Moses Eskor is from Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area born sometimes in the late 70s and grew up in Calabar, attended University staff school, Calabar and then went on attend Government Technical College, Ikot Akata, in the then Ikot Abasi Local Government Area which is now Mkpat Enin and then College of Education, Akampa where I got an NCE and then went into having a degree in Music in University of Uyo.
Actually, I’ve been a musician for a very long time. Yea, I’ve been in groups like the then New Waves which made a whole lot of waves and then I came to Akwa Ibom and stated a group called the Navigators with 4 young men and then trim to two with Chykabanton back then and after that, went back to fully into school and when I got out of the university, I got into politics.
I contested election as a Vice Chairman in Ibiono Ibom LGA then, under the platform of Action for Democracy [AD] in 1999 and came back in 2003 to contest the governorship elections against Obong Victor Attah under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] and then, politics wasn’t really good for me though I was at a particular point appointed into board for Technical Matters in the state and the party then, under Bassey Ekerete as the Secretary appointment me into the security committee for Ibiono/Itu Federal Constituency but then I decided that was not what I really want to do so I had to go to Entertainment.
That’s how I went back to school. I went back to Jos in 2004 to Television College recommended by Dan Otu in NTA Uyo, I had to go and study cinematography and then came back from that 6 months course with a certificate in cinematography and then I joined Directors Guild of Nigerian then came back fully into the movie industry.
That’s Moses so far. I have been in the movie industry for a while longtime. Interesting, Moses Eskor in the 1st Akwa Ibomite to shoot an English film – a movie in Uyo! I had senior sister Emem Isong – who shot Untouchable but it was in Eket. Before I ventured into it, there was Emem Isong, she was a senior colleague then back in school.
After that, before the likes of Idiok Okuk, which came in and then..but if you talk about movies before those movies, there actually were other movies. Because before Akpan Ekwong, there was kufreima, but it wasn’t shot in Uyo [I’m actually trying to play politics here] cos’ it wasn’t shot in Uyo. So I actually started what is today known as the movie industry in Uyo. There was AGN in Eket but not in Uyo.
Before then, the likes of Ekere Nkanga decided to move from Eket and join me in Uyo. Then we now started the movie industry fully. And hit jobs started coming. Those days it was alien, it wasn’t that easy to make a movie because you need to go and talk to somebody.
I remember day I spoke with a particular contractor and he gave me the sum of N3m to shot a film. The film was titled Eclipse of the moon. So, I shot that film and the equipment I got from Rivers State then, the equipment landed, we did not know the camera was bad, so the whole N3m went into a movie that was bad and could not come into the market because the camera was bad and the N3m went in the thin air. [Chuckles] I got some problems then.
Then, we did a whole lot of jobs, then discovering talents. Moses Eskor has always been behind the camera, discovering talents, except people like Emem Isong, I don’t think there is any Akwa Ibom artiste that Moses Eskor has not touched his/her life in one way or the other.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO ACTING
I’ve shot a lot of English movies but I started doing Akwa Ibom movies when Lancelot came here and did Uwa Iban, that’s when he told me why are you not doing it? So I decided to do it! He approached me and I said no.
How far can an Akwa Ibom film take you to? Akpan Ekwong was an English film. I didn’t like it. But along the line, I started seeing the vision that we can project this language. We can take it somewhere.
Two people touched me. Lancelot who did Uwa Iban and Mel Gibson who shot a very popular script –‘The Passion of Christ’ in Hebrew and when he was interviewed in Apocalypso and he said “You shoot a movie in the language of the story”, so I made up my mind and said ‘Okay! We can start doing our movies also [some scripts] in the language of that story’.
So we have virgin stories here, and it’s cheap to do it here – you do an English movie, English movie right now is fun but it’s not business. So I then decided to go into it. I am not an actor. I don’t enjoy acting. I enjoy directing.
1ST MOVIE APPEARANCE
The 1st ever movie I appeared in, I think it was called ‘Ama Unam’ shot in Ikot Ekpene. I did it because somebody we were expecting on set could not carry that role. The next one was Iso jehova, same problem. When I got that story, everybody was afraid because it was the popular Iso jehova, who ever acted will die. So I then took it up upon me to do it. Those are the two major jobs I’ve appeared in.
