Winifred Mena Ajakpovi, a successful HR executive turned filmmaker, has achieved prominence in the film industry as she recently received some accolades including a nomination for Best Movie Overall in Africa with the movie known as 4-4-44 at the just concluded Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards.
The film was nominated for Best Movie Overall Africa, Best Movie West Africa, Best Actor in a Drama, Best Supporting Actress in a Drama, Best Lighting, and Best Costume awards.
Ajakpovi, the fast-rising filmmaker ventured into the world of filmmaking when, in 2017, she took the bold decision to venture into film production.
With 20 years experience in HR practice and the last nine years in executive management roles, Ajakpovi displayed courage by leaving the safety of her corporate career to jump into the unknown world of movie entrepreneurship.
“I was driven by a strong passion; my dreams were stronger than my fears; so, I was not seeing or thinking of any negative thoughts. HR gave me the springboard for my movie career; I can never underestimate the impact the HR profession has on my filmmaking skills today. However, I must say that I have found a career that gives me joy, and I intend to pursue that with every attention,” she explained.
While making the strategic connection between film production and HR practice, Ajakpovi said that skills are transferable.
She however said that her people management skills, has helped her immensely in managing the various categories of persons on a film set and the breadth of collaborators as well as the engagement required to make a film.
“From the king to the cupbearer, you must relate with each person appropriately, remembering that as the producer, the success of the film and the production is in your hands,” she said.
Ajakpovi said that time, people and budget management are examples of skills she has drawn from her HR background, to apply in filmmaking.
Her success has become a green light for others intending to pursue their goals, as she now represents an example of how it is possible to swap careers and still excel.
In the 4-4-44 movie, the HR Executive turned film producer reenacted a personal story of loved ones and their struggles with mental health.
“My stories are adapted from true-life events and are also period pieces that take one back in time and create nostalgia. I believe that true life occurrences, when depicted in films, are more relatable and makes the message easier to understand,” she said.
On the cost of making 4.4.44, she said “Period pieces are not cheap to put together because it tries to recreate an era that no longer exists, which means that the producer has to find deep pockets.
Citing an example with 4-4-44, she said the film required vintage cars, which were only available in Nigeria in the 1940s which is the period the film was set in.
To achieve this, she had to go all the way to Lebanon, which was where she found such cars in good condition.
With her success with production, the filmmaker has found inspiration in the enormity of the challenge before her and the learning opportunity inherent in it.
She is currently investing in scaling up her production outfit to a full-fledged production house.
The 4-4-44 producer, who has been called a ‘career disruptor,’ is also at the moment concluding a shoot for a new movie that has several list of actors that the audience would love.