your profits or channel into a new business.
Any last words?
I have a couple of surprises coming out soon, I would really love to build a following, great visuals, great stories, short films, music, shows and a tour. I’m honoured to be a guest on this interview. Thank you for your time.
How can we reach you?
Contact me? I am on Social Media mostly.
Here is a link to my YouTube channel, filmography and works: