Despite laundering the image of Nigeria and creating employment, filmmakers are not getting their due in the Centre of Excellence, Lagos.
Decrying the development, veteran film maker, Eddy Ugboma said the problem is not unconnected with the absence of a film village in Lagos: “After Ilogbo Film Village was abandoned, filmmakers had to shoot in the open and this has made them vulnerable to Area Boys who extort money from moviemakers and beat them up! Teko Benson, Femi Lasode and Omoni Oboli have all been victims. Ufuoma Omorogbe, a US-based filmmaker came all the way from America to shoot only to be beaten up in Nigeria.”
And what compounds the plight of moviemakers is the exorbitant fees charged by the Censors Board in Lagos. However, after overcoming the challenges of dealing with Area Boys, they now have to confront the film houses.
“Opa Williams shot a film, The three wise men but the cinemas gave him 10am to 2pm to view his movie and gave 4pm to 10 pm which is prime time to foreign and American movies and nobody came to watch the film. Meanwhile he borrowed money from Bank of Industry to fund the movie. How does he now repay the loan?
“At the end of the day, the same cinema houses which also burrowed money from Bank of Industry are the ones killing Nollywood. And what is more, the cinemas take 70 per cent of gate takings and only 30 per cent gets to the filmmaker. At the end of the day, moviemakers can’t repay loans and they go into bankruptcy. In the above light, how can the industry grow?” Ugboma queried rhetorically.
According to Ugboma, unless something is done, Governor Ambode’s dream to transform Lagos into a tourist centre through entertainment would run into a brickwall.