LISA RAYMOND is one of the newest executive producers of movies in Ghana. She is announcing her presence with her new movie titled, ‘HEAVEN’, which sees five friends, slug it out for survival and contest for fresh breathe; apparently, the movie is not a funny one, it is thought provoking from start to finish. The piece has horrific gingers that will leave you spellbound. We caught up with LIRAY as she is fondly called to tell us more about the new movie, about herself and most importantly, why she decided to produce her first masterpiece outside her country of birth.
LET US START BY ASKING YOU, HOW DO FEEL EXECUTIVE PRODUCING YOUR FIRST EVER MOVIE IN GHANA AS WELL AS HOW DO YOU SEE THE PREMIERE NIGHT TO BE?
First of all I want to give all the thanks and glory to God, for His favor and grace to be able to produce this movie. I feel elated to be the Executive Producer of the movie ‘HEAVEN’, and I chose Ghana to produce my first movie because I consider Ghana as ‘home’, I love this country and I felt it would be an honor to start my first project here in Ghana.
‘HEAVEN’ SEEMS TO BE GATHERING ATTENTION AMONG MOVIE ENTHUSIASTS, HOW DO YOU FEEL IN ALL THIS THAT YOUR MOVIE IS ABOUT TO BE PREMIERED?
Though i can’t see into the future but I believe the premiere night will be nothing short of a miracle, and it will even exceed my (our) expectations. I feel excited and petrified at the same time but I know it will be well received. The movie is amazing, the casts were amazing and we hope to make an impact.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PRODUCE THIS MOVIE?
My inspiration was the challenge involved for me personally; I needed to do this to push myself to reach greater heights. Everything in this world inspired me.
HOW MUCH OF HARD WORK AND FINANCE WENT INTO ‘HEAVEN’ MOVIE FROM START TO FINISH?
A lot of hard work was involved from the cast to the crew, sleepless nights, repeat takes, and tolerance. Finance put into the making of ‘Heaven’ is what it is…though it unexpectedly doubled exceeding the original budget. But in all, we thank God for grace
YOU ACTED AND AS WELL HANDLE EXECUTIVE PRODUCING – WHICH WAS MORE TASKING, WHICH DID YOU FIND MORE PLEASURE WORKING AROUND WITH?
I enjoyed the acting part more and hated the executive production side especially when someone in the cast kept referring to me as just the ‘bank’ – that was on the humor side, but sometimes we see or hear words in different ways.
DURING YOUR FILMING, HOW WAS THE INTERACTION AMONG THE DIRECTOR, CAST AND PRODUCTION TEAM LIKE?
The director Abu Idi was wonderful to work with, the cast was mostly okay. Though the production team could have done better but we shall keep learning and striving for gold in subsequent productions.
Poster of ‘HEAVEN’
FROM THE TRAILER, THE MOVIE SEEMS TO HAVE SOME TENSED SYNOPSIS THAT WILL KEEP EVERYONE THINKING, “WHAT’S NEXT”; HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO FUSE ALL THE INTRIGUES TOGETHER?
Hmmmm tough one, I left that to the imagination of the director and I believe a little suspense spices things up, so come see the movie ‘Heaven’ and judge for yourself.
CHRISTABLE EKEH, JOSE TOLBERT, UMAR KRUPP, SAMUEL BRAVO, AMONGST OTHERS ARE ALL DOING WELL IN THEIR VARIOUS PASSION, DID YOU FIND IT DIFFICULT ‘CONTROLLING’ THESE ARRAY OF TALENTED PERSONS ON YOUR SET?
No they are all passionate about their careers, so it was easy working with them. They were fun loving as well as interesting.
MOST FILM MAKERS SOMETIMES DO THEIR MOVIES BASED ON REAL LIFE STORIES WHICH THEY MAY HAVE FOUND THEMSELVES IN, OR WERE TOLD BY SOMEBODY, WAS THIS, THE CASE WITH YOUR MOVIE?
No, this movie is purely fictional, I’m not saying it can’t happen, but to the best of my knowledge it’s pure fictitious. The director did a fantastic job in interpreting the whole script.
AS A NEW FINANCIER IN TERMS OF MOVIE MAKING, THIS IS YOUR MAIDEN PROJECT IN MOVIES; TELL US WHAT AND WHAT REALLY WENT IN FINANCIALLY IN BRINGING THIS OUT?
Financially I can’t just put a figure out there, but multiple flight tickets, hotel, original promotion budget was misappropriated, so a last minute turbo second promotion budget had to be coughed out – all this cost me more than expected.
TECHNICALLY, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS LIKE CAMERAS, MICROPHONES, LIGHTS, PROPS, AMONG OTHERS DID YOU USE IN SHOOTING THE MOVIE, ‘HEAVEN’?
Technically I’m no guru, I trust that my technical guys will be able to give heads up on that but you can trust me that I got the best hands to handle this project. It is not just passion, it is business – so we saw it that way.
