WAY FORWARD FOR NOLLYWOOD----K.O.K
Winner of the Best Male Actor in Africa Award by the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), 2006, Kanayo O. Kanayo, is disturbed. His worries border on sundry unprofessional happenings in Nollywood, which according to him, if not checked would adversely affect the industry's development.
Showing uncommon concern geared towards the proper development of the industry, which, though regarded as the third largest motion picture industry in the world, behind Hollywood (America) and Bollywood (India), Kanayo stated in clear enough language when he proffered some panacea to some of the factors and practices militating against the industry's development.
Some of his propositions might be debatable or, at worst unworkable; no one would deny him a hearing any time the discourse centres on Nollywood. The fact might be premised on a handful of factors, but two would suffice here.
Fondly called KOK, the popular actor has been visible from the inception of what is today regarded as Nollywood and was never at any time regarded as a backbencher. Two, he has made a name for himself as an actor before the industry came into existence.
What more? Not one to be content with little fame, he has developed himself over the years and picked a degree in philosophy from the University of Lagos. He is back at the same institution pursuing a degree in Law; so he should know.
Born in Enugu the movie role interpreter, a long standing advocate of building professional movie sets as against using private homes, which he insisted demystifies what they do, perhaps buoyed by the re-capitalisation in nation's banking sector, urged the National Films and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) to regulate production houses and encourage them to pursue mergers to swell their capital base.
His contention was that if film production outfits came together, the outfits would boast of more funds to bankroll better quality movies. This in part is true. Pundits have identified finance as one of the major problems militating against quality film production in the country.
"I expect the Nigerian Films and Video Censors Board to lead in that direction. They could insist that production houses should have a minimum capital base and those who could not meet the minimum requirements can be encouraged to go into mergers with other production houses. I am certain if legislation in that direction is put in place the production houses would comply and if they did they would have more funds available to them and would be able to produce quality movies even if it were just one or two in a year as against the present situation where some produce as many as possible and end up making just a little profit; whereas, if they produced one or two in a year they could make so much.
"If they did that, they would have time to pursue endorsements, merchandising as well as branding. They would have enough time to market the movies as against what presently obtains, where the life span of a movie is barely two weeks," he suggested.
Another way forward he pointed at, which is tied to the one above was marketing and distribution. The actor, who started his acting career with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Enugu, contended that movie distribution in the country is still at amateur level and suggested that any distribution company worth its onions and desires to be reckoned with in the new order should as a necessity have outlets in all the nooks and crannies of the country.
In decrying the lack of creativity KOK, who said he had contemplated calling it quits with the industry but lacked the courage to do so argued that rather than advancing the thematic preoccupations of the movies churned out after the likes of Living in Bondage, Circle of Doom (which he produced), producers have only been regurgitating worn themes.
"I would have quit the industry long before now. I actually wanted to stop acting because of some inconsistencies and the lack of creativity in the industry. The theme of Living In Bondage is what has been repeated over the years; a wealthy man snatches the wife of a poor man; showing glamour without substance, then rituals. But I lacked the courage to quit because I don't want to end up as a man who cannot pay his bills or his children's school fees," he lamented.
Valid as that point was, Nollywood insiders countered that not all the movies in the industry can be classified that way. Truly so, Out of Bounds, The Gardner, Hit And Run and To Love And To Cherish are a few of some of the movies that got remarkable reviews in the industry over the years largely because they tackled themes that are real and away from the run of the mill.
Even though he prides himself as a conservative in a glamorous industry, the Mbaise, Imo State indigene would like to see some out of the ordinary movies. In what he tagged "Stepping out of the boat and getting into the water", he particularly mentioned the need to be adventurous with the kinds of movies that are produced as against the prevailing situation where movie marketers assumed the toga of all knowing who decide what movie would sell or not. He called for more children stories and urged that more classic literary works of Nigerian authors are adapted into movies, like it was done with Festus Iyayi's Violence and yet to be released The Concubine by Elechi Amadi.
What would however generate widespread debate was his call for corporate funding. It would because many concerned insiders have repeatedly argued that the landscape was not ripe enough for funding to be sought from the banking sector, which was what he is advocating like some have before him.
In the debates that are likely to trail his call for bank funding; the discussions are bound to centre on lending rates, which when compared to that of South African banking industry was high. Another factor likely to crop up is that of distribution beyond the traditional Idumota and Alaba markets in Lagos, Upper Iweka in Anambra and Pound Road in Aba, Abia.
The producer of Circle of Doom among a couple of other movies also had some words for journalists who cover Nollywood and it has to do with how journalist over hype artistes. He argued that for an actress who had barely commanded three lead roles to be described in superlatives like "Screen idol," ended up getting into such artistes' head. He argued further that such acts in turn, intoxicated them into displaying very unprofessional conducts on set and beyond.