The art of making films: Nigerian Film Corporation leads the way

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Late last month, Jos the salubrious capital of Plateau State and headquarters of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), played host to about one hundred and thirty five people who have the ambition to expand the horizons of the Nigeria Film Industry.

The event, which held at the Nigerian Film Institute was a response to the institutes desire for filmmakers to beef up their expertise it was a heavy indication of what a thoroughbred professional at the helm of the NFC can do. Imparted to participants was the use of the much lauded High Definition (H.D) digital camera, which would help bridge the technical divide between popular home video production and the production of 35mmm (celluloid) films.

The maiden edition was a collaborative effort of Fujifilms of Japan and Refuge Island Media of the U.K which according to Afolabi Adesanya, Managing Director of the NFC, is the best way to launch the industry into the mainstream of popular participation and desired professionalism.

The forum also explored Motion Picture Camera Skills and Lighting, High Definition Production (from concept to delivery) and Audio for the Digital Image. Participants who were drawn from the film, video and television industries took advantage of the practical shooting and interactive session, overseen by resource persons from the UK (Marc Wishengrad) and from the U.S. (Jack Emery). Indeed this event underscores the eagerness of the Afolabi Adesanya led new NFC to professionalize the motion picture industry in the country.

Emmy-nominated Directed of Photography, Marc Wishengrad had never before come to Africa. He saw that Nigerian filmmakers had gone farther than he thought, despite the disadvantages they suffer. Apart from the fact that most of t hem are not quite acquainted with the new technology H.D camera Marc was pleasantly surprised that what he thought would be a teaching class turned out to be an interactive session. High sense of humour is one memory the participants won't forget in hurry.

The sessions explored principal shooting, captured media, lighting techniques and project delivery, both for indoors and outdoors, Marc lectured on the production values of studio and location programs and the tricks used in avoiding common pitfalls of projects.

Award-winning director, Jack Emery of the Drama House from the UK lectured participants on his experience on the H.D. his subject included making production look and feel distinctive; how to stay at the cutting edge of production, and the aesthetic value of choosing the H.D over a wide range of format's.

Refuge Island Media (RIM) U.K, Managing Producer, Mr T.K Junaid offered practical advise to participants and played the middle man between the foreign resource persons to whom he is much acquainted and his fellow Nigerian participants who at some point in the workshop, desired that the other lecturers get real and come to terms with the practical realities of production within the Nigerian setting.

Impressed by the success of the event, the deputy governor of Plateau state, chief Michael `Botman, was full of praises for the corporation, when during the closing ceremony he said that of all the federal government's agencies in the state, the NFC stands out as a model in every respect. Botman, who stood in for the state governor added that he was impressed with the new vision and mission of the Corporation as it carries on with it's statutory mandate of developing the film industry in Nigeria.

He disclosed that the Plateau State is committed to the take off of the film village as about 2000 hectares of land from three sites has been identified for this purpose. This, he said is in addition to the land already donated by the State government over a decade ago. To start of, the various roads linking the sites will be tarred as a matter of urgency.

Also speaking, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr. Frank Nweke, who was represented by Mrs. Mary Tebu, Director of Planning and Research, said the Federal Government will continue to support developmental initiative such as “Shoot 2005” and that government has taken steps to professionalize the sector by setting up the Motion Picture practitioners Council, to regulate professional practice in the industry.
He expressed optimism that, in re-positioning Nigeria as the heart of Africa, the film medium, given its visual bias, will help in the production of quality movies that would project Nigeria positively. He announced that an award would be instituted for film producers and directors whose films improve the global image of Nigeria.

Adesanya, in his closing remarks, pointed out the NFC will continue to champion ideas towards bringing the digital divide between the developed countries and Nigeria. He expressed satisfaction with the Plateau State's willingness to collaborate with the Corporation, saying that the details of the co-operation and support needed will soon be brought before the Governor for his endorsement. He thanked the participants who had come from various production studios, companies, associations, T.V stations, military formations, ministries, State governments, private and public organizations, for their interest in capacity building, while imploring them to utilize the skills and experiences gained from the training workshop to promote content values that would match international standards.