Despite the controversies that surrounded the Project Act N3bn grant given to the Nollywood industry by the Federal Government, the President, Directors Guild of Nigeria, Fred Amata, has said his guild actually benefited from the grant.
Amata had said different guilds benefited from the grant, which had helped them in one way or the other to boost their industry.
“All the guilds were given opportunity to send members to different institutions to build their capacity. The DGN sent 48 people to University of Colorado for capacity building. I personally benefited because I was among those who went for the training at the University of Colorado, America. If you notice in the industry, the language is changing. Some call it ‘Neo Nollywood’ , some call it ‘Cinema film’. The aspiration has changed. There is a new trend in the filmmaking ideology in Nigeria.”
Amata disclosed that the grant is in three tranches – The Capacity Building Fund, the Film Producing Fund and the Innovative Distribution Fund.
He said, “I know that at one point, some money was disbursed for the FPF. The fund became a ‘subsidy’ for filmmakers. Some people applied and their budget was way above the grant. So it became like a subsidy. They gave between N2m to N12m each to different filmmakers. I know for instance some filmmakers who have shot movies with money from the grant. Kunle Afolayan acknowledged it in his October 1. I know there are some people who are still shooting and there are some people who haven’t shot.
“The third tranche is the Innovative distribution fund. As practitioners, we think this is the key, the funds that would change everything. After many conferences and debates, we seem to have come to a consensus in the last five years that the key challenge in our practice is distribution. If producers and filmmakers can get returns on their investment, there would be significant growth in the sector; there would be better options. The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, met with the practitioners and set up another committee to make an assessment on whether they should distribute the final tranche or not. Different arguments have sprung up and different sectors think it should be scrapped and be diverted to be used to fight piracy. Another group said distribution is still key today and there are cases where you can actually avoid piracy through distribution. I believe we need to see the different innovative ideas that people have come up with. It can be the key to our solution in the future.”
Concerning another controversy in the Nollywood industry, which is the Motion Picture Council bill, that has roused a lot of bickering and argument among the stakeholders and practitioners in the industry, Amata said his guild fully backs the bill.
“Over the years, there have been several efforts to unite the various guilds and practices in film making. As way back as 2002, we all came together and set up what we called Central Working Committee. We tried to find a unifying platform for inter -association relationship. At that time, we were united enough to say that there should be ban on work for three months.
“It was even that time that the idea of MOPICON was first muted. Because of the uniqueness of our development, we had a lot of strong men but not strong institution and it attached the quest.
“Then there came Coalition of Nollywood Guilds and Association (CONGA). It became our greatest hope. It still works in some parts of the country. But MOPICON came back and a huge campaign against it sprung up from nowhere. As we speak, MOPICON review committee has sat and they have reviewed the document. The safest way forward is through MOPICON. It is too dangerous to allow the situation to continue like this especially in our environment. We cannot continue to leave things in the hands of strong men; we should rather have a strong institution,” he said.
Amata also said the DGN would do everything possible to check the high spate of pornography that has infiltrated the industry at the moment.