The film city is a good initiative

That Nollywood has come of age is no longer in doubt. This is with regard to global impact and recognition, as well as its ambassadorial role in projecting Nigeria. It is today our nation’s most widely acknowledged cultural export and one that has become a marketing point for certain aspects of African fashion and fashion accessories. But Nollywood also needs all the encouragement it can get to expand and improve. It is in that light that we commend the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for birthing the idea of a Lagos Film City.  

 At a recent groundbreaking ceremony for the $100 million project in Epe, the governor promised to promote anything that would place Lagos and the country on the world map. “This momentous and historic occasion marks a significant milestone in our journey towards creating a thriving and vibrant film industry that will not only captivate audiences worldwide but also contribute to the economic growth and cultural development of our beloved state,” Sanwo-Olu said. “We are laying the foundation for a creative hub that will serve as a catalyst for innovation, talent discovery, and storytelling excellence.”  

Furthermore, Sanwo-Olu stated that grants for the creation of short stories will be doubled. Besides the potential of showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Lagos State through cinema, the governor added that the film industry has the power to transcend boundaries and bring people together, adding that it could inspire, entertain, and educate. It will also generate many job opportunities, encourage economic growth, and attract investment. This is because it will serve as a hub for film production, post-production, visual effects, and any ancillary services related to the film-making process. The projected film metropolis will have cutting-edge amenities such as sound stages, editing suites, and production offices, among other things.  

As has been attested to by many experts, Nollywood has the capacity to create hundreds of thousands of jobs across such industry skill areas as set design, make-up, prop design and management, directing and much more. With this intervention by Sanwo-Olu, we are likely to see more facilities for editing and post-production skills which would in turn create opportunities for development and expansion. But as laudable as the Lagos Film City initiative may be, it is important for Sanwo-Olu to find out what happened to the federal government’s $200 million intervention for ‘Project Nollywood’ under President Goodluck Jonathan. Launched in 2013, it offered the various regulatory agencies in the sector the opportunity for a rebirth. Anti-piracy and content protection measures were to be driven with contemporary tools which can be easily obtained all over the globe. Insurance and artistes’ rights issues, including contract guarantees and the creative independence of directors were also to be taken up within a framework of civilised professionalism. Ten years after, what has happened?

However, we endorse Sanwo-Olu’s intervention and commend him for having the presence of mind to leverage this sector. We have for a long time advocated that Nollywood should have its own Movie Production Village to facilitate the birthing of brilliant projects and ideas that have been held back for years because of the limited means of their creators. But the envisaged radical rebirth of Nollywood will remain a mirage if the industry stakeholders do not quickly put their house in order, by ending the factional and other squabbles wracking some of its best platforms. A misguided scramble for dominance by the various guilds, or even renewed leadership tussles based on wrong notions about what the Lagos Film City is all about may upend the whole idea.

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