1ST MOVIE DIRECTED THAT SHOT YOU INTO THE LIMELIGHT
I think it was Akpan Ekwong. I’ve been part of movies before then, but the 1st major job that I ever came with was Akpan Ekwong.
WHAT WAS THE MAGIC?
Akpan Ekwong was a true-life story. It was history. Something that actually happened! Those, days, there used to be this craze about witchcrafts. That is one thing I thank the present administration for, because the craze about witchcraft and the fear of the unknown has been greatly reduced.
I was in a restaurant one day and I saw a fight. One woman accused a fellow customer who came in and drop a seed of groundnut on her table of transferring witchcraft to her through the groundnut seed! So, there was scuffle and I had to trace the Akpan Ekwong story and that’s how I got into it.
WHAT MAKE NOLLYWOOD SO SPECIAL?
Nollywood is unique because despite the Nigerian economy, despite so many things we don’t have, we do not manufacture the machines, we don’t even have a good market to import most of the cameras and equipment but we invent to produce these movies.
But we here, a man will use…you know because of us, they had to invent one thing into camera. Yes because of Nigeria, they invent what is called HD Pro.
As in, they make HD, they make HDV which is less than the normal HDV. In the market now, we have DV which falls into Standard definition, we have HDV and we have the main HD and there is another high one called the Reid, which you can’t buy because sometimes, it’s like a local government budget.
Now, if you use HD to shoot, you can premiere it in cinemas. If you use DV, you can’t because the picture is so micro and that is what most of us we use and if you use HDV, you still can’t premiere it. So the white man put PRO for us, though the line on HDV is, instead of going straight, it crosses. If you look at it in the computer, it crosses. So that when you compress it, you can still blow it on cinemas. The Progressive side of DV that is HDV PRO.
COMPARE NOLLYWOOD AND AKWA IBOM MOVIE INDUSTRY
Akwa Ibom movies industry is Nollywood. There is no difference. It is Nollywood! The Yoruba movie industry is Nollywood. The Hausa movie industry is Nollywood. The Ghana movie industry is Nollywood.Every movie made in Sub-Saharan Africa is Nollywood because Nigeria started it. The Chinese movie industry is Hollywood. The Japan movie industry is Hollywood. Britain is Hollywood.
Canada is Hollywood even Jamaica is Hollywood. Akwa Ibom movie Industry is Nollywood. Do you understand me now? There’s nothing like Akwa Ibom Nollywood or whatever we want to called ourselves, Ikot Ekpene Movie Association; Uyo Movie Association all those things, all fall under Nollywood.
We use the Nollywood market to sell the movies. Nollywood artistes to act; Nollywood equipment for the shots and of course, most of the equipment are brought in from Lagos, and they are all Nollywood.
CHALLENGES OF MOVIE PRODUCTION
The challenges we have nationally, it’s just like the International side, you come down to the national side, then you go down to the micro side where you have low budget, the market and low budget. Why the low budget? Initially we used N1.5m/N2m to do a movie, you take it to a marketer and the marketer will prince N2m/N3m but these days, you find out that a marketer will get that movie from you an doesn’t even think of paying you that much.So it makes the producer now say, “When I want to produce another movie, I think I should try and see how I could cut my coat according to my size. That means, we he decide to use event N700, 000 to N800, 000 to produce this movie!
For example, how much does it cost to get Moses Armstrong on set? N200, 000 and the producer will say No! I can’t pay him! How much is this man? He’ll say I can’t pay him. So he’ll try to cut his coat according to his size and even the equipment, you keep preaching to them, can’t we bring in a Reid camera so that you can shot this film and premier it. How much is it a day? N50, 000 a day! The producer will say he can’t afford it. So, for 5 days, it will cost N250, 000!
Why is the Government fighting for NFA? Why are they fighting for Sports? They don’t regard Nollywood. Same thing here! We do not have Government patronage, Government regard. We are promoting norms, we are promoting culture, but the people that are in power don’t have regards us. That is the challenge we have. I believe that someday it will be change! That’s the challenge we have, low-budgeted movies!
