Hubert Ogunde: As it was with the father, so it is with the son

Son of his father: Kunle David Ogunde
Son of his father: Kunle David Ogunde

On our way out of the bungalow housing the fledgling museum, we stumbled on the renowned filmmaker Tunde Kelani. He was headed towards what I was told by the Bose sisters used to be the rehearsals room in Pa Ogunde’s days (his actors were there six days in a week, perfecting their roles), now serving as set for Kunle Ogunde’s first feature film, ‘The Snare’.

“You know him?” younger Bose asked as they greeted each other and exchanged smiles.

“Oh yes—everybody knows TK.”

“Okay. He was one of the first cameramen our father trained.” Now, that I never knew.

Soon we got to the rehearsals room, already throbbing with activity. It was a rowdy setting as a largely Nigerian cast, dressed in fancy traditional costumes (they’re about to shoot a village scene), and a largely foreign technical crew, dressed in their T-shirts and shorts, prepared for the afternoon’s filming. The high-definition equipment, apparently shipped in from the UK for this project, gleamed in the distance. I had never been on a film set before, so it was a pleasure to see how the world of make-believe worked. Outside, the support staff went back and forth to fetch all other things needed on the set, including new costumes and accessories.

The Snare, the movie
The Snare, the movie

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Shortly, the younger Ogunde picked up the megaphone to address everyone. ‘The Snare’, he explained, is a sci-fi, futuristic thriller about a young African who has used advance a DNA bio-technology to help improve the quality of life in his community and by so doing save many lives. His genius has caught the attention of a foreign organization and they want him to come over and work for them.

“So what we are filming today is the sendoff and the community is giving him the gift of an ark because he describes himself as the Noah of his generation,” Kunle announced to the seated crowd. “So as you are seated here, you are dignitaries and special people of the community who have come to honour this man and to thank him for all he has done.”

Kunle had considered filming these scenes in other locations—Badagry and Benin City—but while out scouting in those places he found them unsuitable.  “That’s where my religious sentiments come in,” he said at a press conference later in the day. “I prayed for God’s guidance and direction, and God told me ‘Don’t leave your family out of this—go to Ososa. When I saw here, I said ‘wow!’—it was like heaven opened. That’s how we came to film in Ososa. Choosing Ososa has been a tremendous choice for me.

“I found out that everything I was looking for—in terms of setting, support and equipment is here. Our dad has done a lot. In fact, I am a hundred times, a thousand times proud of him. He’s done a lot of work. I was awed by what he has put in place in this neighbourhood, by the vision he had 20-25 years ago. There is better equipment available here, so I told my crew not to ship any to Nigeria.”

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Elvon Jarret being made up on the set
Elvon Jarret being made up on the set

Budgeted at one million pounds, Kunle started work on ‘The Snare’ in 2010. Other scenes will be filmed in Morocco and some countries in Europe. “God has taken care of 80% of that for us,” Kunle, who attended the film and television school in Berkensfield, England, said. “We have all the post-production equipment and studios set, everything on 35mm from end to end.

At that moment I recalled what the older Bose had told me earlier about the older Ogunde. “He was a perfectionist; he worked with an all-white crew, some of the best hands in the industry then, and he wouldn’t mind to spend his last kobo to get it right. He once sold part of his land to fund ‘Aiye’.

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