Nollywood at crossroad as stakeholders chart way forward

ALEX EYENGHO

Except a proper umbrella structure is immediately put in place for the professional regulation and conduct of practitioners in various strata, the Nigerian movie industry popularly called Nollywood is heading for an impending doom sooner than latter.

This was a consensus view held by some leading Nollywood practitioners during a roundtable discussion on Nollywood at the recently concluded 3-day first international media and culture conference of the School of Media and Communication (SMC), Pan-African University, held in Victoria Island, Lagos.

Speaking on a roundtable discussion topic: “Where is Nollywood Headed: A Future of Endless Possibilities”, stakeholders who represented the various strata in Nollywood including producers, distributors, director, writers, cinematographers and studio owners among others, noted that it was time the much talked about Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON) came alive in the interest of Nollwood and its continuous survival.

Speaking from the perspective of a producer, President of the Association of Nollywood Core Producers (ANCOP), Alex Eyengho stated that unless and until a structure like MOPICON comes on board, no serious individual or corporate body both within and outside Nigeria would take Nollywood serious, stressing that “the all-comers status” of the industry presently was sending a very negative signal to the outside world.

He added that ANCOP’s effort at deepening and globalizing the Nollywood brand, made it joined the Federation of International Film Producers’ Associations (FIAPF) with headquarters in France.

Actors in action

On his part, President of the Motion Picture Distributors of Nigeria (MOPIDON), Chief Gab Onyi Okoye (a.k.a. Igwe Gabosky), pointed out that there was no need for a producer to waste money shooting films if there are no properly structured distribution outlets for such films, with cash guarantees by distributors to such producers. He disclosed that the loan his company secured from the Bank of Industry (BoI) would solve this challenge to a great extent.

Former President of the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Mr. Ejike Asiegbu who spoke from the perspective of an actor, pointed out that the issue of discipline on set by actors was very paramount, even as he reemphasized the need for MOPICON to properly regulate activities in the Nigerian motion picture sector.

“There is presently no proper control. Anybody can just wake up today and become an actor, producer or director. This is very wrong and must stop”, Ejike further stated.

Others who spoke at the highly intellectually engaging roundtable included veteran scriptwriter, Mr. Joe Dudun, ace movie director, Mr. Uzor Amadi, consummate filmmaker, studio owner and sound expert, Mr. Chris Ekejimbe, and former President of the Nigerian Society of Cinematographer (NSE), Mr. Isa Abubakar.

Dean of the SMC and co-convener of the conference, Prof. Emevwo Biakolo charged Nollywood practitioners to elevate their local contents to global standard and endevour to be creative and innovative in doing this, even as he urged them to beware of what he described as “too much protectionism”.

On his part, another co-convener of the conference and head, Mass Media and Writing of the SMC, Dr. James Tsaaior, asserted that the way forward for Nollywood vis-à-vis globalization, was for practitioners to concentrate more on shooting films in indigenous Nigerian languages but with an eye firmly on global best practices in terms of technicalities, particularly the story, picture and sound quality.

While the well-attended conference themed: “Globalizing the Local, Localizing the Global: Globalization, Media and Popular Culture in Africa”, was officially declared open by the Vice Chancellor of PAU, Prof. Juan Manuel Elegido, Prof. Ahmed Yerima of the Redeemer’s University, Nigeria gave the keynote presentation titled: “Glocalizing the Media and Culture as Tools for Modernity in Nigeria”.

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