SNY SPOTLIGHT: Moses Ipadeola

Moses Ipadeola is a filmmaker and director whose works transcend the social norms of our Nigerian society. He tells stories that are typically uncomfortable for people to talk about through his films. Addressing our social woes and normalizing conversations such as Mental Health, as he did in his most recent work – IFA THERAPY.

  • Tell us a little background about yourself

Moses Ipadeola was born in Agege, Lagos State in the early 1990s. He studied Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan and also has a Masters Degree from the University of Lagos, where he studied Directing. MO’ is a curious filmmaker whose interest spans across many areas of life. In 2018, he formulated the Trado Fiction genre of film which birthed his first short film, Ifa Therapy. He started out his filmmaking career in 2015 when he directed the very first season of Awon Aladun De, a Yoruba sitcom. He also directed about 15 Episodes on Sisi Clara which featured Doris Simeon. His feature film debut, which was produced under the umbrella of the Masquerades Media will be out very soon.

Moses’ filmmaking philosophy includes cultural renaissance, the search for the place of Man in the society, the journey of Man (Psychological, sociological and religious) in the world. And he is also an advocate for Mental Health.

  • How did your journey into filmmaking begin?

I guess I have always been equipped for the world of filmmaking. Because it occurred to me a while ago that God made me learn different things as a younger MO’. All these craft and tutelage I got eventually led me to the world of filmmaking and are essential for the art of filmmaking. I learnt fine art as an apprentice when I was about 13 years old. I learnt the basic skills of music production at the tail end of my final year in the university. Then I studied theatre arts, an important and edge-cutting background to filmmaking. But the career started fully in 2015 a few months after finishing NYSC. As a rookie filmmaker, I was given the opportunity to direct 13 episodes from the first season of Awon Aladun De. So, I dived into this opportunity with everything within me. And as we can see, the first season paved the way for many more seasons.

  • What fuels you to tell a story and interpret it in visual form?

Like I referenced earlier, I have always been in the field of visual art. As an artist(In all its different art forms), we are in the business of storytelling. An artist paints on the canvas, a music artiste fills his void and emptiness with sounds, notes, melody etc. A filmmaker tells his story through the eyes of the lens, right? But like we say, “Story is King”.  But the questions are, what stories do I want to tell? What stories do I want to be attached to? As a filmmaker, what do I want to be remembered for? Even amidst the taunting gaze of mediocrity. So, these thoughts made me decide I want to tell stories that glorify my people, irrespective of their tribes. I am pumped to tell stories to spotlight cultural renaissance, stories that investigate the human mind and engages psychoanalysis, innocent and honest stories about the struggle of the man in a capitalist world. And not just those fake “Lekki Stories” that have been desecrating our screens year in year out.

  • As a filmmaker and a creative, what are some of the challenges you have faced?

Well, as an independent filmmaker, the major challenge for me would be the inability to acquire the right financial support to tell stories I really want to tell. But I bless God for the gift of amazing friends I have, The Masquerades, have been a fortress for push and growth for the 8 individuals in the clique. So it has really reduced the burden of an independent filmmaker, and we have been able to rise above excuses and get ourselves to shoot films rather than talk or wallow in excuses.

  • Your short film, “Ifa Therapy”, addresses the issue of mental health, what compelled you to tell this story?

Great question, I have been asked this question a couple of times though and it is always a pleasure to respond to it. Firstly, when I was doing my Masters programme in the University of Lagos, in 2018, I was exposed to the mystery and beauty of Psychoanalysis by Professor Ezenwanebe. So, I wanted a chance to experiment with the knowledge I just got. Simultaneously, I was deeply searching an limping after books on Pan Africanism. In this same period, I encountered the great book of Mama Sophie Bosede Oluwole of blessed memory, Socrates and Orunmila, a book to exposed me to the numerous values and the truth about Orunmila, the Ifa corpus, and the other functions of that creed that surpasses what Nollywood had been feeding us. There are so many untold truths embedded in the Ifa Corpus that are beyond the inanities Nollywood feed us. I discovered that Orunmila in his time cured more than health issues, he had cures for mental health as well in the about 500,000 odus of the Ifa. So why would the Europeans claim credit for therapy and faux solutions for mental health or tell us they brought these things down to Africa.

So, I picked up my laptop and wrote Ifa Therapy. Pushed it to my close pals who really loved it and wanted us to shoot it ASAP. Demilade Meduoye my friend keyed into the vision and decided to be an executive producer for the project. That was how we made magic alongside dedicated cast and crew.

Also, I was researching if suicide was hereditary, which I discovered from different sources that it could be. So, I made sure that my debut short film had all these thoughts and findings in them as you can see in the film.

  • In Nigeria, suicide ideation/ attempt is a punishable offense. What are your thoughts on this?

Well, I didn’t know until you mentioned this. Personally, I don’t think such action should be punishable. There are so many dumb, stale, insensitive laws in our constitution. A human attempts to take his or her own life, I believe the best thing to do would be to investigate reasons, family history, take the person to rehab or therapy till they are fixed. Like that Nigerian proverb indicates, “Beheading the head has never been a cure for headache”. Centres for therapy and proper rehabilitation for depressed people need to be developed in all the states especially post COVID, but unfortunately we are not ready for this kind of truth and reality. If the U.S. foresaw the adverse effects of The Great Depression of the 1930s, many lives would have been saved and many suicides would have been averted.

  • The stigma surrounding mental health persists in our society. What do you think can be done to eradicate the stigma of mental health?

I believe with proper education, the orientation of the general public about the reality of mental health and how stigmatization can cause terminal damages on victims. Nigerians are great people with a great sense of community responsibility. We pick ourselves up. And also, we artistes must engage our platforms and media of storytelling to pass this message out there.

  • The film industry in Nigeria is ever evolving, what is that change Nollywood needs that has not occurred yet?

In recent times, it has been observed that the industry has been eaten deep by mediocre who don’t understand the power of storytelling and giving primacy to true stories and sensible plots. Rather, most big filmmakers are worried about telling unrealistic stories without sensible agendas. We need to look within ourselves, our society and tell story from within rather than trying to tell Western stories we know nothing about. A handful of filmmakers are getting it right and those few ones are giving young kings like us hope and courage to do more. So, for me, honesty and giving primacy to good stories are the massive change I look forward to.

  • What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a filmmaker?

Well, an unforgettable one would be me losing half of my short film, Ifa Therapy to bad digitizing, in 2018. People discouraged me to move on and work with the remaining footage I had. But as a stubborn and relentless filmmaker with a vision that I am, I decided to reshoot the entire lost scene which we had to travel to a rural town in Ibadan to film. I waited one year to be able to gather the crew and the same actors to do the reshoot. I gathered them, travelled back to that village and reshot that scene. Thank God for the strength and patience to wait, what we reshot was better. And that was how we were able to wow people with the final artistic offering, Ifa Therapy.

  • What is your message to creatives who are going through it and having difficulties with their mental health?

My message to creatives who are going through difficulties with their mental health would be first of all to watch Ifa Therapy, Ifa Therapy will cure them. It has cured people who have come back with testimonies. Also, I would love to tell them not to bottle in so much pains and emotions, find someone to talk to. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, as artistes, it has been proven that mental health issues are some of our few curses, but we can overcome together. Iwori Ibere, hang not! There is plenty of goodness in front, Iwori Ibere hang not this is a message from my short film to you, yes you reading this.

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