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Patience Oghre Imobhio: My life behind the camera

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She’s a rare breed of a woman, who’s forging a new frontier and consistently holding her own in a male-dominated profession.

Perhaps, while many actresses have made their names standing in front of the camera, the likes of Patience Oghre Imobhio’ made theirs working behind the camera.

Imobhio began her career as an actress back in 1995, but she had to dump acting because of the passion she has for directing movies. As a matter of fact, Imobhio featured in the then NTA produced sitcom, “Shattered Hope” which was shot at a time at the University of Jos, where she studied Theatre Arts. She also starred in “Riddles and Hopes” produced by the late Madazi for NTA then.

With the passage of time, the mother of three moved away from standing in front of the camera to work behind the scene with great passion.

“I have been in the movie industry since 1995. I started off as an actress back in my days at university of Jos, where I studied Theatre Arts,” Imobhio recounted with nostalgia.

She continued, “When I graduated from UNIJOS, I relocated to Lagos and after my youth service I joined Zeb Ejiro’s production. In 1996, I became an associate director on his set. Thereafter, Zeb gave me the opportunity of directing a few episodes of his TV dramas. I actually joined Zeb’s production when they were shooting the film, “Goodbye Tomorrow.” I acted a few scenes in the film alongside actress Hilda Dokunbo among others”

Known for hemming together some of the best films and TV drama series in the country, Imobhio said she made her directorial debut in Zeb Ejiro produced “Broad Street.”

“That was where I made my directorial debut. We were shooting a season of the series and at some point, Zeb had to travel and since I had been understudying him for a while, he left the production for me to handle. So, I directed close to 10 episodes of the sitcom. That was how I began my journey as a movie director,”Imobhio added.

Imobhio admitted that she started off as actress, but had to delve into film directing at the time there were fewer women in that area of the film industry.

According to her, after the birth of Nollywood in 1992, following the production of that pioneering movie, “Living in Bondage,” not many  women were into the business of directing movies. Then, directing was almost the exclusive perverse of the male counterparts, until the late Amaka Igwe emerged from nowhere to change the narrative.

Imobhio, however, revealed that Amaka Igwe inspired her decision to delve into film directing which many women are gradually embracing today. Although her face is not popular among lovers of Nigerian movies, Imobhio’ boasted that she’s the most famous female director in the country today after the late Amaka Igwe.

“I have worked behind the cameras for many years now, and I believe that my job speaks for me. In all humility, after the late Amaka Igwe, who I worked closely with, I don’t really know any other female director in Nigeria that you can mention apart from me,” boasted Imobhio.

Continuing, she added “Now, we have a lot of female directors which is a welcome development. Then, it used to be, women would go and do make up, costuming and all that .But in my own time, it was a bit of a struggle for me. There was no internet when I started and it was a struggle because it was a male-dominated area of the industry.

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You know most times, men don’t like to take instructions from women. Thank God, I worked with somebody like Zeb Ejiro who gave me a lot of confidence and the  push I needed to hone my talent. He allowed me to do so many jobs in addition to giving me a voice. And my husband,Stephen Imobhio being a producer also was always there for me, giving the courage to step out there and make my name as a director that I am today.”

 

Imobhio believes that the more women directors take the centre stage, the greater encouragement it would give to other women to take their destinies into their hands.

For her, the edge she has over other female directors in the country, is the fact that she had the rare privilege of working under the tutelage of the likes of Amaka Igwe, Zeb Ejiro, Tajudeen Adepoju, Ariko Oladipo among other prolific creative industry moguls.

Talking about her experience as a film director, Imobhio affirms that directing is a continuous learning process for her. “Every set has its own dynamics”, she muted, adding “I’m not one of the directors that can say I have a particular style.”

“Every production comes with its own style. So, Amaka Igwe and Zeb Ejiro gave me confidence and a space to hone my talent.  Amaka Igwe was able to create that space and voice for me. This is because her husband also was a strong pillar behind her. So, when I joined the industry as a young graduate, it was an era when they wanted more women to participate in some areas of the industry.’

“I was lucky to have met these two great people who saw the zeal in me and decided to encourage me. There were other female directors that passed through Amaka Igwe. But having worked with Zeb Ejiro and Amaka Igwe, I would really say that it has affected my career positively,” she added.

A Theatre Arts graduate of the University of Jos , Imohbio is best known for directing films such as Dominos, Spider and Household, and TV series such as Dear Mother and Everyday People.

In 2015 Pulse magazine named her as one of “9 Nigeria’s female movie directors you should know” in the Nollywood film industry. Oghre has also worked as a movie director for M-Net. Her forte is not just limited to films; she has also directed popular TV series including “Forbidden” by Africa Magic, Household, Wale Adenuga’s Papa Ajasco and SuperStory.

To her credit, she has produced her own films such as “Isu”, “White Water” and few other series. Some of her cinema movies, include I “Busted” produced by a production house called I believe and “Three Wise Men” by Opa Williams which he produced for Bank of Industry. I also directed ale Adenuga-produced comedy, “Knockout”, which was shot in 2017.

At some point, I directed Papa Ajasco and SuperStory. Her latest project, Oasis: The Enemy Within”, a TV series is hitting the screens early next month and Imobhio can only continue to soar higher and higher. With her superb talent and dedication for her craft, projects steadily are pouring in for Imobhio in recent years.

Imobhio, said she has no regrets venturing into film directing and that if she has the chance to do it again, she would still be a director. For her, directing films gives her fulfillment. And that’s what she craves for in life.

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