Producer speaks on challenges hindering growth in Nollywood

From Piracy to a house divided against itself, from lack of umbrella association to lack of quality control, check out factors hindering the growth of Nollywood.


Read the speech delivered by Wale Adenuga at a press conference held at Protea Hotel Ikeja on the Nigerian Film Industry.

The renowned filmmaker spoke on challenges militating against the appropriate positioning for filmmaking in Nigeria.

He also made some recomendations. Check out excerpts from speech.

Seemingly, these are the best of times for Nollywood as the filmmaking business in Nigeria has come to be known. When the national economy was rebased in April last year, Nollywood was said to have contributed 1.2% to the new GDP of N80.2 trillion( US$509.9 billion). This means that Nollywood added about N1.72trillion to the revised GDP for 2013. The business of filmmaking in Nigeria, which is amongst the first three in the world has also become a major source of employment for our teeming youths, a reason for which we believe that we have a lot to celebrate.

However, a keener assessment of the situation in the industry would show that we just have a lot of glittering without substance. While this industry has enormous potential that could benefit our nation and her people, there are a couple of challenges militating against the appropriate positioning for filmmaking in Nigeria. Some of these I will presently highlight.

1. History of Filmmaking in NigeriaThe first and most important issue that we have to contend with, in my opinion, is the silent war that is going on amongst producers of the Igbo and Yoruba ethnic groups over the history of filmmaking in Nigeria. I imagine that this is at the root of all other problems as a house divided against itself cannot stand much less make progress.

2. A house Divided Against ItselfA corollary to foregoing is the unhealthy situation in which we now have Igbos, Yorubas and Hausas operating separately under the aegis of Nollywood, Yorubawood and Kannywood respectively. Even within these groups, we still have infightings and misunderstandings over leadership. In spite of these lack of cohesion however, each of the woods has her own guilds where separatism is very apparent in their dealings especially casting.

3. Lack of Umbrella AssociationAlthough the average Nigerian may find this shocking but I am confident that you, gentlemen of the press know that it is true. Our industry is the only one in Nigeria where you do not have a national body or association.

This country cannot speak of a national association of filmmakers, the way that doctors talk about the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), lawyers talk about the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and you gentlemen of the press have the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ). It is true that we have all manners of guilds but these are all based on the sentiments that I described earlier.

I am persuaded to believe that our inability to come together under an umbrella is one of the reasons why we have some of the problems that detract from the development of the business in Nigeria.

The all- comers nature of the business of filmmaking in Nigeria is the reason for the low quality of a lot of our films. We do not have any quality control mechanism. This has resulted in loss of confidence by patrons over and over again.

5. PiracyThe inability to fight the hydra-headed monster of piracy with one voice. A survey by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said that 9 out of 10 copies of Nigerian films are pirated.

This has frustrated so many practitioners to the extent that many have jumped out of the boat to join politics or take up some other form of employment.

Real passion for acting is fast becoming a thing of the past as a lot of our actors move on to big spenders the moment they become popular. The truth is that less than 10% of practitioners make money from filmmaking. Majority of the Lekki houses and posh cars that we see are acquired from other sources other than filmmaking.

6. Long Standing Lack of Governmental SupportGovernments, both national and state have done little or nothing to assist the Nigerian film industry until the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan initiated a N3billion intervention. It is true that some state governments have, over the years, supported individual practitioners but there is no widespread impact of such support on the industry.

Having identified some of the most urgent problems plaguing the industry, I want to humbly make the following suggestions on the way forward

1. History of Filmmaking in NigeriaIt is true that the Nigerian film industry has gone through a process of evolution over the past five decades or so, but I do not think the issue of who started what and when should be our priority currently. Just like doctors don’t haggle over who started the practice of medicine, I think what should concern all practitioners is harnessing all the resources available to us toward becoming the best that we can be as people with a common destiny.

2. A House Divided Against ItselfThe Yoruba say you cannot carry your luggage with only one hand. To put your bag on your head, you need to bring both hands together or possibly seek the extra hand of your neighbour. I suggest that practitioners find a way to work together as one, no matter where we come from. This, for me is the only way we can move our industry forward. Surely, there is power in unity.

I think the urgent formation of a national body of filmmakers is one thing that we cannot avoid if we are serious about making the best out of the industry. My suggestion is that we start with the formation of truly national guilds for all the professions that form the industry. These include producers, directors, makeup artistes, editors, actors, production managers, set designers, location managers, cameramen, continuity men, costumiers, lights men, sound recordists and marketers among others. All these guilds will elect their individual president and these presidents of guilds will come together to elect the president of the overall association of filmmakers. The association can then have a secretariat in Abuja where all the guilds would have offices.

The national executive of the association will then be able to work with government at all levels and corporate bodies on issues affecting the industry like piracy and funding. Such a body would be in a position to lobby for the review of laws guiding piracy and ensure that government funding gets into the right hands through the state or zonal offices.

4. Lack of Quality ControlThe formation of a national body would take care of all the problems that have been identified earlier and more. For example, it would ensure that all guilds sanitise and organise themselves in such a way that practitioners are of the highest possible qualification. This would invariably enhance the quality of our films and engender public confidence.

As an extension of the above, it would be impossible for people who do not belong to the appropriate guilds to produce movies as no one would collaborate with them.

5. PiracyI am of the opinion that a major reason for the level of piracy is the direct to home video format. Government should therefore ensure that the cinema culture is promoted by the three tiers of government all over the country. I suggest the establishment of cinemas in all the 774 local councils in the country. If producers have the opportunity to screen their films all over the country, before releasing on home video, piracy would be greatly reduced.

It is also important that we have a review of the Copyright Law in line with modern realities. This will ensure that pirates receive punishments commensurate with their crime.

6. Long Standing Lack of Governmental SupportI also think that government needs to institutionalize any funding plan that it may have for the industry. There should be a film fund where every legitimate filmmaker would be able to access loans, grants or other forms of financial aid the government makes available.Winds Against Unity.

I have a feeling that I am not the only one thinking about the urgent need for us to have a national body for filmmakers but this has not worked because of the interest of people who exploit the poorly constituted guilds for their personal needs. Such individuals nurse the fear that they will lose out in a democratic environment and will continue to do everything to resist change.

Some people will also not support this initiative unless they are sure that they would emerge as leaders. They consider the leadership of any such association their birthright and would not support its establishment unless they are assured of the opportunity to lead.

This is the time for everyone to put all their personal ambitions aside and let us all work together for an industry which would be a befitting legacy for our children.

Let me end by saying that I have no personal aspirations. I have only addressed this issue as a concerned practitioner who is convinced that we are only scratching the surface of the potential that the filmmaking industry has in Nigeria. My hope is that we would work together to see that we attain the heights possible, take our rightful position in the comity of filmmakers globally and stop our beggarly disposition when we have every opportunity to glow like princes and princesses.

With the talents that God has endowed the industry with and the inspiring population that Nigeria is blessed with, nothing will be able to hold us back from shaking the world if only we are able to harness our resources.

At the moment, we need what I would describe as the broom and umbrella philosophy. We need the broom to sweep away all the issues militating against the industry and an umbrella to accommodate us all.


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