THE MOVIE INDUSTRY IS STILL WHERE WE LEFT IT - GABOSKY
A mild drama ensured recently at the International Press Centre Abuja, venue of the National Film and Videos Censors Board's organized workshop on Cinema and Censorship, when Chief Gab Onyi Okoye, popularly known as Gabosky, openly confronted the organizers of the workshop for not recognizing the presence of the filmmakers before the departure of the Minister of Information and Communications and some other government dignitaries at the occasion.
He suddenly won himself the voice of the moviemakers as everybody jostled to placate the Battle of Musanga and Nneka the pretty Serpent's Producer. Our Reporter there and had a chat with the Anambra State born film marketer.
Sir, how would you access the Nigerian home movies?
The movie industry is still where we left it. We created the movie industry out of nothing. Do you know that before Living in Bondage or before my Nneka the Pretty Serpent, that what we had was only the foreign films-the Chinese films, the Indian films, the American films - and all what's? That was what was in vogue.
But we decided to have made-in-Nigeria movies where you relax and watch your people. And NEK created Living in Bondage in 1992 and I followed with Nneka the Pretty Serpent.
And Amaka Igwe followed with Rattle Snake; JBN, Circle of Doom and Evil Passion. Zeb Ejiro, Fatal Desire, etcetera, before I eventually came again with the biggest- The Battle of Musanga. But after all these, we made a mark by creating what made-in-Nigeria movies and others came and everybody was happy and proud of our exploits.
But critics say you are not up to world standard yet.
Yes, we are not, because you cannot come out immediately from the womb and be greater than your father. American movie industry, which is Hollywood , has existed for more than a hundred years. But we are just about fifteen, twenty years of age, and I think we are moving. Gone are the days when we produce only ritualistic movies but you should remember that there was a time that the American movies were full of cannibalism, exorcism.
But they are growing and we are equally growing. Now, we are now calling on government because we have found out that without good distribution network, you cannot drive our contents. But they keep on talking to us by saying that your films are this and this like you just mentioned now. But if you produce a movie; I did Nneka the Pretty Serpent with about N4m.
I made money. I made more than N10m from it and I now pulled more than N10m to make Battle of Musanga hoping to move more. That is business. But if you make a film and you don't recoup your investment, you start thinning down your investment. So that's why we started asking for a good distribution network and the Censors' Board came with Nigeria and the Movies: the new framework for distribution.
And they invited people to talk on modalities, how to improve. And coming down here, we are the movie makers. One should talk with us, they have invited us as movie makers, not the actors and actresses because I can hire and fire. I can stop them from acting. Go and make your own movie. I can decide to use my papa, my mama, anybody; even me acting. So coming down here and somebody is saying that the right people are not here is unacceptable to me.
But it has become a tradition that whenever a new government comes in, they appoint a minister and these ministers won't meet us until they are going, they now come to say bye, I am leaving you people. We don't want that because we have a lot of bills, we have a lot of things that we want to change in the moviedom, which we are hopping on the governmentan agencies to help us effect.
And they won't meet us, they won't interact with us and they keep on having the impression that the movie industry is in shambles, movie industry is not doing fine. We don't want that. So when the minister left and the house member wanted to leave, I now had to say no, you people shouldn't just abandon us like that. Then they started explaining why it happened so.
What can you say about piracy in the industry?
The piracy issue is supposed to be handled by good laws. When you have enabling laws in a country, then every body has to respect those laws. Piracy is not committed by people from another planet. It's committed by me and you because if you and I have this urge to collect something cheap somewhere and use, its piracy when it comes to intellectual property.
So the issue of piracy is being handled by NCC or the Intellectual Property Commission and they are fighting hard to eliminate it. Both the police, the customs, every security agency, inclusive of all of us here are supposed to join hands with them to fight piracy.
How does it affect your business?
It has crippled the movie industry. That is why we are looking for a new framework whereby we can go to cinema, we can harness the video club, and we can even use those people that are pirating to make money.
That's the new distribution framework we are talking of. But I promise you that if the government stops going round the house and come in and see how this house will be changed, this issue will be a thing of the past.