No profession survives without conscious efforts being invested to ensure adequate regulations of the operations and activities of such profession. The medical sciences, law and some other professions are as respected as they are, not because they really offer any super service than the other professions, but because concerted efforts are put in by government and practitioners to ensure that those professions are well regulated and controlled.
The idea of a regulatory body for the fast growing motion picture industry in Nigeria is long awaited and should it not go the way of some other great ideas in this country, then will be one of the best things that will happen to the motion picture industry.
Though there are several people within the industry and other wannabe motion picture practitioner, who feel that this move will be injurious to the industry, especially because of their fear that government may be interested in whittling down the number of people who go about with the title of movie or motion picture practitioners. Those who are opposed to this either have not taken their time to read through the document titled; The Motion Picture Practitioners Council of Nigeria Bill or are those who should not have any business being in the motion picture industry, but who have ended up becoming lords in an industry they should have nothing to do with.
I am told that the most stringent opposition against the passage of this bill is coming from Alaba International Market, where a group of self-styled movie makers have systematically stifled the professional growth of this industry for the past twenty years or more. This set of people who have almost succeeded in controlling what happens in the Nigerian movie industry, who gets into it, and who doesn’t is mostly made up of traders on household electronic items, who happen to be around at the advent of Nollywood some years ago and saw in the emerging motion picture industry, great opportunities for monetary gains.
These people who are mostly known as movie marketers began by providing the funds with which great movies are made by professionals in the field and also getting the right to sell these movies to the final consumers. But as the industry continued to grow and enjoy massive patronage, these marketers began to devise ways to take full control of both the creative and business aspect of this profession, and they met with little or no resistance in this.
As the years went by and Nigerians continued to ask for more movies, the few professionals in the industry failed to see through the overbearing activities of these marketers, as they understood movie making from the point of he who pays the piper, dictates the tune. Our actors were being treated with disdain, as these marketers who hardly know anything about the principles of theatre and motion picture insisted on controlling even the fees of our most respected Thespians. They slammed suspension orders and other punitive orders on actors, producers, writers and any other professional within the industry who fail to lick their shoes. Some of these professionals, not ready to bear the hunger that looked them in the face, went with hat in hand to these marketers and accepted to be shat on by them. That began the freefall of professionalism in the Nigerian Motion Picture Industry.
All aspects of the industry is almost turning to a child’s play, with everybody laying claims to being a moviemaker. Movie making is fast becoming a profession for those who have failed in other endeavors in life, and very few of them are ready to subject themselves to any form of training. If you do not take time to ask questions, you may mistake some audition venues for a meeting of touts or even a gathering of lowly patronized sex workers. Any audition provides an opportunity for all manners of human beings to show up as actors. That many people want to become actors is a good thing for the industry, as the industry needs people to grow, but what is bad about this mad rush into the industry is the fact that these people feel reluctant to learn the most basic rules in theatre business.
There are also another set of people abusing the noble motion picture industry in Nigeria; the quasi-professionals. These are the set of people who come either from Alaba market or have had the good fortune of working in one or two movie sets, and they automatically become top notching movie makers and even teachers within the industry. This has led to a proliferation of Movie Academies, most of which are fraudulent. This set of motion picture saboteurs are charge people money to be part of auditions, while the others see audition grounds and movie locations as fertile grounds for free sex.
A trained theatre artist is one of the most disciplined individuals you can ever come across. It is only a gatecrasher in the motion picture industry who will want to replicate his or her life on screen in real life. The trained theatre artiste knows that he is taking up a character that is not his, in order to entertain and educate the audience. Mostly, the evil characters in movies end up tragically. Therefore, any theatre artiste would know that living the life he or she portrays on the screen will earn him or her a tragic end in real life. A trained theatre artist who has got good presence on screen, such that he or she becomes a celebrity actor, understands the huge responsibility that comes with stardom. Most of those who end up living recklessly are those who gatecrashed into the industry from nowhere and without any form of training.
Actors are some of the most cerebral people in the world, and this doesn’t come by chance, but by consistent training. The Motion Picture Practitioners Council Bill when passed into law, will help in ensuring that only the right people who understand that even though ‘artistes live on play, they never live a play’ are the ones who continue in the industry for any reason.
There is already a petition circulating across the social media, which targets to stop the passage of this wonderful bill into law, and I am sure that most of those who will append their signature to that poisonous petition are those who do not take their time to read through the contents of this bill or those who are not ready to subject themselves to training within the industry, hence desperate to stop anything that will lead to the sanitization of the industry. My interest in this bill was actually aroused by some young moviemakers who have been brainwashed into thinking that the bill is targeted against them. It was actually one of them who sent me a copy of the bill with the intention of getting me to join the fight against the passage of this bill, but the contents of this bill is so encouraging that as a moviemaker, if I am asked to contribute money for the lobbying of our legislators, for them to fast-track the passage of this bill into law.
It cannot be over-emphasized that the Nigerian movie industry needs serious cleansing, and MOPICON will go a long way in ensuring that this cleansing is achieved. Moviemaking should not be what everybody who has failed in other areas of life jumps into. It must be made attractive for serious minded intellectuals for whom the art of movie making is meant. I shall subsequently write letters to my representatives at the National Assembly, to ensure that whenever this bill gets to them, they do not delay in appending their signatures to it.