Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, one of Nigeria’s leading filmmakers has described a lot of the successes attributed to Nollywood as mere empty noise without substance and a sustainable structure.
Although the Edo State-based filmmaker, who has been in the business for 24 years, acknowledged that there has indeed been some growth in the country’s film making industry, he insisted that Nigeria cannot be said to be doing well until such success are widespread and sustainable.
Imasuen said that the social media tradition that the country has caught on with has increased the tendency to manipulate facts about the successes films make at the cinemas and even when those stories were true, the phenomenal success of two or three movies out of the multitude that go to the cinema every now and then is not an indication of success.
“But in all, there have been growth, it may not have been all-encompassing, some years ago we didn’t have festivals like Irep and several other platforms that have come up. It’s just that commercially, Nollywood has suffered, when the guys that were selling cassettes, VCD, DVD were doing their own, they didn’t see beyond the immediate, so now the cinema came which is more like an elitist thing, so the fate that befell that other sector the DVD is also happening to this other one.
“So, I see that yes there is growth, but there have also been areas of retrogression, this is a conflict as far as I am concern… If 200 movies are released at the cinema and only three made it, that cannot be said to be growth – only two or three sold two hundred million, three hundred million, look at the indices.”
He explained that Nollywood would not attain its full potential until government and stakeholders come together to reset the rules and institute a structure that would ensure sustainable growth and build the confidence of investors in the sectors.
Hear him: “This is the reality, the industry needs to be organised, the industry needs to be re-calibrated, the industry needs to be set in the right perspective, the industry needs records – how much did you put in this movie, how much came from the cinema, how much came from other auxiliary distribution alternatives?
“But the issue of razzmatazz, the issue of overtly over-bloated, egoistic projections, of positioning seems to be beclouding the reality on ground. But the truth is, between you and I the Nollywood film industry is nothing more than a noise.”
On the things that are currently taking the attention of the director of the epic, Invasion 1897, a film about the invasion of Benin Kingdom by the British, he said that he currently focuses more attention on making an impact on and giving back to society.
He explained that this was one of the reasons he set up the Benin Film Academy.
In his words: “ …in the next twelve months, I will be twenty-five years behind the camera as a director and that is very humbling to me. Now, it is not just about making films but about creating more impacts. That is why I started the Benin Film Academy, trying to train some young filmmakers and to give them a platform – the kind we didn’t have.
“And It is so gratifying seeing lives taking shape just because one is trying to provide the kind of opportunity we didn’t have, the kind of push we didn’t have, the kind of platform we didn’t have, we are now able to create it for others…”