I’m not married. I’m single! That’s because I’m married to my job. My job has really affected me. I had a very long-lasting relationship but she didn’t like my job. From the beginning, she’s been complaining about my job and it became bad, and then worse, then we departed.
It has affected both of us. She now stays out for a longtime and then there was one write-up online about me, and when she saw it, she concluded totally. That affected the relationship. Actually, I’ll get married.
I wanna take my time. I want to actually look out for someone that knows and love what I’m doing. I love what I’m doing. I see it as a calling. Since I came into the movie industry, I’ve discovered several talents. God has used me to push several people.
Each time I look at them, have food on their table, roof over their head and they are popular, I’m very happy. Where would they have been if God did not bring me? So, I think, contributing this one into the society and then paying that as a sacrifice. I see my not being married as a sacrifice.
I have a good relationship with my colleagues in the industry. Desmond, I’m the 1st man that brought him here. He has been here for about two times to work. The other day, I saw you with Evelyn Esin, yes, my finger is in her career.By God’s grace, she met me when God was taking her up and then God in one way or the other used me to push her there. All of us know about Ime Bishop which God has blessed and a whole lot of them except those like Moses Armstrong who has come in to meet me here. God has really used me.
I keep saying that I’m like a pencil in God’s hands. When you’re just positioned there and people meet you and from you, they graduate… do you understand? That’s how I look at it. A whole lot of them, the igbos, Benita Nzeribe has been a friend over the years and the late Ashley, Elebeli Elebuwa, Justus Esiri, Pete Edochie, they’re all people I’ve brought down here to work with, Olu Jacobs and the rest.
That is why I keep telling you that the industry is just small. Right now, Lancelot is shooting movies in Edo language like this movie ‘Adesuwa’, that’s Edo movie; so one cannot say that’s not Nollywood, that’s EDOwood or DELTAwood…So that is how I look at it.
WHERE DO YOU SEE MOSES ESKOR IN 5 YEARS?
I want to leave the country in the next two years. I’m doing everything possible to leave because if I don’t leave the country, the industry will still continue being at the same level. I’m leaving to study and come back; it will be at the same level if I don’t leave.
When you see everything packing around you, the best thing to do is, just set a standard, and grow! So, there are things I don’t know which! What I know right now is basically what I read on net. I want to put what I know into practice. I want to leave the country.
Right now, if I can, I’m working with my partner, if I can leave the country for at least a year or two and come back, I will then be able to afford at least one REID equipment in Akwa Ibom where people can come and stay and work!
I’ll then be able to have the knowledge, not only the ones I read on net, I am one practical man, but also the one I can say I was there, this is what we did there so, come let me teach you what we did there.
So that by the time I am finally old, I should be able to raise not just local people but people that can compete anyway!
ARE YOU A CELEBRITY?
We are all celebrities. Everybody is a celebrity! We are all celebrities Aniekan.
HOW DOES IT FEEL WHEN PEOPLE SPOT YOU ON THE ROAD, IN A SHOP OR IN THE CHURCH?
I don’t feel fulfilled. I don’t like being known. I told you from the beginning that I am not an actor. This thing is an accident because of Iso jeohova. I almost had problems with the marketer.
I became too popular that it almost distracted me from being a painter. I want to work at the background. I don’t like being in the limelight. I like being behind the camera. It has been there! It has some advantages and disadvantages.
But definitely, the fun is when you watch a movie you produce…when you watch your guy that was once a young boy in your house out there, that’s the fun! And then you take a phone and call him up to correct him…next time do this, do that! Ask them! That’s the fun!
Only problems is, they don’t…they don’t… you read their interviews, you read things about them but they don’t care to mention you.
But it doesn’t touch too much…because you know very well that in their mind of minds, they want you to die and for them to come and carry the biography and say ‘he was a great man’, I won’t die!
HOW DO YOU HANDLE YOUR FEMALE ADMIRERS?
