“If you are ready to devout your life to a life that is fun, tough and only glamorous during award shows, then go for it. And you will enjoy every second of it”- MARVIN.
AdohrSpeaks is back again with yet another episode of Focus, and this month’s focus is on someone very interesting & inspiring. Dear friends meet Marvin Akanyi. Marvin is a filmmaker, producer & storyteller.
- Tell Adohrspeaks readers a little about yourself, and what you do
I’m Marvin, full name is Terwase Marvin Akanyi for official situations. LOL. I am a Producer for motion pictures originally from Nigeria, now in Los Angeles. But because I have done almost everything in filmmaking, I call myself a Story Teller/Filmmaker.
- Tell us a little bit of your background/ educational background
My Bachelors degree was in Mass Communication, so my love for story telling dates back to my days at Covenant University. But being a journalist, I didn’t have the freedom to stir up my stories to the masses so I really wanted more freedom and filmmaking is that freedom. I then moved to the US and took a Masters Degree at a film school in Los Angeles and I haven’t stopped making magic ever since.
- Why filmmaking (what made you pursue this profession)
This is a fun story. My favorite song is ‘Torn’ by Natalie Imbruglia. I remember watching the music video to the song at 7 years old and being fascinated by the magic and fakeness of filmmaking. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to make believe. Also, Filmmaking is the only career that doesn’t feel like work. It is like vacation. A banker or doctor will never go to work on cool locations, with crazy costumes and make up and people jumping off buildings. But that is what work is like for a filmmaker and it is absolutely amazing.
- Was there a particular event or time that you realized that film making was not just a hobby, but that it will be your life & passion
I realized this on the last film I Produced and Directed. It is a fashion film. I remember not having a huge budget for that film and saving up all my money to make that film. Pre production had me running around and trying to get almost everything for cheap and free. It was stressful. The day of the shoot came and all my cast and crew showed up to set with smiles on their faces and it stayed till the end of the shoot. Again, it wasn’t a big production but everyone loved the story and they all wanted to be part of it. At some point I looked at the people and said, some of these guys could have gone off to another set or took the Sunday off but not this guys because they are passionate. One can’t be that passionate about a hobby.
- How did your African parents take it when you told them you wanted to be a filmmaker.
They supported me all the way and have always supported. And being a Producer, I get to shoot at cool locations, meet amazing people and I always have the craziest stories to tell and cool pictures to show. They know it makes me happy, and that makes them happy.
- Do you think it is important to go a film school in order to become a successful filmmaker
A film school is a very guided start to filmmaking which is cool the actual industry is different from what film schools say. It requires a high level of street smart to be a Producer, you can’t learn that at school. You need a lot of patience and interpersonal skills to work on a film set, that isn’t thought at school but it is literally the best way to make it in the industry. So film school teaches you what to do as a film maker but not how to survive as a filmmaker.
- Tell us a little bit of some of the films/work you have produced .
I have produced a commercial for a leisure wear line. That was fun and the line itself is doing very well. It is called Vyve Splash wear.
Crime Cleaners is a web series about 5 underdogs that want to be super heroes in their community. This was a very fun show to produce because it was challenging. The challenge is the fun. Again, the client had little budget and a world of imagination. I needed to get a comic store and two houses to film in for zero dollars. I made it happen and the result looks amazing.
One of the films I Produced and also Directed, 0404 Peach Back Street, was nominated for best narrative short film at the Barcelona Planet Film Festival.
- Will you ever produce/make a film in Nigeria now or in the near future
Yes I will. I have lots to stories to tell that are set in Nigeria and I honestly can’t wait to get into the Nigerian film scene. I am excited about that happening in the next 4 years. I feel there are lots of untapped talent in Nigeria and a bigger room to grow so I definitely want to be part of that development.
- Can you tell us about your current/ upcoming projects
Currently, I produce a web show called on Youtube ‘The Come Up’ hosted by Marcel Salapa https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqgh_654GQkk6YPH3BTHXhQ/videos. We interview Founders and Entrepreneurs younger than 25. Profiling them, their company, journey and visions. Some of our guests include Alex Reagan, a 20 year old founder of a clothing line made entirely from recycled/eco friendly materials. Haydn Sonnad, 19 year old founder of Tesloop, a car service like uber that uses only Tesla’s.
Later this year, I will produce a documentary about Latino organic farmers in Los Angeles and so I am very excited about that.
- What film has inspired you the most?
The film that has inspired me the most to tell stories is Sarafina (1992). Back in school, my favorite subject was history and I tend to go towards biopics. Sarafina was the first film I ever saw in my life, and back then it was entertaining but now watching it as a filmmaker, I appreciate the story and I want my work to impact people the same way Sarafina impacted me.
- What are some of the challenges you have faced as an upcoming filmmaker/producer and how did you overcome them.
When I started out as a Producer, a major problem was no one knew me as a producer. Everyone knew me as a First Assistant Director and that was all they wanted to hire me as. But, I and a group of friends came together and opened a production company called PressPlay and I took on the role as Producer. Whenever a project came in, I was assigned to produce and that broke me into producing fully.
Basically, the biggest challenge in the film industry is breaking away from a role and taking on a whole new role. The transition process is always hard and sometimes discouraging but it is all part of life.
- What advice will you give to anyone starting out in this part or looking to start out.
Ask yourself if you are really passionate about filmmaking. Are you ready to know and live what happens behind the camera and before the camera rolls? It is tough. Filmmaking isn’t an industry to make money in because you will never make money. It is an industry for artists, for rebels, for visual poets, who would starve, stand under the rain, stay awake 4 days straight risk lives just to make art. If you are ready to devout your life to a life that is fun, tough and only glamorous during award shows, then go for it. And you will enjoy every second of it.
Answers to fun questions.
–Whats your all time favourite movie
The King’s Speech.
–Whats the one thing people don’t know about you
I am deathly afraid of getting wet with clothes on. It is embarrassing. I always have a rain coat and an umbrella in my car and backpack. It is a must. I can not watch scenes where people jump into pools or have water splash on them or dance in the rain. I cringe. I would say i am scared of wet clothes
–Whats your favourite Nigerian dish
Eforiro and fish.
–Name 3 actors you’d love to work with
Helena Bonham Carter
-Whats the one thing you miss about home (Nigeria)
Links to some of Marvin’s works :
Follow Marvin on social media : Instagram : @voduchild ,@pressplaycollective
Facebook: Marvin Terwase Akanyi