Moses Babatope is the founder and Group Executive Director of FilmOne and Filmhouse. In the last 15 years, he has proved to be a film distribution strategist, especially in the United Kingdom, releasing Nigerian contents. Back home, he superintends over FilmOne. In this interview withÂ Tosin Clegg, Babatope talks about his latest movie, â€˜New Moneyâ€™, productions in Nollywood, and future of the Nigerian cinema
The Rise and Rise of the Nigerian Cinema
This is evident from audienceâ€™s reactions. Our audiences are demanding more from filmmakers in terms of spectacle, daring cinematography, and
plot. That being said, the trend seems to have resonated with only a select contingent of filmmakers. A significant proportion of the films that pass my desk are highly unlikely to be well received by cinemagoers. But due to the dearth of superior product, cinemas in our country are constrained to fill their screens with these films.
Nigeria Is Filled with Entertaining Ideas, Stories
The problem is that the cost of production to independent filmmakers is far too high to bring exciting concepts to life. Nollywood, despite its recent success and unprecedented growth, is still in its infancy. Significant investment in infrastructure, education, equipment and production is required in order to bring Nollywood to global standards.
About My Movie â€˜New Moneyâ€™
The rags-to-riches story is particularly resonant with the Nigerian audience. So, we didnâ€™t need to look too far. It was bound to be put on screen sooner or later. We just thought to do it first.
Finding Talents for New Money Movie Cast
Everyone we spoke to was eager to work on it. We put commercial viability at the forefront of our decision-making on cast. We wanted to have a well-spread palette of talent; to widen the nationwide appeal of the film.
Plans to Take Movie Nationwide, Abroad
The film will be shown across Nigerian cinemas â€“which started on March 23, 2018, and also international releases in the United Kingdom and South Africa. We are currently finalising plans to make the film available on pay TV and on-demand platforms for people who may not be able to view it at the cinemas.
Our Team Is Our Secret Weapon
Meticulously selected, and carefully groomed to inculcate the values of the company, our team gives 110 per cent every day that theyâ€™re in the office. Having such a dedicated workforce makes it easier to stay ahead of the competition.
Filmhouseâ€™s Rolling Out â€˜Community Cinemasâ€™
Affordable locations and equipment targeted at the grass roots and working-class demographics. We canâ€™t reveal the exact locations yet.
But the goal is to build as many cinemas as we physically can in the next three years. Filmhouse cinemas and FilmOne Distribution support new acts and young talents by encouraging auditions and casting calls in partnership with production houses when a new project is about to kick off.
I Foresee Increase in Cinema Locations, Steady Growth Attendance
This would inevitably lead to the first N1 billion box-office film. I also expect a massive boost in cinema culture due to the technological advancement; for example, online booking, loyalty schemes, and cinema subscription. The presence of all the above would lead to production of better Nollywood films and the influx of foreign cast in Nollywood productions. Overall, it will result in the increased participation of the government in the movie industry.
My Role Models
I have a couple of persons I look up to as role models. In no particular order, they are Phil Pierce, the former boss at Odeon Cinemas, Jason Njoku, the CEO of Iroko Partners â€“he has transformed a start-up into the worldâ€™s highest platform for Nollywood films â€“, George Lucas, and Rupert Murdoch.
More Movie Projects in 2018
Films like â€˜King of Boysâ€™ and â€˜Yoruba Demonsâ€™ are projects we have high hopes for this year. There are plans to have a proper fusion of Hollywood cast in a Nollywood film; meetings and talks are ongoing and we hope shortly, they are finalised.
Tackling Piracy in Nigeria
We have implemented stricter security measures at our cinemas to prevent these cases. We have also sensitised the public about the harms of piracy and the criminal implications.
Recipe for Making Nollywood Global Blockbusters, Box-Office Hit
From the production aspect, it is basically improving on the content, script, and stories â€“ engaging highly skilled experts (cast and crew) in the film production. When the content is great, it makes it easier to distribute to different territories and thus, generate high revenue such as major Hollywood blockbusters.