FRESH Media Podcast interview with Ike Onyekwere, owner of IKETV Productions.
About our guest:
Ike Onyekwere is a filmmaker, director, and producer from Houston, Texas. He grew a passion for the arts as a kid and was fascinated by films and television but it would be during college that he took on his filmmaking journey. He Started off doing documentaries on his cell phone based on events a this college, then later dove into producing skits and short films for YouTube. As his following sharply grew, he knew that taking a bigger step was only on the horizon. In 2020, his life would change forever when he started filming for his hit TV series The Red Box, which started as a short film but then went on to become an episode series that received high praise for its creativity and for bringing something new into the film world.
What inspires you to create?
Just falling in love with the process, every moment is an opportunity to step into a creative zone and manifest anything into a story. What's also good is working alongside people that think, breathe, and reason the same way as you do. Each moment is like a puzzle you have to solve that pays off in the long run.
How did you find your love for filmmaking?
Let me say something, I didn't really I didn't really get into filmmaking until about college, but I will say this. So when I was a kid, I just loved cartoons a lot. I'm not going to lie. I was a kid that's what I was on.
I was surfing through Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network simultaneously. I was watching every day and I was just like, Man, I really love cartoons. I don't know why. I just feel like it is an escape from reality. And I used to, in my notebooks in grade school, I would just go to that and just draw comic strips.
So I had this whole comic series. I was just drawing. I don't know, I was doing it. I just loved to create. So I was doing that and I was doing that for a while. So what's a better medium to portray myself and my creativity? When I got into filmmaking in college, I was in classes here and there, and then I was just like, man, I want to just make something. So I just felt like doing videos, which is the more mature way to kind of keep my creativity going.
So I just started doing skits and, you know, I was basically a YouTuber first. I just felt like things were just looking good and I just dove into like real, like just real filmmaking and I was just like, okay, let me try taking a shot at this. I just kept going.
I was just making stuff just to go viral. I was just making funny stuff. And then one of my first really serious projects was this project about a husband and a wife that were going through some marital issues and she ended up killing him.
So I was like, Wait a minute. Like, wait, I can do this. That's that's crazy. So I just started to take my art more seriously and just started to do more serious, dramatic pieces. And when I realized that I have the power, the gift of blending different subgenres of film together. And so I just kept developing.
From there, all those videos I was making kind of led me to The Red Box, which we'll talk about in a little bit. So I just realized that I have this gift of storytelling,
So you found your love for filmmaking and you're producing stuff for YouTube and you're blending genres. Would you say that there's somebody who inspires you? A certain genre? A certain filmmaker?
Honestly, I kind of I kind of watch everything. So I've watched a whole bunch of films and TV shows, and I wouldn't really say there's an influence because my style is kind of unique to me in the sense that my style is more like bringing a lot of people together.
So I have this gift of bringing people from different personalities, and different upbringings together. People love uncertainty and people love randomness and unpredictability. So I feel like I just have the gift of blending that in and making it work because I'm more of the person to where I want to appeal to everybody.
I want to make stuff that appeals to kids, that appeals to teenagers, that appeals to young adults, that appears to people in their forties, and grandparents. I want to make this kind of general that people will love. So I feel like I've got these bits of pieces from just about everybody. But I would just say I'm more self-motivated in that sense.
I know people who are inspired by the world around them and the people in their life. And I know as a filmmaker, that's especially important when you are creating a story. And from what I've seen, you're an amazing storyteller, and I feel like that comes from some kind of authenticity. Let's get to it. For those of you who have not seen The Red Box, are they able to go and watch it?
Yeah. Okay, I'll say this. I will say this. We did release an original version, but I made a lot of remasters to it. So I would say you can check it out on Amazon Prime and YouTube soon.
I'm, I'm not gonna lie before you continue, I want to shout out all the actors, all the actors and crew involved, this is a fantastic project and everybody on this project is talented.
I saw something. Everybody's unique in their own way. And I just felt like I had to. I was like, glad to put this together. So everybody did their thing on this. I did my thing, but more importantly, everybody else did their thing. So shout out to the team. It's all love. We're all gifted. We're all talented.
Without giving too much away, could you talk about how the idea of this project came about and basically, like, if you had any reasons why you wanted to do this in life, what inspired you to write it?
Okay. So I've done a lot of YouTube videos in the past, just skits, short films. I was just going out there. It's kind of like I had to just go out there and create something. I was just going out there, doing all different kinds of ideas. And then it wasn't until COVID when we were all locked up, I was like, Okay, what do I do next?
