Q&A about African movie, Paparazzi - Eye in the Dark

I already blogged about upcoming Paparazzi - Eye in the Dark movie here when the trailer came out. The movie features Ghana's Koby Maxwell who also sings the lead single in the soundtrack called "Do it". After I saw the trailer for the movie, I was very excited and proclaimed it the best movie Van Vicker has been in. Yes, @theRealVanVicker. I decided to ask Koby Maxwell and other people behind the movie a few questions about it. Below is the interview transcript.

MightyAfrican: Who birthed the idea for the movie?
Koby Maxwell: I came up with this story. My brother Kojo Adu Ansah and the director worked on it to put it together.

MightyAfrican: Why was Van Vicker chosen for the lead role? Who else was considered?
Koby Maxwell: Van Vicker is currently the hottest Actor in the business and the industry. I did carry out a survey on a cross-section of the Nollywood movie fans about who they would like to see in my production. Many responded and made mention of Van Vicker and Majid Michel. Unfortunately, Majid Michel was not available because he had other commitments. Van Vicker is a personal friend who wanted to help me make it work. He liked the story from the start and was the first actor I did cast.

MightyAfrican: How was the rest of the cast chosen?
Koby Maxwell: My director was very much involved. After the initial audition, the director and I took a look at the caliber of actors we had available and decided to give it further review. After much deliberation, it was decided to conduct a second audition, this time to cast the net even much wider and bring around a lot more seasoned actors. That’s how we arrived at the cast we presently have.

MightyAfrican: The movie showcases the life of an African musician based in the US. Is the movie purely fiction?
Koby Maxwell: The premise of the plot is purely fictional. You and I are living in a time where the lives of our celebrities are under the scrutiny of peeping Toms. Our African actors are no different. Thanks to the internet and other forms of media, we get to hear salacious stories, often untrue about African musicians.

MightyAfrican: Based on your experiences as an African musician based in the US, how much paparazzi have you had to deal with?
Koby Maxwell: I have not had to deal with too much of the paparazzo. What I have experienced occasionally are certain characters who try to pry inti my private life

MightyAfrican: The movie’s cast features actors from many African countries. Is this intentional?
Koby Maxwell: Yes. The cast is mainly made up of African actors although it also features Syr Law (Tyler Perry, Diary of a Mad Black Woman).

MightyAfrican: Which musicians are featured on the soundtrack for the movie?
Koby Maxwell: I worked with Chris Deshield, Paco Colling, LA Sting and Don Mike on a number of the soundtracks

MightyAfrican: What is the timeline for the movie premieres and which cities will be the first to watch the movie?
Koby Maxwell: My production company and I are tentatively are planning for a late January 2011 premiere in the Washington D.C and Atlanta metropolitan areas. There are also plans for full screenings in 25-30 cities in the North America and in the Caribbean. So please stay tuned for further details!

MightyAfrican: Many Nollywood movies are shot very quickly, some as quickly as a month or less. How long did it take to shoot Paparazzi –Eye in the Dark? And how long did it take to edit it and make it ready?
Koby Maxwell: You are correct to an extent about the short filming schedules of many
Nollywood movies. However, do bear in mind that although this movie has a number of well-known Nigeria actors, it is far from being labeled a Nollywood type movie. This movie was filmed stateside, and benefited from advanced industry equipment as well as top-notch technical personnel. It took nearly 23 days to shoot this movie and an additional 3 months to edit it. This is far in excess of the average time shoot time for a Nollywood movie and speaks to the deliberation given to this movie.

MightyAfrican: In which locations were the movie shot and why were those chosen?
Koby Maxwell: The movie was shot on locations in the Atlanta area. Our locations scouts chose the city of Atlanta to film the movie since there is less traffic, yet it is still visually stimulating.

MightyAfrican: When and where was the Do it song born? Where and when was the video shot?
Koby Maxwell: The “Do IT” video was shot in September 2010 and featured location scenes of the Washington D.C areas. The video also features extra scenes from the movie “Paparazzi–Eye in the Dark”. The music video is on rotation on a number of T.V stations and can be viewed on YouTube.

MightyAfrican: In the movie’s trailer, we see that Max’s single is first on the Billboard charts. What do you think needs to happen for us to see African musicians get to those heights in the US?
Koby Maxwell: To paraphrase a statement from an article by Neela Bannerjee I read in the online publication The Root, “African music would need to get someone else's seal of approval before American consumers tune in”. Take the case of Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Peter Gabriel and Youssou N'Dour. In all these instances, the African artistes or acts have had to collaborate to attain that hard-won reputation. That’s not to say that an African musician cannot reach such heights on his own merits. It will certainly require a great deal of effort on the part of the musician’s record label and incorporation of a lot of western styles of music. Although the final product (sound) might be distinct, it comes at the risk of the African artiste sacrificing his traditional arrangements and instrumentality on the altar of compromise.

MightyAfrican: Paparazzis’ Tagline is “There’s always an eye in the dark”. Do you think African celebrities live their lives with utmost care because of the paparazzi?
Koby Maxwell: To some extent they do. Fortunately for African celebrities, they do not have to live their lives mercilessly exposed to the glaring spotlight of unwanted publicity as it occurs in Europe and in America. That said, I believe when an individual comes into the public eye, his/her every action or statement is carefully scrutinized especially because of technology and the Internet.

MightyAfrican: The Paparazzi movie will showcase a lot of photography. How important are photographers in the African media industry with the advent of all these bloggers, and many people having access to good cameras?
Koby Maxwell: In many places of Africa, photographers are seen as just important as the writers we have. There is a long history of struggling towards democracy that has established a strong tradition of documentary photography. Photographers offer the rest of the world an unfiltered view of the continent through their camera lenses.

MightyAfrican: What measures have to be taken to see the movie premiered or shown in different parts of the US?
Koby Maxwell: Currently, there plans underway to ensure that the movie is premiered in 25-30 cities across the US and Canada. A number of organizations have been contacted and are working with my production company to make this happen. In the mean time, if a group or organization is interested in having this movie premiered in their part of this country, they can simply contact us via the film’s website http://www.eyeinthedark.com/ and we will try our utmost best to make it possible.

MightyAfrican: What measures have to be taken to see the movie premiered or shown in different parts of Africa?
Koby Maxwell: My production company and I are working on a number of fronts to make this possible. A number of cinema houses in a couple of African countries have approached us and expressed interest in premiering the movie at their stablishments. Due to logistical concerns, we are taking such offers on a case-by-case basis. Again, I ask that movie houses interested to contact us via the movie’s website and for movie patrons on the African continent to reach out to the management of their local cinema houses and demand it to be shown. We will also keep you and your readers abreast on any finalized details as they become available.


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