As a respected movie producer, I have had occasion to talk with people about the situation of the Nigeria movie production industry and the major challenges that confront the country’s entertainment industry, and particularly the role which the Bank of Industry ought to play in the growth and development of this vital sector of the sector of the economy which contributed so much to the increase in the Nigeria’s gross domestic product and the promotion of the country around the world.
My very simple response has always been that funding is key. It must be recognized that we are not yet an industry; rather we are a market of individual creatives. What makes an industry to be known is when you can walk into the bank and get a loan or an investment that would back that project of distribution. It is mostly not like that for us and the reason it is that way is because of the way we sell in the market that we are in. We have to learn to crunch the numbers better. We have always said that our problem is distribution but we have TV stations that require you to buy airtime to put your content. How much do you now require for designing, making, creating and producing the content then you now have to worry about buying airtime for somebody who has the license to own a TV station. They should be commissioning me to make shows. This is why I think the Nigerian Television Authority is a missed opportunity of the continent. Speaking to other TV stations, there’s no reason why I should be buying airtime. You should be coming to me to buy content because you have a platform. There are lots of people building cinema chains and they are expanding, but we are beginning to see another group of people trying to control creatives and trying to lock them in a box, which isn’t good for anybody. The way out of that is that more players should come in. And how do we bring more players in? By telling better stories and not being afraid of telling our stories. We put aside stories that connect to our culture and our reality. Nigeria has a rich culture. For example, there’s Superman. We’ve had several numbers of Supermen in the last decade and they’ve always been rebranding that one character and even other fictional superheroes. They had to keep recycling. But here we have deep history and depth of character, depth of story that Thor can ever get in the next 20 years. We leave all of that and we have characters, who wear ties and living in mansions and speaking in accents we don’t understand and we want to sell it to a world that already understands our way of life? You can’t have Herod Herod! They have it locked down. They want something else. So we should not be afraid. We have to go back and tell African stories that are authentic and contextual and resonate with our people. Don’t be afraid, because emotions are universal. I read a funny story that after the Black Panther movie came out that there was increase in travel agents that wanted to you go to Wakanda, people were calling in to get booked in for a holiday. And Wakanda was something that was made by the Americans about Africa and it was fictitious, but it got so much attention that people assumed that it was real. That should tell you something about what we are leaving behind and what we are not tapping into. In South Africa, I met a young woman who was in project financing on the continent. She has worked in Nigeria. She said she used to be a fan of Nollywood, but she stopped watching. When I asked her why she said the stories became too pedestrian. We became lethargic and very lazy. So what the South African lady does now is that she listens to Nigerian music. There’s no club on the planet that the DJ doesn’t have a Nigerian playlist. What we should do is to bring out films to the level of our music now..
► Emmanuel K. Uduma, a movie and television content producer, wrote from Lagos