How best to run the bailout fund, by Amaka Igwe

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blackpearl

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Mrs. Amaka Igwe is one of Nollywood’s most respected directors. She spoke with VICTOR AKANDE on how the Federal Government should administer the intervention fund for the entertainment industry. Excerpts:

What is your opinion of the $200m Federal Government intervention fund?

It’s a brilliant initiative. Filmmaking is a business, and I am glad the government recognises this fact. So, the intervention fund is a welcome development in the same way that they did for the agricultural sector, the textile industry and others. Filmmaking is not just a trade, it’s an industry.

But people like Ola Balogun are of the opinion that grant or film fund is more realistic than a loan…

Ola Balogun comes from a culture where funding for film is a way of life for the industry. But here in Nigeria, filmmaking is more commercial oriented. Funding of film projects is more for students or other filmmakers who make specialised films that address social and environment issues like ecology and what have you. But that is not to say grants are not good. Both are good. At least such is also supposed to generate and increase activities in the film industry. But what we are doing right now in Nigeria is majorly commercial. The way Nigerian film industry is structured is commercial. With time, grant issues will happen.

How realistic is return on investment under the present circumstances?

That’s where I have problem with intervention fund. Making a film that will guarantee return right now is difficult, because distribution is largely unorganised in a country where we have 82 percent piracy. We are not distributing formally. Somebody makes a film in a country of about 168 million people and manages to sell just 20, 000; that’s not distribution. In American, for example, films are sold online for about 19 dollars. Even Ghanaian films sell better than our own films. I think the intervention fund should be geared more towards distribution of films. Censors Board has told us that about 25, 000 video clubs are registered across the country. If truly they regulated these outlets and a filmmaker is able to make just N2, 000 from each outlet., multiply what he gets and see what we I mean… If this happens, then a filmmaker does not even have to wait for intervention fund. All he needs is to go to the bank, show them the sales record, and get s a loan to do his next movie. How can 40 filmmakers make money from the few cinemas that we have in this country? Nothing can be done until we look at distribution. I am of the opinion that every state should identify the video clubs and regulate them. Issue of video clubs is on concurrent list.

What do you say to the criticism over Tony Abulu being the first beneficiary of the NEXIM Bank loan, in view of the fact that he lives abroad?

I have a different opinion to that. He is a Nigerian. The only reservation I have with that arrangement is that it may not put money back into our economy as envisaged. This is because 70 percent of that film is shot in New York. But come to think of it again, the money Tony Abulu got was not a grant; it’s a loan, and he is going to pay it back.

The Nation - How best to run the bailout fund, by Amaka Igwe
 

Village-Boi

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How realistic is return on investment under the present circumstances?

That’s where I have problem with intervention fund. Making a film that will guarantee return right now is difficult, because distribution is largely unorganised in a country where we have 82 percent piracy. We are not distributing formally. Somebody makes a film in a country of about 168 million people and manages to sell just 20, 000; that’s not distribution.
Well said Amaka Igwe!!

I particularly like the above point. Something I think Vince mentioned and it's true. The issue is ot piracy... it's distribution. Avatar made a ton of money and yet is one of the most pirated films EVER!! Piracy will forever be around... simple fact but if the right distribution channels are in place then imagine getting your film bought or legally seen by just 20% of the population... from the figures above we're talking 33.6 million people!!
 
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