I loved talking to this cool dude because he showed four things which I find very important in a person's character: Passion, Drive, Motivation and Determination to make it in his field of work.
One thing I got from this interview is that you should endeavour to follow your dreams no matter what. As long as you are passionate and prepared to put in the hard graft as nothing is easy and nothing WONDERFUL comes for FREE you would succeed.
Here below is our little chat, hope you find some inspiration from it. Happy Reading, y'all.
DC: What are you, a glass empty or a glass half full person?
AN: Definitely a glass half full – actually little more than half full!
DC: Did you do film studies?
AN: Yes, in San Francisco
DC: What prompt you into getting into directing?
AN: Erm, actually I was going through some personal crisis at the time and my way of dealing with these crisis was to write and at the time too I had a security job which was at night and as I had to stay awake, I used this opportunity to write. So, I wrote here and there about a character called “Makoki” who like me was going through some personal issues, everything around him was not right and he was dealing with a lot of family problems. I put these writings together and decided to make a book out of it so at 19 years old, I had my first book published by Trafford Publishings, a Canadian company. This love for writing started way back when I was in Sacred Heart College where I received an award for an essay I wrote whilst I was 16 and in Form 5. When my first novel was out, then I was going to school and studying Electrical engineering in Arkansas. This was fine with me but after some soul searching period fuelled by what my elder sister had mentioned to me earlier while I was growing up, I knew that this job route was not for me. I did not want to be stuck in a routine and a defined schedule type job and plus I am more of a creative, outdoor, meeting people type person. When I wrote my second novel and I saw that it failed to make the impact I had envisaged, I decided to use films instead to reach the audiences. I was fascinated by the element of risk in the film industry and the fact that the audience can get emotionally attached to a character to the extent of believing in that character, that was very powerful to me. It seemed real rather than fictitious. It is that raw belief and passion that made me interested in directing
DC: How difficult or easy is it starting out?
AN: Oh boy… going to film school gives you the chance to network, aside from the knowledge you gain. By the time you graduate, you already have contacts and projects you have done to showcase and this gives you a following, some kind of a fan base behind you. The easiness or difficulty depends on you, it depends on your hard work and your hustling. The film industry is about networking and who you know really helps.
DC: Do you have your own company and how established are you?
AN: Akendo Films has been around a few years now, I have a crew of 15 people and it is an independent company, we shoot music videos and documentaries. I have a couple of feature films which will need financing so I am trying to put out a lot more out there to be able to get this backing. I have a consulting firm who source out work for me and I give them a percentage.
DC: What about funding? The equipment do not seem cheap!
AN: Film making is about renting. Buying the equipment is not really the thing to do as renting them is a whole lot cheaper. When I get to meet the client, the budget I give to them covers the crew, the equipment and all that I would need for that shoot or project.
DC: Where can one see your work? Do you have a website?
AN: Good question! – I had a website but took it down as I want to steer the company into a different direction. I have stuff on You Tube and Myspace and my website http://www.akendoproductions.com/ will be coming up soon.
DC: Are you into directing only or the whole shebang?
AN: The whole shebang. The way everything is set up in the film world, you have to know how to do a whole lot to be able to make it easier to negotiate and to make your name.
DC: How do you source out writers and actors etc?
AN: At this point, I am doing my writing myself but I would be interested in meeting people who have a different perspective or angle from me. For getting actors, I go online and put out a casting call and the agencies call you.
DC: How do you find the castings?
AN: They are quite interesting, to see different people doing different things for the same character.
DC: Would you use Cameroonian actors / actresses?
AN: Of course I will do if I run into them. It also depends on what the script, the character and the role requires. I have not ran into them so far though.
DC: Do you think we (Africans) still see this industry, the entertainment industry as a taboo industry?
AN: I think to a certain degree but not every one of them have a negative impression about the entertainment industry. However this impression, is rooted in the African society. Few Africans are now involved in this industry and are making it, for example Djimon Hounsou (from Benin), Okafor (from Nigeria) etc the more and more they break into this field, the better the impression will be.
DC: I was checking out some of your work on You Tube and came across “Lucito” what is it all about?
AN: It means “the game” in Spanish. It is the trailer that is on You Tube as I could not upload the whole piece there. Basically I wanted to shoot a piece in which different races would have a role to play. “Tang” the character is Asian, “Rico” is Hispanic, “Thor” is Caucasian and “Tyrone” is Black. They basically come together ever so often to rob banks. It is a survival piece.
DC: Do you have any themes you are obsessed with?
AN: I am obsessed with the transition of an actor becoming a character. This fascinates me!
DC: Do you have a specific genre of music you make videos for?
AN: No, I am trying to do anything and everything. Every genre and every artist tells a different story so I listen to the lyrics and then I try to relate to where they are coming from. A music video is a pictoral representation of these lyrics and that is what I try to do.
