Gambo Usman Wase is a producer and director in Kannywood. In this chat with Ruth Choji, the Abuja-based actor-cum-producer unravels the challenges bedevilling the industry and the way out. Excerpts:
Your fans will want to know how you started out in Kannywood
I started acting films in 2004 before I became a producer. My first movies are: ‘Duniya Labari’ and ‘Bita da Kulli’. They are sentimental films. I started growing from there and when our Boss took note of that, he started a sending me out to record films for the company.
I became interested in movies when I watched one of Ali Nuhu’s films. That was what arousied my interest. I started telling friends that I wanted to start acting in films like Ali Nuhu.
Since you became a producer, how many films have you produced?
They are so many, but the ones that stand out are Rikita-rikita, Tumbin Giwa and among others.
Which would you say was the most difficult in all these films?
Tumbin Giwa was the most difficult one. It was the only film that we spend two weeks acting on when most Hausa films are done within two to three days. But we spent two weeks in Kaduna making the film. Everybody, from the director to the artist and even on-lookers became tired.
What made it last that long?
The director we worked with was a perfectionist. But luckily was the film that won award in 2010. I think that is how we are supposed to be working if we really want to compare ourselves with Hollywood, Bollywood or Nollywood. They spend a month or more shooting one film.
Our fear here in Nigeria is the money that will be spent in making the movies and paying the cast excepts if the producer has money to bankroll the project. Another thing is that, when you spend a lot of money on a film, the marketing becomes a problem.
What are the problems associated with marketing of Hausa films?
Our major problem is that, a producer will produce a small film and spend small amount of money, while another will spend millions, but when it gets to the market, it will cost the same price. Sometimes the small film will make more sale than the big one that money was spent to produce.
Another problem we have is that, when you take your films to the market, the market collects the films on credit. Marketers will not remove money to buy and the producer doesn’t have other means of selling his films. We don’t have the culture of going to cinema like our foreign counterparts, which is where they make their money.
If you do that here, you won’t make any money because Nigerians have lost the habit of going to cinema. So at the end of the day, some will pay you while others will refuse to remit the money from the sales.
What is being done to change the situation?
Ah! We are trying to make Hausa movies go international. Our problems are that, most of our movies don’t have subtitles. You can’t take such movies to places like England even though we have many Hausa people living there, because of the subtitle problem and low quality work.
Who is to be blame for the low quality of movies?
It is the producers, fault because it is not everybody that has the latest equipment. Some find it hard to remove money and rent the equipment they want and have producers that went to China and other places to buy quality equipment like Z1, Z5, Z7 and the rest.
About five years ago, we were using out-dated equipment like MD10000, so with the new equipment on ground, there have been lots of changes. I believe the time is coming when we will import people from outside the country to record our movies with the latest equipment.
So our major challenges are low quality, giving out films on credit and lack of funding. No actor or actress comes to location until they are paid. Then marketers will not pay you until they sell the films.
Could these problems be some of the reasons why producers are leaving Kano to other states to shoot films?
When AbubakarRabo, the former DG of the censorship board was in power, he brought in new reforms. Some people felt the reforms were against them, the board brought in new rules that you must go and register as an actor and actress, the film must go through the censorship board, when they see a lady wearing jean in any movie, they ban that film.
So most of the producers felt frustrated and decided to abandon Kano for other places. The Hisbah law is so strong that, if you produce a movie without their censoring it, you will have to indicate that the film will not be sold in Kano state. One of my films, ‘Kurciya’was banned in Kano because some of the actors and actresses did not register.
We had to write on the jacket ‘not to be sold in Kano state’. So most producers have moved filming to places like, Kaduna, Bauchi , Jos and Abuja, even though Abuja is not popular because of high cost of living. My boss Abdullahi Dan Asabe has been trying to effect this change too.
Whenever we finish producing a film, he will go and look for professionals who will write down the subtitles until they get it right. That is why we in Prime Studio have never gotten such complaints.
What can be done to get Hausa movies in the cinemas?
We in Kannywood will have to improve the quality of our films. Like our film, Tumbin Giwa, they spent three months editing it. So we have to improve on the sound of the movie. And also get professionals to work on the subtitling. If we are able to do this, we can start taking our films to places like England and America where we have lots of Hausa people.
What has happened to the film academy that Governor Kwankwaso promised Kannywood?
Not only him, but President Goodluck Jonathan too promised the industry some money before elections.
Was Kannywood included in the two hundred million naira Mr. President gave tout?
Mr. President promised he was going to give us the money, but the money hasn’t reached Kannywood. Personally I have not heard anything about that money since then.
But supposing the money was released, what will you like the industry to use it?
If the money will be released and given to Kannywood, I will advise them to build a film village. Not that the money will be given to producers to go and do more films, but it should be used to create a film village that everybody will benefit from it. This will bring professionalism and creativity on the part of producers and actors.
It will also make us stop going to pay for location except for those who want to do so. If we have such things in place, people will come and invest because they are sure of good results. So many people lost faith in the industry because of the happening, some tried but were cheated, and others were not allowed to invest because of the lack of transparency.
There have been reports that producers demand for sex from actresses before giving them roles. What do you say on this?
Personally, I have not had that experience. But you must know that all over the would and in whatever sector, there are bad eggs. So it is possible that some people do so, but I have not encountered such or even know any producer that does that in Kannywood.