Thursday, 30 May 2013

Film: Behind the Scenes at Koby Maxwell’s ‘One Night in Vegas’

Some extracts about Producer Koby Maxwell….

“Maxwell was determined not to wait for Hollywood to find him, tired of Hollywood trying to tell the African story, starring actors who are not African, such as Meryl Streep in “Out of Africa” and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Blood Diamond.”

“I want to use the technology of Hollywood to tell the African story,” he says. “My goal is to get more Americans and people in Hollywood to watch African movies. ... I’m ambitious of doing things other people hesitate to do or are afraid to do. I always say my intention is between myself and God. ... African people, we don’t often get a chance to show talent. ... It’s hard for us to expose how much we can do.”

Maxwell was born in Ghana, in a city called Saltpond. He first came to the United States in 1997, as a bass player for an artist called Kojo Antwi. “We toured New York City, played in the D.C. area at Warner Theatre, then returned to Ghana.”

Maxwell dreamed of returning to the States. “I was inspired to play with big names. I wanted to come to America and go to music school, but unfortunately it was a whole different world. ... My dream was to go to Berklee” College of Music in Boston. “That was a dream! ... But then you have to have money. You have to get a loan.”

Some extracts about actress Yvonne Nelson…..
Up the spiral staircase, the beautiful Ghanaian actress is lying on her bed, tweeting and posting to her fans on Instagram.
“Most of my fans are young girls and men,” says Yvonne Nelson, 27. “The young girls come to you and say, ‘Oh, my God, I love you. You were so wicked. I like how you play the role.’ You pretend you know which movie. There are too many.”

But she is always gracious. “You realize they love what you do,” Nelson says. “There is nothing like that. It is priceless. ... I’m a simple chick. I don’t let it get to me. I do everyday stuff. We buy roasted plantain. I go to the mall without makeup. I wear my slippers. Some will approach to take a picture. Some will stay back and point. They are your fans.”

Nelson, who has 100,000 Twitter fans, reminds herself: “My mom always says, ‘Yvonne, remember to be nice.’ ”

Nelson was born in Accra in 1985. “My mom was a single parent. I grew up like any other kid in Ghana. I went to very, very good schools in Ghana” and got a degree in resource management.

When Nelson was 19, her best friend encouraged her to enter a beauty pageant. “ ‘Yvonne,’ she said, ‘you should do Miss Ghana 2005.’ She said, ‘You are wasting your height.’ ”

“I was chubby,” says Nelson, who is 5-foot-10. “She held my hands and convinced me.”

She started dieting and won the regional competition. “I made it to the final 20, the final 10, the final five.” She won for best talent. She won most photogenic. She made it to the finals, but something went askew.

She was asked a question, an easy question. All she had to do was say something, anything that would make sense.

“I fumbled the last question,” she recalls. She stretches out on the bed above the set.

“When I watch the video, I cry. I was the winner. The crown was mine. But everything happens for a reason.”

Some extracts about actor Majid Michel…..
Nelson is finally ready for a call to go back on set. All is well now; she understands this director. He is taking his time.
In the space of three weeks, the film crew moves from mansion to club to hospital back to mansion. The movie wraps on time. The actors and actresses fly back to Ghana and Nigeria, back to Hollywood. Maxwell has already begun working on his next project.
He sits outside a Silver Spring restaurant eating grilled shrimp. His phone rings. It is Majid Michel, the biggest actor in Africa. (Note to readers: Do not call him an “African actor.” “I am an actor,” he says.)

Maxwell asks Michel to play in his next film, “Candy.”

“This is the film that will bring him to Hollywood,” Maxwell says.

Michel arrives to meet Maxwell for lunch. He is wearing an open shirt. One of his toenails is painted pink.

Fans spot him. A Metro bus rolls to a stop and girls pour out and race down the street in yellow platform shoes, swooning.

“Majid! Maaaajiiiiddd!”
“Oh, my God! Oh, my God! I love your movies. You are the best actor!”

“I am so happy,” says Kadijatu Sesay, 22, a student at Montgomery College. “The way you talk. The way you act. You are good, really good. I’ve seen everything he has acted in.”

Paulina Opoku-Gyimah says: What a fantastic insight into the inner workings of Ghollywood and Nollywood films. This behind-the-scenes look at a contemporary African movie set, including some juicy info on some of Ghana’s yummiest actors including: Majid Michel, Yvonne Nelson and John Dumelo –and Producer Koby Maxwell, an “award-winning Ghanaian musician turned moviemaker” –who has blown me away.

Much respect to Koby Maxwell for putting Ghollywood and Nollywood films on the map, for taking said films mainstream. Do read the whole of author DeNeen L. Brown’s behind the scenes look at producer Koby Maxwell and Nigerian film director, John Uche’s film ‘One Night in Vegas’ –film set via:

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