The Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP) has been adjudged the biggest and foremost association in the country with no fewer than 30,000 members.
The affairs of this association is being managed by a versatile actor and producer, Prince Jide Kosoko, for the past two years. In this interview, he speaks on the quality of Yoruba films and the wave of inculcating new ethics and standards, just as he unfolds plans for the new year. Excerpts:
What are the challenges as the President of ANTP, the position you resumed two years back?
It is not easy to manage human beings. ANTP is the largest and foremost association we have, which comprises about 30,000 members.
If not for selfish interests, we would have been under one umbrella from the onset and the industry would have been wider, bigger and stronger.
Which project are you handling now?
I have two projects at present, they are Kobiowu and Ogun Awoyaya. The later deals with the history of Lagos State, it is about the feud between Kings Kosoko and Akintoye.
What is your area of interest in the film?
It is an historical event, like I have told you, and one needs to get it documented for the younger ones and for those who are yet to know what the history of Lagos is all about. This is, perhaps, the greatest history of Lagos State and what brought about it is the involvement of the British government.
When do we expect it?
Hopefully, by the first quarter of the. We are already planning for auditioning and it is not going to be a stable cast. We believe in the ability to deliver and I might not get any role if I don’t pass the auditioning stage.
A great project will definitely gulp money, how much do you intend to spend on the film?
We have three stages of production and the film would be shot in United Kingdom and Republic of Benin precisely. We are looking at N40m at the end of the day. I have already handled the pre-production stage, which has gulped not less than N10m.
How do you intend to raise such amount?
Let’s leave that for now. I have already approached some people for assistance and I am sure they will respond. I have staged the play on several locations here in Lagos and people like the late Adeyinka Oyekan witnessed and applauded it.
Let’s talk about your achievements as the ANTP President.
Apart from the issue of the guilds, which has helped to achieve professionalism, we have been able to prepare our members for national and international challenges, which have been achieved.
For instance, Yoruba films were rated as the best in terms of storyline and technicality in 2007, this was done by national Films and Video Censors Board.
Also, we have been able to offer practical training to members about the various terminologies on stage, movies and locations, as well as ethics of the profession.
We were able to have the first edition of Yoruba World Films Festival in Lagos.
To what extent have members complied with the ethics and standard you have earlier mentioned?
I have told you earlier that Yoruba films have been rated as the best in terms of technicality and storylines. Before now, members have been using dirty words in films but, quality is gradually taking over.
In terms of storylines, I often advise them to drop certain issues on family, widowhood because I realised these have been over-used. I want to assure you that, very soon, people will watch new storylines in our films.
Has your role as president of the association hindered you from acting?
Even our members too always complain that even when they want me feature on their production, I don’t always have much time for that. They always say ‘Oga will be busy with association matters’, it happens occasionally, no doubt about that.
What do you do apart from acting?
Even before I became the President of the association, I’ve been into advertisement and I also package programmes for people, that means I have one or two areas I can delve into.
Which of your films has actually brought you to limelight?
I doubt if it is only one film that brings one to limelight, a film can get you being noticed but the follow up makes a star.
Which of your works can you adjudged as best?
I can only tell you the one I love most, in terms of stage performance, I can tell you I love Ogun Awoyaya, and in terms of film, I love Asiri-nla so much, that is why I’m lunching it on TV very soon because people have been requesting for it.
What are those things that put you off?
These are numerous, what about when one is driving on the road and somebody brushes your car and as you are trying to challenge him, he start shouting aah…, are we not the one buying your films, simply because you are an actor.
Any programme for 2009?
I shall be rounding up my tenure with ANTP, we shall be having our election towards the tail of the year so that I can hand over in 2010. One thing I have realised is that a lot of ANTP members are interested in positions, they want to be elected into offices without knowing what is expected of them.
I want to start by asking anybody who wants to be elected to come up for a special workshop and we shall train them between January and March.
We shall take them through the ethics of the offices as contains in the constitution so that whenever they are elected into offices, they will know what is expected of them.
When do you hope to retire from acting?
I can never retire form acting, even when I am old, I shall be playing calmly roles.
Where is Sola Sobowale?
She is presently in Lagos. She came back from UK last month. That rumour is not correct, it is absolutely false. One thing is, she had not been around for some time, from what I heard, her husband is in Europe and she decided to stay with him for some time, that is why you have not seen her for time.
I was in Europe and I saw her there in 2007 and 2008 respectively. That rumour that she was caught with drug is not correct, anybody can decide to relocate.
The case of drug peddling has been rampant among actors and actresses, why is this so?
Although it is sad to hear this, I know Wumi was caught and one Igbo guy, but as far as I am concerned, this is not peculiar to the industry alone, lawyers, medical doctors, journalists are involved and you don’t hear about it but when it has to do with the entertainment industry, people are eager to know what is going on.