Nigerian Liray in claded Ghanaian colours
LOCATIONS HAVE SOMETIMES BEEN PROBLEM TO PRODUCERS, HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO BEAT THIS HURDLE?
Location was taken care of by the production team, so no problem there as well. When you see the movie, you will appreciate that Ghana has real beautiful natural environments.
AS AN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, WHAT DO YOU THINK AFRICAN MOVIE MAKERS HAVE TO DO TO PUT TOGETHER THAT WILL BREW CONTINENTAL HEADLINES AND GO ON TO WIN INTERNATIONAL ACCOLADES?
There should be more encouragement among movie makers, more transparency and honesty, availability of sponsorship for talented aspiring movie makers. Truthfully to win international acclaim prizes, more effort should be put to portray stories that touch our lives as Africans and as Humans; issues that impact and define us as a people and our societies.
THIS YEAR ALONE, SO MANY MOVIES HAVE BEEN PREMIERED AND SOME HAVE HAD BACKLASHES, SOME HAVE BEEN PRAISED – HOW WOULD YOU WANT, ‘HEAVEN’ TO BE SEEN AND WHAT IF IT TURNS OUT OTHERWISE, HOW WOULD THE FEELING BE?
I leave the audience to be the judge, of course I want a positive review personally, I can only hope. If it’s otherwise, means I will work harder with original more realistic material next time.
HOW IS THE MOVIE, ‘HEAVEN’ GOING TO AFFECT THE SOCIETY IN WHICH WE LIVE IN?
It will teach a lesson or two which I believe
IN TERMS OF PROMOTION AFTER THE PREMIERE, HOW DO YOU INTEND TO PUSH THIS MOVIE, AND MAKE SURE THAT THOSE WHO COULDN’T ATTEND THE PREMIERES BUT WISH TO SEE IT, GET THE CHANCE TO?
I intend to continue pushing so more people can see the movie and appreciate the talents we have here in Africa.
BEFORE WE LEAVE, WE WOULD LOVE TO FIND OUT HOW IT HAS BEEN JUGGLING MUSIC AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCING THIS MOVIE?
For me, movies and music are intertwined – it involves passion and dedication. I try to put my all into anything I’m doing, be it movies or music for me it’s all about love for the arts.
WAY BACK, PRODUCING WAS SEEN AS A MALE DOMINATED INDUSTRY, NOW WOMEN HAVE COME ON BOARD FULLY; FROM WHERE YOU STAND WHAT DO YOU THINK WAS WRONG THEN AND WHY HAS IT BEEN EMBRACED NOW?
Common! It’s the 21st century…“Evolution“!
THOUGH WE ARE TALKING ABOUT YOUR NEW MOVIE, SINCE YOU ARE A MUSICIAN, TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR MUSIC CAREER.
My music career had the bad luck at the time of meeting all the wrong people in the industry anyone as an aspiring artist chasing their dream had – thus, I advise that budding acts should fast and pray to avoid meeting; these are the vampires that feed off of your hope, dreams and desire. They can crush your career before it begins, kill your dreams take away your money, your hope and if you are unlucky, they destroy your life. You always need the right team to shield you and protect your interests, then the sky can be your limit or beyond. Yes I do have an album and two and a half videos (lol)… Check out ‘Sexy LiRay’ on YouTube for these videos.
TELL US EVERYTHING ABOUT YOURSELF FROM GROWING UP, SCHOOL, LIFE AS A MUSICIAN AND LIFE BEFORE GOING INTO MOVIES AND WHAT SPARKED YOUR PASSION FOR ENTERTAINMENT?
My father is a retired Air commodore of the Nigerian Air Force; nowadays he runs his Hotel, ‘URAYE Hotel’ in Kogi State Nigeria. My mum is an international caterer. I had a very happy childhood with my brothers and sisters, I guess I got my love of music from mum and dad – they were very wonderful, especially since they always had to entertain diplomats and dinner parties, but my mum loved singing especially in the evenings, when she told us stories. I loved music as a child, had a band in school and me and my kid sister were a duo. But I was professionally introduced into singing by my then best friend Joanna Botmang, the late Ex-Governor of Plateau State’s daughter. I sang at Hilton and Sheraton for a few months with the likes of Jeremiah Gyang and Sammy Gyang. I’ve always been fascinated in ways to tell a story. I also used to write short stories as a kid; so anything art, I naturally fell in love with.
FOR FANS WHO CANNOT WAIT TO SEE ‘HEAVEN’, ALSO HAVEN’T SEEN THE TRAILER; TELL THEM WHAT THE MOVIE IS ALL ABOUT (THOUGH DON’T LET THE CAT TOTALLY OUT OF THE BAG).
For fans the movie ‘Heaven’ is a thriller unlike any other, prepare to be stimulated intellectually. So kindly go get your tickets now as we take a walk hand-in-hand to see ‘HEAVEN’.