His film making Journey began in 2003 as an undergraduate student in the theatre and film arts department, university of Jos. Upon completion, Kevin Luther quickly ran an online degree program with American Film Academy and followed this with a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa where he trained as a film maker for six months and today his years of hard work pay off as his new film Zanga Hill hits the cinemas. Kevin Luther the new film director on the block gives Keeps Magazine an exclusive interview
Keeps: Who is Kevin Luther?
Kevin Luther: Kevin Luther is a Film maker and you could say Kevin Luther is an acting coach.
Keeps: What is the project Zanga Hill all about?
Kevin Luther: Zanga Hill is an epic action adventure movie, like people are saying, it is the first of its kind in Nigeria, we’ve been watching a lot of home videos, a lot of drama but we have not actually seen anything about the cannibal, something like Apocalypto, so Zanga Hill is a movie that looks into that cannibalism that was once a part of perhaps African Community, Zanga Hill is not just a Nigerian film, we look at Zanga Hill as an African film because the components of the story are made of different cultures, for example the language of Zangas was coded from about six languages, which include Swahili, Zulu language, Kenya language and a couple of other languages in Nigeria.
Keeps: Is it like an adaptation of someone’s book or you wrote the story or you stumbled on the story or there was a movie you probably picked a thing or two from?
Kevin Luther: Zanga Hill is not an adaptation from any book or any story; it is a virgin idea, why I wrote Zanga Hill? I actually can’t tell you why but like you said, I think I must have watched a scene from a movie that prompted this thought, and it took me about a year to actually finalize the story. It was a virgin idea but to be frank I can’t really say what prompted me to write Zanga Hill. It must have been a scene from a movie perhaps Apocalypto because when I watched Apocalypto I really like the fact that Mel Gibson used the native nature of that community.
Keeps: For the coded language, are we going to be expecting a translation?
Kevin Luther: As for the Zanga, you definitely wouldn’t expect the Zanga to speak English, on a normal day if you meet a caliber of those kinds of cannibals in the bush they won’t be speaking English they will definitely speak their native local language, we are going to have subtitle of what they are saying.
Keeps: what’s their character like, are they men or they are beyond ordinary men?
Kevin Luther: The Zangas portray a picture of these species of humans, they look human but by looking at them you know these people are not in their right senses and they eat flesh. So you don’t want to be in the wrong place where the Zangas will find you at any time.
Keeps: That’s a very beautiful idea
Kevin Luther:(Laughs) they feed on flesh and that’s just the meal they understand. They don’t know of the food that we eat, they eat flesh.
Keeps: Who played the lead in this?
Kevin Luther: The Zanga king and a hunter, these are the two leads in the movie, and they are more like the opposite of each other. The hunter was played by Maxwell Peters.
Keeps: Is he an upcoming actor or he’s done a few movies?
Kevin Luther: Yes, he’s done a few movies already. The Zanga king’s character was played by Solomon Gang, he’s also done a few underground movies
Keeps: What informed your choice of these two guys?
Kevin Luther: The idea of the Sona Acting for Film Academy is not to dwell on those past faces that you have seen in home videos but to actually discover a range of new actors, so the first thing that informed our choice of those two guys, was for the fact that they were new, they were fresh and they needed to be discovered, they have what fits the story. I personally did not care whether it was Majid or not Majid that was going to play the role, so long they had what we needed in the movie.
Keeps: How challenging was Zanga Hill?
Kevin Luther: wow! Zanga was really challenging, shooting for about forty days in the bush with sixty people as the cast and every day we had to leave the camping area to climb the rocks to go and shoot; you could imagine dealing with snakes, and telling stories about spirits been around the rock where we were shooting and a lot of things.
Keeps: Any crazy experience you might want to share?
Kevin Luther: There was something that actually happened that up till now most of the cast even the crew were not aware of, when we were shooting in the cave, we actually shot a ghost, the picture of the ghost appeared in some of the clips and then we saw a python somewhere in the rock but the actors were not aware of it, that was really crazy.
Keeps: And you captured that?
Kevin Luther: The white guy who was with the camera thought that was a character but it was when we were previewing the shots that we saw this huge human like ghost, with big eyes and just sat in the cave and went head down, head up while we were shooting , we can actually show that in the making of the film but it was one of the most crazy experiences that has ever happened to me as a film maker, I have never seen a ghost on a camera but as a director you need to have a big heart even when we saw that we kept quiet until we were done (laughs).
kevin luther king jr.
Keeps: Apart from writing, what other roles did you play?
Kevin Luther: I’m in the caliber of film makers that you might want to call writer directors, I am not those kind of directors that you just give contract, I write my movies and I direct my movies that is the same style of James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and a host of others.
Keeps: Those great names?
Kevin Luther: Yeah, those great names, I think I like them, I like what they do, they write their films, and they shoot their films to get what they want from the film. So I wrote the script, I directed the movie, I also produced the movie.
Keeps: Is this going to be a straight to DVD movie or you are planning for a premiere or probably the cinema?
Kevin Luther: Hell no, we shot cinema standard, it is a cinema movie project before it gets to DVD it has to be perhaps the end of next year. When we are done with the editing…the first premiere will be in Lagos that should be between September and October and the second premiere is going to be in UK that is December/January so it is not home video stuff. I was opportune to meet with Amaka Igwe in Abuja, she went through the clips, you know, that is the owner…
Keeps: The BOB TV?
Kevin Luther: Yeah, and she actually told me we should get ready for awards because this is the first of its kind so it is not a home video thing.
Keeps: Is there any director in Nigeria that you like or a mainstream actor that you might want to work with in the future apart from the hidden talents?
Kevin: Luther: wow! This is a hard question, there are actors I would love to work with, what makes an actor is how good the director is, there are talents in Nollywood, I admire this new guy OC Ukeje. And Majid is a bunch of talent too, he is from Ghana. You know Desmond Elliot, I like him but he is not acting any longer he is directing.
Keeps: Apart from money what is your motivation, you can’t just spend forty days and forty nights in the bush, you are not a Jesus Christ.
Kevin Luther: (Laughs) Let me say passion, some of us studied film because it was a passion, we weren’t looking at the short cut to make the fastest money, we like the art of film making. Like I said, I am in love with a couple of film makers especially in Hollywood, each time I watch their movies I’m like when can I make a movie like theirs, when you watch James Cameron’s Avatar, Terminator 2 and a host of others and you come back home and what we do is just drama, drama, drama. My motivation for this whole thing wasn’t the money but definitely the money will come but I was looking at making a movie that will create that wow syndrome, that wow! a young guy from nowhere can actually do this! I’m not in Lagos; I’m in Jos, if I can do a movie that has that wow syndrome people want to look from where we are coming from.
Keeps: Can you talk briefly about your company, that is, Sona Acting for Film Academy?
Kevin Luther: Sona Acting For Film Academy is a training center but we don’t just train actors, if we realize that these actors are really good, we give them a twelve month contract, that’s like a year, so within that one year, we manage these actors we create a profile for them on our official web site, we try to get links with other film makers who might want to use these talents. We also have models, film directors that we train too. Sona Acting for Film Academy is actually a new experience that anybody who is interested in professional film making should look towards.
Keeps: Thank you very much.
Kevin Luther: The pleasure is mine.