I have lots of sons and daughters! Females? They are a bunch of distractions! A whole bunch of distractions! They are the ones that carry most of the stories you read. A girl would want a role from you and definitely you don’t give the role to her but you give it to miss B who is better and she wakes up tomorrow and says ‘he asked me out and I didn’t accept’ that is why Miss B got the role.
Never till today, have I known anything about her or asked her out! Several of them like that have made it! Claims of sexual harassment in this industry are made by people who didn’t get there.
They will say ‘I don’t have the body; he ask me out’. You are a liar! If you are good, Bros, the will knock on your door and carry you!
The marketer will say I want her in my film. If you’re good…who no like beta ting? Who no wan sell his/her film? When you’re not good, that’s when you’re not wanted. You go and work on yourself, get better and then you come back. That is the truth!
YOUR ROLE MODELS
Lancelot Odua Imasuen is my role model in the directing world in Nigeria here. He is great! He’s good! He’s creative! He calls himself the Governor, I call him the drama! As far as I am concerned, the man is somebody I would love to meet times without number because he doesn’t make noise and he stays behind the camera strictly and then Mel Gibson! This is a dual personality! He acts, he directs and in his films, he becomes.
What is happening to me is just happening to him. Its affects his marriage, it affects his career because that is him! He becomes it! That’s what Mel Gibson becomes! Mel Gibson becomes the film. It passes through him. It gets into his sense. Imagine Mel Gibson directing The Passion of Christ, imagine it.
He took up that story, he has been watching Jesus of Nazareth, but he took up that same story, directs the few seconds before Christ died and the movie became ‘wahala’. These are the two people I admire in my whole life.
PIRACY IN THE MOVIE INDUSTRY
Piracy belongs to the marketers’ world. Every marketer is a pirate. They pirate their things! It’s only when you are a producer and you want to market your movie alone, that’s when you suffer from piracy. They pirate you out to frustrate you. Most marketers are pirates.
They know who is pirating what and when a marketer holds a job and it is his job, you will see that the job will not be pirated because if I go to Ikenna’s shop and see that job, I will tell Ikenna, you are the one printing my job! They know their shops, they know their addresses, they know their houses, they have associations, and they know each other.
If they want to pirate that job, they will pirate it. If they want to stop piracy, they will stop piracy. Marketers are the engine-room of all these things. They know how to stop piracy; they know how to start piracy. It’s their world! Just like production is our world. Piracy is marketers’ world.
They know how to get the movie to any nooks and crannies and they know who is there pirating it because they go to the market and they see what does not belong to them, they trace it from who sells it to who brought it and from who brought it to where he got it…yes! They know the pirates!
AKWA IBOM YESTERDAY AND TODAY
Ya! Akwa Ibom is a great state. Akwa Ibom has been lucky. Why I say Akwa Ibom has been lucky is that, in this democracy Akwa Ibom has been lucky.
Obong Victor Attah came in, he laid the foundation, and just like what Paul said, “I planted and Apollos watered…” Governor Godswill Akpabio has performed very well. He is only being distracted by people who take this go there…ask of performance, he is so focused.
The other day I heard him say he came in angry, it showed! The man has really developed Akwa Ibom and today Akwa is a voice. You can go anywhere in the world and say I am from Akwa Ibom and you will be regarded!
The governor has really tried and he is a governor anybody will want to have any day and I pray that God will give him a good successor that will carry on his visions and not somebody that will come in and destroy what he has done. As of performance, he has really tried.
IF YOU WERE THE GOVERNOR’S ADVISER, WHAT AREA WOULD YOU WANT HIM TO TOUCH?
The area I’ve been crying about, he has started doing it. I want him to complete the stadium. My brother, the Akwa Ibom Stadium, Let’s forget what is happening in Calabar, a modern stadium can employ 5000 youths off the street.
That is what our predecessor failed to do. We didn’t know need a ‘Plaza’. We needed a stadium. That is what Victor Attah failed to do. So, Akpabio should not fail to do this. If we had a stadium before now, you’ll see that sports would have been the main stay of this state. Let’s leave tourism to Cross River. We cannot match in. A normal Calabar man is a tourist.
