Interview with Samuel Nkwume
Updated: May 7, 2021
Samuel Nkwume is a Nigerian filmmaker working and living in Los Angeles, California. He worked as an accountant before deciding on moving to LA , to chase his film producing dream. He has gone on to produce and also direct a number of award-winning short films and presently in pre-production as a co-producer in his second thriller feature, slated for 2022 release.
Tell us about your background and when did you decide to become a filmmaker
Growing up, I’ve always been intrigued by behind the scene videos and the making of films which usually aired on cable TV. I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria obtaining an accounting bachelors degree, as there weren’t a lot of filmmaking school opportunities. I started a review website/blog back in college, focusing on film and TV. I wrote a bunch of scripts even though I had no idea what I was doing. After college, I eventually decided to take a big step by going after my dream. I wanted to be a film producer, so I moved from Lagos to Los Angeles for film school, where my journey began. From there it’s been quite a ride.
Do you have a favorite genre to work in? Why is it your favorite?
I’ve been always passionate about thrillers. Hands down my favorite genre. Thrillers engage the intellect. I find it so fun to build characters/story around a crime or a problem, leaving clues which the audience pick up while the story advances.
Films that inspired you to become a filmmaker
After watching “The Shining”, one of my favorite movies, that was the moment I knew I had a thing for thriller movies. Don’t get me wrong, I am still a fan of other genres, but that was definitely the drive that pushed me into filmmaking.
Who is your biggest influence?
My biggest influence at the moment is Jordan peele. I find it intriguing how a director/writer who is fantastic at voice animation, makes a switch into the thriller and horror genre and still exceeds, becoming a horror movie mastermind. He stated that even though he enjoyed horror while growing up, he had always been terrified of them, so he decided to make them to get over his fear. I personally had problems with watching thrillers growing up, but fast forward years later, that’s most of all I want to make.
What were some of the challenges you had to face in making your films?
Challenges is a major part of the business. I faced a lot of challenges including getting committed actors, location issues and issues arising from post production. When I first started making shorts, I always neglected post-production until I was done with principal photography, rather than plan and budget for post-production right from the start of pre-production.
What’s your all-time favorite movie and why?
Although I am crazy in love with thrillers, my favorite movie of all time is actually a fantasy. Harry Potter and the goblet of fire. It tells a very beautiful story while building up the characters emotions and chemistry. It was one of those movies that the characters were so perfectly fleshed out including the new characters introduced.
If you could work with anyone in the world, who would that person be?
If I could work with anyone in the world, it would be Daniel Kaluuya, the star of Judas and the black messiah and Jordan peele’s Oscar winning “Get out” ``.
Tell us something most people don't know about you.
I worked as an accountant/Audit associate in one of the big 4 accounting firms before deciding to chase my filmmaking dream.
The one person who has truly believed in you throughout your career.
Not just one person, but both my Mom and Dad have truly believed in me and my career. Even when I decided to leave accounting behind, they were in full support till this very moment. I greatly appreciate having supportive parents by my side.
What was the most important lesson you had to learn as filmmaker
Learning from your mistakes is key. Every project you embark on, you learn something from it that will make you better at your next project. If you are not learning from your mistakes then you’re doing it wrong.
Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?
I think it is way harder to keep going. A lot of people start and eventually give up. I know tons of people who gave up and decided to do something else. I had to conquer self-doubt and build believe and trust in my craft. As far as you put in the work, there will be light at the end of the tunnel. This isn’t an easy business.
What keeps you motivated?
Knowing that putting my maximum effort and working really hard will get me to my goals and ambition. This makes me want to stay motivated. As they always say, hard work beats talent. For my talent to pay off, I have to put in the work.
On set, the most important thing is:
For me the most important thing is communication and respect. Communication is key, for getting the job done, whether it is the pre-production stage, production or post. Adequate communication is needed at all levels. Respect is something I do not joke with. On my sets I am very respectful regardless of the pressure I face and I also hope that people around me are equally respectful to each other.
The project(s) you’re most proud of:
The project I’m most proud of is my last short titled “The Decision”, winning tons of awards and nominations at the festival circus. It was a crazy ride filming it with a lot of ups and downs.
The most challenging project you worked on. And why?
The Decision is is also my most challenging project. No matter how you plan, unavoidable situations happen. You as a filmmaker need to deal with it and solve the problem. I learnt that from this project.
What are your short term and long term career goals?
My short term goal is to get my feature film green lit by fall. A story based on my award-winning short film. Long term goal is to have 3 features directed by me and picked up for distribution in the space of the next 5 years.
Your next projects?
Presently Co-producing a thriller feature, ‘The Sweepers” to be directed by the award winning Michael Matteo Rossi, slated to begin principal photography in October. Also in development is my directing feature debut titled “The Decision”.
Equally producing a dance feature titled “Dear, Origin” slated for principal photography Winter 2021.
Please share with us where people can find you on social media, so our readers could keep track of your career
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/samuel_nk/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/samuel_nk_