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My original touchstone for writing this film was Paranormal Activity and just like Oren Peli, I intend to write many parts…I will write and write until writing goes out of fashion!

 
DEATH Atlas is a Nigerian paranormal film based on actual events, to be produced by Egor Efiok and directed by Frank Macaulay. The SFX will also be the first of its kind ever to be applied in a Nigerian film. See some samples (featured image of this post) practiced by E4PR’s Princess Amayo on some of her clients after she read the script. This should give you a general idea of how spine-tingling the film is.
 
 
LOG LINE: A family battles a supernatural force in a remote cottage. If you love Hitchcock, FEAR this!
 
 
SYNOPSIS
 
DEATH takes over and threatens to tear a family apart in the form of a paranormal force, an ndem (aka water spirit/sea goddess) called Mayanga, who is seeking vassals to possess to satisfy her bloodthirsty desires. Her only goal is to reign down terror and take over their souls…and it only takes one touch of her beads to set her off!

Americans Marcus Hunt (Razaaq Adoti) and his younger brother Nathan (Chucky Venn), travel down to Calabar in Cross River State, Nigeria, with Marcus’ Nigerian fiancée Timma Henshaw, to join the celebration of Timma’s dad Chief David Henshaw and his new American wife Madison’s second year wedding anniversary, at Obudu Cattle Ranch Resort in Cross River State.

This first meeting of the Hunts and Timma’s family turns out to be a double celebration as Marcus and Timma, who is also meeting her new step-mom for the first time, announce their engagement. Congratulations are in order as friends and family which include Timma’s two brothers Effiom and Onoyom, cheer and hoot.

Eager to impress the Americans and obviously in a merry mood after lots of red wine, Chief Henshaw announces his purchase of a small cottage in the countryside and declares that in honour of the engagement of his daughter, the family will travel down to the cottage the following day to spend the weekend together.

Travelling to the remote cottage joined by Timma’s London-based dear friend, Ibiaye Odey, the entire group are ready to spend the weekend relaxing and celebrating in this distant locale.

Upon finding a mysterious set of beads in the form of a simple wooden beaded bracelet, Madison is possessed by Mayanga, which sends her into a killing frenzy spreading through her from the beaded bracelet, latching onto her soul and kicking off the most terrifying night any one of them will ever experience.

The killing continues and with each death, the spirit takes over the souls of the departed, intoxicating them and running through their cold corpses like a disease forcing them to attempt to kill anyone in sight in the most horrific ways imaginable.

Marcus, Nathan, Timma and Ibiaye are backed into the position of fighting off the rest of the family. The dark night, torrential rains and flooding make escape impossible; hence the foursome have no choice but to stay at the cottage. Trying to protect themselves against this demonic entity and also figure out a way to beat it and save themselves and if possible, the possessed family, Marcus and Nathan are not sure if they are battling ghosts or humans. All roads look grim and they are left to wonder if they’ll survive this night…

 

Story inspiration: 

DEATH Atlas is about Mayanga, a purely fictitious creation of mine. However, my inspiration for creating her was the legendary Calabar dreaded sea goddess, Atim Okpo Ebot. 
 
The name, Atim Okpo Ebot, sounds creepy, as her name, translated in English language, means Atim the he-goat; more so, because Atim is a female name. How can one be a female water goddess and a he-goat at the same time? Weird. Interesting too. The entire Atim Okpo Ebot drama is claimed to have taken place at Akasoko. She is also rumoured to have the head of many animals and is imagined to look like this.
Nobody would ever know the true story about Atim Okpo Ebot and as I do not feel qualified to write about her based purely on research, I decided to interview several Efik intellects and historians to have a better idea. Below is a summary of what I gathered from them.
 
Back in those days, there was a tremendous amount of commercial and social interaction between the inhabitants of the Western Calabar river, now Uruan, particularly Esuk Ifia Onyong. According to one of the many myths, anybody that is lost in the water, is claimed to to have been taken by Atim Okpo Ebot. Another popular story about Atim Okpo Ebot was when she took Mutanda’s brother (or son?) called Namondo. Mutanda, a brave headstrong youth, set out on a mission to get Namondo back from Atim Okpo Ebot. A book, titled “Mutanda Oyom Namondo” (translated:Mutanda Is Looking For Namondo), was later written about the heroic Mutanda’s journey to save Namondo from Atim Okpo Ebot. The book was a best seller and was later made into a film. Click here also, to read a poem about Atim Okpo Ebot that one of the intellects I interviewed, Orok Otu Duke, recently wrote.
*Important note: DEATH Atlas is not about Atim Okpo Ebot

PRODUCTION CONTENT

PROFILES OF THE PRODUCER, DIRECTOR & SPECIAL EFFECTS/MAKE-UP ARTIST.

