Blackmail! Marketers are killing movie industry

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That Nigerian home video marketers 'banned' some major actors last year is no longer news. A few of the actors have spoken about the issue while the majority have remained silent, preferring to wait out their time in the cold. The silence of one of the biggest names in the industry, Pete Edochie, has baffled quite a few, as many did not know whether he remained silent out of fear or if he was just bidding his time.
I think my career as an actor with marketers has come to an end. Whatever I'm doing now, I'll be doing for the church. I recently did a movie on the Blessed Father Tansi.
I always believe that discretion is the better part of valour and I'm opposed to any situation that is likely to generate violence. If you try something and it doesn't work, try something else. I am happy that I made my mark on the film industry. Being regarded as the best in Africa, I've received various awards, so I don't have anything else to prove. If at this point in my career, I desecrate my future with people who are unrepentantly unsuccessful in terms of mental development, I think it would not be good. I know between my ears is not all muscle and I thank God for that. And going to contest with people who are compelled to operate within the gutters would be wrong. God let's us change energy levels. If I had not been persuaded by the church to do the movie on Father Tansi, I would have asked myself how I would have occupied myself. If the head of the marketers… (name withheld by us), who is at the moment controlling the affairs of the marketers can resort to thuggery and the most inconceivable level of villainy just to ensure that Pete Edochie does not take part in a production, I think he will stop at nothing to ensure that even my person is eliminated so I will not humour him. Let him run his industry and I'll run my life.

They are angry at my gift car
How my problems with the marketers started was that some of them wanted to collect some money from the Ebonyi State Government for a project. I advised them on how to go about it but rather than take my advice, they got someone who told them he had the ear of the governor and made some outrageous demands which of course could not be given attention by the government. From my investigation, it never even got to the ear of the governor. Later, the governor heard of several awards I had been given within and outside the country and in appreciation of that, he gave me a car. Now, when they learnt of this, the marketers decided that I had taken what the governor should have given them and they decided to 'ban' me. Ask any of them today, they cannot tell you of any unprofessional conduct the list to which they added my name.

Marketers are killing the industry and the younger actors share part of the blame
I have never liked a lie. I know they are there and are suffering because of this. But I don't believe in protecting hypocrisy. I believe that if the actors had organized themselves properly to start with, they would not just fold their arms and be waiting for the marketers to change their disposition, for them to say okay, come and they come back with their tails between their legs to be told like little children, if you do this again, I will punish you.

But to tell you the truth, marketers are killing the industry. If you add two more years to my age, I'll be 60 so whatever I'm saying, I'm not talking as a kid. Whatever they do now is retrogressive. They're killing the industry. They are not compelled to work with us but what they are doing has never been done anywhere in the world. If you think that there are people you think are insulting you or people you think their popularity has gone into their heads or you feel they have a superior posture when they are talking to you, there are ways in which we can deal with such things. You have to use your head but there has to be something there for you to use. If it's only muscle you have between your ears, your reaction will be savage and untutored, which is what we see most times with these marketers. If you feel that some people are overpaid, you can say to them, this is what we can pay you, no more, no less. You don't deprive the people of their right to be entertained. People who buy these movies buy them because these people are in it. Now you take out these people and you want to conspiratorially enthrone mediocrity, you're inflicting incompetence on the people. We are professional actors, we operate at different levels of competence, I mean, it happens in every field of endeavour. After a while some others supersede them. The best way to ensure that this happens is not by preventing them from working. Then, having prevented them from working for you, you go a step further to ensure that they never involve themselves in anything in the industry, an industry you don't own. That is madness.

No articulation
The marketers have never articulated their grievances as they concern individuals. And there is no way a group of people can all be guilty of one type of sin. Even in law, if you shoot someone and you're caught, you're not killed immediately, you're tried. If you had justification, it might be manslaughter and if not, you'll be hanged. But you must be listened to first. In the case of all the people who were affected, nobody was listened to. But that's alright. But they have no right to not only interfere in their professional lives, but also intimidating, frightening even those who should mingle with them professionally.

Secondly, because they are the ones who provide the monies for these movies, they believe that there are no checks and balances, nobody can supervise them, nobody can say, you're overstepping the bounds. The marketers do not belong to any association that binds us, so they cannot claim to be guided by any decisions that we take. There are three groups of people you can't win an argument with in Nigeria, that's the police, Okada riders and the marketers. But the moment you start playing God, God intervenes and you won't like it. Today, the present leadership of the marketers is playing God and they will not like it when God intervenes. You're destroying the industry because you pay those who work in the industry. You're enjoying a monopoly and you make it a strangling monopoly. If you carry it too far, you pay for it. They owe the entire country an explanation for killing the industry and secondly they owe them an apology for insulting their insensitivities with the mediocre work they are bringing out since then.

Ray Echechi is a young man who wanted me to be in his movie. He camped up to 40 cast and crew members in a hotel. Before we knew what was happening, these marketers sent thugs to the hotel to intimidate people, just because I was in the movie. This young man is not a member of their organization, he's an independent producer. But they forced cameramen, actors and other crew members to leave the production. He had to stop production for one week, even with everyone still in the hotel. Eventually, I told Ray that I was getting out of the production so he could go on with his movie. Even after that, they told him he couldn't shoot the movie again, because I had been involved in it at all, even though I was no longer in it. He asked them what it was I did to them, they said it doesn't matter. I would like you to interview (name withheld) and ask him why he chose gangsterism as an administrative policy.

The minister's failings
Nollywood, as we are being referred to now, is popularizing the image of this country and there are individuals who make this industry happen. Majority of those individuals have been sidelined and this has in its way affected the quality of those films being produced. I believe it is the responsibility of the office of the Minister of Information to ask questions. Having permitted this thing to drag on for so long and given the dimensions it is now assuming, I don't think I will clap for the minister if he continues to keep mum on the matter. This is his constituency and he owes an obligation to the people. If the people involved are not people with professional clout, we could say alright, it is not important. But given the class of people who are involved, you can't afford to ignore the situation. If Christian Chukwu fields a team without the main playmakers, he owes the Minister of Sports an explanation as to why this is so because if as a direct consequence we lose, tongues are bound to wag and the buck will eventually land at the minister's desk. He would have forestalled this by inviting Christian to explain the absence of these people.

Ineffective Guilds
We have so many guilds. Experience has proved that these guilds mean nothing. These guilds exist purely at the mercy or the disposition of the marketers. If something is wrong with the industry today, the people who are in the Actors Guild don't have the courage to say we're going to speak our mind because they are afraid of getting spiked by the marketers. If you belong to an association that cannot guarantee or protect your interests, then what is the use of that association to you? It is worthless. If you go to the Directors' Guild, it's the same thing. The directors work on films sponsored by the marketers. If the marketers say to the director, if you work with Pete Edochie, you'll not work for us again, he backs out. Same thing goes for the scriptwriters and others. All the guilds are parasitically dependent on the marketers. Why don't we just wait and see the course that these people are drafting. All the people who have tried to operate independent of them have been frustrated and intimidated. If you shoot a film and none of them is involved in it and you send it into the market, they'll kill it. Unless you involve one of them, they'll pirate your movie and the pirated copies will be sold and yours will be left unsold. The minister owes us his involvement in this matter.

When you take an action, you must think very clearly about the consequences of that action. You do something and you think it has ended with you. This is why people suffer accidents they can't explain. You're sitting down; a tree falls and kills you for no reason. God never designed people to die that way. We are the architects of that kind of tragedy. You prevent the actors from working, but you want to work. You want to starve their families but you want to work and raise yours. It doesn't happen. Mark my words, divine intervention is coming soon.