Meeting him for the first time reveals a humble and quiet-looking personality; soft-spoken and always with a smile on his face. But beyond this veneer lies a ’dangerous resource’ of film and filmmaking. At work, that gentle personality gives way to the cerebral auteur, whose knowledge of the art and craft of storytelling can be seen from so many films that bear his signature, a testimony to his depth as a filmmaker.

Charles Uwagbai is an award-winning, passionate and creative film director based in Ontario, Canada, and Nigeria, with a strong focus on the world of cinema. With over a decade of experience, Charles has dedicated his career to producing and directing captivating film projects across several platforms, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Canal Plus (ROK Studios, IrokoTV) and more. He is an active member of the Directors Guild of Canada, who has established himself as a prominent figure in the industry across the two continents.

His diverse filmography includes ‘Esohe’, ‘Okoro the Prince’, ‘The Ghost and the Tout’, ‘Charlie Charlie’, ‘The Black Silhouette’, ‘Finding Odera’, ‘Crushed’, ‘Half Brothers’, ’Alone’, ‘The Thorn’, ‘Celebrity Crush’, ‘Osato’, ’Kipkemboi’, etc. This array of classic works reminds us of what makes this Edo born-Canadian filmmaker tick.

We cannot forget in a hurry the very successful series ‘Blood of Enogie’, which is a masterpiece on its own and keeps reverberating across all audiences for its masterfully contrived storytelling. ‘Blood of Enogie’ was a breath of fresh air to television series production, as it changed the perspective of telling traditional stories on mainstream television – a show that had audiences from North, South, East and West yearning for more.

It is expected that a filmmaker of his repute constantly works to raise the bar and the same time grow a new generation of filmmakers. In a chance encounter with him, I was curious to find out more about this. To be candid, I discovered that training the next generation was a passion he not only loves but has also devoted his time to.

Like he said, “To have one who guides, advises and supports a less experienced one in any specific field is the joy of anyone who calls himself a mentor or mentee.”

I further asked him if he considers himself as one, with specific reference to what mentorship meant to him as a filmmaker. He said, “In the film industry, mentorship is crucial. It’s about passing on knowledge, sharing experiences, and helping newer filmmakers navigate the complexities of the industry. It’s like a guiding light that can significantly impact one’s career trajectory.”

I asked him if he has or does mentor people. His response: “I have mentored and still do mentor aspiring filmmakers and those starting out in the industry.”

This curiously brought me to ask him a crucial question of how he does this. “I am always ready to listen and share insights with the new or younger ones. Whether it’s discussing film techniques, sharing industry contacts, or providing advice on navigating challenges, I try to be a supportive and informative mentor,” he said.

What are the gains of mentorship to the mentor and mentee? In response, he said, “For the mentor, it’s fulfilling to see someone grow and succeed with your guidance. It can also lead to fresh perspectives and learning from the mentee. For the mentee, the gains include valuable advice, networking opportunities, and accelerated growth in their career.”

He went further to talk about mentorship being a pathway for growth as I asked him if it was a sustainable pathway. “Absolutely,” he almost screamed. “Mentorship can be a significant pathway to growth for the mentee. It provides access to knowledge, experiences, and networks that they might not have had otherwise. It can also boost confidence and open doors to new opportunities.”

Offering advice to young filmmakers on the path, he said, “My advice to young filmmakers coming up in the industry would be to stay passionate, persistent, and open to learning. Seek out mentors who can provide guidance and support. You can even learn from a distance by observing someone whose work you admire and following their growth pattern. Don’t be afraid to take risks and think outside the box. Read, keep researching (the internet is a vast resource), and practice your craft diligently. Networking is also key, so attend events, collaborate with others, and always be willing to showcase your work.”

Coming from a master of the game, there could be no better way to summarize the advantages and necessity for mentorship, no matter who you are. Even established filmmakers also do, informally or formally, have people they look up to for so many reasons. Pride has no place with growth, they say, and so it is with the art of mentorship embodied in this great Edo-born filmmaker, with deep roots in his culture and tradition.

Charles Uwagbai keeps breaking boundaries in his chosen path. He is currently working on the production of a documentary web series titled ‘Love Strings’. This project delves into the psychoanalytic intricacies of dating and relationships among young people predominantly residing in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). This project reflects Charles’ commitment to exploring diverse aspects of human connection through the lens of his storytelling prowess, just as he has always done no matter the geographic location he chooses to tell his stories. A true son of the soil and a solid testimony of the term ‘Edo To The World’.