Equipping Generation of Young African Creatives

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Ayodeji Ake reports that Iris Film Academy is bent on equipping a young generation of African creatives to inspire, create and develop a new wave in African storytelling to meet global standards

With the vision to inspire a new generation of visual storytellers, Iris Film academy, a 21st century film institution has begun equipping a young generation of Africans to inspire, create and develop a new wave in African storytelling.

The school was established on the philosophy of learning and practice through editing suites, state of the art classroom, hostel facilities, studio rooms, music studio facility, and suitable learning environment, among other facilities to ease learning. Courses available are cinematography, directing, screenwriting, editing and acting.

Speaking during an interview with THISDAY recently in Ibadan, Oyo state, the Provost, Iris Film Academy, Mr. Okwong Fadamana, noted that the institution was established to basically bridge the wide gap in the entertainment industry by breeding young film makers to meet global standards.

Fadamana admitted that the Nigerian entertainment industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world today but needs more international brands which Iris Film Academy has shouldered.

He said: “In Nigeria, the entertainment industry is vast and it’s becoming the major driver of the nation’s economy and one aspect of the industry doing so well right now is Nollywood. For an industry that’s becoming vibrant, it’s important that we prepare people to accomplish greatness within the industry and project the acceptable global standard of practice. Iris Film Academy unlike some other film academies that have been established in Nigeria is paying attention on delivering global acceptable standards of film making to its students.

“I can say that there are very few film academies within Nigeria that’s doing this. Here in Iris, we have a program that specifically allows students to interact with already established and successful film makers in Nigeria, which is a rare opportunity that you can’t find in other film schools. We give them the opportunity to discuss with successful filmmakers as a motivation.

“We do this every month where we bring in a major director, cinematographer or writer to come and speak with the students because we believe that if we give them a good trigger they will definitely build a good career for themselves. For us as an academy, we sell an acceptable global standard of filmmaking which is what we are offering to Nigerians”.

Speaking further, he insisted that despite the fact that the Nigerian entertainment industry is growing daily, there is a need to groom more young-minded innovators who will develop the industry into a global standard by training them on globally accepted film languages.

“Film has language. It’s like when you choose to be a medical doctor, yes some may teach you how but not take you through the necessary route because at the end of the day someone will call you a quack because you practice medicine in a manner that it shouldn’t be practiced. Film is systematic and it’s calculation. What we do is that we have a team of film scholars which are our lecturers within the academy that have practiced and have learnt the standards of film making which is what we are delivering to the students. Nigerians did not invent film making, we have our aspect of storytelling, and there is culture that film originated from so we look at the canon that has been prescribed for filmmaking.

“There are rooms for people especially those in the art industry to experiment and create your own stuff but the rules are there. Till you get to know the rules so that if tomorrow you are London for example and you are a filmmaker that was trained in Iris academy, the language that will be used to communicate filmmaking to you while in London will not be strange to you because you are have been trained for the international audiences compared to someone who was jus trained for the Nigerian audience alone.

“For example within the cinematography college you are allowed to make a short film with a 4k camera which is a very high camera, which is the practical aspect. The camera is also known as a writer, so we are teaching them how to write films using the camera” he said.

Fadamana projected that the institution in the next five years will be churning out students who will dominate the entertainment industry.

“We have a dream to become one of Africa’s greatest colleges to train filmmakers and how we are doing that is about graduates that we will be churning out. We ensure our graduates are already making films while in schools and these films are high standard films. We have a policy now that we are talking about it that the first three graduates of the academy will be sponsoring their films with N500,000. Yes, in the next five to 10 years we want to become the greatest filmmaking college in Africa and this will be done with the kind of materials, our students, that we will be churning out” he said.

Speaking on challenges, Fadamana noted that the major challenge is funding. He said the institution has been focusing on planning international tours for students for practical experiences of international film languages in different countries which is quite expensive.

“We have the economic challenge that is also facing everybody and the kind of service we render here is very expensive considering the caliber of people we bring in here to train our students. We have planned to express our ambition in them beyond the four walls of the Nigerian film industry so we intend to take some of these students outside of Nigeria to go and experience what film in other part of the world looks like.

“But we also need to look at what these people can afford to pay to achieve this. These are some of the challenges we are having but hopefully we are just starting and we are going to eventually have partners that will make this kind of trip possible for our students to experience what they are learning” he said.

One of the students, Stephanie Necus, rated Iris high in its performances as a reputable and distinguished film academy.

“I’m here to study filmmaking at Iris Film Academy. I’m enjoying my training here and the environment is serene enough for learning. The lecturers are friendly which makes the training fun . I came here with a lot of expectations and so far it’s been great. They have been the best here so far and I still expect more. I will rate Iris eight over 10 and I know as time goes on they will beat my expectations” she said.

Another student, Onoko Ifeoluwa, expressed enthusiasm over Iris Film Academy’s efforts in delivering quality education with practical inclusiveness.

“Iris has been great from the first day I stepped in here. They made the processes of learning very interesting and I’m enjoying every bit of the training. I’m looking forward to referring my friends here to acquire knowledge about filmmaking. My expectation is that at the end of this program I grow to become an independent filmmaker” he said.