Investing in the movie industry


The Nigerian entertainment industry is like the proverbial prophet that has no honour in his country. The likes of Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme, better known as Aki and Pawpaw, can very well testify to this fact, given their experience when they visited Tanzania recenty. There, men, women and children were falling over themselves to touch these diminutive actors

Tanzanians might not have experienced the joy of setting their eyes on these Nigerians if the avenue that projected them to most African countries had not been there. However the extent to which the tool of entertainment can be used for image building and revenue generation has not been totally exploited in Nigeria.

The President of the Association of Movie Producers, Mr. Madu Chikwendu, says investing in the movie industry can give one wealth and fame beyond one's imagination. But he is also quick to point out that its risks are manifold

The usual belief that the movie business is not serious but is one that anybody with money to throw around can dabble in, Chikwendu says, is unfounded.

“Film business is just like any other business. So it must be taken very seriously. It's not something you can do on the side or do based on emotional attachment,” he says.

By emotional attachments Chikwendu means that certain people often give a girl friend, mistress or a sister that feels she can act money to finance a film. With this kind of foundation, Chikwendu notes that the film can only be heading the way of failure.

“If you do that, its better considered as something done on humanitarian grounds because prudence won't be applied and the entire film production will be badly managed,” he explains.

With about N3million naira, Chikwendu says a good film can be put together. But before going ahead to do this, he advises that a proper research into the industry should be carried out to know what is possible and what is not.

This research, according to him, will give the investor a feasibility study, giving him an insight into what the film business is capable of achieving.

“There have been cases where people tell intending investors to put N10million into a movie and they will get a yield of N30million. It doesn't work that way. To know for yourself, find out; ask questions,” he says.

The next step an individual with a desire to finance a movie and who has N3million or more in his bank account should take, according to Chikwendu, is to seek professional advice.

“Consult with people who have been in the business for years; they would have made some mistakes and at the same time might have had some success. Seeking advice from such people will help you walk over the mistakes they had made,” he advises.

Financing a film is not as important as the aspect of distribution. Chikwendu notes that there is a big room for investors in the distribution of Nollywood products.

“In advanced countries, there are many channels through which revenue is generated for a film. When a film is finished, it goes first into theatrical release. From there, it is released on the videogram. It goes from there to the cable section, and then the television category. It can also be merchandised by making T-shirts, caps, mugs, and even books on the same film. At all these levels, the film generates money, which is carefully controlled. Here, we only make use of only the videogram part of this chain for revenue generation,” he said.

Chikwendu lists Numetro and Dove Media as major distribution outlets that have sprung up in the country in recent years, noting that there is still a big vacuum to be filled in the distribution chain of Nigerian films.

Other areas where an investor can think of putting in money in the movie industry include the purchase of production equipment for rentage. The equipment include cameras, buses, generators, a sound stage or a film set.

Postproduction facilities for a well-equipped studio where the editing of a completed film can be done is another area Chikwendu advises an investor to look into.

Opportunity is also available in printing, especially of the posters, paper imprint on the films and VHS jackets to improve on the quality of the packaging of the production.

Establishing a chain of video clubs is also a way of helping to distribute the movie, which in the long run will generate revenue for the investor.

The producer notes that the risk of investing in the movie industry in the country can be minimised by insurance companies cushioning the effect of a bad film as is the case in the developed world.

Chikwendu describes the movie business as the most risky business one can invest in, because one can never be sure if it will succeed or not. “However a good film is money in the bank forever,” he says.

The PUNCH, Friday, March 03, 2006