I've done kind of everything. I've done action drama, romance, sci-fi. So I was like, okay, I'm childless. Let me let me think of an idea. How about making a film about a mysterious object that a guy's trying to steal from a girl he's trying to rob from her house? So it just kind of began like that.
The first episode was actually just a typical YouTube video. And what I realized is that people were like, wait a minute, this is good. So they're loving this. I'm like, okay, we have to let this seed be planted. Because if people love something, you just got to give them more. So like, all right, let's get the band together, let's make episode two.
So we kind of have to develop more from two. Because I came into this project, I didn't even know I had the idea of expanding it. So it was kind of like, Okay, now we have to create a sequel to episode one. And then with episode two, people loved where it was going, okay, cool, let's make it episode three. So we did episode four and five simultaneously last year, and this year. We kind of shot in 2022 to 2023.
And so far it seems to look at magnetic like magnetic like the actors are A-1, like everybody is on their game behind the camera, in front of the camera. So it kind of feels like you're in a universe. And it's kind of been like making a universe of people interacting with each other of different backgrounds and upbringings and just letting that happen naturally.
First of all, great job at casting. I think that all the characters –– I like that their roles were very specific.
Each character had their role. I noticed some amazing cinematography. Whatever locations y'all were using. So how was that filming? Because, you know, when you're independent and you're making your film, you got to be resourceful, you have to be the most resourceful ever. Did you have a certain amount of funding?
Some people pitched in. But you know, of course I had to foot like 95% of the bill. This is my project. In general, it was a very resourceful project because everybody had to do like more than they were required.
We had to go above and beyond to get certain places and get certain things, certain props.
There were a lot of times where they were going off script. I was like, Wait a minute, y'all, Y'all are the characters. I'm gonna get out of your way. So everybody kind of chipped in in their way. But I saw something in everybody. So I was like, I have to let this happen –– see the plan and bear fruit.
I'm gonna do everything I can to let it grow. Because there was talent on this project, and this project is going places. And I saw something and everybody and everybody's talented. So I was just like, Let's let it happen. Just let it happen. It was meant to happen.
That's beautiful. Especially I feel like that speaks to you as a leader, being able to delegate and be able to trust the people that you have acting and bringing your vision to life. Especially because you're independent and you are creative, This is your baby, okay, for you to give them this kind of freedom to bask in their characters. I feel like that's next level.
What we know is good or just let it happen because we try to force stuff that wasn't complicated. It just is going to go places. But we just have to just, you know, just our just let it happen.
So is there anything else that you want to say about The Red Box before we move on?
So the Redbox it's very different. People are not going to understand it till is released, but when it's released, it will make perfect sense. So it's been all over the place because it's just too much going on.
There are too many characters to be stories like sub-stories, main stories too, where people are confused. So it's one of those projects that is destined for greatness, but everyone just has to wait till it's released. We know what we're doing. We know what we're doing with this, we're going to stand out and it's going to be great, it's going to be amazing.
It's going to be it's going to be well-received. It's going to be somewhat relatable by kids, teenagers, adults. You know, the kids will definitely love it because it's science fiction. So we know we're doing something different. We're trying to go a different route than everybody else. So I just have to be patient. It's going to be a miracle when it comes out.
It shows that because you guys care about the quality of the work you're doing, production quality. And I was like, wait a minute, cinematography. Yeah, y'all snapped with that. Like the editing and the effects? And the fight scene. I don't know how long it took to get this choreography together.
So it literally felt like every kind of, like every scene, like every character, we have to go into their world and kind of learn from them. So the fight scene was like, you know, shout out Mark Dong, because he was a fire coordinator. He's an amazing stunt choreographer and it kind of felt like when we were practicing with that, I had to literally put on my fighting clothes. Got to go to the stage, we had to learn stunts, and how to not injure people.
So it kind of felt like I was learning about people as I was doing this. So that's why it looks so amazing because it's all-natural, you know?
In a span of three and a half years. It took three and a half years to incubate. Right now we're 99.9% done, But it's like three and a half years to incubate this. So it was like a lot happened. A lot of ups and downs, ups and downs.
But that's what comes with climbing up the mountaintop. You got to go through the highs and the lows, but, you know, we're just glad that it's basically done. So I'm just excited.
I look forward to the film being released and I'm going to promote it like crazy anywhere we can. I do want to ask you, as far as any future projects, or if it's another kind of artistry, do you have any other projects coming up besides that release?
Honestly, I'm just I'm in the point where I've been doing this for almost ten years, so I'm just going to kind of lowkey retire. We'll see if things take off.