COLLINS ONOME EGBA, A YOUNG FILMMAKER AND ANIMATOR ON THE RISE
Collins Onome Egba is a 19 year old self taught screenwriter, filmmaker, director and animator, presently studying psychology at the Lead City University, Ibadan. While growing up, he was fascinated by art and though not adept at drawing, his passion for telling stories led him to his create comics of various genres. Egba’s passion for film was ignited after watching a full animated feature. He was amazed to see how the filmmakers made him care about characters that never existed and thus, he decided to learn more about animation and live action films. Collins Egba started out working as a visual effects supervisor on minor projects for others before directing a documentary short film – Nigerian Entrepreneurs and his first short film-The Cafe or the Kettle (2016) which was screened at the NollyFest Film Festival in the United Kingdom. PULL, his 2016 animated short debut, which he animated, produced and directed was screened the same year African International Film Festival (AFRIFF) and received a nomination in the Best Animation category.
Is anyone in your family artistically inclined?
Though the closest is my sister who is a writer. However, she specializes in non-fiction, which is the opposite of my more fictitious and narrative-based stories. Everyone in my family apparently has different interests.
Do you have support from your family since venturing into animation?
Yes, I have been morally and financially supported by family.
How did you get into animation?
I started out drawing comic books and selling them to my family and friends. When I grew older and wanted to publish, I realized the market for them was slowly fading out and it would be harder for my voice to be heard through that medium. I had always been fascinated with animation and decided to convert one of the comic books into one. While in pre-production, I gave my sister the poorly formatted screenplay to review and after reading it she said it would work better as a live-action film. After doing some research, a friend and I decided to produce a live-action action film in which I was to work as a visual effects supervisor and director. We wanted to implement the Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) technology visible in most foreign action blockbusters like the Transformers but suspended our Sniper and Chasedown projects because they were too ambitious as feature films. At the start of 2016, I decided to start small, make films and not focus on the negatives so I directed my first short film The Cafe or the Kettle and uploaded it on my YouTube page. The reactions I received for it was positive, especially the little visual effects scene. After this, I decided to direct my first 3-D animated short PULL, which is an old story I thought of but never did anything about.
What inspired PULL, and can you tell us about your work process?
I conceptualized the story 2 years ago while waiting for my dad at his office reception and observing that people did not read the instructions on the swing doors. The final idea came alive early this year when I decided to become a filmmaker. Prior to this, I had always told people, and it was also boldly written on my Instagram page that I was a filmmaker and animator but I, did not have work to show for it! I wrote the script around March and did the first storyboard then. Going into production, I realized that 3-D animation was more complicated than I thought and spent 2 months trying to find a way around it by reading books and watching several videos. I eventually had the breakthrough of using multiple software at a time for a shot, which is quite an unorthodox method used mostly in live-action visual effects. It enabled me to render on time as I was working mostly on my laptop.
How did you assemble the technical crew including Galo Ortiz, a Mexican?
I handpicked each member of the team based on my experience with them on some other projects and after reviewing their other works. I knew PULL was going to be a challenging project so I wanted committed people. Most of them were fairly new to animation but were knowledgeable in other aspects like graphics design and sound, and so it was easy for them to channel their expertise into this production. For the music, I wanted it to be distinct and original. The film was going to be non-dialogue so music was important in backing up the visuals to help the audience connect better with it. I looked online through some of my favorite animated shorts and tried to contact the composers. Galo Oritz at the time had just concluded work on another animation Tasteful by Bloop so he was available. I pitched the idea to him, sent the script and explained my vision, and he agreed to work on the project. Kubiat Morgan was the graphics designer and co-animator on some shots, Ola Fash an architecture student, modelled most of the buildings in the exterior environment and Adeosun Ezekiel worked as the sound designer.
How long did it take you after pre-production?
Pre-production of this film took quite a while because I neither had the resources or knowledge of big studios like Disney or Pixar and also did not have any formal training on what and what not to do. I had to think of a new or different way to do animation rather than the traditional techniques, so we skipped a few steps and added some of ours. After pre-production, we were lucky to have 2 weeks at an architecture studio and we tried to do as much as possible so we could leverage on their resources. After those 2 weeks, we spent another 2 months working before we could complete the project.
What was your budget and how long did it take?
We were working with little to no budget and all together it took about five months to get PULL from script to screen ready.
How did you feel when you made the AFRIFF selection?
I was indeed excited! AFRIFF is one of the biggest film festivals on the continent, so getting selected as well as nominated was a huge thing for me especially as it was my first animation. It has also been a great motivation for me to work harder to get even better productions out there.
Are you going to create more animation content for other platforms?
Yes, I have started pre-production for a new animation, which will also be done using CGI computer animation.
Are you planning a full-length feature soon?
Definitely soon, though I mean in 4 to 5 years, I should be producing an animated feature film. However, this might come sooner depending on the resources.
Image credits: Onome Egba
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