WE HAVE NO FILM INDUSTRY IN NIGERIA – OLA BALOGUN
Sir, tell us, professionally-speaking, the state of affairs
in the movie industry in Nigeria
We have no film industry in Nigeria. A film industry pre-supposes a proper mechanism for funding films; that is access to production funds. It requires a body of professionals who are properly trained and capable of meeting the challenges of creating productions of certain qualities. If you look around, you'll notice that in countries where they make 2 or 3 films a year, there is a structure for those who want to make films; there are people who they go to, who are producers and they have the structures within which they can access professionals who work in the process. And they have the cinema houses where the films can be shown, and you will agree with me that these are no more existing in Nigeria.
What does it take to acquire or rather revert to all these set principles since the structures where there before now?
Well, it is so simple, even the 18 year-old boy can correct the lapses in the film industry in Nigeria if we really want to. First of all, for films to be made, you need regular access to production budgets. Someone who wants to make films, who has worthwhile projects and scripts should be able to go to certain places and people, and say, "here is my project," and if it is found that it is something of adequate value, then funds will be made available for that project. But in a situation where the film maker has to go and find the budget and make his film(s) it becomes very difficult to make a good film. So, there is need private and government commitment, because culture is of national interest. We need to project our country's image. There is need for the younger generation to know what they want and what our heritage is. Therefore, it is important that government addresses this aspect of our national lives and fund it. Since the government can fund football, then the cultural lives of our people is also important, despite our educational system as a nation. We a need generation of Nigerians who are proud of who they are, who know what they want and where they are coming from, and those who protect the image of our dear nation. But if we leave it to the outsiders, we will always be portrayed as gangsters, hoodlums and so on. We have the responsibility ourselves and government should assist in making films available and give it a national outlook.
Please sir, share with us your experience in international film festivals like this one.
Festivals are windows that showcase movies to the outside world. We are happy that the federal government of Nigeria has now identified with us and has given Nigeria a pavilion at the International Riviera of the CANNES. Still I would like to call on the government to support the film makers in Nigeria. It is not just about having a pavilion at Cannes, we need to have worthwhile products to show. Most of the African film makers here in Cannes feel marginalised, but the fact is that we should tell good stories, never mind the formats of video, DVD or celluloid methods of making films. The biggest question is: are the stories good enough for them to be screened in the main pool of the competitions? We should stop saying that Africans or, rather Nigerians are marginalised, or that they don't like us.
Dr. Balogun, You are a lawyer by training, and suddenly you ventured into the music. What will be the fate of your film making profession?
I have not stopped making films, but I have been inspired into music. I have found it a herculean task, but at this stage, I don't know how to turn back. Going by my family name which is actually a title– Balogun (War General), I hail from the family of great warriors (Esho) in Oyo kingdom. They were ancestors who never gave up in battle until they became victorious or were brought in dead. So, the moment I start anything, I do not stop until I achieve my objective. I am happy that we in Iroko have been keeping the flame burning. I've also been producing documentary films in the process.
Right now, I have something in the pipeline. I'm preparing to produce a major feature film but I need more time to put the band in shape after which I would hand over and move forward.