Talk of the town – Film – The Big Interview: Kola Munis by Calum Fraser

Kola Munis, (right) on set of his film In case of Incasity

In a working week Kola Munis goes from giving medical advice to cannibals to enjoying cocktails and canapés on the red carpet.

By day Mr Munis, 50, works as a doctor for the Met, then by night he swaps his medical notes for film scripts to produce hit Nollywood movies.

Nollywood is the umbrella term for the Nigerian film industry that has taken off since the early 1990s.

He said: “The thing about working as a forensic psychiatrist for the police is that you see all sorts
of characters.

“I’ve seen people that are straight out of the movies.

“I remember some months ago, there was a character sitting within six inches of me and he was a real life Hannibal Lecter.

“He was sitting there right in front of me talking about his medication. ‘Oh doctor, yes, I need two tablets of this I forgot to take this morning.’ This guy had just cannibalised a human being.

“It gives you a real understanding of the diversity and spectrum of human nature.”

Not only does his daytime job give him ideas for characters, it can also provide a pool of actors.

He said: “I’ve been with the Met for six years now so I am quite close with many of the officers and we talk a lot. I must have let it slip that I was making films.

“Next thing I’ve got a couple officers asking to be in my next film. Not only did he want to be in the film, he wanted to be a gangster.

“The interesting thing is this. Police officers are amazing people. When you’re with them they’re just ordinary guys, but the moment some of these detainees come through the door and start to act stroppy they completely switch.

“They become hard and cold. The guy I was having a friendly chat with a moment ago suddenly turns.

“It’s almost like they turn into a completely different individual.

“So I can see how a police officer could play a gangster, they’d know exactly what to do.”

Born in Dulwich Hospital, in East Dulwich Grove and raised around the Old Kent Road and Kennington, Mr Munis is the son of Nigerian parents who expected him to become successful in one of the traditional professions.

He said: “When I finished my O-levels, my father asked me ‘what do I want to do now.’

“Foolishly, I thought he was being serious. I said I wanted to go to film school and he laughed. He said, ‘first of all, I can’t afford to send you to film school in America and secondly, what the hell do you want to do learning film. Go and do your studies in a medical school.’

“It wasn’t really a question.”Mr Munis duly went to medical school, but his passion for film only grew stronger.

He said: “My dad’s best friend, Yemi Ajivade, was one of the very first Nigerians to come to England to act. I saw him in an episode of the hit TV series Danger Man.

“He was in the background, probably serving tea or coffee, a non-speaking part, but I was so proud to see my uncle on TV.

“I was inspired by him and he took me under his wing.”

Nigerian actors, directors and writers were given more of a platform to express themselves with the rise of the Nollywood film industry. It took off in 1992 with the film Living in Bondage which was shot in Nigeria on a $12,000 budget. The film sold more than a million DVD copies and many more films followed suite.

In 2009, Nollywood surpassed the number of Hollywood films produced in a year to become the world’s second biggest movie industry behind India’s Bollywood. Mr Munis’s first taste of success came in 2003 when he helped produce Nollywood cult comedy classic Osuofia in London with university friend and director Kingsley Ogoro.

Since then he has collaborated on numerous films but he is now putting the finishing touches to his solo directing debut, In Case of Incasity. It tells the story of a group of Afro-Caribbean women who have a patch of stalls in Peckingham Market Lane.

They are suddenly given a notice from the council to leave but they resist this by employing the services of a local lawyer. The story twists and turns with gangsters, hidden treasure and corruption driving the plot, but the experience of immigrants in London provides an overarching theme.

The title comes from South London Afro-Caribbean slang meaning just in case. He said: “I use this  language in the film as a way of celebrating this sub culture. The name Peckingham comes from the Afro slang for Peckham.

“It was a way for Afro residents to give Peckham, a high density, low income area, an upmarket ring.

“Peckham is known as Lagos London because there are so many Nigerians there.”

Most scenes were shot in and around South and South-east London. He said: “When you’re making a micro budget film you have to lean on favours and use all resources you have at your disposal.

“It’s down to what you’re familiar with. I needed a local market with a park nearby to shoot scenes.

“The first thing that came to mind was East Street Market in Walworth.

“A friend of mine works in an industrial kitchen in Greenwich, he said we could use that for scenes.”

Filming has finished  and Mr Munis is now looking ahead to a potential release date this year.

For more information and to support the film, go to the In case of Incasity facebook page.

1 Comment on "Talk of the town – Film – The Big Interview: Kola Munis by Calum Fraser"

  1. Love this article – gives us all hope. Don’t give up the day job, it pays the bills – just take on the dream job as well…cool

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