For diminutive Dickson Iroegbu, the best movie director awardee at the
maiden edition of African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA),
the sojourn to stardom in Nollywood did not come on a
platter of gold, neither was it achieved through half
measures and cutting corners.
His came through hardwork, perseverance, resilience, doggedness and a never-giving-up spirit even in the face of
He started in ’97, as a production assistant,
assisting producers and directors to carry generating
sets and other props from one location to another, and
also running errands on the other hand for movie stars
on set amid tips here and there from the few generous
He later delved into script writing and churned out
some successful scripts that turned blockbusters.
However, the turning point in his career came in 2001
when despite much opposition, he went ahead to direct
“Days of Glory”, his first attempt behind the cameras,
and that opened the floodgate of more works, accolades
and awards for the father of two.
Dickson’s name was finally printed in gold and
registered on world map when he defeated his “senior”
colleagues and mentors at the elitist Directors Guild
of Nigeria (DGN), in Bayelsa to clinch the keenly
contested prize for the Best Director at the maiden
edition of AMAA Awards.
In this interview with AZUH AMATUS, he spoke on several germane issues, especially those affecting Nollywood.
Enjoy the interaction!
How did you feel winning the best director award at the maiden edition of AMAA, in 2005?
Most importantly now, the whole world and the whole
Of Africa should know that Dickson Iroegbu has come to
stay in Nollywood. If I did it last year and did it
again this year even though not as best director, at
least, my movie carted away three awards this year, in
the best actress, best supporting actress and best
sound, it’s not easy.
First of all, the secret of it all is from the most
High and then perseverance led me to where I got to
and then after I got to where I got to as a director I
started being conscious of the fact that people who
are intelligent are watching and I’m not taking my
viewers for a ride. At least, I’m happy that first I
am a pioneer member on anything that has to do with
AMAA. Any day you talk of AMAA you make reference to
Dickson Iroegbu and I sat on that sit as the maiden
edition’s best director that means AMAA is part of me
from inception. All things being equal there were
areas that I questioned at the last award, but in
summary even biblically your righteousness can
supersede your evil, since they were able to go beyond
their weaknesses I give them eighty over hundred.
What new projects are you currently working on?
After winning AMAA best director award at the maiden
Edition, we now realized that people are watching and
we are now careful on what to shoot and what not to
shoot. After the awards, I shot a flick that has never
been shot in the history of Nollywood titled Women’s
Cot, which also got three awards at the last AMAA. The
movie had a large cast of 80 women, directing women on
set is not usually an easy task. I had super stars
like Joke Silva, Bukky Ajayi, Onyeka Onwenu, Gloria
Anozie Young and many others on set. In fact, people
are still wondering till date how I was able to cope
with all of them. But basically the movie talked about
women liberation in another way, but we picked it from
the negative angle. The whole thing was my concept but
written by Tai Emeka Obasi. I spent three months
shooting this movie and before going on to set. I went
to my pastor and told him I was going to hell to shoot
a movie that he should pray for me. It was not easy
handling Onyeka Onwenu on set, we clashed severally.
But give it to her; she is a mega star among stars.
Working with her was an honour despite the clashes.
The film gulped over ten million naira but my producer
cum executive producer John Nwatu refused to budge. He
believed in the project. He paid me very well, but the
money was not the issue. And it will remain my biggest
movie in a long while to come.
What does the award mean to you, has it also changed you in any way?
I now have a burden and a cross to carry. I now know
that a lot of people are watching me and it is now
more challenging for me to become a director after
AMAA. But truly I deserve the award; AMAA has exposed
me a lot, and also made my face popular unlike before
that people knew only about the name without the face.
The award also made me meet a lot of people that I
never dreamt of meeting. Because of AMAA, I was called
to shoot a movie on James Ibori. But despite all
these, the award is a burden; a cross that I’m
carrying and I hope that God strengthens me. Truth is
that I can’t afford to disappoint the people who gave
me this award.
Truth is that Oscar is on the way for me. I also see
myself picking another AMAA because I don’t know who
will challenge me. My Oscar is very soon, just by the
corner, it’s been beckoning.
There seems to be so many crisis surrounding the Ibori movie, we would like to hear your own side of the whole story?
I read on the papers that I was given N37million to
shoot a movie, that’s balderdash. If I have that kind
of money, I will go straight to Hollywood and shoot
their kind of movies. With N37million, I will embark
on a project that would bring down Hollywood to
Nollywood. Having pronounced it, I’m sure the money is
coming to me soon since some people said I was given
that kind of money. Besides, I didn’t work with Gov.
Ibori, I only worked on story line that had to do with
Gov. Ibori. I was called to produce and direct the
movie, but on getting to Warri, the guy started
singing another tune. We started the project but had
to stop when money was no longer coming, I only
collected N1.3million and the movie was to be titled
“Big Heart Treasure”. While all these were going on, I
was in constant touch with the SSG of the Delta State
Government and some of the Commissioners and other top
How did your journey in Nollywood begin?