We can then go into sports. But if you look at it very well, if we have a stadium, we will have 5000 youths off the street from each of the local governments. People that can run, people that can swim, Taekwondo, judo etc. a standard stadium! A stadium that has facilities for competitive sports! That is what we need! A stadium!
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO HAVE THAT SUFFIX DGN ATTACHED TO SOMEONE’S NAME?
Actually, Directors Guild of Nigeria is just like Nigerian Bar Association. It is a established, after the Nigerian Actors Guild, DGN came into bare.
Our founding fathers had it that before you become a director, you must be a man of personality with good technical know-how because the director actually calls the shots and all the blames go to the director.
So the guild was actually formed to checkmate who is a director. So, before you join the DGN, you must have a certificate from a certified institution like the Nigerian Television College, Nigeriran Film Institutue or maybe train, and you must have worked with at least one or two people in this industry before you actually have DGN attached to your name.
I finished and worked with Afam Okey, Ifeanyi Azodo and their films are in the market and I think one of my training films was Desperate Maidens by Ifeanyi Azodo and I finished with him.
I was assisted by Sam Loco and Pete Eneh – although they are dead, these two Godfathers of mine encouraged me to have the Director Guild of Nigeria approval. I will forever live to remember them.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE A MOVIE?
Money! Money! Story, which is the script. As the producer, you need a good director who will come and sort out the story. That’s why I said the director is almost taking all the blames. You can have a good script, just like a song, you have a song, you enjoy the song, but people around don’t like the song.
The director’s job is to interprete that script and cast. You employ a good director and a good production manager to come and manage people the director has gathered. Their food, their welfare etc, that’s the production manager’s job. The producer gives the money and supervises. He is the employer of everybody.
The director is the technical man who is the owner of the film…the picture….because whatever come inside the tape and whatever comes around the set is the directors.
The producer then goes to the market to meet the marketer but the director actually produces the picture. You need a good director. A Director must not just like the picture but he should be able to know what kind of movie would sale per time because the movie story is like a calendar.
There is a time that epics and action sell, there is a time they don’t sale. He should be able to know this and advise the producer appropriately. You bring the story and he sits down to interprete the story and then call the artistes and fix the story and the producer then employ hands (as recommended by the director) and then, they go on set to work.
He first work with me on Bandit Girls shot in Calabar – it’s now playing on DSTV in his memory. When he landed, at first, you know when you bring a veteran, sometimes; you don’t know how his working relationship is. He was one emotional man, very emotional! A little thing can make him frown and cry..he is that very emotional and he’s an adviser. He is one man that will call you and advise you, and he is a prompt man. Enebeli will tell you, ‘I will leave on Sunday’ and if you’re not done by Sunday, he may leave you.
Even when he is choked up and he’s attached to that job, he could be very considerate! I had an experience with him while working together on a movie called Merchant Empire in Eket.
Those are the two jobs I did with the man, Bandit Girls and merchant Empire. Enebeli was a good man, a calm father who loves advising young people. The 1st man I lost that touched my heart was Ashley Nwosu. Incidentally, those 2 films I’ve mentioned, Ashley was involved. I give God the glory for their lives. I think God knows why.
ONE LAST WORD TO YOUR FANS…
If you want to come into the movie industry, don’t take it as a hobby. If it is a hobby, don’t come. If it is a profession, come. Don’t believe you can talk about anybody in the movie industry to distract them…it won’t work. There are people who were born to do what they are doing. No matter what you say, they will still move on because there’s a goal they are set to achieve.
Pass through the movie industry don’t let it pass through you. Get into the movie industry and you will grow. If you want to grow, take God as your own pillar, you will grow. The movie industry is just about growth, is just about consistency, the job we are doing is more spiritual than physical.
If you’re a talker you will go down, you will never grow. That is one effect of spirituality in the movie industry. If you are a positive-minded person that faces what you came here in the industry to do, you will grow.
Something happens and you don’t like it, you go on your knees, you will grow. You set up spiritual targets and you meet them, you will grow.
Because music and movie are spiritual! Movies, has to with story, music are songs, both are spiritual. So, because they are spiritual, when you get into it, get spiritual to tackle it.
Interviewer: Aniekan Ekah