This is a presentation made by Sani Mu'azu on behalf of MOPPAN to the WORLD BANK towards the establishment of
The Nigeria Film Resource
Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Enugu
Motion Picture Practitioners’ Association
Nigeria is being recognised internationally as an important filmmaker providing film titles in numbers albeit on video format and the importance of this emerging film industry in the country cannot be underscored.
Today, Nigerian films account for more than half of Africa’s motion picture output. Indeed, Nigeria is rated the largest producers of film titles in the world after India’s Bollywood and America’s Hollywood. Likewise, the industry is estimated as one of the highest employers of labour in the country, employing well over 200, 000 graduates, skilled and semi-skilled labour. This must have, in no small measure, impacted positively on poverty reduction among Nigerians. Besides, this industry which the world acknowledges as Nollywood has opened up investment opportunities in areas such as production, marketing, distribution and exhibition of films.
All these, as part of the success story of the Nigerian motion picture industry, have been made possible by the unwavering commitment of private entrepreneurs who took the plunge with the home video technology and ingeniously turned it into a thriving industry. This phenomenon has grown into a visible and remarkable element of popular culture, projected the abundance of untapped human resources in the art and business and has made the prospects for growth more viable today than ever before. Despite all these activities and investments, the industry remained unstructured and loosely regulated.
It is in recognition of these positive strides, the potential of becoming a strategic tool for development and the expanding huge markets for video movies that we are proposing the establishment of The Nigeria Film resource development centre in order for it to contribute more positively to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP and become a major player in Africa’s growth and economy.
Examples from other known film cultures show that the benefits of an organized film industry are enormous than what obtains in an unstructured environment. The absence of a Film Centre owned and operated by stakeholders, thus robs the Nigeria of the opportunity to maximise the potentials which the film industry holds as a promise for the realization of both individual and the corporate goals.
We have witnessed the taking over of our movie space by charlatans who throw professionalism and ethics to the dogs. Standards, both in techniques and values are being compromised.
Consequently, MOPPAN as a major stakeholder, along with other professional Associations and Guilds in Nigeria, recognise the dire need for the establishment of The Nigeria Film Resource centre with Head office in Abuja and structures in Kano, Lagos and Enugu.
RATIONALE AND JUSTIFICATION FOR THE NIGERIA FILM RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT CENTRE
The lack of integration and cohesion within the film industry has no doubt created distortions and dysfunction, giving rise to varying levels of concerns being expressed by stakeholders. With a changing economy, technology and policy environment, there is prevalence of poor production quality, dearth of requisite skills for enhanced capacity building, near-absence of an efficient, proactive and profit-oriented distribution and marketing structure, and the non-alignment of the industry to the larger industrial sub-sector of a globalised economy - all of which have led to its limited contribution to national re-orientation and international image building.
Whereas there is visible growth, the above indices are part of the several factors that have inhibited the development of the motion picture industry in Nigeria and to a large extent, the African continent. The new paradigm of production and distribution which the video movies have come to represent has not been fully exploited to attract the requisite investment into the industry due to the absence of a structure. The financial sector, as intermediaries in the economy, has been identified as a worthy partner in the journey towards the commercial viability of this initiative, and is equally looking forward to an institutional structure which would be responsible for facilitating the attainment of greater productivity and excellence in the industry.
We observed that for our motion picture industry to thrive therefore, creativity, improved skill acquisition, modern technology, continuous training and exposure, benchmarking and setting higher standards, intellectual property rights protection, recognition/reward for excellence, and marketing and distribution must be given their pride of place. Every well-developed and viable film industry across the world has put one form of structure or the other in place, to stimulate its growth and development.
In the same vein, for a business that began almost by accident, was sustained by expediency, and has not benefited from the support of either the political establishment or the orthodox financial institutions, what the country needs at this point of our development is for the motion picture industry to be properly guided and nurtured to grow.
