Tope Oshin-Ogun, director of ‘Up North’, says Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, Bauchi state governor, had to audition for his role in the movie.
The movie, which will premiere on Sunday, features the governor making a cameo appearance and playing himself.
“He wanted to read the script so when he read the script, he said he liked it and asked if he could play himself. Editi then said ‘You have to audition for my director’ and he said ‘fine, I’ll do it’ and he did,” said in an interview.
“On the day of the shoot himself, I made him do three takes, he was very warm and accommodating. Even when his security detail said they had to be somewhere else, he said ‘be patient, let me be done with my role’.”
Speaking on how they were able to get the state government’s support, she said “Editi, who is the executive producer of the film, had gone to Bauchi some years before this film was made and he was surprised at the beauty of Bauchi. He was later on a flight with the governor and he got bold and walked up to him and they held a conversation about shooting a film in the state and the governor was open to it.
“He then pledged his support to Editi ‘whenever you people are ready, we are here to support you’ so when he returned two years later, he said ‘whatever you people need, I’ll give to you, access to the stadium, Durbar festival, even his personal convoy’.
“There was already word in town that there was going to be a film made in Bauchi so when we went to the locations, the governor took us around and introduced us to people saying something big was about to happen and they had to support us.
“In that way, it was a bit easier for us. The people of Bauchi are very friendly, in the middle of the shoot, people would come right up and offer to be in the scene without taking anything, they just wanted to support. For me, that was a pleasant surprise and Bauchi state is beautiful. We were up there for one month so you can imagine how safe we felt.”
According to Oshin, the intention of the movie is to show other parts of Nigeria to Nigerians.
“The intention of the film is broadly nationalist, this is also part of Nigeria, I bet you’ve never seen this part of Nigeria before. For one, I never thought there were lakes up north when you are thinking about the north, you are thinking of a desert. So the ultimate thing was, let us show other Nigerians what the north looks like. Let’s not think about the terrorism and say I am not going to serve up north.”