EVERY ACTOR NEEDS FORMAL TRAINING – JUSTUS ESIRI
As a true giant in his chosen field, Mr Justus Esiri, veteran actor is a force to reckon with in the Nigerian movie sector widely known as Nollywood. The Germany-trained entertainer and former president of the Conference of Motion Picture.
Practitioners of Nigeria (CMPP) believes that only training can bail out Nollywood from its teeming problems. Esiri, who spoke as a trained and experienced artiste, also frowns at the way most directors promote their mistresses all in the name of discovering new talents.
He insists that anyone interested in acting or becoming stars must first hone his or her skills formally in a recognised institution. Only then can such aspiring or talented artistes succeed in showbiz:
Nollywood as an industry
Nollywood is expanding, but I just read in the newspapers an interview by my friend, Eddy Ugboma, that there is no Nollywood, I am sure that he was not trying to say he does not appreciate what is happening in Nollywood. I can imagine that what he meant was that excellence has not been achieved in Nollywood. In that regard, I will agree with him and what exactly do we mean by excellence? This is what you put into whatever you do–experience, training and skill for you to attain success/progress. I will also say we need to improve on all these in order to achieve excellence in Nollywood.
Challenges in Nollywood
We are at a stage where we should not make technology part and parcel of what we produce.The real issue is that some of the problems we have are either technology driven or human-based. First, we must have good people trained to handle the best of equipment that the white man churns out every year.If you use some equipment today, the following year, new ones would come out. So, we must train our people properly, meaning that we must get the right training institutes and not just the ones that want to make money.
We must have those training outlets that are geared towards making sure that people who are trained understand what they are doing. This, of course, should be handled by companies that manufacture the equipment. I think we should invite the companies into our country to open training facilities for our people so that people can know how to make use of the equipment they bring into the country, as well as know the problems our people have with their technological innovations and enable us be part and parcel of technological development.
Proliferation of movies, yet problem of content
We have different ways of telling stories- The way a Yoruba man tells his story is different from the way an Igbo man or an Urhobo man will tell his. The way we tell stories in Africa is different from the way a white man anywhere would want to tell his own story. In our case, we must try to inculcate in our people the essence of telling stories that can cover the frame, or the timing of a normal movie that is supposed to be shown outside the country. If you go to a cinema house, you would be told that a normal movie would show for about 120 minutes.
But in our case, we show movies that run into three or four hours. How can we imagine an audience sitting down for hours watching part one to four of the same movie? This is a very long time that can easily bore the audience. So we must try to capture the essence of good script writing. This means that people must be trained to become good script writers.It is possible to lead an audience in a story from one part to another without missing anything out in your thought process. That is what we should be thinking about now. We need to teach all these in our universities and polytechnics through the departments of Theatre Arts, Drama or Mass Communication.
Telling good stories- who will train the script writer?
After being trained by tertiary institutions, the script writers need further training.This is why we have guild of script writers. Script writing is very important because without a good script, there is no need to shoot a film.
People must be thought the art of writing for film or TV. There are different writers with different styles and that is why we have poets, story writers, novelists or playwrights. While producing a film, the same story can be told or scripted in different versions, based on the expertise of the script writers.For example, Hamlet, a play by Shakespeare has been produced in diverse ways for stage and for television. As a director, it is possible to have one story in five different ways, but the writers can still get the essence of their story.So, the real issue is that script writers should be trained to capture the thought process of writing for film.