The monthly Film Forum by the Nollywood Studies Centre of the School of Media and Communication, Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos recently had actor/director/legislator Desmond Elliot as Guest Speaker. Speaking on the topic: Two Sides of the Same Journey – Being Before and Behind the Camera, Elliot; an Economics graduate of the Lagos State University; reveals that he had no training in the Arts prior to setting out in the world of make-believe in 1999, but was propelled by interest and talent.
He said, “I am one of those who started from the scratch, from rock-bottom”, recalling that the Tom-Tom commercial gave him his first major pay as a thespian. Elliot also narrates an incident in the year 2000 where producer Emeka Ani had narrowed his choice for lead actor in The Challenge to him (Elliot) and Tuvi James. The producer then asked the two actors to decide who between the two of them should be offered the role. Elliot pleaded with James, who now lives in South Africa to step down for him promising to return the favour in future. James eventually obliged him and he (Elliot) played his first lead role in that film directed by Andy Amenechi.
The popular actor also reveals that his late father had serious faith in him while his mother asked him to reassess his quest after 8 months of trying to break into the industry with neither money nor a role in a film. According to him, those were 8 months of going out every morning and returning every evening without anything to show for it.
Elliot’s magic moment came in 2003 when he was cast by Charles Novia to play the lead character in Missing Angel in a shoot which lasted for 6 days. He names Denzel Washington and Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD) as his mentors and was enthralled to meet RMD many years ago when RMD came as a resource person for an Acting and Presentation Course Elliot underwent at the Independent TV Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAN).
The legislator decries the widespread piracy in the industry saying, “The Piracy in Nigeria is semi-legal because the pirates here are known unlike those in the US, China and some other countries where the illegal business goes on covertly”.
Whilst applauding the accomplishments of some artistes who, like him, grew up in Jos – P-Square, MI, St. Obi and Zack Orji – Elliot advises up-and-coming practitioners to exhibit humility and eschew conceit, tasking them to learn from every culture and appreciate every tribe. The self-professed complete Nigerian – with a Yoruba father, an Igbo mother and a wife from Akwa Ibom State – reiterates the fact that there are numerous merits in our diversity as a people.
See pictures from the forum: