An avid film maker, Okechukwu Oku is unarguably one of the best film makers the South East has ever produced. With his movies winning numerous international awards, Okey Oku exhibits his talent in film making like none other. A film producer, director and cinematographer, he has stamped his name in Nollywood with his brand Oracle Films.
Up close this week, we get to know Okey Oku.
Okey Oku hails from Ukpo in Dunukofia Local Government Area of Anambra State but was born and raised in Enugu. His artistic disposition can perhaps be attributed to his pedigree being the son of Goddy Oku who was a big time musician in the 70s.
According to Okey Oku, his father had a big music studio in their home long before he was born. With this he was exposed to music and the arts in general from the onset of his life
Okey Oku did his primary school at WTC Primary School, Enugu. He then attained secondary education at the University Secondary School and St. Charles Special Science School, Onitsha. After spending two years in the department of computer engineering, Enugu State University of science and Technology ESUT, Okey Oku, dropped out of school to pursue his passion for music at the age of 16.
The Music Era
Okey Oku’s decision to drop out of school at age 16 didn’t go down well with his father. The friction in their relationship led to a 17 year old Okey living on his own.
To survive, he rented a shop in New Haven, Enugu selling cassettes and CDs while producing gospel songs. He produced his first hit at the age of 18 and with the proceeds from that hit, he rented an apartment close to his home and built two studios. These studios became PURE SOUND, the first digital studio back then in the early 2000s. There he produced songs for artists like JMartins, Wizboy, Resonance and so many other Enugu based acts at the time.
In a bid to rebrand the business and grow, Pure Sound moved away from presidential road to a huge plaza, the Zandas plaza, in New haven axis of Enugu.
According to Okey Oku, this was a huge business mistake as Pure Sound could not recoup what it spent on the move. Business dwindled and after a while, Pure Sound had to move again though never fully recovering.
The Movie Era
There is a silver lining in every cloud suits perfectly in the case of what happened next in Okey oku’s artistic career as the woes he faced with Pure Sound gave rise to Oracle Films.
As a music producer, he had produced and directed lots of music videos for acts like Resonance’s hit gospel song Chinwike, Chinyere udoma, Mike Ejeagha and so on
According to Okey Oku, the dramas (storylines) in the videos seemed more realistic to him than Nollywood movies at the time. After hearing people tell him how good he was directing these videos, he decided to screen for the actors guild which he got and didn’t use for the next five years. This he did because he hadn’t resolved to go fully into film.
Following the collapse of Pure Sound, Okey oku went into cinematography. He soon became the only cinematographer in the south east using a 5D camera for his shoots. He began to make money from cinematography and continued to develop his abilities in the film through practice and studying online. When he became more popular, he then branded his work as Oracle Cinematography. He has won many awards as a cinematography which include two for the movie Brother’s Keeper and an Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award for best cinematography for the movie Refugees
According to Okey Oku, haven worked with many producers and directors gained valuable lessons about film making. However his dissatisfaction with the unpreparedness of many producers led him to film production fully, as he wanted to correct this.
His first film as a producer and director was the critically acclaimed and very successful movie Bambicious which was shot in Enugu. The movie which features Belinda Effah and Daniel K Daniel, brought Okey Oku to limelight internationally after it won nine awards at the Afrifimo awards. With this, he started his film company and named it ORACLE FILMS.
The success of Bambicious was followed by his second called The Boss is Mine featuring Imeh Bishop, Michael Godson, Daniella Okeke and many others.
According to him, four other movies are in the works, to be released very soon. They include Black Rose and Weather For Two.
Being a music producer, Okey Oku also does the score (soundtrack) in his movies.
Okey Oku is second of eleven children as his father married three wives. Among his siblings is music producer and singer Udoka Oku aka SeleBobo.
He is married with three kids.
Okey Oku lives and works from his studio in Enugu. He shoots most of his movies in the South east with a few done outside Nigeria. He strongly believes the South east has a lot to offer in terms of film and entertainment in general
He is a strong advocate for promotion and funding artistic creations as well as empowering those involved in this trade. He is also enthusiastic about seeing a properly managed cinema in the South east following the closure of Genesis cinema at the Mall.
After the movie Wedding Party grossed over 100 million naira at the cinema, he is calling on South eastern governments and big wigs to invest in such ventures as they not only provide a source of entertainment and a means of social interaction but huge profits.