No one gets it perfectly right the first time and while Dare Olaitan perhaps deserves all the praise that has come his way since Ojukokoro premiered at AFRIFF last year, it must also be said that there are gaping oversights that would have rendered the film irrevocably flawed if it had been made by a more seasoned filmmaker. It is expected that there will be errors in the first work of a young director. It comes with the territory.
1 – LOCATION
Verisimilitude is a cardinal rule in filmmaking. Audiences, while being asked to suspend belief, are still expected to believe that what is being presented in the film is possible.
Ojukokoro is situated largely in a disused petrol station. In the film, the petrol station is situated right on a very busy road. How in hell did all that shooting and action right outside happen without drawing the attention of a single soul?
We can hear voices from the street. We can hear moving cars. How come none of the people on the street can hear the gunshots or see the couple being shot, right outside? There’s suspension of belief and then there’s stupidity.
In the choice of the location, the filmmakers are asking the audience to be stupid in their suspension of belief. A deserted petrol station would have been the perfect location.
2 – THE COUPLE
A couple can’t find their way, lost on the road. They decide to ask for directions, naturally. Guess what they do next? They decide to look for a PETROL STATION so they can ask for directions.
They are driving past PEOPLE on the road as they say this. Yeah, we know the director needed to get them to the station somehow but come on, why such obvious Obiagelis about it?
The credit for cinematography reads Baba Agba. He’s a newbie. Watch out for him; he’s pretty good. He’s most likely one of those film school guys and he’s trying to make sure we don’t miss out on that fact. His style is pretty cinematic and he works hard at not being seen as the usual Naija DP: few close ups, mobile shots, tight compositions and the likes, but as with all newbies, style sometimes gets in the way of substance here, especially in the Accountant’s office scenes. Light streams in from the roof. We never see the light source.
Sometimes there’s a green hue. It looks good but it doesn’t make much sense. Was the roof shot and therefore there are holes in it? How come natural light enters? And what’s with the green hue, is it because it’s a Nigerian film and there’s green in our flag? Perhaps he saw this in one Hollywood film and decided to use the style. It’s all good but erm, what’s your light source and why?
None of this should take away the fact that Ojukokoro is a very decent debut and Dare Olaitan is one to watch out for.