Saturday, 5 November 2011

From CORA, it’s stampede for a better Nollywood

Efforts to reposition and move the nation’s film industry forward so that it could be attractive to investors and project the country and the African continent to the world better, telling Nigerian stories and for Nollywood to serve as a money-spinning industry after the oil sector may well have started with a recent arts stampede on new trends in the industry

Mahmoud Ali-Balogun
It was the initiative of Committee for Relevant Art (CORA), which held last Sunday, through its quarterly art stampede that brought together filmmakers, actors, marketers, film critics, art journalists and other stakeholders to share information on how to move the industry forward.
  Hinging its position on the fact that the movie industry is the off-shoot of the nation’s TV drama, which started from the conventional stage plays and the moving theatres of the pre-independence era, CORA in its drive chose as topic: The New Trend in Nollywood — a look at the recent works that are redefining Nollywood.

Steve Ayorinde
With a panel made up of the nation’s leading movie practitioners, which included Mahmoud Ali-Balogun (producer of Tango With Me); Kunle Afolayan, (The Figurine); Stephanie Okerereke (Through the Glass); Chidi Nwokobia (Champions Of Our Time); Emem Isong (Reloaded); Lilian Amah-Aluko (Jungle Ride); Vivian Ejike (Private Storm); and Kelechi Ikata, who represented Chineze Anyaene (producer of Ije) with Steve Ayorinde, editor of The National Mirror Newspaper moderating, the group critically examined some of the latest movies to have come from the industry.
  Kicking off the discuss, Ali-Balogun identified scripting as one of the areas to look into and called on practitioners to have the audience at the back of their minds when writing their scripts. He further noted that not knowing this, has contributed to most movie scripts appearing in the format of tele-drama scripts. He noted that there are different script formats for the TV, stage plays and the cinema. Apart from that, he frowned at most movies for not allowing the pictures to doing the talking, adding that “for our films to actually be accorded their desired place and viewing at the international scene, producers should make actors talk with their bodies, gestures and the scene as against the soap opera-format currently in place”.
  Ali-Balogun also emphasised on sound as one of the elements that can help to tell a story better.
  On the other hand, Afolayan called on practitioners to identify their genre of movie — historical, cultural, romance, comedy and others — as well as carrying out research to backup whatever information they want to pass on to the audience. He added that his award-winning movie Figurine underwent a four-year research to be what it is.  Apart from this, he advised that filmmakers should always make their movies to be arty in nature and entertaining, so, as to have commercial value.
  For Okereke, whose quest for something new and different led to the production of Through the Glass, said there was a dearth of the right people in the distribution and marketing chain, which are essential for the growth and development of the industry. She also noted that this obvious lack had made pirates to reap where they did not sow. She called for partnership with corporate bodies to build more cinemas, funding and to expand distribution network for movies.
Kunle Afolayan
  Nwokobia and Emem Isong reiterating the views of other panelists called for continuous training and retraining of practitioners as well as exposing them to the latest trends in the industry.
  In his contribution Richard Mofe-Damijo, the former Delta State Culture and Tourism Commissioner, said, “There are diverse ways to reposition Nollywood. Though some believe the problem is distribution; for me, one thing that is uppermost, is engaging the private sector with a view to moving the industry into the main financial stream. Assess to fund will only come when people who are in charge of fund distribution pick interest in the industry. If they say Nollywood is the place to invest in the next five years, you would see everybody move into it.
  “Practitioners and other stakeholders should be actively involved in eliciting interest in the industry for private investors to come into it. If we do that, it will open a new vista and people will not cry for fund the way they are now crying. Fagbola did it so many years ago, though an experiment, and the scheme was over subscribed. I believe we are at that point now; we need to link up with the financial sector with a view to recommending it to their clients to invest in.”

Richard Mofe-Damijo
Using his experience in government, he said he engaged the private sector in his directorate and succeeded in bringing in the people that helped build the tourism sector in Delta State.
   He added, Government is basically to create the enabling environment for private practice to strive and once that is done, so long there is security, the money will come.  Government has no business with funding; what it creates is, maybe, endowment. Waiting for government to fund the commercial viability of our films will never happen for the next hundred years. Government is to create institutions that can drive the process of bringing investors.”
  “Whether or not cultural policy is implemented today, if the other elements that make for a successful cultural policy are not in place, it will still not work; it’s all about implementation. The story of Nigeria is one good intention that has never been fully implemented. Government has always have good intentions, it’s the pursuits and the doggedness of people who drive those policies that have always been the issue, as they are often not seriously committed to the frame work,” he said.
Paul Obazele
President, National Association of Movie Producers (AMP) Paul Obazele, while commending CORA for its initiative informed that his members were going back to the cinema to distribute their movies.
  He opined, “We are a cinema-going people until the military government (of Abacha) made the country unsafe for most people in the country with sporadic bombings and killings. Lagos State and other states in the country encourage the culture of cinema. We are discussing with Lagos State Government to build neighbourhood cinemas, which allow for different films to be shown simultaneously in different areas of the hall. It allows for small audience of 50 to 100 at a time. If done, it will help bring back the cinema and contribute to the social integration of the community. Whether we like it or not, film is a very strong tool for social integration, teaching morals and building family values.”
Stephanie Okerereke
  On access to the two hundred million dollars ($200 million) intervention fund for the entertainment industry from President Goodluck Jonathan, Obazele said the first batch of the money would be released in June to producers who have met the necessary requirements. He added that the loan, which will be repaid with a single digit interest rate of five per cent, is to serve as a palliative measure for filmmakers in the country that have the necessary structures on ground.
  What came out of the cross fertilization of ideas from stakeholders in attendance was that Nollywood has what it takes to achieve the best result and, for it to effectively and efficiently play its roles of providing employment, promoting culture through telling of national stories and attracting foreign investors, there is the need for sustainable funding, viable and
Vivian Ejike
trustworthy distribution and marketing network, inclusion of the private sectors, training and retraining of practitioners, quality production, unity of purpose and co-production treaty with other established film industries such as Hollywood and Bollywood.

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