With the postponement of the Nigerian release of the Half of A Yellow Sun movie, there are concerns as to the effects on the commercial success of the movie in Nigeria. We laud the efforts of the producers and we really hope that there is a resolution to the problem soon.
In the mean time, we’d like to give you a little bit of insight into one of the great minds behind the actualization of the movie –
Yewande Sadiku has a keen interest in bringing organized financing to Nigerian film productions; she helped to raise financing (as Executive Producer) for HALF OF A YELLOW SUN, her first film production. She was one of ‘35 International Women Under 35’ featured in the October 2007 edition of World Business Magazine and in May 2012, she was one of 19 professionals awarded the Eisenhower Fellowship for International Leadership. She spent seven weeks travelling across America in April/May 2010 to better understand how their film industry is supported by the organized financial sector.
Do you share even very remotely in any of the experiences in the story, some memories of the war perhaps, told to you?
I don’t have any personal stories in connection to the war. In fact if Chimamanda hadn’t written the book I don’t think I would know as much about the war as I do now but in this journey of life, something happens and you make a connection to people. It’s the same way you didn’t know a person growing up and then you become best friends in your forties or fifties. I felt a connection to the book.
Before the movie took off, you undertook a course on fund-raising for film. Tell us about this. Was that a decision taken consciously as a result of the Half of a Yellow Sun project or you planned to do it anyway?
It was something I had to do when the movie project came up. I was curious about Nollywood and its commercial value but I wasn’t invested in it yet. It was with Half of a Yellow Sun I then became intrigued and questioned the business of movies and I was interested about learning more about it and I felt that I needed that understanding to be able to raise money for the film.
Reportedly, the movie laboured to get worldwide distribution and according to a The Hollywood Reporter review, “the movie will need imaginative marketing by potential distributors to maximize its assets and tap into potential riches in select territories” Taking this into perspective, what are your expectations on how the movie will perform abroad, how it will be received especially by those who know nothing of the movie’s backstory?
Even raising funding for the film was something that seemed impossible, so challenges per distribution, to me, are just new obstacles to conquer. We got lots of offers for distribution at the time but we didn’t get types of offers we anticipated. Distribution rights for the film have been sold in Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, the Middle East and for some airlines. So in those countries, the movies will show in cinemas. We’re in discussions in respect to other territories and the movie will be shown widely across the world. I expect that investors will not only get their money back but also healthy returns for the risk they took to make sure the film was made.
Still on infrastructure, what were your impressions of Tinapa Studios, where the movie was shot?
The studio was very impressive. I don’t know much about studios but I’ve heard it said from people who do. Biyi Bandele says that the studio is of the same standard and class as other top studios anywhere in the world.
Give us the back story as to how you got involved in this project.
When I first heard about the movie, I wasn’t interested. I was very busy at work, didn’t have time for things like this but curiosity got the better of me and I wondered how one could raise money for such a film and what sort of financial structures one would use because it was completely different from what I’m used to, in my day job, in investment banking. So, it was that curiousity that drew me in and in my quest to learn more, I undertook film finance courses, sat with professionals to learn more about what they do…
Given the challenges you faced in raising money for the film, is this a venture you would undertake again?
It is still a work in progress. From an artistic perspective, the film is done but from a financial perspective it is not. It is only when the money comes back that the movie is done. I’m like a woman who’s seven months pregnant, for the first time. You can see that I am pregnant; I don’t have to say it. But it is only after I’ve given birth that I can tell you about the experience of having a child. So, I am almost there…