AN INTERVIEW WITH BEN OPE JOHNSON, CINEMATOGRAPHER AND ESCALADE MOVIE PRODUCER



For those who know about Christian movie production, the name Ben Ope Johnson aka BJ will not sound unfamiliar at all. Those who find out about men behind camera after seeing TV productions will also find his name familiar. Yet, those who have heard about his latest film, ESCALADE, will appreciation the writer of the story and man behind the production.

He is a Director of Photography with high pedigree; a vast number of upcoming DOP’s has received one training or the other from him. When he produced his ‘Olympic Day’ (a short film) many regard it to be a beautiful experiment, but now he is out with a full feature film that is being shown in various places, especially schools.

EGC’s Olumide Bisiriyu Was able to reach him some time ago and he came up with this interview:


EGC: Can we meet you sir?
BJ:
My name is Ben Ope Johnson a.k.a Bejay. I'm a Director of Photography and a Film Maker.

EGC: Tell us about your journey into cinematography.
BJ: My coming into movie production is by divine instructions. God told me he wanted to use me in drama evangelism therefore I should drop my dreams and do exactly what He wanted me to do. Without hesitating I obeyed. Thank God for the journey of 22years.

EGC: Is there anything that inspires you or keep you going in film making business?
BJ:
What inspires me is Holy Spirit I don't want to call it movie making business because I use my movie to do what He said I should do. We are investing into people's lives. We are sowing seeds. That's the stage we are in the ministry; screening films free of charge.

EGC: You have worked with secular organizations as well as Christian organizations; tell us how you strike balance.
BJ: His leadings have been mostly about acquiring knowledge. You know wisdom is the correct application of knowledge. When God called me He gave me a manual to operate the ministry. I started my training from secular organization. After I finished that, He said the next stage is training with an evangelical ministry. Then He sent me to secular again to acquire more knowledge in film production. Striking the balance is simply by obeying Him; He tells me what to do. Whenever I'm in secular production and Christian production, His will is number one, not mine.

EGC: What has been your biggest challenge while shooting a film, and what film?
BJ: My biggest challenge is not using the right equipment to achieve desired dreams. Secondly, shooting feature length movie within a short period of days has been a major challenge. We love to do more but the resources.


EGC: Which is the most memorable film you have shot?
BJ: Haaaaaa they are many ooooo. Seriously I can't really say this or that. I will tell you why, I give my best on any project, Film or TV productions.

EGC: You are currently promoting your film, Escalade; tell us why people should watch the film.
BJ: ESCALADE hmmmm..... My darling baby, ESCALADE our darling baby. It our baby because, everyone is promoting it. It’s a movie that was inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wanted to talk to parents and their children so he choose ESCALADE. It is an evergreen message because, as long as you have people with dreams, the movie will still be relevant. As long as you send your children to schools the movie lives on. Finally, the movie has that secret you are searching for in your children, spouses, organizations, countries etc. ESCALADE. The movie is popular, check YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Whatzapp, Twitter, everyone is talking about it. It’s a movie you will want to keep for your children, children. ESCALADE was shot with black magic camera, the picture is exceptionally beautiful. I can say I keep doing the editing for two years; I want a very nice final. Great actors and crew. Some said, "It’s like you just recorded the movie without actors knowing you were filming them because the acting is just too natural, the actors delivered their lines like it was coming from their heart not from papers." Their spoken English is fantabulous. ESCALADE a great movie.

EGC: How can people get copies of the DVD or watch the film?
BJ:
Like I said earlier, "He who pay the piper dictates the tune". Presently, the film goes to higher institutions of learning and secondary schools that have boarding house. That is the instruction now. After that he will tell us the next steps. I mean my Oga, the HOLY SPIRIT.

EGC: You have produced a film before Escalade, Olympic Day, tell us about it.
BJ: OLYMPIC DAY is another beautiful baby. God was not happy how his investments are being wasted by his creatures. He chose OLYMPIC DAY to talk to the people. The movie teaches about how to discover our talents and how to use them to our benefit and the society. By his grace the film has been screened more than 80 times free of charges. Just to tell people that God wants them to discover their purpose of existence. You know if a purpose of a thing is not known the abuse is inevitable. If you want to know your purpose of existence watch OLYMPIC DAY.

EGC: Who are your mentors in cinematography?
BJ: A big question. I will choose Tunde Kelani a.k.a TK. The baba has really helped us to apply excellence to film production in Nigeria. Some years back, anytime I have movies location, I will buy his movie and use is to train myself. Russell carpenter is another, he shoots for James Cameron. He was DOP on Titanic.

EGC: How do you hope to sow into the lives of cinematographers coming behind you?
BJ: It is one of my greatest dreams in life to impact people with my knowledge. Naturally, I love giving; I think it’s one of the clays God used to make me. If you add value to your society, your society will add value to you. I want to give this thing to people, C-I-N-E-M-A-T-O-G-R-A-P-H-Y...... GBAM!
Evangelist Mike Bamiloye is a great mentor in the ministry of Christian drama/film. The Baba is a great man. He teaches us the secrets of ministry and life.  1. Trust God,  2. Obey God, 3. Be patient, 4. Love God. My boss Evangelist  Kayode Oyebode (Kay Technical Ojuoluwa) taught me evangelism through cinema. Pastor Raph Bola Mustapha gave me a rare privileged; he would have used some years back. I have great directors that also influenced my style. They are many I don't want to mention names; I don't want to mistakenly omit any name.

EGC: Tell us something about cinematography that most people don't know?
BJ: Is there anything I can call secret oh.... Okay let me put it in a simple language. Excellence is what most people don't really know. Again, most don't pay attention to details. Have passion for your work. If you love camera dearly, the camera will definitely love you. I will share my secret with people. My secret is Holy Spirit; he gives me power of creativity. If you can come closer to Him, He will give you more than your expectations. It's also very important to dress well. Don't wear sandals or slippers to operate camera. Don't forget people will address you the way you dress.

EGC: What else should we be expecting from you soon?
BJ: I have many great scripts I want to do, I love doing great movies; I'm a movie maker. The Holy Spirit has given me some powerful scripts even for musical videos. They are great ideas that I've never seen anywhere. My boss Holy Spirit, thank you sir… Finally, please let’s pray for Nigeria daily. Nigeria is our home, Nigeria is our fatherland. Say it daily, GOD BLESS NIGERIA.

EGC: Thank you for your time.
BJ: Thank you for the privilege of interviewing  me, I love you all. God bless you.

The movie, ESCALADE, premieres in University of Ibadan on Easter Monday, 28th March 2016, at SUB Event Centre by 5pm. For more information about BJ you can reach him on
Twitter: @Bjcamera,
Instagram: bjcamera1,
Facebook: (search) Ben Ope Johnson,




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