STANDARDS MUST BE MAINTAINED —JIDE KOSOKO
President of ANTP, Prince Jide Kosoko, in this interview, insists on repositioning the association no matter whose ox is gored
Q: Why did the ANTP leadership decide to order a compulsory leave and what has it achieved?
A: The purpose of that production suspension has not been achieved. There is need for repositioning and for us to correct quite a lot of things. If you check most of the productions we have had so far, you will discover that they are of very low quality. And you know, the film market too has not been good enough. But before we start talking about the market, there is need for us to improve technically, to ensure that, at least, we are making a success out of the dream we have for the industry.
Q: How true is the allegation that the decision was imposed?
A: I don't know what you mean by saying it was imposed. If you are familiar with the ANTP constitution, you should know that all members of the association have rights through their local government executives; state executives as well as the national executives. The National Executive Council (NEC), has representation from all the state branches. I am only the president, so I have only one or the maximum of two votes. So, it was a decision taken by the National Executive Council (NEC) members and which was passed to all the members of ANTP at a general meeting. We even gave them two to three weeks notice, that we shall suspend productions. And between that period of notice and the time we began the exercise, many members worked on their pending productions.
Q: What informed the suspension?
A: We realised that there was need for us to give ourselves a policy guideline for productions, which explains specific roles of its various guilds. But until recently, we did not make use of that aspect of the constitution. It is now that we are putting-up all the guilds and each guild will dictate what their profession entails.
Q:: How many guilds do you have now?
A: Altogether, we now have 12 guilds. We have the Guild of Directors; Producers, Cinematographers, Writers and several others. We have members of the association as heads of the various guilds, and don't forget that we are at the inauguration stage now. We expect each guild to elect its own officers. The guilds in ANTP are expected to play an advisory role to the national executives. So, we are linked together in every way and decision-making.
Q: So, why did you decide to enforce the compulsory leave during the festive period which has prompted complaints by the actors?
A: That's a stupid statement. Whoever said that must be stupid and senseless. In other words, that means every production before now is not paying off. If it had been paying-off, the short time we have been observing the leave should not have affected their purses. We are supposed to be earning well. Look at the case of our counterparts in the AGN for instance. When marketers banned some of them from acting, they did not complain of hunger, rather they continued to live well. So, what happened to the profits we ought to have been making? These are some of the things we intend to correct, so that we can at least enjoy what we have been working for.
Q: How do you intend to control the marketers in the implementation of these new reforms?
A: As far as we are concerned, we are intellectual property owners of our works. We will dictate what we want to do with our property. I have said it repeatedly that this thing we are talking about is our own life. A marketer can delve into marketing any other thing as he or she wishes but we are getting involved in everything. This is not to say we plan to fight the marketers but we will pose a good challenge to them.
Q: Is it true that Yoruba films don't sell up to 10,000 copies even as we have about 140 million Nigerians according to the 2006 population census result?
A: Yes, and those are the things we want to correct. Why won't a film sell at least 250,000 copies? Tell me, why? Quite a lot of committees have been set up and a lot of things are in the offing. The sky may not even be our limit.
Q: It was alleged that some of your members shot films with N250,000. How far is this true?
A: Is it not funny? I heard such report, but I have never done that before and up till now, I still don't know how it can be possible to shoot a film with just N250,000. Professionally, that amount of money is not enough to shoot a movie. Let me tell you, actors and actresses are suffering because of some bad elements parading themselves as professionals amongst us. But because most producers don't even bother to pay the artistes well, you are indirectly telling the artistes to find cash and produce his/her own sub-standard movie too. That had always been the situation and we must correct it now. Already, the Guild of Actors is making progress and they shall soon put all actors on different categories. And they must be paid according to the wages stipulated by the guild. So if an actor is so stupid to the extent of negotiating something far below the guild's recommendation, it is his/her own headache.
Q: Will there be a monitoring team?
A: There will be a serious monitoring team.
Q: So, for the actors who claim they are hungry, how do you intend to feed them pending the time you'll draw curtains on the compulsory leave?
A: Why are they hungry? Am I working too? I am an actor and I am not doing anything for now.
Q: Is your responsibility as the president of ANTP not affecting your acting career?
A: One should have thought about that before taking up the mantle of leadership. In fact, I took up this repositioning so as to help my colleagues. I don't think I should be running from one location to another only to make money. And I don't have to produce four to five films in a year in order to make money. Let's start shooting one at a time and then follow it up.
Q: Recently, one of your members, Rotimi Makinde, delved into politics and he will be contesting on the platform of AC in Osun State. Is the ANTP in support of him?
A: I have said several times in the past that if AC gives Rotimi Makinde a ticket, we will work seriously for them in Osun State. In fact, we will troop there to throw our weight behind them because Rotimi is a cool-headed and steadfast person. He is highly focused and I know he can make the party proud. We have even started encouraging our members to go into politics and participate effectively in it so that our constituency can be properly represented. We support him and AC will also enjoy our support if he's elected.
Q: What if he's not given the ticket to contest in the elections?
A: Well, we are equally aware of the fact that only one winner must emerge but we are seizing the opportunity to appeal to AC in Osun State to give our man an opportunity to serve the people.