So this post is way over due. I meant to write about my experiences live and direct while filming but that was easier said than done. Ever since then, i’ve been trying to find the perfect moment to sit down and put pen to paper.. or well.. fingers to keypad.. Lol.
Anyway, the series has now officially been release and so, I guess, now is as good a time as any to relive the experience with you.
You can watch the first episode here and read all about our adventures on the next page!
I was first contacted about the MTV project while I was still in London just after having my angel Tallulah. I’d vowed I wouldn’t jump straight back into work like I did the last time with Tega.. however.. when a project as enticing as this comes along can you really expect me to say no?! Bearing in mind, I was also lined up to shoot Kunle Afolayan’s “October 1st” which is probably going to be the biggest movie in New African Cinema to-date! Yeah I said it..but that’s another story which i’m also still trying to find the time to write.. lol
Anyway, October 1st wasn’t filming in Lagos and my husband wasn’t about to allow me to come back home after 7 months away and then relocate straight onto a movie set in the middle of nowhere with both his precious children.. little did I know.. the “easier job” may as well have been outside of Lagos because for 7 weeks I was hardly ever at home!
I have to give a massive THANK YOU to my mum at this point, without her I really wouldn’t have been able to cope. The day we landed, I went straight to “both” sets. Leaving my ever capable mother at home with my 2 month old, my 2 year old and 6 other grand children who we’d offered to bring to Nigeria on holiday (before I agreed to run out and leave her by herself for the entire summer! hehehahha.. I LOVE YOU MAMA).
Right, so here we go full steam ahead on an amazing project which aims to raise awareness about HIV and Aids. The whole point of the series is about knowing your status and de-stigmatising / highlighting the plight of those suffering from the virus.
We had a mixed cast, some established actors such as Chris Attoh *swoon* and others who were fresh out of the packet newbies like Maria Okanrende and Tiwa Savage who although they have built names for themselves in their own fields had never turned their hands and minds to acting. It was great to have such an eclectic group of people to work with. And boy was it WORK. If anyone thinks working on film & tv is an easy gig.. think again. There are so many aspects of the makeup world, some are called to be bridal artists, some enjoy working in fashion and studio photographic.. then there are those.. the crazy ones.. who venture into the insane world of filming.
First of all, it’s not straight forward. We shot 8 episodes in 7 weeks. 12 hour days with an average call time of between 5.30 and 7.30 am. The Sacred Hair & Makeup Team (shout out to my Kasim Aremu, Bebe Omagbemi & Tony) had to be there before the cast came in to set up along with the Costume Department (Byge). This may seem unfair and can be a real drag at times when you know that everyone else is coming in after you, so why do we have to come in early? Well.. it’s either that.. or have 100 missed calls from the Production Manager screaming down then phone that the talent is on set and your team isn’t there, makeup and hair hasn’t been set up and the whole production is being held up by YOU. So.. word of advice to any would be makeup artists and hair dressers.. GET THERE ON TIME!
Secondly.. it’s not straight forward. We don’t shoot in sequence, you shoot according to location and actor availability. So on day 1 you may shoot scenes from episode 1, 3, 6 and 8. All of which will have “continuity”. So any looks you do today you’d better have them clearly recorded so that if at the last minute you have to change the shooting schedule you can get the right look for the right filming day. The worst thing that can happen is if you mix up the wrong “look”.. i.e lip stick, eyeshadow, hair style and outfit. I’ve heard of productions having to reshoot scenes or cut them out totally because the Hair & Makeup or Costume Dept got it wrong.. so word of advice to would be makeup artists and hairdressers.. KEEP IT SIMPLE or KEEP ACCURATE RECORDS. The Costume Department on any shoot is your best friend. Work very closely with them to protect both your necks.. lol.. I remember when my phone was stolen on set *sob*.. all my images of the different looks were gone. PANIC.. luckily I was able to cross check with the costume guys till I was able to access my images from Dropbox..(also a life saver.. automatic uploads of all pictures from my camera..I don’t know what i’d do without it!!!)
Anyway.. back to the filming.. even though we had our moments.. even though we sometimes had to get several actors ready in the shortest of time the most important rule of filming is that “The makeup tent is a haven to all”. Basically, it’s where everyone hangs out. It’s where we laugh, joke, gossip and giggle. What’s discussed in the makeup tent stays in the makeup tent.. so sorry guys.. I can’t share anything with you. It’s an unspoken rule throughout the whole world, your actors have to feel comfortable enough to share stories with you and to talk to themselves in your presence without worrying it’s going to get out into some gossip magazine or blog site *cough*.. and one of my team had to learn that the hard way. He was new on set and made the fatal error of “advising” someone that they may have upset an actor and they should apologise. Word of advice to any newbie makeup artists and hairdressers.. IT’S NOT OUR PLACE TO DISCUSS WHAT WAS SAID IN THE TENT.. the actor in question had intended on speaking to the person themselves.. all this does is makes you look like a gossip and to the actor it makes them feel uncomfortable to discuss anything personal around you. Even though they don’t teach you in beauty school, i’ll let you into a secret here, one of our unofficial jobs in hair and makeup is being an ear to listen and a friend to give advice. Whether it’s in Salon or on the set. Learn this golden rule and you’ll go far. Make your clients comfortable around you and they’ll always come back.
If I had to think of my most memorable days on set.. urmm.. it was probably the day of the eyebrow.. (I love you sweetie you know who you are).. lol.. and urmm… the fight scenes where I got to use my blood!! Yaaaay.. blood blood blood.. you know I love me some good old SFX.. heheh
So in short.. I’d like to give a great big massive shout out to all the actors and actresses on set .. the crew hands who kept me laughing all day every day with their antics (singing Lola songs when ever they saw me.. crazy SA guys).. the Naija crew hands who are the best in the world, they can make magic happen when they’re working in the most stressful situations. And to the amazing Director Biyi Bamidele who gave me so much support and allowed me full Creative Direction.. it was a pleasure working with you all.. I love you guys!!
So.. keep your eyes out for Okezie Morro (Ekene), Maria Okanrende (Foye), Tiwa Savage (Sade), Chris Attoh (Nii), Leonora Okine (Malaika), Ikubese Emmanuel Ifeanyi (Femi), Sharon Ezeamaka (Princess), Efa Iwara (David), Dorcas Shola Fapson (Sophie), Kachi Nnochiri (Osaro), Olumide Oworu (Weki), James Timini Egbuson (Tobi), Nick Mutuma (Leo), Sani Muazu (Solomon) and cameo performances by Bkiya Graham-Douglas (HIV Counselor), KC Ejelonu (HIV Counselor), Ice Prince Zamani & Iyanya
and of course our very own fresh from the set Owumi Ugbeye as Bikyia