From The Guardian: Problem Of Nigerian Films? Content BY GREGORY AUSTIN AT the University of Lagos, a student who had not been listed as one of those for the Campus Queen project by Mainframe Production last week, was almost on her knees, praying to be considered for other role in the project. "I just want to be involved so that I can learn some things from T.K," she spoke about the project that the rehearsals had started in earnest. You could see that she was genuinely anxious to be part of the project. Her hands twiddled and tongue tied as she forced her self to say something. But she was not alone. Many other students who wanted to be around when the final stage begins were there expectant about how the project was going to turn the industry around. Especially, in producing a new generation of filmmakers. The beaming smiles and unmitigated glee that came after were from Kelani's encouraging words. With only a few words, "I encourage you to stay around possibly to see other people work. I accept you as a colleague and welcome you on board," with those words, Kelani gave some students of university of Lagos a blank cheque to be around during the filming of his new film Campus Queen project. Last week Thursday at the University Arts Theatre, a cream of the university's academics attended the lecture on filmmaking. Femi Lasode, the embattled President of Performing Musician Association of Nigeria who also produced the epic film, Sango was present too. For some of the students, it was an opportunity to experience the working of Kelani who has directed some of the best culture related, thematically focused films in the country like Ti Oluwa Nile, Oleku, Saworoide, Thunderbolt, and Agogo Eewo. The wind of change is already whirling down in strong current as students are revving up with expectations on Campus Queen. This seems somehow a positive entrance in a week marked by failures and frustrations in the film industry. And any student involved is sure to add to his or her resume, an impressive experience. In a spate of two days, film festivals that one had hoped would turn around the fortune of the industry had been postponed. It was a nightmare that many film enthusiasts woke up to its reality in the middle of the night. Kelani who spoke on the topic, "The making of a film," dwelt on the role of the director in the making of a film. He also used the opportunity to discuss his new project which he wanted University of Lagos to be part of. The project had seen him visit Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and University of Ibadan, where Kelani noted, "the students showed impressive enthusiasm". He said he is excited by the students response an indication that the industry is getting the desired focus. The filmmaker affirmed that the director is a very important figure in the making of a film. He is the person responsible for the look, the sound and how the actors in a film perform. "He takes decisions on every aspect of the film." He noted that for the director to be professionally respected, he must be someone who has mastered the act of telling story with shots and pictures. According to him, what is of paramount importance is that the director must not be someone who cannot offer sacrifices to aid the growth of the discipline. He stressed, "if you think you want to please yourself or want to get into the business to get rich quickly, please think again." To him, it is very difficult to become a director. Luck, charisma, talent and a forbearing spirit are essential for a good director. He however, revealed that one of the best ways to master the medium of film is to watch a lot of films and for would be director to take notes on how they were constructed. By so doing, Kelani said the person would be able to fathom the language of filmmaking. On why so many films have failed in the country, Kelani noted that there are so many marketing outlets available to filmmakers in the country. Most conspicuous being, the Idumota, Onitsha and Aba market. He, however, said that what has sustained Mainframe Productions, Opomulero, "is reputation." He stressed that "we give the audience a good quality of whatever we are releasing to them." He emphasised that a film producer should always endeavour to give the audience quality stuff. "When they don't have confidence in your work, that is when you face problems as a producer." He added that quality, standard and trust go hand-in-hand in the film industry and that is what "mainframe production has offered over the years. We have been able to build a reputation, which every work we bring out pursues. We have created a need for ourselves in Mainframe which we pursue vigorously and we must admit honourably, we have never let down our audience." He said many directors often resort to the easiest and commonest ways of making films, which involves "picking up the nearest camcorder or VHS camera and shooting what could be considered experimental films, that by chance get into film festivals. He noted that this idea is not wholly desirable. But emphasised that what has made Mainframe different is the provision of a responsive means of communication between the production outfit and the audience. "It is not everybody that is organised and acts together. I provide all the necessary tool to aid production," Kelani remarked. On the plight of Nigerian film producers, vis-ˆ-vis the industry, Kelani noted that professionalism was essential. Professionalism, he declared, would aid the production of good films and a reduction in the rancour between film producers and directors. He, however, said infrastructure is the problem of the industry in the country. "We have talents and very creative people who are enthusiastic about creating good works, but the infrastructure here is inadequate or lacking." Thus, the task to him is for filmmakers to aspire to make decent films within the limited resources. "Content is the problem of Nigerian films. It is not necessarily the format of expression. Many of our filmmakers have not mastered the medium and to have a good film, you must have a story to tell, master the medium and use it to tell the story." He said filmmaking was a matter of attitude. "As a person, I want people to be creatively involved in the making of a film. That's why in my own films, it is easy to get in and at the same time get fired. Only one thing is important: It is the film. In the making of a film, no excuse is tolerated." He added, "what I am always interested in is to know how many people are still left in the project. "For Campus Queen, it is going to be tough for the next three or four weeks, where you would be expected to put in close to 18-hours a day." Professor Adetoro, the head of department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos said that the initiative of Mainframe was commendable and is expected to improve the lot of the students. He noted that his dream for the department and the students is for professionals from all the different disciplines that make up the department to come and help the students grow. Speaking on the project, and the lecture that was delivered, Dr. Timothy Asobele, of the department of Modern Language University of Lagos said, "it was very important because they will aid the desires of Professor Adetoro to foster the coming together of town and gown. Dr. Asobele advised the students to show interest in the project and learn from the lecture, which he said was inspiring. An opinion also shared by Lasode, who noted that "if you don't have a practical experience of the real world, you will be shocked by what you will get outside." Arrangements are being concluded to have King Sunny Ade (KSA) to come and present a paper and give practical aid to the students in the area of good musicianship and music art. The department, Tunji Sotimirin, a lecturer there, says has concluded plans to reach as many professionals as possible who would come to assist the students in this fledgling stage to "experience the practice." At the audition held for the students, a total of 11 students were short-listed. They are Segun Adefila and Lanre Fasasi (Sultan); both will be involved in the choreography. Adefolu Dada and Remy Martin Okafor for set designs; Tony Ejenihun, Isaac Sunny, Tunde Lawal and Segun Olota for props and location; Princess Damilola Adekoya, Nkiru Nzejiama and Sola Onomor are in the production unit.