The tremendous impact of Nigerian and other local films on the minds of African, influencing their ways of thinking, their habits of perception, their attitude to the world, work, family and neighbours has nonetheless helped to shape the implications for African development in recent times. This has also invariably dictated the direction of their authority over our values and our lives, as a counter-force against the influence of foreign values and imported cultures which threaten the survival of a truly indigenous motion picture industry.
The visual medium of film no doubt is one of the strongest media of cultural expression. African films in particular and Nigerian motion picture industry in general, today desperately needs to put a stamp on quality and standard in story interpretation, picture/visual, sound, and content as a whole. The revolution of quality productions, using local talents and other resources will not only project our culture but also position Nigeria properly on the global map of filmmaking.
THE NIGERIA FILM RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT CENTRE
Towards the Establishment of The Nigeria Film Resource Development Centre
MOPPAN noted that Nigeria is one of the few filmmaking nations in the world without a Film Centre.
MOPPAN also found that all over the world, the significance of the film industry as an engine of growth is becoming increasingly recognised. Although Nigeria had maintained a film office from its colonial days, it is only recently did the Nigerian government realised that it needs to get involved in structuring the industry through the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria MOPICON, being coordinated by the Nigerian Film Corporation as well as evolving an organised film distribution framework by the National Film and Video Censors Board. Happily, the World Bank is now coming on board as well. Before now, the industry is left in the hands of the private sector, who are the more visible players in the home video revolution. An independent centre giving these governmental efforts direction will only continue to strengthen effort at local and international image management and economic and socio-political progression by the government. The industry has not only become a national institution, but also an authentic economic sector, with the potential of becoming one of the greatest contributors to national wealth.
The imperative, therefore, of bridging the gaps in manpower development, capacity building, production, marketing, distribution and exhibition - with professionalism at its heart – formed one of the cornerstones of the proposed Nigeria film centre aimed at harnessing the potentials of the film medium for the achievement of national development objectives.
The Present State of the Nigerian Motion Picture Industry
MOPPAN noted that the evolution of the Nigerian motion picture industry must be considered side by side with the economic potential, not only locally but also beyond our shores. Over the last few years or so of indigenous film production, the film medium has grown to become the major conveyor of African culture, arts and tourism potentials to the outside world. The cinema and video culture has manifested enormous capacity to create wealth, driven by the private sector.
MOPPAN also observed that the industry has virtually been left to exist on its own, a development which deviates from what obtains in the more organised film cultures mentioned above. Though some effort has been made in the past to give the industry a form of direction for economic and other benefits, the reality is that much more still needs to be done in the following areas:
(i) Infrastructure and facilities;
(iii) Distribution, Exhibition and Marketing;
(iv) Training and capacity building;
(v) Funding and financing;
(vi) Legal Environment.
a. Infrastructure and Production Facilities
MOPPAN noted that very few state-of-the-art equipment exist as part of the production facilities in the industry. The cinema infrastructure among others, such as equipment and theatres have equally been abandoned to decay or converted to warehouses, banks, shopping malls and venues for religious worship, etc. The new phenomenon of the home video production therefore does not enjoy the communal conviviality which was the order of the day in the cinema era. In the same vein, production, distribution and exhibition facilities in the film industry are virtually non-existent.
Note must however be taken of the effort of private sector investors who are already financing a few standard film exhibition centres across some major cities of the country in an attempt to revive the film exhibition and cinema going culture. There are also a chain of video rental outlets and viewing centres in the urban centres and in some rural areas of the country, operating on the fringe. Most of these structures and facilities are nonetheless expected to be beneficiaries of the Film Centre.
THE NIGERIA FILM FACILITY RESOURCE CENTRE:
The Centre, to be administered by Professional Guilds and Associations, will in its policy thrust seek to collaborate with the World Bank, the Government and other motion picture equipment and film stock manufacturers from different parts of the world for the establishment of factories or sales offices in the country, with adequate discount or waiver incentives to attract their participation.
