Ubong Nse Thompson also known as Bestman Thompson is a filmmaker, actor, producer and a philanthropist. The Transportation graduate from the Lagos State University in the interview speaks on his passion for the Nigerian movie industry and why he love making movies in the Northern parts of Nigeria.
Tell us more about yourself ?
I’m a filmmaker, actor, producer and a philanthropist. I also run an NGO called The Pyramid of Hope foundation as well. The NGO basically is just to see how to address some issues in our society that the government can’t actually lay their hand on. But in our small capacity, we are able to do some outreaches to help out-of-school girls and see how to enlighten people on the importance of educating the girl child. I’ve been in the Nigerian filmmaking industry since 2009. I’ve also made couple of films that are making lots of waves. I schooled in Lagos. I’m a graduate of Lagos State University where I studied Transportation. Rounding up with school ,I’ve been in the industry behind all these time, so I started acting like 2- years ago you know, appearing on cameras to also see and discover myself and see what I can actually do onscreen as well. I’m a major key player in the movie industry in Nigeria as well.
Tell us what really motivated you into the movie industry?
Growing up, I used to love watching entertainment programmes on TV where they give a section for entertainment segments. I was really fascinated about it. Not just the actors but people who work behind the scenes. It takes the whole village to make a film. There are other components of filmmaking like the makeup departments ,the camera department etc. So I started making friends and then, built that passion for filmmaking. I wanted to see how it’s been done over there, not just sitting at home and criticizing the film, I wanted to see how the manpower , the hours been put in the film that can represent the African story. So it’s been a passion that has been there over time for me, it didn’t just start today ,it’s been something that I’ve worked towards the pedestal. I started going for auditions seeing how filmmaking is done and now today, I am a producer and I produce my own contents. I’m pretty much excited about it, though it’s still work in progress…not there yet but gradually, will be there. I appreciate where I am at the moment , so I thank God.
Can you tell us some of the movies you have produced and acted in?
I have produced an acted in Least Expected, Maimuna, Muqabala, Glimps, Good Citizen, Mustapha, If I’m President, Silent Sound, Ifeoma, Somara me others.
The last one I produce which I featured Chelsea Eze. it’s about women in the north and early marriage early who would not allow to be relegated without achieving their goals, it’s called the REBELLION. it portrays a young lady who was really rebellious in her husband’s house because she wanted to get education , she wanted to be herself you know get a career for herself but at the same time not avoiding being married. She wanted to be herself , get a career for herself but at the same time, not avoiding being married. but she wants to avoid an average African or northern Nigerian home where they say the wife only belongs to the kitchen and all that. That’s what actually inspired the film. It was good because lots of people dropped their comments after watching it, and they loved it. And I’m looking forward to doing something bigger than that.
Give us more insight why you love Nollywood and the movie industry as someone who studied Transportation in the university.
Nollywood is a billion dollar company but it’s still growing. People compare Nollywood to Hollywood or Bollywood like the case may be ,but in terms of output we have the highest numbers because the market is here. Most filmmakers in Nollywood are intelligent. I don’t like to associate myself with mediocrity. But even with the little resources at my disposal, because of the environment we are in, and the small funding we get, on like what it is abroad where maybe the government can actually fund most of the film, but this one you have to work hard to get a loan to shoot the film and then, at the end of the day, you need to also build an audience to watch the film. So being in Nollywood has really exposed me to several other things, and filmmaking itself is all about passion. If you look at the money, it might not come . Most importantly, let the passion drive you and your work will actually speak for itself. When you put out beautiful projects and people see it and be like “who is this person? Who did this particular project?” So there are a lot of good film makers in Nollywood that are doing exceptionally well .Back in the days, we are used to the VHS or the Alaba International Market that distribute, but now we have online distributions, the likes of Netflix ,Amazon prime , they came into the into the system and they’ve seen that Nigeria is a fertile ground to actually plant seeds on and to actually invest in. I feel more entities should come in and support filmmakers because we have lots of stories , African stories we can actually tell the world . We can also tell the world that Nigeria is a good place, we’re also doing well on international stage.
We have a new government now, even though the past government didn’t really support the industry. Tinubu has also appointed a youth to help head the industry, what do you think could be done harness the potentials that abound in the creative industry or Nollywood.
