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An interview with producers of Red TV’s Men’s Club

As the much anticipated season 3 of Red TV’s Men’s Club is in the works. We spoke to the producers of the much-anticipated show Tola Odunsi, Akin Akinkugbe and Bola Atta on what the audience can expect from the new season and how the COVID-19 pandemic affected their shooting. The Nollywood industry is particularly vulnerable to the effects of corona-virus as shooting shows and films require a lot of close proximity between actors. It seems the Men’s Club took matters into their own hands….

What was the inspiration behind the Men’s Club?

TOLA – The men’s club was actually inspired by a night out, me, Akins, and a few friends (guys ), Everyone spoke freely about love, friendship, and struggles of life. It dawned on me that there are hardly any television shows that capture the perspectives of young men, especially from Nigeria. The very next day we started developing the concept into a television show, which has become what is the men’s club today.

Men’s Club season 1 and 2 took us all by surprise and quickly became a hit across Nigeria and the diaspora. It is a series that many young people can relate to. We have seen the season 3 trailer and are excited. What can you tell us about Season 3?

AKINS -we knew we had a great story but you can never really tell how the audience will receive it. Trust me when I say we also have been somewhat surprised by the fanatical following of the first two seasons. Season 3 takes off higher from where we left things in season 2. Expect more drama, more relationship intrigues and of course more Bromance.

TOLA – Season 3 is a bigger production than the previous 2 seasons. And we have added a few big names to the cast such as Sola Sobowale and Shaffy Bello. Story-wise I believe this is also our best season yet.

The acting industry as a whole was affected because of COVID-19, how did the pandemic affect the shooting of Season 2?

TOLA – The pandemic broke out while we were shooting season 3 so we had to shut down the production for 3 months and then we had to come up with a new elaborate pre-production and production plan to ensure safety.

The plan involved testing all cast, crew, and service providers for the show. Accommodating everyone in 4 separate secured and controlled locations.

Every day our locations had to be sanitized and disinfected before the arrival of cast and crew and On set the crew had to wear gloves and masks with the exception of the actors on screen. I would say putting such measures definitely increased the cost of production significantly and this might be the new norm for productions worldwide.

A shooting set of the Men’s Club being sanitized

What made you decided to produce Assistant Madams? What’s the connection between that show and Men’s Club?

AKINS -They are actually two completely different shows. The idea for assistant madam was actually born way before The Mens club. The timing felt right and we began the process of bringing it to life. There is so much more to come from assistant madams.

We are seeing more and more corporates creating their own web series. What makes the partnership with UBA successful?

TOLA Our Partnership Urban Vision / Redtv /UBA is very successful mostly because our goals are aligned, one of which is to deliver quality content that can be appreciated anyway in the world, secondly our executive producer Bola Atta understands the importance of UBA engaging the youth in a creative way.

AKINS Whereas other Banks might see these portals as just a marketing tool Red Tv actually buys into the vision of creating original world-class African content. Bola vast experience in this space cannot be overemphasized. Our union was seamless. We totally operate at the same frequency. I do not think we could have gotten it better with this partnership… Sorry I mean marriage.

People really love the show. How do you carry out the audition process and can is there a world where the public could ever audition?

AKINS -In the earlier days we would do an open audition. The last time we tried this it was mayhem. We had to get help from the Police and Lastma to control the crowd. We also continue to search for new talent. If you look at the cast from season one of men’s club and assistant madams we bled in new talent who have gone on to become stars in their own right. So yes keep your ears close to the ground auditions will still happen

 Do you have plans to expand viewership to platforms such as Netflix etc?

Bola- We have so many plans that will unfold as we go along. We feel that we are still in the early stages of development.

How do we ensure that more African stories are told on the global stage?

Bola- I think the first step is to focus on positive stories that make people feel good. To tell the true stories that make people feel good. To tell the true stories that are relatable and reflect the Africa of today. Today’s viewing audience is more discerning in terms of quality of production and wants to know that they are getting the best. They will demand this and not accept any excuses. So we need to constantly aim at delivering excellence with more acceptability comes an expansion of the industry where the entrants(actors and production team) become competitive and more productive. That way more stories continue to be told and the demand for our stories will keep increasing.

 

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