Director of the film, The Black Book, Editi Effiong sits with Chude Jideonwo, host of #WithChude to discuss the loss of his brother to cancer, the making of the film – The Black Book, the story of that day when it seemed like everything on the set of the film had failed, how he collapsed in tears, into the loving arms of the legend, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, and his work with his agency, Anakle.
“I grew up in a house filled with books. My dad has a master’s degree in Linguistics, so I had so many books. Storytelling became a thing that was in the blood. I was barely ten when I read my dad’s master’s dissertation. The first job I got was after I was building an oil spill response. I taught myself to code because I studied environmental science at the university. The Oil company wanted me to come serve after school. My supervisor said, ‘We are putting you on the management track from day one’. A few months in, it became really boring. I was going to do the same thing. There was no room for creative exploration, so I left. I went to work for free, and later as a product manager selling expensive cosmetics. Then I started Anakle, and my tech side and my marketing side came together. It’s fun how Anakle gave me a chance to do some of the most interesting things I have ever done.
He shared about the setbacks he faced while directing his film, The Black Book. “I did my edit in London and it was a brutal process. That thing where I tell myself that I should surround myself with people who know better became a problem. The problem comes when there is a conflict between what you do know and telling someone who has been doing it for years that this is what you want. We would fight a lot and it was brutal. Then I had a call from Jadesola Osiberu, and I broke down, but I had told every member of my team that if we do what we want to do, and we do it right we would make a big difference. Now The Black Book is number one in Southeast Asia, top ten in Pakistan, and number one in Romania”. He also shared about participating in EndSars while seeking consent from the Police and the Nigerian Army for his film
On the emotional moment he shared with Taiwo Ajai-Lycett on the set, when he broke down, he said, “The scale defeats all of us. There were days I had to carry people I asked to come on board because I could lean on them. And there were other days I had to be carried. That was one of those days. We had just come back from two weeks of Covid break. That meant that the budget was burnt. I was under a lot of pressure after we returned because we were losing more time. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett was with us for a short period of time. At that moment, leading these many people whom you have asked to come because you can lean on them but now, they have to lean on you (felt like a lot). No one asks a leader if they are okay, the leader always has a brave face. So every day I had to put on a brave face even though I was scared. She just walked in, took one look at me and knew that I was dying inside. It is in moments like that I learnt to appreciate those that I journey with.”
Sharing his experience with grief, he said, “Your child wants to go to heaven after you’ve lost one child, what do you want to say to him? You’re like ‘Please don’t try yourself o, please this child please’. I read somewhere in the comments where someone said, “The grief in ‘The Black Book’ was so superficial and people don’t grieve like that”. And my question was, ‘Have you ever lost a person in your life? No, you do not know grief more than I do’. My youngest brother was my first child, I raised that boy. I lost him to cancer, and it’s the worst way to die. I lost that boy and did not cry one single tear because I had to be there for everybody, I had to buy the casket, I had to arrange funerals, and I had to be strong where nobody else was. Then about 10 months later, I woke up, and I had cried in my sleep. For an entire week, every night, I would cry in my sleep and wake up to my bed wet with tears because I hadn’t found the courage to grieve because I had to be strong for everybody. Or when I was called that my wife was in the hospital and we were having a child and I had to answer the question, “Who do we save?” He shares about having his child die in his arms and many levels of grief he has faced. My child was 24 months old, and we were told he was not going to make it. I was in church, and I can remember walking from my seat to the altar and just lying down there, crying. I know grief, I have seen too many levels of grief.
So, if there’s a thing, I am most familiar with, it’s grief”, he added.
Watch the excerpt here: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cy7nKrHNExn/?hl=en
#WithChude is a network of media products across TV, Film and podcasts telling stories that enable and strengthen the mind, the heart, and the spirit. The weekly interviews are widely syndicated across terrestrial television and social media platforms reaching an average of 8 million people weekly – positioning it as the most watched and most syndicated weekly talk show (digital + traditional) in the region. It has become a safe space for guests to talk about things publicly for the first time. Actor Joke Silva revealed that her husband Olu Jacobs was dealing with dementia with Lewy body for the first time on the show, and producer Kemi Afolabi opened up about her experience dealing with Lupus on #WithChude. That month, Lupus and Kemi Afolabi were among the top Google Nigeria searches. The interviews have been featured everywhere, from the BBC to the New York Times. The documentary and travelogue series #ChudeExplains has tackled issues from criminal justice reform to Gen Z coming of age.
All past and new episodes of #WithChude can be watched at watch.withchude.com. You can also watch the premiere of new episodes every Saturday on Channels TV at 1 pm, with reruns every Sunday on Wazobia TV Channel 98 at 5 pm, and every Tuesday on Rave Tv at 5 pm.
An extended play podcast is up on listen.withchude.com, as well as on Apple Premium.