Ayo Makun, Ayodele Richard Makun, AY

Ayodele Richard Makun popularly known as AY has nothing to prove to anyone again. After conquering the stage as a standup comedian, AY took his craft to Nollywood to strengthen the industry. Today, he has not only raised the bar as far as filmmaking is concerned in Nigeria, but also, he has written his name in gold as the producer of the highest grossing movie ever in West Africa ,“30 Days in Atlanta,” which he released in 2014.

AY has since produced other groundbreaking movies that are also making waves on the international film market. This multi-talented comedian-turned-actor, who studied Theatre Arts at Delta State University, Abraka, took time during the week, to recount his success story as a filmmaker.

He was speaking at the Creative Nigeria Summit, held on Monday, in Lagos. Sharing his story to a large audience, comprising bank executives, captains of industry, movie practitioners and corporate individuals, the Delta State-born filmmaker relived memories of how he began his journey into movie production.

According to AY, it all started from the comedy skits he was uploading to his YouTube channel, which at the time was the highest viewed channel in Nigeria. “I want to believe that a few success stories we have recorded in the industry, I am privileged to be one of those people,” he began.

‘I must say, he continued “that I dabbled into filmmaking. I used the word dabbled because in Nigeria when you are known to be doing a particular craft, when you navigate or tend to do something else, it’s always difficult for people to accept it.”

“Meanwhile, I studied Theatre Arts, and majored in directing, a lot of people do not know that part of me. So, why am I doing something differently? It started from the comedy skits I used to upload online. I still do the skits. I was putting the skits on YouTube.

“At some point my YouTube channel became the most viewed in comedy wise in Nigeria. So, one day, I was having a conversation with my wife and she suggested to me that why don’t I produce a full length movie, instead of the comedy skits.

“It brings me to the success story of ’30 Days in Atlanta’. When I wanted to produce ’30 Days in Atlanta, a lot of people thought I was running crazy.”

AY revealed that it cost him about $150,000,00, which is about N23 million to produce the film.

“Investing N23 million into the movie, it ended up grossing N163 million at the box office which is about $1.1 million. However, about N50 million or should I say about $330 had to go back into production.

The film sold to about eight airlines and five online platforms including Netflix in 2017. “We are very excited about Netflix today but I tell you that ’30 Days in Atlanta’ also was among the first set of movies around here that went on that platform in 2017. I also made another $100,000 plus and I’m still making more money till date.”

“Apart from ’30 Days in Atlanta’, I have done a couple of other movies. After the success story of ’30 Days in Atlanta’, we came up with another one, ‘A Trip to Jamaica.’ I invested about N60 million and the film grossed about N188 million at the box office with about N40 million going back into production. When I did ’10 Days in SunCity’ I was contacted from South Africa.

The country’s Tourism Ministry came on board to be a part of ’10 Days in SunCity’ and the film turned out to be a major showcase for one of the products. It was large.

“Moving from that level, I was sitting in the comfort of my home the other day when I got a call that some people are coming to see me from China. What I am trying to say is that I never run at loss in terms of film production.

“The brand has become very strong that international partners like Netflix and a Chinese media company, Huawei are looking forward to collaborating with me to do ’30 Days in China.’

“It will be a sequel of ’30 Days in Atlanta’, which ended up entering the Guinness Book of world Records as the highest grossing film from this part of the world at the time. Still in business, we are currently working on the film, ‘Merry Men 2.’ Just last week we put the film on Netflix in America, and it was one of the trending films on that platform.

The facts are out there and it’s a plus to us. You know, when the music is good, you play it twice. We are producing ‘Merry Men 2’ which I believe by December, it’s going to be one of the biggest films to come out of Nigeria.”