Bolanle Austen-Peters was born on 4 February 1969. She is a lawyer and daughter of Chief Afe Babalola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Bolanle is the Managing Director and Founder of renowned Arts and Cultural organisation, Terra Culture, an educational and recreational organisation set up in 2003 to promote the richness and diversity of Nigerian Languages, Arts and Culture. Today, Terra Kulture is recognised as a major cultural hub in Nigeria for expatriates, students, Hollywood and Nollywood stars, artists and members of the diplomatic corps.
In this interview, the accomplished lawyer and businesswoman talks about her current production ’93 Days’, a movie on the deadly Ebola virus which broke out in the country a year ago. Read excerpts…
It’s been over ten years of running Terra Kulture. How has it been?
Setting up Terra Kulture as an institution has been a most rewarding exercise often filled with adventure, frustrations and triumphs. Eleven years later, we can look back and thank God that the institution we started out with has been able to touch lives and create jobs and entertainment.
Over time I’ve been able to develop the concept of Terra Kulture as an institution and a cultural centre that is self-sustaining. We have also over time continued to churn out fresh business ideas to help improve the revenue of the company, venturing into food, entertainment, theatre and now movies.
Our in-depth knowledge of the Nigerian cultural scene and cutting edge analysis of our customers’ needs has strongly impacted on the business of Terra Kulture. With constant stream of ideas and always thinking of how to make the business better, we’ve been able to stay at the fore front of the industry.
At Terra Kulture, we are constantly thinking of what next to do, always taking on challenges and always striving to be the best in the industry . So far, I will say it has been a fascinating journey.
Why did you decide to venture into movie making?
My decision to become a movie producer started with the production of stage plays. As a play Director/Producer, I have always had to work with the best actors, dancers, choreographers, stage and set designers, costumiers, make-up artists etc.
With this vast experience venturing into feature film production becomes almost inevitable. I think for me it’s a transition, it’s the next stage. After the production of SARO The Musical which was an instant success, I realised there is room for expansion and diversification and so I thought feature films won’t be a bad idea, so we promoted October 1 which was also an amazing success.
This year I’ve produced a short film and now working on 93 Days with Steve Gukas and an International Director Pemon Rami And Dotun Olakunrin.
Why did you choose to do a movie on Ebola?
Essentially, the Ebola story needs to be told. We need to tell our own stories. Our experience with the virus needs to be televised properly which is why I agreed to work with the directors we have on board presently.
The script is beautifully written and we have people who had first-hand experience with survivors and families of those who gave their lives to ensure the virus did not spread. We owe it a duty to those who gave their lives to tell this story of how we combated and won the Ebola battle, so for me its philanthropy.
What’s the budget for the movie?
This movie will cost a whopping significant amount of money in millions.
Who are the members of cast and what informed your choice in this regard?
The cast include Danny Glover (USA), Bimbo Akintola, Gideon Okeke, Bimbo Manuel, Adebola Williams, Patrick Dibuah and Somekele Iyamah amongst others. Choosing the cast for this movie was a collective effort of the producers and directors, we had to look for people who can interpret their roles perfectly with some resemblance to the actual victims.
What has been your experience so far working on this project?
My experience so far has been an interesting one, it’s been time and resource consuming but productive, and hopefully at the end of the day our viewers will appreciate our effort.
What are the challenges you’ve encountered in the course of this production?
The most basic challenge for any production is funding, so we are working with both local and international institutions to fund this project including Ford Foundation, Nigerian Breweries, Fieldco, Axa Mansard, Lagos State Ministry of Health and so many individuals to guarantee its outstanding success.
What are your projections for the movie?
We intend to immortalise our heroes whilst also showing Nigerians that in unity we can overcome, we hope to educate the populace about patriotism and goodwill. We hope the movie makes history.