An Okiji Amaka Ind. (WA) Ltd. Production presents: Stephenie Okerere (Celia); Ini Edo (Serena); Ajibola Ozorkor (Foulton); Screenplay/Director, Okey Zubelu Okoli.
Some years ago I produced a 35mm black and white movie, yet unfinished. The theme of my film and “Fulton Mansion” are the same-showbiz: the rise of a ghetto girl to an overnight stardom. The plot of “Fulton Mansion”, is different from mine though, and I even admire writer, Okey Zubelu’s lead character Celia (Stephenie Okerere) because, he so made her real. I always admire a well-entrenched character. A character not larger than life but a character with humanness, with weakness, defenselessness, an underdog, she’s able to fight the status quo and rise above the difficulties. I personally rooted for her to win the contest which she did. If you care so much for a character of any kind in a movie then the writer is giving you the bang for your money. I got my bang in this here.
“Fulton Mansion” is a long movie based on talent search. As it turns out, the crude talents hail from different backgrounds. Celia leaves with her aunt from the poor side of town but a talent scout spotted her as a diamond in a rough, and begs her and her aunt to take part in an upcoming contest. For a girl like Celia with such a humble background, she soon becomes the butt of mean jokes of all the nineteen girls bunked up at the Fulton mansion. One competitor, Serena (Ini Edo) is so hateful of Celia that she couldn’t wait to see Celia sent home.
Writer and director, Okey Zubelu same architect, same builder envisioned his story and directed it just the way he sees it. One outstanding feature of Okey’s “Fulton Mansion” is the element of setting. Okey used microcosmic setting as called. That is when a group of people from different backgrounds are brought together and put in a secluded place quite apart from the natural world around them. A bus load of passengers on their way from Lagos to Abuja; nineteen girls from different homes cooped up for a week at the Fulton mansion. With such element, writer and director are creating allegorical and microcosmic subject that enable viewers to see from the characters point of view, their world at large.
The most admirable point in review here is the creation of the two leading opposite characters, Ini Edo and Stephenie, each from the far end of opposing social spectrum, the former, antagonist and evil. Stephanie is the protagonist representing good. They both play their roles so well. Stephanie holds her ground as an outsider looking in, and observing these strange people she found herself sleeping with in the same room. She may not know how to use fork at the dinner table, or join in the asides of showbiz, like alternative sex, drug and alcohol, but she sure knows how to boogie her way with a very big smile on her face to win the competition.
Serena’s character is at a tangent with Celia. She is liberal and free spirited, and lets all hang out and no holes barred type of person. She commands a posse of sixteen girls in the crew and all are characters who’ve been there and done that. They’re street smart, and can experiment with lesbianism, drug and alcohol and they are all ready to drop draws for the slightest opportunity that comes along in showbiz. They all at Serena’s command, hate Celia for her being eccentric and idiosyncratic.
I reviewed “Reckless Love” before this film and one noticeable flaw with “Reckless Love” is the choice of casting the actors. The two male leads in “Reckless love” Jimmie and Lowson stand about seven feet and equally so, except in age. Considering the theme, casting for that movie would have made one actor bigger and the other smaller and helpless so viewers can unconsciously identify with one of them. A story of that nature needs Goliath and David, the giant and the midget. Excellently, “Fulton Mansion” casts the six feet tall Stephanie as the protagonist (good) against the four or so feet Celia the antagonist. If it is universal to say that there’s beauty in tallness, and Celia is tall then logically she represent beauty (good), versus short Serena, the evil and hater.