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Filmmaker Psalmist Speaks On ‘King of Boys’ Documentary, Style And Future Plans
2021 was a particularly huge year for the young filmmaker who worked on one of Nollywood’s highest-grossing films, The Ghost and the Tout Too — the latest in the Toyin Abraham-led franchise.
“If the story is sweet, we will know. That is the main thing,” Micheal Akinrogunde, aka AMA Psalmist, said with a humour-laced voice as he talked about his filmmaking process. Throwing in some wit here, an easy joke there, he enthusiastically explained his passion for film and how he came about making one of the most important film documentaries from Africa. Yet, as we talk over his biggest career hits via Zoom, he repeatedly reiterates his love for this art form - film.
To properly document, one must understand the phenomenon from different perspectives or be open to that. For over 13 months, Psalmist conducted interviews and gathered materials for the hit Netflix documentary, The Making of a King, which chronicles the filmmaking journey of Kemi Adetiba’s successful King of Boys franchise.
In 2018, the first King of Boys film hit the box office and racked up an avalanche of audience approval, leading to a massive cult following and huge financial success. In the same year, Psalmist had picked up an African Magic Viewers’ Choice Award (AMVCA) for his short film Penance, which was produced the previous year under the Accelerate Filmmaker Project. He was also nominated for The Future Awards Africa Prize for Screen Producer and was quite oblivious of the universe’s plan for KOB or that he would be helming the much-needed documentary on the growth of the franchise.
Fans soon began clamouring for a follow-up film, and in 2021, King of Boys: The Return of the King, a Netflix original series, was released to rave reviews. At the same time, Psalmist was working on footage and interviews with a clear purpose in mind.
“The first thing that was important to me was that I wanted to tell the story as holistically as possible,” he says. “I knew it could be long and that documentary could be boring. I did not want it to be just cast and crew. I wanted people that were on the sidelines and fans of the projects. It was over 13 months of production and eight months of shooting because I needed to get as many stories as possible. It was like everyone’s story was tying up.”
Apart from the importance of documenting, this project held more sentiments for him because not only had he worked on King of Boys, but Adetiba is his mentor and the two share a wonderful relationship. “There is also a personal bias,” he admits. “People don't know some of the things she had to deal with in making the film and I wanted her struggles to be properly documented as possible in the documentary.”
Adetiba’s tenacity and attention to detail are qualities he admires and works to emulate. “I feel like the first lesson you get from observing is her hard work. Her level of hard work is insane because you would think, at her level, she would calm down on some things. She also knows how to tell a story and I picked up the attention to detail,” he adds.
Psalmist has, himself, displayed tenacity since he first joined the industry. 2021 was a particularly huge year for the young filmmaker who worked on one of Nollywood’s highest-grossing films, The Ghost and the Tout Too — the latest in the Toyin Abraham-led franchise.
He recalls that he was recommended for the project by Mimi Bartels, Head of Production at FilmOne Entertainment, and award-winning filmmaker, Akay Mason. In 2019, his short film Penance had also won the Moet & Chandon and FilmOne Distribution’s Film Gala Award for Best Short Film. After conversations with Abraham, he was brought on to the project which went on to gross over 100 million naira.
Amidst these successes, Psalmist does not regard himself as a deep person with a set list of future plans. He simply wants to make good films that the audience would enjoy and improve on his achievements by doing better at any opportunity. “I try to put in as much or more work than I did yesterday. I will pitch and plan and position properly and do my best. In retrospect, I don't think I ever had a bucket list of people or films I wanted to work on at this point of my career. I just make use of opportunities.
“With art, the excitement is when the audience appreciates all of the work that you put in. There is a different kind of joy when your work is appreciated but the excitement does not stay with me for long and then, I am hungry for something else,” he explains.
To many, he might have had a fairytale entry into the industry snagging an AMVCA with his first official project. He attributes his ability to grow from that to a piece of advice he got from an actor. “I thought that after winning the AMVCA, the next morning, I would wake up to producers saying I should direct their films. It did not happen. Then an actor, who had also won an AMVCA, advised me.”
The actor, Amarachukwu Onoh, told him to build on the win and stay visible. “I just took the advice and started posting the stuff I had worked on, even when they were not great. Then I got my first gig and more after that,” he adds.
For the future, Psalmist has projects lined up for the future, but he does not cast his lineup in stone. He is indeed taking it one day at a time. His latest directorial project, There Is Something Wrong With The Bamideles is currently streaming.