KUSA - After Ike Onyeka had made more than 20 films in Nigeria, he realized something was missing from his work. He wanted a refinement that he can get from only a top international film school. Onyeka found one in Colorado.
"It's one of those few film schools where you find out that they combine academics with the hands-on," Nigerian movie director Onyeka said.
Onyeka first came to the Colorado Film School in 2012. He liked his experienced so much that he approached the film school's director, Frederic Lahey, about bringing the top directors in Nigeria to the school within the Community College of Aurora system.
"If my mindset could be changed, I think then it could also happen to any one of us," Onyeka said.
Lahey spent the next three years working with the U.S. government and the Nigerian government to create an opportunity for filmmakers in Nigeria to improve their craft.
"If I can create a place where it's a democratic access to the means of expression, then that's a worthy endeavor," Lahey said.
After Hollywood and "Bollywood" in India, Nigeria is listed as having the third largest filmmaking industry in the world, according industry publications. It's informally referred to as "Nollywood."
But, the numbers don't necessarily match the quality. So, Lahey worked out a deal for the core of the Directors Guild of Nigeria to come to the Colorado Film School for an intensive three week session which contains about two years worth of instruction.
"We need to take a step above where we are right now to international best practices," Andy Amenechi, president of the Directors Guild of Nigeria, said.
The Colorado Film School is ranked as one the top 25 film schools in the world by The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Amenechi met with officials with the federal government in Nigeria which issued the directors a grant to come to the United States. He says this learning experience may change the Nigerian film industry forever.
"It's going to be a revolution," Amenechi said. "I foresee a different style, a different professional input into filmmaking from this program."
Twenty three of Nigeria's top directors are attending classes at the Colorado Film School through April 18. The plan is to have them take what they have learned and share with it other filmmakers from around Nigeria and Africa.
"It's a milestone," Onyeka said. "Every one of us is gathering enough information and knowledge that we're going to take back home."
Lahey says this is part of what the Colorado Film School is all about.
"Nothing would move me more than to see that impact," Lahey said. "I think this is Africa's century."
Onyeka says he is thankful for the hospitality that he has received from Lahey, the film school, and for everyone in Colorado. He says it is making this long trip worthwhile for all the directors involved.
"Colorado film school, yeah, it's far away from Nigeria, but it's good," Onyeka said.
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