The Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, has once again called on practitioners in the film and video industry to join the country’s re-branding process by adopting storylines that project the nation in good light. Speaking at a press briefing held recently in Abuja by Del-York International to sensitize the public on the proposed visit of the New York Film Academy to Nigeria early next year, Akunyili noted that Nollywood has indicted Nigeria over time through the negative content of their films.
While pledging her support for the project, which aims at training movie enthusiasts in the country, the minister reteirated her confidence in the Academy based on its track record as the world’s first film institution. She urged the Chief Executive Officer, Del-York International, Mr. Linus Idahosa, to sustain the drive. According to her, Nollywood desires a capacity building programme such as this, to re-orientate practitioners towards using positive storylines and improved artistic content.
Akunyili however regrets that often times, quest for profit has led to the overshadowing of artistic responsibilities of both directors and producers.
“Often, commercial impulses over artistic responsibility have influenced movies to take on a negative side while directors have also not gone beyond recycling predictable storylines.”
The former NAFDAC boss stressed that since dialogue and pictures are the key influences of people’s perception of any society or nation, efforts should be made to use only those words and actions that commensurate with the country’s image.
Though against the thrive of evil vices, the minister believed that only a meager percentage of Nigerians are evil and as such, should not be used as stereotype for the nation. According to her, lots still need to be done to improve the quality and content of the nation’s films to make them rank among the best in the world.
“Lets talk about Nigeria’s contribution to peace keeping missions in the continent, let us also talk about the vast natural resources that abound in country; we deserve a film industry that is capable of selling Nigeria and her abundant natural and human resources to the world.”
In his remarks, Idahosa noted that the idea of developing a vibrant film industry in Nigeria lies greatly on human capital and this, he said, stresses the need for the training, which will usher in the needed evolution in movie production in the country.
“The correct answer to the question of human capital in any sector stems from how rightly it is emphasised. We need to begin to emphasize our demand for quality movie productions in Nigeria and in doing this; we must realize that film production quality stems from a variety of enabling factors.”
Some of these factors, Idahosa observed, include the urgent need to develop the creative industry as well as encourage investment in indigenous theatre and other creative endeavours such as writing. He said it was the absence of such measures that have kept the movie industry operating at a level bellow its best.
He frowned over the all-comers affairs situation of the industry following the success of Living in Bondage. This, he noted, has left movie production in the hands of anyone, who could pay the bill.
“The game had no rules, no referee. Productions were knocked into form within days, actors and actresses featured in two or more productions simultaneously. As a result, plots and marketing strategies left much to be desired as production volume soared rapidly on the intensity of the rush, making it possible for Nigeria to hit up the ladder in international rating as the third; now second largest movie-producer in the world.”
On the training, Idahosa informed that it would essentially cover the technical and social aspects of filmmaking, which will equip participants with the latest creativity-driven know-how in contemporary film production. Students, who would primarily be sourced from departments of theatre and performing arts in the nation’s tertiary institutions, shall also be exposed to a range of vital information in the creative use of light, sound and angles to achieving salient elements of script and scene.
Justifying the fees of about N500,000 per student, which many believed to be on the high side, the organizers attributed it to the cost of bringing tutors and technical crew from the US, transporting equipment as well as taking care of other miscellaneous expenses that would be incurred during their two-month stay in Nigeria.
“The burden might be transferred to state governors, who are expected to sponsor students from their respective states. So far, Lagos and Rivers States’ governors have indicated interest in the project while the process of selection has also commenced across the nation,” Idahosa hinted.
A film producer and media consultant, Idahosa was motivated by the quest to see a vibrant movie industry with personnel, who are better equipped for the job. To ensure the success of the project, Nollywood actress Stephanie Okereke, an alumnus of the New York Film Academy, has been appointed the Executive Director of Del-York International.