I came into Nollywood as a production assistant
between 97/98 and was also writing scripts. My first
script was titled “Just A Mission”. But I
started as a production assistant on the set of Narrow
Escape 1. But I was already a graduate while doing all
these. I finished from ABU, Zaria, read Business
Administration. The irony of this whole thing was that
I had a talent I wanted to pursue and there was no
encouragement from anybody, especially my family. I
followed my dream with a passion despite the many ups
and downs. I knew where I was heading and what you
are seeing now is just the beginning.
Did you envisage your meteoric rise, this early?
Like I told you I started as a production assistant,
carrying generator sets and other props on location,
from there I started writing scripts and later did
continuity and was at a time, a costume assistant,
props and props assistant. I was also a soundman. Deep
down, I knew I was learning and going through a
process. I also knew these were dues one has to pay in
life. It was a price.
What was the turning point for you in Nollywood?
I cried at AMAA awards when the flashback came. My
first movie as a production assistant was on the set of a
movie directed by Andy Amenechi and incidentally the
two of us were nominated for the same best director
category at AMAA, which I eventually won. The turning
point in my career came with my first movie as a
director “Days of glory”, I financed it myself in
- Again, when I was ripe to direct nobody believed
in me or even invested in me. Funny enough, my first
movie didn’t do well in the market, but that didn’t
discourage me. After seeing and agreeing to market my
first movie, Amaco gave me Romantic Attraction to
direct, which I also wrote the script. Ironically,
same Amaco bought the first script I wrote in
Nollywood and also marketed the first movie directed
by me. He was also the first marketer to give me money
to shoot a movie. God used him to bring to light my
Sincerely speaking, I can’t count number of movies I have directed so far, because I’m not a businessman director.
All my movies are dear to my
heart, but the one that has really challenged and
stressed me so much in recent times is Women’s Cot but
before it was Mayor, which gave me the AMAA award, it
was also challenging, the first car I bought was
crushed while shooting Mayors. I shot the movie with a
swollen leg, so that was my first challenging movie as
As a leading director in Nollywood, what would you say are the major challenges on the job?
First, was that nobody really believed I could direct
a movie, a lot were like, lets watch him mess himself
up, the consciousness of the fact that those around me
didn’t believe me, was a major challenge and that was
demoralizing. There was no encouragement, but I
refused to give up. And some directors were like how
can Dickson be directing, in fact, DGN frustrated me
and battled me. Despite all these, I just believed
that my works would convince them. I later didn’t
believe it was happening to me that day when DGN
president, Fidelis Duker, was handing over the Best
Director award to me at AMAA. Truth is that I’ve not
gotten anywhere yet, but I’ve always known that I will
be recognized and appreciated in a big way someday. I
always knew that I have something to offer to planet
earth, which has to do with my talent, it started with
poetry, I got an award in 2000 from Washington and it
was well celebrated in the industry.
You are a young man of many parts, What motivates you?
Humility and simplicity, they inspire me a lot.
Another is the consciousness of being called and
finally my immediately family, especially my kids they
have brought so many blessings into my life, and they
have really inspired me. They make me work harder.
Who are your role models within and outside Nollywood?
I admire James Cameroun a great deal just like me, he
is a writer and when he was to direct a movie then
nobody believed in him. Here in Nollywood, I can’t
forget Andy Amenechi, Teco Benson and Lancelot
Imasuen, whom I always tell is the James Cameroon I
see in Nollywood. Teco, Moses and Reginald Ebere,
encouraged and gave me their blessings and support. I
also don’t pretend to recognize and acknowledge some
directors before me, even till date I still respect
and answer them Sir. I’m just beginning.
We would like to know more about you and your background?
Well, I’m Dickson Nnamdi Iroegbu, from Mbaise, Imo
State, I’m an adult born on Dec. 8, forget the year,
principled to a fault and also very determined and
simple. Happily married with two kids. My wife works
with the Censors Board, met her there and censored her
out of the Censors board to my house. I’m from a
polygamous home, from my mum’s side, we are four boys,
four girls, and I’m second to last child.
In your own views, what do you see as the biggest problem facing Nollywood?
Our major problem is unity, because a house divided
against itself cannot stand, we should stop fighting
ourselves. And the only way we can excel is by coming
together to understand ourselves better. We should
also inform the world that talents are abound here, we
should put money behind, as practitioners, we should
stop being businessmen directors and act like creative
minds. We should understand our positions and enhance
the class and quality of our movies and believe in
those with the talent and stop patronizing the
businessmen directors. There are professionals who are
conscious of the name and are ready to sacrifice in
order to ensure that quality is given out of
How rich are you as director, in fact, are you a millionaire director?
Yes, I am, I must accept it.
First published, June 2006.