Popular director, Adim Williams, who has been in the film industry since his foray in early 1990s as actor places the problems of Nollywood, squarely on the door steps of government administrators

who tend to see their appointments as chance to settle personal scores with key operators in the sector. He spoke with CHINWE UNAMMA. Excerpt:

IT has been a running battle between opeators and the system within past two years. Aside the challenge to counter the uncontrolled piracy in Nigeria as a country and in the industry in particular we are so unfortunate that we are in a country where resourcefulness and creativity are not regarded. In Nigeria, people troop into any system that begins to move well and before you know it that system will be destroyed then they begin to look elsewhere. The distribution network was set by the Censors Board to checkmate the level of piracy in Nigeria because before now every young man who manages to have a shop in Idumota automatically becomes a distributor and if you gather eight to N10 million to do a movie, someone in Idumota, Pound Road, Aba or Iweka Road, Onitsha and so on will just pick it up and rubbish the whole thing in the name of his being a marketer. And the moment he makes how much he wishes to make from the work, that is the end of the business and you lose your money – just like that – because the system is not working. There is no structure. There is no standard.

On the new licensing of distributors

The license issue, like I said earlier, was supposed to checkmate the level of piracy in the industry and also be an answer to the yearning of film makers. Thereby, producing few capable people who can distribute. If you are observant you will notice that for the past two to three years if you count from one to ten top directors you will only see the new movie of about five of them in the market. If it continues like this, in the next three to four years you may no longer find any of them because the system is no longer conducive for them and there is no more security to protect their efforts. The distribution network and the license issue was supposed to recover back the film makers confidence and security but I do not know how far it has helped. The distribution network is being politicised because of the ignorance of the Government agency – that is supposed to implement it. They fail to take time to get to the root of the problem. For example, you cannot achieve the word propaganda without having basic structures and standards in the industry. In a situation where every one comes out and qualifies as a director the system is heading to disaster. So, if you just go and wait for the end product saying that this other side does not concern you, you will end up getting trash.

The Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) is meant to guard and develop Nollywood but it is unfortunate that NFC does not like Nollywood. They see them as their competitors. Every year NFC gets massive money from the government and invests it in something else outside Nollywood. They go for anonymous festivals abroad. They said they are building film village in Abuja and Jos. They do not believe in Nollywood, they think they can raise another industry, over night, to compete with Nollywood. Nigeria Film Corporation has been in existence long before Nollywood started. So, for them, the feeling is who are these people? Because there are no structures, people only see those that invested in movie and made money. So, everyone wants to join but due to the situation of the country some people now want to politicise it and even tribalise it. Whereas, we know that when this brand Nollywood came to be, nobody knew where anyone came from. When we were shooting movies in 1995 no one cared about anybody’s tribe what mattered then was creativity and the talent in you. But now its totally a different thing. So, I would say that the NFC people have not done their job well. They even claim that building Nollywood is not their concern. Rather, their interest is the end product. It is obvious that this choice of the easiest part of the job, by not being involved in the development of the industry, is NFC’s biggest flaw. All they do is to go get budget from the government do absolutely whatever they wish – sometimes do one or two festivals and invite film makers as even observers while also using the avenue to criticise their movies. But we know their problem. Their problem hails from the fact that despite all the years they have been in existence and all the money they have been able to get, they cannot still boast of any product of their own in the market. Nollywood is just a brand like we have Hollywood and Bollywood and so on, it came in with its own culture like every other brand came in with their different cultures, Nigeria as a whole saw Nollywood as a child’s play while the rest of the world was celebrating them because they came in with something different from their usual Hollywood and Bollywood cultures.

The distribution network has not been working and it is not likely to work because the people who are pioneering it both the National Video Censors Board and all other people involved do not have the sincerity and the immunity to get down to the root of the matter. The piracy situation has gone totally out of control – to the extent that before the situation can be arrested it will take more than monumental effort.

The reason why it would not work is that among the major people who are fighting the distribution network are the regular marketers in Idumota, Pound Road, Iweka Road and so on. They are the people who have financial muscle and are the greatest beneficiaries of the whole thing. Some of them make close to trillion naira from the movies, they have turned the system upside-down and they sponsor all the movies. But if you pause to ponder, you would ask yourself: Who would want to gamble with his money?

So if you have to regulate them you must take it easy and understand what the system has been and work very carefully. On their own they are also fighting a war because their business has already gone down even before the distribution network came in. in fact, they should be given all the credit and respect for patrolling movies but that does not mean that we will neglect the fact that they contributed immensely to the lack of standard and structure in the system. They are the ones who are afraid of structures and functional associations because they want to act as gods in a creative industry. So I would say that the Censors Board and the distribution network came a little too late and the marketers are fighting back. But the fight has not dropped down to consistent film making which is not the way Nollywood started. Rather it has stalled the pace and zeal in the sector. Quality and yeild have also been eaten into. When I did Sharon Stone, the owner made N25 million in three months. The owner of Igodo made close to N50 million. Good movies are for life and they are the ones that people buy not what we see today – if all these boys get one story they cut it into 4-6 parts. Such are for renting.