First of all,I would want to appreciate President Boa Ahmed Tinubu for thinking deep in making sure that he brings in young people into his cabinet. That being said, he’s somebody that harnesses talents. I’ve heard testimonies people who have actually worked with him overtime, they were young people then, but now you can see the level of work they’ve actually done for themselves. For him to have brought in a young person to head that ministry, it’s quite fantastic ad commendable. I’ve had an encounter with the minister a long time ago, about a year or two ago and she’s very sound , she knows what she wants ,she understands the end goal and I believe the creative industry would actually benefit more from her. There will be a whole bunch of ideas , it will be open for everybody to come bring in their ideas, what you think you can do to make sure that Nigeria is open for everybody. Nigeria is a beautiful place, Nigeria always have the bad image like the fraud where anything you talk about Nigeria is always fraudulent. We should please tell our stories and make people see that Nigeria is A great and beautiful nation. I’ve seen t2 Minister’s 8 point agenda. It’s full I creative reasoning. The world is a global village now and seeing technology has taken over, t top five unicorns in Africa are Nigerians , so if you can see the level of work that we put in like young minds are putting in ,bring in those resources into the entertainment sector, the creative sector it’s going to enlarge because entertainment itself is lots of money. Like earlier stated, look at the likes of Burna Boy in the music industry, Wizkid, Davido, they’re doing great in various platforms, selling out the O2 as Asake sold out the O2 and other 20,000 capacity stadia. Three months ago, I just came back from France, from Nollywood film week and Nollywood films were showing and they loved it, even though they do not understand what we were saying, but it all depends on the story , they love the African story and it was translated, they understood it because they loved it and you could see the colour of people that were there. They were not black people, white people watching Nigerian films These are the kind of things we want to see so that Nigeria can actually have a good name in the international community and then make money for the country as well. entertainment is a huge investment. I believe that once the President Bola Tinubu settles down, he will be able to sit on a round table and speak to stakeholders in the entertainment sector and see how can we harness these talents , how can we assist , how can we invest so that we give us a timeline on how we can recoup our investments.
Sex for role has become a major issue in Nollywood, as a producer, what’s your take?
To be honest, it has become a cliché that sex for this sex for that . Even in the banking sector, people talk about it, though it’s more prominent in Nollywood because they see beautiful ladies on screens and most people come out to say that this producer did this because she wasn’t given a role. Don’t get me wrong, those things might be happening but it’s just few people who are doing it. A large chunk of Nollywood actress might have had a bad encounter with the producer who has asked for sex and the person comes out in the media ,public space and announces it. It doesn’t mean that it’s everybody in Nollywood that I it. Personally, I value talent, I value creativity, I make sure I try as much as I can to cast the people that deserve the role because sometimes, I do table casting, the essence is to have a good content that would feed the audience , so that the audience will believe in your production house. I’ll advise them to stop if they’re doing it, if at all it’s happening, stop giving Nollywood a bad name. Nollywood is not a bad place to be yeah , it’s just a few people who are making Nollywood look like a bad place. Nollywood in second Hollywood as well but we don’t get to hear it as much as the Nigerian media space is painting the sex for role saga Nollywood.
Tell us about your foundation , what’s it’s primary objectives?
I started it a year ago, because of the COVID era. I thought about it after COVID and I said I should have a foundation where I can help people .During COVID we were amongst the privileged ones that could stay in a space where we could have access to food and you know , still have power and still have good shelter and still maintain our mental health. But then when you look at social media, you see a whole bunch of ups and downs, people going through a lot. So I told myself and I felt I should have an NGO that can intercede in these kinds of situation in in our society. If the government is not reaching out to these kind of places, with the little we can, we can actually just help out. I also talked about the Out Of Schoolgirls. I noticed because most of my films are usually not in Nigeria. I notice that there are lot of out of school girls in Northern Nigeria. I’m seeing how to reach out to authorities that can help these girls go back to school and early marriage as well. I want to really use my to speak about early marriage because it’s important to allow these young women be themselves and go to school, let them be educated and have a sense of belonging. So if we can give the girls education and give them a better living they can make the world a better place for all of us.
Can you tell us some of the movies you are working on and what should your fans expect from you?
Currently I’m filming “Fari Jini”, is another content for Iroko TV for Rok TV, DSTV and this is the 8th season. We started from season one so just trying to round up. Also there’s some other projects on the pipeline we’re working on. Currently trying to see how to partner with Netflix. I’m so passionate about northern Nigeria I’m not even from the north but I’m so passionate about northern Nigeria. We wanted filming in Zaria but we couldn’t because of insurgent ad insecurity. Most of the actors said they don’t want to go. Then if you look at the expense of the overhead cost, it’s cost more money than you know bringing security and doing all of that. We had to fly to Ghana a place called Tamale in northern Ghana to shoot and it was extremely expensive. Insecurity really brought us a bit backward ,we wish Nigeria can turn back the hands of time when we used to travel on the road and people would just be themselves and happy without fear. Our Nigerian content are usually consumed all over even in France and translated in French.
With that said, I want to appreciate my beautiful people. They call me Bestman Thompson, .Keep watching my films, thank you so much for all you’ve been doing. I see all the good work ,all the support over the years . Watch out for all the beautiful and amazing movies that will be coming from my production house and I’m sure you’re going to be entertained. Thank you so much for always having my back .