Remmy Jess unmasked
The name Remmy Jess sure rings a bell in Nigeria's moviedom. An accomplished film maker with over 40 films to his credit. Rob Emeka Eze, popularly known as Remmy-Jess is also the President, Film Marketers Association of Nigeria. And his chat with Saturday Sun at the Grand Hotel Asaba recently clearly portrayed a man on top of his beat. Excerpts:
Nigeria movie industry
It is one of the fastest growing industries in the country today and with time, it will overcome some of the problems besieging it. The sky is its limit.
Number of films?
Well, as a film – maker, I have over 40 films to my credit and as time goes on, more will be added. Now we are shooting another one as you can see, with the title "Games Men Play" just the opposite of the former one, "Games Women Play" which was a huge success. This one is bringing together accomplished movie stars in their own rights, the "who is who" in the movie industry as you can see here now.
(Smiles broadly) The success of my films has nothing to do with money. You see, I have done jobs that have received wide acceptance. That not withstanding, we are still in business. Calling shots in Nollywood. We are trying but piracy has killed us. I would have invited you press – men in a bigger Hotel for this conference if not for piracy. We hope the government would come out with a stronger policy against piracy in this country. All the same, my joy is the creativity in the business. Do you know how many calls I receive daily? Sometimes over 1000 phone calls (Laughs). I am happy people appreciate what I do.
Cost of making one film?
It is very difficult to say exactly. The cost depends on the cast, the script, etc. Like the film I shot in America recently. Each of the people I took, I had to pay for their flight ticket, accommodation, feeding and I used hotel for production. You see, what it costs me to make film 'A' might not be what it will take to make film 'B'.
Proliferation of films?
Why do we have to check it? Do you know how many films that are being churned out by the Holly wood? Infact we don't have to look at Hollywood for now. We can't contract a particular artiste as is done in USA because we can't pay them. We use the artistes according to scripts.
It is the duty of the Censors' Board to screen every film so that those with bad and obscene contents will not be shown to the people. However, as far as I know, there are no pornographic movies made by our filmmakers. This is because, most of us – filmmakers are good Christians and we have our consciences.
On violent and ritual films
Well, if you look at the negative side, you also look at the positive side. Our films have lessons to teach. These lessons have great impact on us. Nevertheless, we have the Censors Board – to classify these films for certain age-brackets. That's what we expect the Board to do and I think they are trying.
They are trying as a matter of fact. The only thing is that the Board still needs to do more enlightenment programmes for our viewers on the issue of classification of films. Most families are ignorant of classification for certain age-brackets issue. They need to educate our people so that parents, guardians and film-renters will guide their wards on the type of films to watch. This is because the children are seriously influenced by these movies either negatively or positively. Children and youths should be encouraged to read good books and watch movies for their age-brackets. In all, there should be guidance from all stake-holders.
Promoting culture through films
I think our film-makers have been doing great jobs on this area. It is an on-going project which is laudable and must be sustained.
It is a welcome development. However, I think that if they want to set up a game village, it is important, they site it where the film-makers are residing. You see, 75% of the Nollywood contents come from this side (Onitsha). I think this is the best place to site it, but if you site it outside the vicinity of the film-makers, I don't think it pays. If I tell you that the problem I have right now is location problem, you might think it's a joke. But if we have film village where the necessary facilities are in place, our problems will be minimal. This shows we have not really started in the right sense of it. So a film village which is in the offing in Abakaliki Ebonyi State is a welcome development anyway. The Federal Government can do that as a way of encouraging us. We can even pay for the land, provide furniture and other facilities that have African bearing; so that when we write stories, we have that in mind.
Gov. Sam Egwu's gesture
It is kudos to him for giving us land in Ebonyi State. By this, Governor Sam Egwu has demonstrated his love for us and the movie industry. He has really encouraged us and we are hoping for more government encouragement especially from the federal government.
Though, we know government can't do everything. Again, you see, most of the movie executive producers reside in Onitsha. Hence we have met the government of Anambra State for land and the governor assured us he was looking into it. We believe within a short time, there would be positive result in that direction.
Like I said before, the greatest problems we have in the industry today are from the pirates and the video club owners. There are no drastic laws to check the excesses of these people. Unfortunately, many of them do these things out of ignorance. Out of these aforementioned problems, the most acute is the video club owners. We are at their mercy and we are constantly praying to God. I would have been better financially, if not for the activities of this people. But thank God, recently, we, the film-makers have taken effective initiative through the Censors Board, Nigeria Copy Right Commission, and the Nigeria Film Cooperation whereby these Video Club Owners will be paying something for any of our work they make use of. Hence, there is a sort of marriage going on between us now.
When completed, our relationship will be cordial or mutual. By then we would have said bye-gone to 75% of piracy problem in the industry because these constitute the greatest impediments towards the growth and survival of film industry in the country.