MOPPAN observes that Nigeria is unarguably one of the highest producers of film titles in the world, with over two thousand video movies per annum. In its view, the establishment of the Centre would give Guilds and Associations the capacity to address the problems of technical and content quality, format, standards, professionalism, aesthetic appeal and of course, finance are some of the challenges facing the industry today.
FILM PRODUCTION VILLAGE AND SOUND STAGE:
Film production encompasses several processes of transforming a story or subject matter from idea to a finished product. With the establishment of the Centre’s Film Village and Sound Stage, it is hoped that the above stated problems about motion picture production would be mitigated to the barest minimum. It is worthy of note that the Nigeria Film Institute under the NFC is building a Sound Stage presently for students of Film. It will only be logical that such facilities are available in the industry so that upon graduation, they will find the facilities ready at the workplaces.
c. Distribution, Exhibition and Marketing
MOPPAN observes the absence of effective structure and efficient and organised distribution network in Nigeria.
FILM DISTRIBUTION, EXHIBITION AND MARKETING OFFICE:
The Centres Film distribution, Exhibition and Marketing Office will work with the NFVCB to facilitate an enabling environment to encourage public-private partnership to enhance an organised and efficient distribution and marketing network.
d. Training and Capacity Building
MOPPAN notes that it has become imperative for practitioners to possess a certain basic qualification that is recognised and acceptable by all stakeholders nationwide to bridge the yawning gap created by dearth of requisite skills in the industry.
Without training and capacity building therefore, it is difficult to maintain standards and ensure the regular supply of the needed manpower to feed the development needs of the industry.
THE FILM RESOURCE ACADEMY:
The Centre will establish a Film Resource Academy. It will also work with the Government-owned National Film Institute in Jos and other training institutions like the Nigerian Universities and initiatives by stakeholders by encouraging them to function adequately and provide the service(s) needed in this sub-sector.
e. Funding and Financing
Modern filmmaking is business, big business. It is pertinent to note that all films, whether funded by corporations or individuals incur expenses in anticipation of expected returns. MOPPAN observes the absence of institutional funding, grants and endowment which has hampered the delivery power of the Nigerian filmmaker. The Nigeria Film Corporation had proposed the establishment of a Government Film Fund, though it is yet to get it started. There is a room for several sources of Funds for Film growth in any particular country.
THE NIGERIA FILM RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT FUND:
The Centre will establish a Nigeria Film Resource Development Fund for the motion picture industry.
f. Legal Environment
MOPPAN observed that the Government has been making relevant and necessary efforts towards creating an enabling and enduring legal environment to stimulate the desired growth and development in the industry like the establishment of Motion Picture Council of Nigeria.
AFRICA INTERNATIONAL FILM LEGAL OFFICE:
The Centre will establish a Film legal office that will interact with MOPICON, when established, working with international legal conventions and frameworks for film development and intellectual property protection. The Film Legal Office will work to encourage the Government not relent in its reforms until the motion picture industry is firmly put on a sound footing of focussed growth and development.
From the foregoing, THE WORLD BANK along with Professional Guilds and Associations will establish a film hub with head office in Abuja and Production Centres in Lagos, Enugu and Kano comprising of the following arms;
1. The Film Resource Facility Centre;
2. The Film Production Village and Sound Stage;
3. The Film Distribution, Exhibition and Marketing Office;
4. The Film Resource Academy;
5. The Film Resource Development Fund, and
6. The Film Legal Office
5 YEARS 2009 TO 2014
This facility will be an independent structure and a film hub developed within a period of 5 years, 2009 to 2014 by the World Bank in Nigeria, to coordinate professional practice in the motion picture industry. The Centre, when fully established would seek to intervene through these offices for growth and development in all aspects of motion picture production in Nigeria for the African continent.
Motion Picture Practitioners’ Association