Quirk, a fertile imagination, passion and proper formal education are ingredients that make a formidable and unforgetable actor and producer. With a Degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Lagos and a Postgraduate Degree in Film and Television Production from Edinburgh Napier University, Patric Oke Jr is poised to take acting and film making to the next level. IMDb credits in the movie, ‘In Line’, acting credits in stage play, ‘Still Single in Gidi’, Ebony Life Tv’s ‘ On The Real‘, and an appearance on Lala Akindoju’s Open Mic Theatre give credence to the fact that Patrick Oke Jr is definitely warming up the hearts of audiences in Lagos.
I have a chat with Patrick it’s a truly amusing, humorous and insightful conversation.
I ask Patrick to tell me about himself and how he discovered his passion for acting, movie production and directing, and he narrates,
‘I guess I have always been an actor. I remember when I was a child, I used to spend hours by myself, playing make-believe and imagining stuff. I created super heroes. There was one guy-super heroe, I call him ‘Loud Boy’. Basically he gets his powers off sound. When there is sound, he gains power. So he’s converting sound energy to power. He was kind of like superman, but was getting his power from sound, as opposed to sunlight. I literally created different planets; working on creating different languages.’
I ask him to describe his acting and movie production style, and he replies,
‘I don’t know if you can describe an acting style. What I would say is that I create characters that are off beat; off kilter. So, quirky characters as opposed to stereotypical characters, you know what I mean? So for example, I’m on a show called ‘On the Real’, and my character is supposed to be an abusive slash evil husband, but I play him as a charming, fun guy, because I want the audience to ask, ‘ahn ahn? So why is she afraid of him?’ So I like to approach things from an alternative point of view.’
I tell Patrick my third question is probably a no brainer for him, as it is his choice between stage and film.
He explains that stage is good and more challenging, but film allows one to play more diverse characters.
On his most challenging acting role and movie produced/directed thus far and how you prepared for them, Patrick narrates,
‘Most challenging role so far was a character I played in ‘ So Far Live in Lagos’ because there were a lot of similarities between myself and the character at some point in time. It’s quite difficult playing yourself on screen and on stage because it’s like you have to be your truest self; revealing your truest self to the audience or to many people. It’s quite difficult because sometimes, you just wanna keep some of yourself to yourself.’
As regards producing, it was a movie I produced by myself and I had to deal with personnel, technical stuff and everything by myself, and then I had to perform in it.
Patrick is super specific as to the roles that would be pivotal to getting him to the next level in his acting and film producing career. He muses,
‘A psychological thriller, in terms of acting, and in producing, erm, a mockumentary. And I say mockumentary because in its simplicity, it is also very technical. There’s a fine line between reality and comedy, you know? And you need to get it right in such a way that nothing is lost on the audience.’
On the impact of film festivals in Nigeria and how up and coming actors and producers leverage this platform, he says,
‘Film festivals are helpful in terms of exposure, you know. A wide range of people get to see your product, be it acting on film. Same thing as a producer. And then it also provides a platform for alternative types of film making and storytelling. In the cinemas, you’re limited to a certain type of film. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, I can’t say. But with film festivals, you’re shown more of a variety of content, so a film maker who is not doing the usual romcom and comedy, the conventional type of story telling, film festivals are your betting. So shoot something and put it in a festival. Just do it. That’s the general mantra for film making, ‘Just Do It’. If it’s good, brilliant, build on it. If it’s bad, you learn from it and then you improve and do something better.
On his favourite actors, both local and international, he says, ‘I can call a list basically.’ And I say ‘Yes, I would appreciate a list’
He starts listing, ‘ Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington obviously, Samuel L. Jackson, even though he plays the same role in multiple films. Em, Daniel Day Lewis, Viola Davis. I absolutely love her; genius actress, brilliant actress. This guy, he’s only notable for one role, his role in House-he killed it-, Hugh Laurie
For Producers, obviously Shonda Rhimes, Christopher Nolan definitely, Stephen Spielberg because of his body of work and the variety of work he’s done. Spike Lee because he’s a seminal creator, people discuss his work; Tyler Perry, which is weird, not because of the quality of his content, but because of the sheer will and the output and the success he’s gotten. You know, he must be doing something right to be this successful.
For Directors, M. Shyamalan Night, even though he’s slowly picking up form; one of my G’s Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino.
The few Nigerian creatives I like in terms of producing are Biodun Stevens, Michelle Bello and Niyi Akinmolayan,
Nigerian actors, Greg Ojofia; I think he’s a brilliant, versatile actor; Bolanle Ninalowo for his role in ‘Picture Perfect’; Adesua Etomi, she’s brilliant; Beverly Naya; she’s good, Wole Ojo , Somkele Iyamah-Idalamah and so forth.’
I say to Patrick, ‘There is obviously a disparity in the quality of production between the people that have studied music production, as opposed to those who have not, with the latter being higher in number in Nigeria. How do we bridge that gap, bringing those who did not receive this education to the level of those who have, considering the fact that it might not be practicable to take time off to study full time?’
And he explains, ‘First and foremost, I think the barrier of entry is quite low. I meet a lot of people who say ‘I want to act’, and I ask why and they talk about things like the fame, etc. Well there’s a bit of training involved. And we have a lot of actors who didn’t go to school. They were fortunate enough to go for an audition and then they were picked it they know someone or they were pretty enough, basically good looking enough to be picked. Basically we don’t really approach film making it story telling as a proper art slash a science. It’s almost like, ‘Oh, I couldn’t get into law, so I fell back to acting. We don’t treat it the same way as we treat law or engineering, but it’s just as important. And I think that’s what countries in the West, South Africa and Kenya have over us. They understand that acting, film making is as much a science as an art. And they approach it that way. So the technicality is just as important as the artistic expression. I think if we find a way of incorporating more short courses and seminars about film making and the art of film making allow people understand the true nature of film making and acting really is. Like different schools of thought, like Meisner, the classical school of thought, and the different styles of film making, all very technical in their execution and if you don’t understand that then you won’t be able to understand film making and do proper film making.’
On where Dante sees himself in the industry in the next ten years, he muses,
‘Hollywood baby! Cannes Film festival. I have always had my eye on the international market. I see myself being involved in international co-productions in Europe and The States, America and even in Africa.’
On the movies to look for him in as a producer and actor, he says,
‘There’s this film called ‘Lara and the Beat’; it’s coming out in a bit, ‘Soldier Story 2′ and an Unnamed Movie because that’s the one I’ll be producing and directing. Let’s just call it Unamed Awesome Film(UAF).’
His last words about Nollywood are,
‘About film making in Nigeria, we need to put more thought and be more deliberate in the stories that we tell, even if we are telling romantic stories, ee need to be more deliberate so that we don’t come out as shoddy or lazy.’