King Akan, Abuja
The Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA) and Plume & Partner Limited; a creative content development company, signed a production deal valued at N1 billion, titled ‘Project Hostage’ an acronym for Project Harvest of Stage, in Abuja recently.
The project which is aimed at bridging the stage to screen gap and the deal agreed to last for five years and renewable will see Plume & Partner Limited provide the technical know-how, while SONTA will handle content development, screening and mentoring.
The agreement will culminate in the production of 35,000 hours of audio-visual programmes. These will span 90 epic and contemporary movies of about 120 minutes, 45 minutes advocacy documentaries on any issue of interest and 45 campus series of 20 minutes by the various theatre arts departments across the country.
The President of SONTA, Professor Alex Asigbo and the Chief Executive Officer, Plume and Partner Limited, Samuel Bob-Manuel both signed and exchanged agreements on behalf of their respective parties.
Also in attendance was the immediate past President of SONTA, Prof Sunnie Ododo of University of Maiduguri; the PRO of SONTA, Dr. Sunday Edum of University of Port Harcourt and the VP Admin and Membership Services, SONTA, Prof. Doki Gowon, Dean of Arts, Benue State University.
Others are Associate Professor Olympus Ejue, HOD, Theatre Arts, University of Abuja; Barr. Victoria Durugo, Head of Legal Affairs, Plume & Partner Ltd; and Simon Odufe Okile, Chief Operating Officer, Plume & Partner Ltd.
An optimistic Bob-Manuel described the partnership with SONTA as a case of “fish in pond,” stating, “the choice to partner with SONTA is a no-brainer because they have the creative expertise, and they are the number one body in theatre practice in Nigeria”.
He enthused, “with the right partnership with streaming platforms & distribution syndicates, a minimum of 5million dollars can be generated from this project.”
He disclosed that over 88 professors, 122 doctorate degree holders as well as over 10,000 theatre arts undergraduate students shall be taking part in the auditioning to be conducted in various set roles.
“Theatre Arts departments are expected to develop scripts for entries in the different categories while Nollywood actors shall be included in lead roles in order to give the movies commercial value.”
Speaking also, the President of SONTA, Professor Asigbo, noted that the project will avail every university offering theatre arts the opportunity to be represented in the production. He also added that the partnership will create opportunities for undergraduates of theatre arts to make entries into the movie industry as they would be featuring in the script developed by their respective universities.
“Over 10,000 jobs will be created for youths within the creative industry across the nation through Project Hostage. It will also provide opportunities for undergraduate theatre students to gain firsthand experience in film production and also make a living for themselves.
Professor Asigbo disclosed that an academy of judges would be drawn from among lecturers in theatre arts department for screening and selection of the scripts from both regional and national levels to ensure that only the best scripts are selected for production. He believes involvement of the academia in movie content will boost the industry with quality content that will take care of several unprofessional movie products in the market.
Project Hostage will be powered by Campus Prowler, an outbound student lifestyle television channel scheduled for launch soon.
It is definitely a move that consolidates the efforts of the federal government to diversify the Nigerian economy through job creation in the creative industry.