Osaretin Sunday Ogbemudia a.k.a Osas is a filmmaker, producer, director and a member, Director’s Guild Of Nigeria(DGN), Association of Movie Producers (AMP)and Actor’s Guild Of Nigeria (AGN), Abuja Chapter. In this interview with ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM, he reveals reasons why there are junk movies in Nigeria today, suggesting that bottleneck is fuelling its increase. He also speaks on other sundry issues affecting Nollywood and why there’s need for Ministry of Entertainment.
What have your association and you guys been working on especially as you are about celebrating your 20th anniversary?
Right now, the Director’s Guild of Nigeria will be celebrating DGN at 20 in November and we are pleading with the Federal Government of Nigeria to play host to us here in Abuja, as it’s going to be a national event that would attract foreigners and foreign investors that would be coming into Nigeria to invest in the film industry and also in out culture and tourism sectors in Nigeria. We have paid a courtesy call to the minister of FCT and was received by the permanent Secretary of the ministry. We discussed lots of issues about the location, venue and support to assist DGN in getting the venue and financial support. We also talked about corporate bodies that would come in to support DGN at 20, hence, it’s carrying a national figure and logo.
What challenges has the DGN encountered through the 20 years of its establishment?
They are enormous if you want me to start listing the challenges movie directors have encountered in Nigeria, specifically in Nollywood, they are enormous. Top on the list is finance. Being a director we shouldn’t be talking about finance because financing has to do with the producer and executive producer. We as producer our challenge is still finance because the majority of these producers that work with us have their resources. They employ us as directors to make movie for them and employ us as film makers to make film for them. With all the technicalities and human resources in place, after producing these movies, most times the movies don’t see the light of the day. We don’t see the film in any of the airing stations, the market, anywhere, they don’t get their returns back. That’s basically the challenge the industry has been facing over these years.
What would you say has necessitated that?
Before now we used to cry that the Alaba Market men are the devil that held the industry hostage, but we have come to realise now that they never did. It’s just that we filmmakers weren’t able to put our resources together to create the niche for us in terms of marketing. So right now, we have the online marketing, the cable marketing who came to rescue us from the hands of the Alaba and OBA Iweka Road marketers, because most of the them are the ones pirating our movies, when we shoot we don’t get our money as and when due. Now, the same people have formed a cabal and are playing host to same situation that they tried rescuing us from before now. For instance, you shoot a film now and you take it to any of the cable network, they will delay your film like for two years, they won’t play your movies. If you ask them they would tell you it’s in the queue. Some would bluntly tell you that you didn’t feature their actors, that they have a particular face that sell on their network and because you didn’t feature that face, that’s why your film can’t be aired. We begin to ask questions because these were the issues we were having with the Alaba market people before now and they who we considered educated enough are becoming worse off.
How has this affected the junk movies we see on cable channels or in the market today?
I will say they are responsible for junk movies in Nollywood because if someone produces a film worth N10M and they are not airing it, they are tying your capital, if it’s a borrowed fund, you have to pay it with interest. So what would people do these days? They just need to use little funds like N1M-N2M, jump into one of the local villages with any green horn they can find around, shoot anything, air anything and make their little money and go away.
So how can your organisation work towards changing these narratives?
We have been working towards changing the narratives before now. The last time we held a meeting with the directors, we discussed that we should bring the producers on board and find a lasting solution to these anomalies. It’s a very big problem because the producers’ funds are tied down, the directors can’t see their work. You have done various jobs for four to five years and it’s not been aired that means you haven’t done anything. That’s why we came together to harmonise a way of finding a lasting solution to this issue. If it’s to go back to Alaba market to deal with them for our movies to get to the consumers, let’s do it. When you shoot a movie with N5m and the Alaba man gives you N2.5M upfront first, when he finished selling, he pays you the balance, or you have an agreement with him like your shoot this movie for N10M and he pays you the money and in return, gives you N2.5M profit. At least you are sure that at the end of the market year, you are making N2.5M extra for yourself, unlike the cable you aren’t even sure of. We are beginning to think that it’s better we go back to the Alaba market pirates where we have our movies in DVDs and every Nigerian can go to the market and buy a CD for N500 or even N300 as the case may be and play it in their homes.
But I learnt that IROKO TV, Trybe, African Magic pay you guys well for your movies?
They don’t pay us well, they only negotiate to pay you. They can’t pay you 100 per cent, 50 per cent or even 25 per cent of your investment in any movie, they can’t pay that.
With what you have said, can we say these are the reasons we have junk and meaningless movies in the market today?
So many junk movies. This is one of the reasons. Because if you invest N50m in making a movie, and a TV station can’t pay you that amount or bigger to air it, why won’t you do a low version to sell to them?
If you movie makers have good movies in queue like you said and yet the cable and TV channels preferred to air the junk ones, what do you think could be done to cushion the anomalies?
The TV stations aren’t sincere to themselves. If they are businessmen and women, if they are business inclined, they should know that subscribers to their stations want to see new stuff everyday. You play a movie for a year, fine, get a new movie and play then pay for it because you have advert running in between the movies. The advert money doesn’t come to the directors nor the producers, it goes directly to them. They make money from commercials. So why can’t they use that same money to get new movies? Sometimes they won’t, they will delay that film for five years and say it’s an old film. And they will be pricing you for five years ago and these are the challenges we are facing.
Have you guys thought of setting up a cabal network that can be airing your movies because it seems there’s no competition that’s why these things are persisting?
Before now, you probably would have heard of TSTV, an indigenous cable network. What happened to it, it was killed. Why? Bottleneck. Those our politicians and elites that invested in DSTV don’t want it to survive, so they frustrated its effort and killed it completely. TSTV was buying movies, employing actors, directors, producers, people from the Guild to work with them. Whatever politics they played we didn’t understand, before we knew it, TSTV was gone. So there’s no competition, it’s for investors to come in and invest. Build up your new TV stations, it mustn’t be African Magic from South Africa. Let’s build indigenous cabal network that can compete favourably with these guys. We have banks that can do this if they are sincere. We have NEXIM Bank, Bank of Industry, if they want to, they can. We have individuals who have passion for the industry and have the cash, if they want to do it, let them do it.
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