Shan George talks About Film Academy In Calabar & New Movie, Bloodfarm
In this chat with The Nation reporter, Yetunde Oladeinde, veteran Nollywood actress Shan George talks about her new film Academy in Cross River state and the turning point in her career.
See excerpt of the interview below:
WHAT was the turning point in your career as an actress?
For me, the turning part in my career would be at the point when I produced the movie titled Made in heaven. Interestingly, the story line of the movie consisted of about 70% of my true life story. It actually focused on my growing up days. And it made a lot of impact on my career and my personality.
What are some of the things that you are doing at the moment?
Some of the projects that I am working on at the moment are another interesting aspect of my life. Right now, I am editing my new movie titled Bloodfarm. I am also filming a new movie titled The Punch, which is a project of my film academy, The Divine Shield Film Academy, based in Calabar. In addition, I am occupied with other normal daily family and personal activities that give me great fulfillment.
Let’s compare when you started and now. What has changed?
Looking back to when I started and now, I must say that a lot has changed in the industry and it has influenced me as a person in different ways. Things have really improved and we now have more producers that are dynamic. Artists are also very keen about what they do and you can see a lot of passion in what they do. In addition, there are more creative directors and more expository stories unlike what we had in the past. Then those old days’ stories were always about ritual killings, blood money, and loads of horror stories. In addition, we also have better equipments now and we have more people ready to sponsor movie projects now.
One of the positive fallouts is that we have now broken into mainstream Hollywood, and we have more people willing and proud to be in the movie industry. This is quite unlike what happened in the past when many parents didn’t let their children study theatre arts, and many universities in Nigeria didn’t even offer theatre arts. Simply put, the industry is now doing much better in every area.
Tell us about the people and the things that inspire you
Generally, I get inspired by people who are resilient, passionate, humane, ready to help others and ready to learn every day, believing that success is a process, not a destination.
What lessons have you learnt in the sector?
It has been a very interesting experience and I will say that the lessons learnt in the sector are mostly about the job and learning new skills. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, I have grown to become a better writer, producer and actor. I have also learnt how to go about distributing my contents as well as how to be a better communicator in terms of dealing and interacting with up comers and my colleagues from other countries.
Let’s talk about the memorable moments in your life and career
In my life and career, every single moment is a memorable one, so it’s difficult for me to pinpoint.
What are some of the challenges encountered? Like every other thing we do, there are good times and bad times. I would, however, say that some of the challenges encountered include acting roles that portray someone that I am not. These include playing the role of a mermaid, ghost, robber or a prostitute, amongst others. There is also the challenge of people seeing me as a rich person because I live in big houses and drive big cars in some movies. Interestingly, I just acted these roles and it is not the same thing that they see on screen. Of course, there is also the challenge of people being nasty to me when they meet me, because I acted as a robber, husband snatcher or killer in a movie they watched. The final and most important one is the challenge of raising funds for movie projects as well as how to beat piracy.
How do you cope with them?
That actually depends on your experience and ability to relate with others positively. Therefore coping with these challenges is something one must find a way to do. Like when I meet those who see me as rich, I tell them I’m not rich, without minding if they believe or not. In fact, coping with the challenges is the real challenge. But somehow, one way or another, we learn to cope.
Who or what do you consider as the greatest influence in your life?
My mother is the greatest influence. I have imbibed a whole lot from my mother’s teachings, and I have applied many of them to my career and life. In addition, I would say that my career has been influenced positively by so many of my elders in the industry. The list includes Chico Ejiro, Pastor Mrs Blessing Stevens, Okey Bakassi, Emeka Osai, Kate Henshaw, Ejike Asiegbu and Hilda Dokubo, to name a few.
In what ways has this changed your lifestyle?
Nothing has actually changed my simple lifestyle. This is actually one of the things that I imbibed from my mother.
What are you looking forward to in the next five or ten years?
Personally, I would say that the only thing I am looking forward to in the next five to 10 years is life and good health. The rest is jara (extra). Every other thing will fit in at its own time as long as I am still alive and kicking.
What are some of the changes that you would like to see in the entertainment sector?
There is so much happening in the sector that is good. However, every good thing comes with its challenges. So, one of the most important changes that I will like to see in the industry is ending piracy, or at least curbing it to a minimal, harmless level. This I believe can only be achieved when the government begins to put in place policies that call for heavy punishment for movie pirates. I will also like to see changes like Nigeria having well-built film villages across Nigeria. These film villages will also serve as tourist centres and will even generate funds for the government.
What are some of the other things that occupy your time?
It has been a very interesting journey. Some of the other things that occupy my time include parenting, writing, consulting, teaching and mentoring.
What is your definition of style?
Style to me means one’s flair about fashion; your personality and lifestyle.
What are some of the things that you wouldn’t do in the name of fashion?
I won’t wear anything that irritates my skin or discomforts my body in anyway, in the name of style.
What are the things that you treasure most in your life?
Well, some of the things I treasure in life include my job, family, good friends, good health, and good people like you.
Tell us about mentoring young people and your film academy
My film academy is called Divine Shield Academy. I actually registered the school and initially I didn’t know how to start, didn’t have the funds and all that was needed. I didn’t also have a place that I could use at that point. And when I tried to register with the education board in Cross River, they said that I had to have a building which I didn’t also have. I decided to use a place in my house to train students and it is
tuition free. For now, that is the state of the school and at the moment, I have 20 students who are now very well trained and we are planning to shoot our first movie project. We would probably start shooting by the end of April and we already have our script. I cannot wait to see these kids in front of the camera. Believe me, they are just so good. So, for now, that is what I will keep doing till I will get some funds.
Tell us about the people you admire or role models
There is nothing that buys my heart better than people who are humane like the young guy that was on the news recently who sells gala on the street and saw a Black Maria carrying prisoners and started giving them his gala for free. He just saw the prisoners peeping through the small homes and he reached out to them. The guy just practically forgot that he bought that thing with money and he was supposed to sell it to get his capital back and even make some profit from it. That is one of those awesome things that make me admire somebody basically and those kinds of people, no matter how little they are, those are my role models.
The advice that I will give to young people who want to go into acting would be that they should try to pay attention to their education first. It is very important to go to school because every movie that you are going to do, you must read the script and that is a lot of work. It is after your education and a good background that you can now build on what you have to get to where you want to be. It is the foundation and when you get into the industry, you need to be patient. Some people just want to come in today and they want to be like Regina Daniels or Shan George. Nobody makes it overnight. So, they really need to have the passion. You must persevere and put up a good attitude because when you work with people, your attitude matters a lot. You need to be polite; you must be open to learning. You need to learn how not to take offence at everything. You need to loosen up especially because this is the entertainment industry. If you don’t know how to loosen up, it will be difficult for you.
I attended over a million auditions. Some people would tell you that I have been going to auditions since last year; ‘I have attended three or four auditions’ and they couldn’t get a role. You need to attend a lot of auditions. Don’t ever get tired and you need to be able to always try to be better than the last time. Put up a good attitude and be cheerful. Also you should register with an academy and begin to take part in the academy projects; they shoot movies and go learn a number of things there for the future. If a producer says what you have done is not good enough, some other producers out there would call you for their jobs, once they realise your potential. If you are well off or have someone that can sponsor you, then you can also explore that too.