THE PRODUCER

DEATH Atlas is produced by Award Winning British/Nigerian Filmmaker and PR Guru, CEO Of E4 PR, Egor Efiok. Please click here to read my full profile.

THE DIRECTOR

I asked Award Winning British/Nigerian DOP and Movie Director Frank Adekunle Macaulay to direct Death ATLAS, as he is one of the best directors that I know and respect. Frank is an International Director and Cinematographer. Also an ex Airline Pilot, Frank was the Director Of Photography for GuGu E. Michaels‘ Award Winning Movie, Dangerous Men, which won Best African Film at the World Music and Independent Film Festival 2012 (WMIF). Unge’sWar, another movie he lensed with GuGu produced by Bernard Kawaja and co-produced by myself, also won Best Film and Best Cinematography, respectively, at the Nollywood & African Film Critics Awards (NAFCA) aka African Oscar Awards, which took place on 16th September, 2012, in North Carolina, USA.

Frank has also done other projects in Nigeria like Area Boys (1st Assistant Director -2008), he co-directed Streets Of Calabar and was cinematographer for a number of music videos including Flavour’s ‘Oyi’, Raw’s ‘O Chukwu’, Mumma Gee’s ‘Accra Boy’ featuring VIP and her ‘Port Harcourt Is Back’; also, Charles Granville and various other Nigerian musicians’ videos. Please click here to see the progress of the state of the art studio that Frank is building in Nigeria. He is also currently editing his latest movie, Jaga Jaga.

THE SPECIAL EFFECTS & MAKE-UP ARTIST

Princess Amayo, Multi-Award Winning Make-up & Body Artist and one of the best Artists and Special Effects Make-Up Artists in England, will be doing all the Make-Up and SFX make-up of the stars. This would be the first time that this type of SFX will be applied in any Nigerian film. See some examples below that Princess did on her clients from the script of Death ATLAS; you can now understand why she is hyped as the BEST in the UK. Princess Amayo’s work has also been showcased at London Fashion Week, Britain’s Next Top Model, Miss Commonwealth International amongst others.

NOTLD - Girl Zombie-vert

FUN FACTS ABOUT THE PLOTLINE

1). Mayanga is the Efik name for fermented palm oil. Rumoured to be very good for the skin, Mayanga is black and and emits a funky smell.

2). Although my story is largely fictional, some of the plots are inspired by actual events that I witnessed growing up while in secondary school in Calabar. I have seen people possessed by water spirits (aka “ndem”) running towards the stream while screaming, “they are calling me”, as other students desperately try to restrain them. I have witnessed people while trying to catch a thief, put a key in a specific chapter of Job in the bible and ask the bible to turn when the thief’s name is mentioned and to my utmost horror, have seen the bible spin wildly and the spectator’s shouting, “don’t let the bible fall or she will run mad”! I have witnessed lots of incidents that would sound unbelievable but to date, the most “potent” ones that I have witnessed are the ndem possessions. They are very common and anyone that tells you otherwise does not know what they are talking about.

3). I also vaguely remember a few other famous Efik ndems like Anansa and Ekpo Musufe. One of the historians whom I interviewed delivered such an intriguing narration about Anansa which greatly piqued my interest and I…erm…honestly am at a loss about what to believe. Watch him talk about her here and draw your own conclusions. As for me, I am still #ScratchingMyHead in confusion. Read about more ndems here.

4). Timma is a pen name culled from the Efik name, Atim. There are many Efik names which are fondly shortened thus as pen names. Another example is Eskor which is a pseudonym of Asuquo.

5). I drew inspiration for forming some of my characters after extensively studying a lot of amazing legends: See a few here, here, here, here and here. Take a few guesses 😉 🙂

TIPS TO FULLY UNDERSTAND THIS (COMPLICATED) FILM

Greatest tip: Read between the lines.

P.S.

The inclusion of the fun facts and tips above are not meant to spoonfeed the audience, but more as a History lesson for the benefit of those who are alien to the Efik culture. I love teasing my audience as well as providing subtle clues to help them solve puzzles. I expect that these fun facts and tips should serve as a guide for the eagle-eyed to spot when they stumble across corresponding incidents in the film. If you have watched “A Beautiful Mind”, you’d get my drift. It didn’t take long for me to figure out what was going on and why the film was titled thus. The audience were not spoonfed, but the subtle clues were there right from the start of the film until the end.

Lesson: All that glitters is not gold.