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<strong>James Omokwe: Redefining Nollywood with Epic Vision – Chief Original Gangstar</strong>

James Omokwe: Redefining Nollywood with Epic Vision – Chief Original Gangstar 

We know, we have been talking about the Nollywood space a lot lately on this series, but have you seen the level of creativity and innovations that some exceptional producers and directors have been implementing in the Nigerian movie industry in recent times? It is one of these pacesetters, or should we say impressively active media visionaries, that we will be spotlighting in a bit.

In this Issue of Chief Original Gangstar, our COG is James Omokwe, a luminary filmmaker who has been embarking on a cinematic journey that weaves together threads of passion, innovation, and resilience, crafting a narrative that sets him apart in the ever-evolving landscape of Nollywood. Omokwe is also the Founder and CEO of the production company, Feemo Vision. In this issue, we will be uncovering the trailblazer moves that he has been making to earn a well-deserved spot in our Gangstar Hall of Fame.

James Omokwe’s affair with movies blossomed at the tender age of 14 in 1998. However, his journey from a viewer to a visionary unfolded over the years, driven by an innate desire to breathe life into stories. His family, especially his supportive mother, stood as pillars behind his artistic pursuits. Enrolling in the University of Lagos, he honed his creative arts skills, experimenting with short films that hinted at the promise of a future maestro.

Not content with the boundaries of his creative exploration, Omokwe crossed the Atlantic to the New York Film Academy, graduating with a diploma in Film Directing in 2010. Armed with newfound knowledge and a relentless spirit, he founded Studio84 Connect International, signalling the beginning of a directorial journey.

Initially cast in notable productions like Tope Idowu’s “Shallow Waters,” Franca Brown’s “Serpent in Paradise,” and the iconic role of Chris Okereke in MNET’s “Tinsel,” Omokwe garnered invaluable experience that paved the way for a profound transformation. His venture into the publicity and special projects department at Del-York International marked a turning point, and the decision to leap into film directing emerged as the next logical step.

In 2011, he directed his debut feature film, “Awakening,” a testament to his creative prowess. The film, released in 2013, not only earned a 2013 AMAA nomination but also clinched the “Best Film” category at the AMVCAs, establishing Omokwe as a fresh talent with an indelible vision. The success made it to Netflix, which licensed “Awakening” in 2014, affirming its global appeal.

Breaking free from the confines of contemporary storytelling, Omokwe embarked on a daring venture into the annals of history with epics like “Ajoche” (2018) and “Riona” (2020). These period dramas, spanning 260 episodes each, transcended the norm, delving into early 20th-century Idomaland and the 12th-century Itsekiri Kingdom, respectively. In a cinematic feat, Omokwe emerged as a master of the cinematic time capsule, unravelling narratives that reverberated through the dimensions of time.

In 2022, James Omokwe teased a trailer for “Diiche,” a psychological thriller poised to make history as the first Nigerian Original limited series from Showmax. Co-directed by Omokwe, the series intertwines uniquely African elements with homage to Old Nollywood, promising an authentic and gripping narrative. The cast, a blend of emerging acts and industry veterans, underscores Omokwe’s commitment to storytelling that resonates with both local and international audiences.

Omokwe’s artistic journey, though marked by triumphs, wasn’t without its challenges. In a candid revelation, he disclosed the scripting struggles and delays faced during the production of “Diiche.” Yet, in the trial of setbacks, he forged a narrative that promises to captivate audiences and elevate the standards of African storytelling.

In a candid interview, Omokwe offered a glimpse into his creative process, emphasising the need for authentic African stories. With humility and hunger for innovation, he navigated the challenges of scripting, casting decisions, and the gruelling hours demanded by the craft. His dedication to pushing the boundaries of storytelling reflects a commitment to both local and international audiences.

As a seasoned filmmaker, Omokwe’s advice to aspiring directors resonates as a beacon of wisdom. He urges them to stay hungry, not for food, but for the pursuit of excellence in storytelling. Emphasising the importance of consistency and humility, he underscores the ever-evolving nature of the film industry. For Omokwe, the key to a lasting career lies in continuous innovation and an unwavering hunger for improvement.

In a revealing conversation, Omokwe shared the story of his humble beginnings, a testament to his drive and determination. Armed with a vision but lacking finances or connections, he defied the odds. The tale of shooting his first film with a borrowed N50,000 and the subsequent journey to earning N5 million underscores the resilience and passion that define Omokwe’s trajectory.

In the vast tapestry of Nollywood, James Omokwe stands as an architect of cinematic dreams, weaving narratives that transcend time and captivate audiences. From his pioneering works like “Awakening” to the epic sagas of “Ajoche” and “Riona,” and the upcoming psychological thriller “Diiche,” Omokwe’s journey reflects a relentless pursuit of artistic excellence. As the maestro continues to shape the narrative of African cinema, his legacy unfolds as a testament to the transformative power of storytelling in the hands of a true Chief Original Gangstar.

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