R.M.D fires back at marketers
One person that is not taking the purported ban placed on 10 actors and actresses by marketers very lightly is Richard Mofe-Damijo. The actor, who is regarded as one of the best in the country, has denied allegations that he was banned for indiscipline and for charging exorbitant fees. Penultimate weekend at the Golden Gate Restaurant, lkoyi, where RMD's company, Whitewater Ltd., hosted an arts exhibition in honour of 44 great Nigerians, he spoke about the ban to CHARLES NWAGBARA. Excerpts.
Part of the problem artists are having with marketers currently is that of disrespect... (Cuts in) When people look at you and expect that you should grovel before them, I marvel at such things. Now, I use to ask these people what about NEK (Kenneth Nnebue), who started this whole thing? Do they go to his house to bow down for him every morning? I don't know who is giving the impression that you must worship people before you can do something.
What do you think will be the effect of all these happenings in the industry ?
Well, I think the audience is a lot more critical now. They will lose some people in the process, and they will gain some people in the
process when they come back. The important thing is not even shutting down the movie industry, it is when you re-open, what happens? For the most part, our people suffer from a serious lack of knowledge and because of their own inadequacies, they shy away from the truth. The truth of the matter is: Nollywood has come to a point where it must be looked at and taken to the next level. Those who cannot move with it to the next level will be left behind just like everything else. I mean the man who designed the Computer, I am sure most people don't know him, but today, we all use laptops and the rest. Computer has gone beyond what it was when the man
made it. Nigerian movies has gone , beyond what it was when it started. It has gone to a point where it can no longer be controlled by a few people, because there are other players that are going to come in now. For instance, I could have said I will not be a part of it. If I am not a part of it, it will leave me behind. I am a trained theatre practitioner and I have consistently looked at the market and moved
with the tide. I think it has come to the point where we need synergy now from outside to work with us and take it to the next level. People are tired of producers who cheat the audience by cutting a film in the middle and saying it's Part one and Two. People are tired of films that are badly written. People are tired of films that are not well put together. The audience is becoming more critical. It is at this point that you need to sit down and review your approach to the market and not to panic and send rurnours and wrong signals into the market.
The marketers claim you guys are charging them high fees. How do you react to that?
There is nothing like high fees. Who can tell Chief Gani what to receive? Doesn't it sound silly to you that somebody can stay somewhere and say that somebody is charging too much? If there are two carpenters on a street, they don't charge the same,go and ask. Take , for instance the artworks you are seeing here, can you put a price on anyone? Why is it that money is the big deal? It is not about money. It is about understanding the craft that we are doing, that's what is important. How much do they pay? We are 120 million Nigerians, how much can any actor be paid?
How about the allegation of indiscipline ?
I am sure nobody in this country and in this industry that I have worked with will stand up and use that word and attach it to my name.
It is not possible. I am not being I conceited here, but I am sure I am one of the most disciplined actors on and off set and I am sure they won't tell you that I am indisciplined. They can never open their mouth to say that.
Some artists are happy that while you guys cool off, they can at least shine for the mean time... (Cuts in) It is a tragedy. Any actor who thinks like that does not merit the name actor. That person does not yet understand the business that he is engaged in.
So,for the period of this ban, what is your feeling toward marketers?
I have said they are the Heroes of Nollyhood.1 stand by that. They have done well. They're the only ones who have shown faith in the industry, okay? But we have gotten to a point now where the industry is also posturing for a lot more things and until the people who are in the forefront can sit down and see those things that the industry is asking for, the whole thing will stay stagnant. There is the possibility of growth, but that win only come when the audience is given what they're asking for. There is too much fraud right now in the market. You cut a movie into two and call it Part One and Two. It is a fraud. You're cheating the customer and the customer has come to realise that, and he is reacting the best way he knows now by not buying your films.
Most of the marketers will argue the merit of what they do...
Agreed. Have you wondered why films have never been increased from N350 per copy for over five years? Do you know why? Because the people in the business don't understand the business they're involved in. The cost of tapes has changed, the cost of printing has changed, the cost of actors have changed, how can the product be the same and you are complaining that you are not selling more films. Please reason with me here .The product has not changed all these years, how is that possible? Fuel has changed, how can a film you started selling at N350 and you're not selling more copies, how can it still be N350? You don't understand and then you sit and bring out a stupid rumour that you have banned actors. How does that work? How does that save the industry? They should sit down and process this. They have failed to increase the price because in Nigeria when Lagbaja, Mr .A and Mr. B do films, if two of the films are bad and one is good, they all come to the same market and they sell at same price, so the audience looks at them with the same eyes. They must separate the boys from the men. And for the records, 1 am not banned, nobody can ban me. For the records it's not that I am receiving too much money, no. The rumour I hear is that they said I wrote in my column that when a marketer shakes my hands, he gets happy. Somebody in his idiocy must have read it and mis-interpreted it. They did not even bother to look at the article. 1 have written much more articles about Nollywood than any actor or any practitioner and I call them the Heroes of Nollywood. 1 haven't changed that, but what I said is that some of them don't understand the business and I will say it to their faces.
And until they understand the market can't move beyond where it is, that is the truth.