How to rescue the film industry
I want to use this medium to teach the Nigerian film makers that there is another way of raising money to make films. Funding has been our headache from the time Nigerians started making films till date.
Watch American or Bollywood films you'll see the investments in their films, costumes, sceneries, technical inputs, directing, the bottom line is cash. How many Nigerian video producers can afford to spend quarter of what is spent in European, Indian, or American films?
The entire African continent has only Nigerian movie industry, the South Africans have locations, trained professionals and equipment. Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Tunisia etc can't compare their little individual movie producers to the massive crowd of our movie industry. Funds have kept Africa behind in movie productions with lots of events and stories.
While we are thinking, Hollywood has made hits with African tragedies like: Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Biafran wars etc. They won awards and made white stars from these films. Only one stupid star was made and this black fool in Black Diamond now looks down on African Cinema. He is self- centred and arrogant, when asked what he thinks of Nollywood and African cinema, this Negrofobist said he does not care to learn about them. We in Nigeria are now in a total financial mess in the movie industry. For the past 20 years we have been crying for a film fund, which was an idea, championed by Francis Oladele, Jab Adu and Eddie Ugbomah.
The past six ministers have failed to organize this fund because none of them realized the power of a virile film industry. Chikelu, Nweke and Odey tried but they did not take it serious, so they failed. I have been doing my best to convince and advice Prof Akunyili to make sure this film fund is launched. As fund is getting hard to raise, we the film makers must raise funds by equity. In my forthcoming film, I am raising equity, which my bank and I will be selling to buyers, offering them 25% of their Naira investments, 5% of the foreign earning of this film
. The stars will be sold shares in the film, which will be part of their fees, when you put these investors together, I will raise the N30 million needed for the film Treason. With the meltdown affecting everything, the home video producers need to join two or three producers, directors too will invest their fees. Good studios like Philip Trimnel's and Steve Ojo's equipment will be invested in. By the time we go to location cash won't be our problem. To cut the budget down you cast top actors you know, not just the arrogant and greedy faces. In our film Treason, we have discussed with seasoned actors and they have agreed to this new system to beat the no fund headache.
To guarantee the sales in Africa, Europe and America, the film will be censored and registered with these countries copyright establishments. Distributors willing to premiere the film will pay up front. The biggest problem is that it must be a good script, good technical input, props, and professional expertise. The cast in this film will have French, American and other African actors plus the normal Nigerian stars and new brilliant faces. We will also be using experienced Hollywood crew to join ours here, so the mixture will yield good and acceptable movie.
There will be no part two as it will be an all action thriller. The simple problems we hope to encounter are the police, military uniforms and hard wares. That will be the job of the Nigerian Film Corporation, the Censors Board and the producers guild. This is a little synopsis of Treason. It is based on an attempted coup planned by some political failures who are angry and wanted to cause trouble. The twist is that the husband of the daughter of a top man plans to kill his father in-law for not making him a minister.
The woman finds out, who will she support, watch her father killed or the government execute her husband if he was caught. MASSOB, OPC, MEND and some frustrated military boys were all invited with stolen loots to join the confusion. France supports the plan for their own gain, America supplies the weapons and informs Nigeria, Japan and China agree to supply hardware and mercenaries for oil concessions. This film can't fail if all the ingredients are correct and well handled. We will need all the support of the officials, good national tours and premieres in Europe, Canada and America. To screen the film, it has to be in 35mm and DVD. For a N30 million African budget movie, it is as good as an American, Indian $50 m budget film.
We have cheaper locations, actors, and crew. We build less sets, which are expensive, food, accommodation are far cheaper here, many friends and admirers are willing to offer their mansions, cars, this makes it a sizeable budget, which we can handle. Nollywood people must not lose hope, when this new style and system works, people and banks will be rushing to invest. Nollywood has refused to exploit other avenues to raise private funds.
The equity and buying into the production will be our saviour. Since we are talking re-branding and doing nothing, I am sure the Ministry of Information will wake up from their loud re-branding dream and join reality to get results. Film belongs to the world. Our footballers as usual are re branding the country, what is Ojo Maduekwe doing or planning to support and use Nollywood to re-brand Nigeria?
Our embassies are like funeral parlours, nothing available to read or borrow or even try to learn about Nigeria. Since nobody in the Ministry wants to listen we should do it alone. No more relying on ministry or parastatals for events, no more lobbying the egoists, just do your own thing and contribute. As I have always said movies, music, plays, painting and dance can quickly re-brand the nation and we should forget the seven point Agenda, take one or two, which are light, roads, jobs and agriculture. We are a blessed noisy country and we don't learn or listen to facts, advice or to the honest people. The film as a script now has been registered with the American Library of Congress, the National Copyright Commission and my lawyer. See you soon, may we learn sooner