Obi-Eke Spurgeon is an undergraduate Engineering student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He’s a filmmaker with over five short films and a web series production. His movies are available for viewing on his YouTube channel, Spurz TV.
In this conversation, he shares his journey as a young creative, letting us into the challenges he has faced while giving his opinion on industry issues.
Tell us about your filmmaking journey
I started filmmaking in 2018 but didn’t start as a filmmaker. I just wanted to have a YouTube channel and post all kinds of motivational talks. I started without any guide. I had a friend start recording me, but the videos weren’t good enough. I was using a low-quality phone. It didn’t have a good camera, so the videos weren’t coming out nice. So eventually, as I progressed, I stopped making these motivational videos where I’ll just stand and talk. I started getting ideas for short skits that still had a motivational tone. From short skits, I just started getting longer skits. From five minutes skits to eight minutes skits and then it started turning into short films.
I then went online. I started figuring out, okay, yeah, this is a film thing I’m getting into. I started watching YouTube videos about filmmaking. I got a notebook and started writing, and taking notes until I acquired a lot of knowledge, and then shot my first film with a camera, which didn’t still come out well. But then, my films kept improving over time as I kept shooting more films. I learnt everything on YouTube: cinematography, directing, and scriptwriting. Every single thing was on YouTube.
It’s something I love; it’s a passion.
I’ve always loved writing stories since I was young, and I’ve always imagined my stories being shot as films, but I never knew I would be the one to start shooting films. So now, yeah, it’s a big deal for me.
What was the experience like during your first movie production?
I don’t know if I will say the ones I shot with phones. I don’t know, but those were also movies, though. But those were when I was still starting. You see, I learnt a lot of things on YouTube, but then putting them into practice was not as easy as it was on YouTube.
I had a lot of challenges that hindered me from producing films. Not having a lot of equipment and enough crew members, but as my movies kept coming and many people started becoming attracted to them, I found it easier to find crew members and cast cause everybody now wants to be part of something that’s already working. So it became easier.
You’re an engineering student. How did you learn so much about filmmaking?
I learnt filmmaking entirely on YouTube. I followed a lot of channels that talked about filmmaking and learned every single thing on YouTube.
Tell us about your latest film
My latest film, Death My Friend, is about a drug addict. His future and that of his sister depend on whether or not he could abstain from drugs. He bagged a scholarship from a company that wants to take care of him and his sister as long as they ensure he’s not relapsing. Still, he’s faced with challenges that are most likely to make him relapse and then lose the opportunity, which will be bad for him and his sister. That’s basically what the film is about.
You directed most, if not all, of your movies. Do you believe actors should explore different roles, or should they stick to roles they are more familiar with?
I believe some actors can play any role, and some just specialise in a certain kind of role. Also, I believe everyone can act. As far as you have a personality, your personality is a character.
So there are some people I have cast in the past who are not good actors, but the way they behave naturally was what I needed for the film. So I just cast them, and they did it well. They will mess up if I put them in another film to play another role. I just needed them for their character, their natural character, so that everyone can act.
Some people can diffuse into other characters, super talented actors. Some people love playing wicked roles. They’re not wicked in real life, but they can act wicked.
I believe that actors can be a jack of all trades, but some are just made for specific roles.
Do you think scriptwriters should direct their movies? And have you directed a movie script you do not write?
If a scriptwriter is also the director, it is easier because he knows what he has in mind and will bring it out in the best way possible. If the director is not the scriptwriter, he must read and understand the script from the writer’s perspective. Most of them even have to consult the writer and ask, okay, what do you mean? How do you want this to be put out? This gives the director a wider perspective of the script.
So it’s always better when the writer is also the director. The movie is better because everything is in his head, and he just knows how to put it out.
And yes, I’ve directed a movie that was not mine, and as I said, all I needed to do was just read and understand the script. Once I’ve understood the script and then taken it like it’s my own story, then I am good to go.
Any final words?
I don’t have much to say but keep believing. If you’re passionate about what you do and you keep at it, every other thing will fall in place.