By Christine Onwuachumba
Film producer and director, Femi Ogunsanwo has urged the government and corporate organisations to invest in Nollywood, owing to the vast opportunities available in the sector.
He stated this at a capacity building conference for creatives organized by Feemo Academy in collaboration with Kokopelli. According to him, “There has never been a better time in Nigerian history to invest in Nollywood. This is the best time to invest in the movie industry because we didn’t have Netflix and Amazon coming to license our movies, but we do now. It comes with the same benefits for anyone that invests in business – return on investment.”
While advising producers on the different strategies they could use to make money out of their movies, Ogunsanwo emphasized the need for collaborations with different television stations and streaming platforms. He highlighted the challenges of filmmaking in Nollywood and advised aspiring moviemakers on ways to overcome those challenges.
“Filmmaking in Nigeria faces the same challenges as every other business.
The economy affects you but you have to find a way to resolve the problem. If it cost N1 million to make a film before, now it is going to cost you N130 million. If you had three investors before, you are going to need four now. The streaming services like Netflix and Amazon are also commissioning films, which means that if they commission any of your films, you don’t have to take money out of your pocket. But the films they license, they watch in the cinemas and decide if they want to license them or not. My advice to upcoming moviemakers and producers is that if you want to shoot, shoot, don’t talk. People do much talking and the problem with talking is that it affects you. So, talk less and shoot more. Let your actions speak louder than your words,” Ogunsanwo counselled.
Theatre/film content creator, Kelvin Mary Ibekwe, also advised actors and aspiring actors to cultivate skills that would earn them more money in the industry. “A lot of people in the theatre and film industry look down on themselves, considering the fact that the industry is a very competitive space for the average practitioner. For the most part, a lot of people do not look at their transferable skills, skills as basic as documenting, writing, typing, computing, leadership, and project management.
“For instance, you know how to make hair but you are not getting acting roles at the moment, how do you survive? Perhaps, if you approach the producer of another movie and ask to help out in their hair department, before you know it, you realize that you not only know how to do this job but also you can lead a team. You have to be very intelligent to function in this creative space. It takes a lot of introspection to harness it; so take your time, find your skills. If you are rusty, tune up, approach people and ask them to show you the way. It is about harnessing the skills that can sustain you in the industry.”
Head of Feemo Academy, Ifueko Gbinigie, explained that the conference was organized to bridge the gap between aspiring producers and veterans, and to build the capacity of stakeholders so they can cater for themselves financially and mentally.
“Many people are used to sending direct messages to producers and directors, but now is the opportunity to ask them questions upfront and get feedback instantly. I think we need to start having conversations to drive the industry forward. If we cannot drive the industry forward, we will keep on going in circles.
“Seeing how veterans suffered during the lockdown in 2020 inspired lots of conversations. We noticed that a lot of people were bored; they needed something new to do. Also, some people need the opportunity to harness all the skills that they have not looked at, because they have not had the time. Thirdly, we noticed the gaps because people had been affected mainly since they are moving from set to set. And if you are moving from set to set, you will not have the time to explore other opportunities.
“So, this conference is not just about working better, it is about collaborating better, because we speak about collaboration but how many people really collaborate? It is about getting certain people who have actually collaborated in the industry to come and speak about their experiences. I think we still need to have certain strategic conversations on creativity because in these times, nobody is ready to just come and drop a hundred million in your laps. You have to find a way to motivate yourself.”
In attendance at the conference were actors, actresses, movie directors, producers and scriptwriters as well as aspiring moviemakers.
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