Monday, 4 May 2009

Ready for the 12 Ambassadors deal

When the President of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) led Royal Pictures to introduce Legends of Nollywood — a programme dedicated to the promotion and propagation of the success story that has become the Nollywood, little did he know that, that singular effort will give rise to a yearning for another programme that will further unite the country and serve as a tool for image laundering. It was on the strength of that call, that Obazele again led Royal Pictures to introduce a reality show dubbed The 12 Ambassadors and powered by Unity Bank Plc, designed to introduce 12 hot and fresh talents that will join the growing league of the fellowship of the tube. Obazele told Moviedom that 12 out of over 50,000 youths that participated in the audition exercises across the country will in a matter of weeks be given a place of pride in the history of movie making in Nigeria. Excerpts.

are at the stage of rewarding all those who made it to the finals. We have been able to complete the entire task with the 20 people. Basically we are at the stage where we have to sieve and award prizes to the 12 ambassadors as it were. Then we would run on AIT for three months, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Meanwhile and because of the little delay we experienced in arriving at this stage, we had to take the finalists to different locations — some are shooting soap operas and working on different programmes

It’s worth the effort
It has been time consuming, but yet a wonderful experience because it is Nigerian, it is original — no one sold the idea to us from outside. It’s what I can call a proudly Nigerian initiative, which we launched unaware that Nigeria as a nation will be talking re-banding later. What I wanted to do was to affect the minds of the youth. The truth is that most of them were skeptical at first because they had taken part in a number of reality show that disappointed them. So, they had every reason to be skeptical. But after participating in our auditions, which we took round the length and breadth of this country and after working with us, they have not stopped telling people that there is a difference between this and others. So far, we have been able to affect and mould their minds. We have also been able to prepare them for the challenges of playing in an industry like ours. We took them through a well-planned learning process and hooked them up with people who are tested like Adim Williams, who with his Oxford Academy grilled them as it were. Generally, we have been able to talk to people who are very hungry — I mean hungry for the arts and people who are true Nigerians and who want to give their hearts for the nation. We are also making arrangement for them to be trained through the entrepreneurial scheme we have arranged.

Support from Corporate Nigeria

As we speak, Unity Bank is the main sponsor. So far, they have kept to their obligation and we are happy at their response. The only thing that is left is to give out the 12 cars to the eventual winners. The grand finale is planned to hold in Abuja and preparations are in top gear.

Reality show and prize redemption
The beauty about Royale Pictures, especially with the kind of support we have received from our sponsors, is that beyond the cars we are giving out, they are going to form a major part of works that will be undertaken by Royal Pictures. It will also be our responsibility to source jobs for them and make them that which we promised them to be.

12 Ambassadors diet 2

Of course, second edition will be greater than the first edition. We have already started receiving entries for the second edition even when we have not rolled off the first. That says a lot about the popularity and effect of the 12 Ambassadors Reality show programme. What we have decided on is that the first 100 people who will get their short messages (SMS) in would be automatically admitted into the 12 Ambassador house. It’s automatic. So, the next edition will be better and bigger.

The State of Nollywood
Talking about the state of the industry, we are appealing to the government to help us combat piracy. We have a big problem with piracy as you know, and I am beginning to think that most people we have been running to, to help with the fight are themselves involved in piracy, if not why is it that they have not done anything concrete to combat it. Everyday people are engaged in one form of piracy or the other. The new one is that people now ship our works abroad to sell. As I speak to you now, there is a big problem in Zimbabwe — people are pirating our works — and we have it on record that the government in Zimbabwe has frowned at the act. They have written to us and we have copied our authorities here, but our own authorities are yet to response. We keep shouting about providing something in the mould of a Film Fund for us, but no one is doing anything about it, yet there is so much talk about re-branding Nigeria. I keep telling people that when this country was in lacuna, when foreigners saw us as a nation of drug peddlers and fraudstars among other ills it was Nollywood that helped in the re-branding campaign at that time and it is still playing a significant role in that direction. I think government should be more interested in the growth of the industry and get this Film Fund issue off the ground outside building infrastructures that will support sustainable growth.

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