How we ‘unbanned‘ the ‘banned’ movie stars – Andy Best

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Well before the advent of Nollywood, Chief Ike Nnadi of the Andy Best Production has carved a niche for himself in movie making. In fact, he co-produced and marketed Living in Bondage, the monster hit flick that changed and revolutionized Nollywood in 1992.

Since then, the award-winning producer has churned out over a 100 other successful movies with some of them being shot abroad.

In this interview with Daily Sun, the outspoken producer explained his voyage into the industry, his challenges, prospects and strategies to chart the way forward. But he is
bitter about the dirty politics currently ravaging the industry, adding that he is set to reposition Nollywood in the league of movie-making nations globally.

I'm Chief Ike Nnadi, CEO, Andy Best Production. I am a moviemaker and one of the founding fathers of what is today known as Nollywood. I am a successful business and family man from Imo State.

Latest movie projects
Already, Andy Best Production has completed six hit movies, one of which is the just released My Sweet Sister. The remaining ones- King of the town; shot in America and Europe, Life Abroad, The Biggest Boy in Town, African Baby and Rainmaker would be released before the end of the year. I like to write my own stories, through which I try to let people know that greed leads to total Destruction.

Sourcing stories
I source my stories basically from my environment, things happening around
me and listening to people with good stories. In the past, when I was trying to shoot a movie on Catholic Church, I had to personally interview my sister, who
is a reverend sister.

Proliferation of producers
Producing goes beyond glamour, you have to be passionate and committed to be
able to succeed. We are tired of these quacks jumping into producing. I started first with marketing before going into production. I became a producer, when the producer I once hired spent my money and delayed my movie for almost a year. But when I got fed up, I had to come into producing. So I came into producing in a hard way.

Old and new producers
The truth is that most of the new generation producers are not passionate about Nollywood, they are just after the money and glamour that comes with it.
For me, I always strive hard in my own little way to make it better through my movies. It is sad that most of these new producers do not think of moving the industry forward; they just want to make quick money and be called big boys, thereby throwing creativity to the dustbins. Some of them are also fond of recycling and copying other people's jobs word for word.

How I started
I started a long time as a very young man. In fact, I have put in over 18 years in the Nigerian movie industry, we have been there and silently making waves before the revolution of the industry. We started with dramas like Mike Ori-Inhedinma – before the birth of Living In Bondage. I was already a top movie-maker, which I also co-funded and marketed.

Marketing Living In Bondage
For me, Living In Bondage was a child of circumstance, from the very first day the boss of NEK videos brought it to us, I knew it was going to be a blockbuster and I invested heavily. I also made good profit. It gives me joy every day that the movie I invested in was what changed the face of Nollywood.

Recently pardoned actors
I'm happy that all the artistes we invited to this meeting turned up, from RMD, Genevieve, Omotola, Stella Damasus and Sam Dede. But in the real sense, nobody was banned, it was just a misunderstanding caused by communication break down, which had been sorted out amicably. On my part, for the fact that I have never worked with RMD, does not mean we quarrel. He is a good friend, just as Sam Dede is. I have worked with Omotola Ekeinde Jalaade and Genevieve Nnaji. So, I there was no reason we can't work together as one. There should be mutual respect from both sides, there should be a decent manner of approach too.

Greed is tearing the industry apart. New comers should calm down and learn the ropes before coming out fully, I'm not against them standing on their own, but they should be patient enough to learn the art and craft from the masters. For me, all these are the challenges confronting us in Nollywood. We need to come together and further consolidate on the gains of Nollywood.

Why movies no longer sell
This has to do with bad leadership. There is need for those at the helm of affairs to formulate good policies, as a way of checkmating piracy and the contol of video club owners. In those good old days, my movie, Narrow Escape, sold over 100,000 copies, but now, everybody wants to be a marketer/distributor. Too much greed is killing the sale of movies in Nollywood. Some people will take your movie on credit and would not make returns at the end of the day and before you know it; they would go and use your money to shoot their own movies secretly.

Producers/Marketers Association
Very few of us started this association, I think about five of us then. We started with foreign movies before delving into Nigerian movies. And from the very beginning, we made it clear to our members that pirating movies is a big offence. It was not also easy when we started.

Current leadership in Nollywood
Those at the top should work for everybody and stop protecting only therir own interests and that of their cronies. They should also learn how to tell the truth always.

A good producer
First, you must be committed, love the job, learn from the masters, and be creative and hardworking. Producing is not for lazy people and you must not rush if you want to be a successful producer. Above all, have the fear of God in you by not being fraudulent. Most times, I spend between two and three years shooting a single movie. Just like my name, I always want to come out with the best. I'm on top because; I do a lot of researches as a moviemaker.

Movies marketed so far
I've lost count, because aside my own movies, I have also marketed and distributed films for other people. But as a moviemaker, I have produced over 50 movies.

I like all my movies, but the ones I respect so much till date are, War Without End, Narrow Escape, Only Nigerian Girl and My Father's Love. I love them because they are core Christian flicks. Among these listed flicks, War Without End, is so dear to my heart because it reveals a lot about end time and fake pastors. It generated a lot of controversies when it was released. I do movies basically to help fight ills and decadence in the society and also to educate, especially, my own family members.

Video clubs owners
One of the biggest battles we are having in Nollywood is video clubs owners. Our leaders should know how to tackle and follow them. A crisis ridden leadership can't challenge video clubs. I'm not totally against them but they should work within the confines of the law. They should collaborate with us and not ripping us apart financially. We are tired of our films being turned into carnivals overnight-at least; a film should be able to have two years life span before it goes into carnival. But unfortunately, those leading us are not thinking this way. Video club owners should strive and have a proper arrangement with us…

For me, the biggest piracy confronting us are the video club owners. If we tackle them, piracy will be reduced to the barest minimum. Having a video club does not give you the right or power to illegally mass produce works by other people and rent to hundred or thousands of people, that is sheer theft and heartless piracy. We spend money producing these movies only to get nothing at the end of the day.

Government and Nollywood
Government is trying, but need to do more, especially through legislation and regulating video club owners. We are not asking them for funds, because we have been producing without funds, all we want from them is a level playing ground so that things can be efficiently done like it is obtained in the Western world.

Nollywood is steadily growing but the politicians in the industry are trying to stifle it. Remove politics and dubious characters, Nollywood will take over from Hollywood and Bollywood in no distant future.