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Making “Nigerian Prince”

Faraday Okoro on filmmaking in Nigeria

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It’s been a whirlwind few months since AT&T and the Tribeca Film Festival gave me $1 million to help produce my film, “Nigerian Prince, as part of the AT&T Presents: Untold Stories program.

 

“Nigerian Prince” is about a Nigerian-American teenager sent to Nigeria against his will. To earn money to get back to America, he teams with his Nigerian cousin to scam unsuspecting foreigners. 

 

I’ve spent many of hours on the road and in the air since April trying to pinpoint the perfect places and people to help bring the story to life. Our most important trip was to Lagos, Nigeria, where we’ll capture much of the film. We’re going to shoot scenes for the movie both there and in Los Angeles.

 

Shooting in two locations also means we’ll have two sets of actors to work with. We’ve already completed our Nollywood casting. Yes, much like India’s Bollywood, Nigeria has adapted the word “Nollywood” to refer to its own entertainment industry.

 

By the way, Hollywood, Nollywood and Bollywood represent the three largest entertainment industries in the world!

 

The experiences working in both L.A. and Nigeria will be as different as their geography. We can’t apply an L.A. way of doing things in Lagos. We’ll need to adapt to the way they do things in Nigeria.

 

For instance, the pace is much slower. We’ll get used to it, and I think it will contribute to the authenticity of our film. And being authentic is one of my most important objectives as a filmmaker.

 

It’s one thing to write about locations in a script, but everything comes into focus when you lay eyes on the exact environments. After my trip to Nigeria, I no longer need to imagine what the places in our film might look like. Now, I can see the details of the airport corridors our actors will walk, the rooms in the house where our main character will live and many of the other places that will serve as important backdrops for our story.

 

We’re hard at work casting our L.A. actors now, but we don’t have any names to announce just yet. We’ll start filming in Nigeria later this month. Check back here for more updates, like information on how you can compete for $1 million in the second year of AT&T Presents: Untold Stories!

 

*This story originally ran as an AT&T Inside Connections blog post.

 

Author Bio: Faraday Okoro is a New York City-based Nigerian-American filmmaker. His films have screened at numerous film festivals worldwide, like Tribeca, L.A. Film Festival and the Palms Springs International Shortsfest. In 2016, Faraday was included in MovieMaker Magazine’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch.

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