DC: What is your opinion on Hip Hop music videos where we see girls wearing next to nothing parading around?
AN: This is not only on Hip Hop videos by the way! If you watch some Mapouka videos you see the same thing. I am trying to be objective – the artists will say that they have to put these types of videos out there to market their music and others would say that the videos are degrading and not respectful to women especially as women have been trying to establish themselves in the society (look at Hilary Clinton, Sarah Palin etc). I choose not to judge people and at the end of the day I try to portray what is in the script.
DC: Do you think these videos promote immorality?
AN: Anything does. Look at the Internet. Before the music channels play these videos, they have to pass some sort of a criteria or consensus based on what they are allowed to show out there so I think this in itself limits the types of videos that they show. In my opinion, the Internet is the worst as it has no regulation.
DC: What is your motto in life?
AN: The sky is the limit. My name “Akendo” translates as that so to me, Nature itself had already given me this motto. I want to go as far as I can and the sky is my limit.
DC: Describe yourself?
AN: I am a lively type of a guy, I always look for the best in people so I don’t pre-judge. I am humble and simple but at the same time would not allow anyone to take advantage of me. I also get along with people very easily, in my industry this is very essential.
DC: What has inspired you?
AN: Being from Africa and growing up there gave me a big value on life. I learnt not to take it for granted, to experience and take advantage of NOW, the present.
DC: What are your dreams?
AN: I want to be able to tell a story, to make movies, get into Hollywood and have a family. I want my kids to enjoy life and I also want to be happy.
DC: Where do you intend on going with your film making and directing?
AN: To the highest level as possible.
DC: What did your parents think?
AN: Oh boy…they didn’t find that very funny especially after spending all that money to send me to school. It took them a while to come round and now they are very supportive of me.
DC: Would you encourage anyone who was wishing to follow soot?
AN: Oh yes..by all means please follow your dreams, as long as you are passionate.
DC: Has living in America helped you follow your passion?
AN: Oh yes because if I were back in Cameroon, I don’t think it would have been possible. I am in San Francisco, so I am in the midst of it all and that has so far been invaluable to what I decided to do.
DC: How can we encourage this in Cameroon then?
AN: Cameroon is a great place, but things like corruption kills certain endeavours. I have in mind to open a film school but would the funds I send be used for the purpose? We can encourage the kids back home by having talks, getting them excited about films. If they find out how to make films, I am certain they would be very convinced and interested.
DC: That’s it, thanks for the time!
AN: Oh wow…thanks!!
http://www.akendoproductions.com/ (under construction)
DC: Dulce Camer
AN: Akendo Ntangku
Many thanks for checking Dulce Camer once again y'all. Keep reading and I will certainly keep writing. Please feel free to email me the names of people you would like me to interview and feature on this blog. You can contact me on Facebook or you can email me on email@example.com
Have a wonderful weekend.
Satyajit Ray, a self-appointed apprentice, decided that the only way he could fully understand the medium of film was if he worked under Jean Renoir when he came to India to shoot “The River.” The rest is history. For those who want a career in any aspect of film-making, there have always been some first options. The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, is perhaps the first on their list.
This blog is going from strength to strength. Very well done Dulce! Akendo is another inspirational interviewee. UO
nice one dulce. i like akendo's ideas and his determination to follow his dreams. he also sits nicely on the fence re the video vixen issue. it'll be good to see him take his talent back home someday. Lord knows he's needed!
I am very proud of Akendo. He used to hang-out with me, even ride my bike, and I remember the night when we worked security together and I told him how I just finished writing my first book. His eyes lighted-up and he basically picked my brain...so I steered him into the right direction, and felt proud when he thanked me and my wife in the first pages of his first book.I returned the favor in mine as well. I moved away to Eureka, California and I myself got into my own filming, "ALL-EVENTS", and called Akendo one day and told him how I was into putting some of my video's on public t.v. and how expensive the video camera's were that I was using...lo and behold...I checked on my "American son from Africa" a few years later to tell him about my new project..."Dante's Dam Water" bottled water distributorship, and what is he doing? He is filming !! WOW !!...I am so proud of him and I know for a fact that he will become a successful film Director some day because of his stubborn and tireless determination to fullfill the visions that he see's in his head and projects to people around him. I used to comment to him that "One day you will be this highly successful person and you might forget about me"...and he used to laugh and reply..." Dante'...I will never forget you or Sprite...We will be kicking back somewhere in the Mediterranean some day laughing about the days of the past." I know this is a long comment, but I cannot contain my feeling of being so very proud of this young man. He is living proof to all the Americans who are born here that you can make it in life if you just have the determination to do so and when you fail...don't feel sorry for yourself and whine to everyone for pity...just move on and keep trying. I believe that Akendo is actually going to forget me because he is just soooo busy with life, but I won't whine about it...That's life !! Dante' Chelossi
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