Saturday, 16 January 2010

Nigeroon Camera: On Film, Nigeria, Cameroon unite

Late November, Nigeria and Cameroon stepped above the primordial political tensions that had always defined their relationship, which was heightened by the contest for territorial ownership of the Bakassi Peninsula — now judicially ceded to Cameroon.
The two neighbouring countries sharing cultural filiations and borders met on the platform of cinema; and it was such a remarkable experience as film workers from the two countries exchanged notes; resolving in the process to launch cooper
ative and collaborative projects as well as share skills and professional facilities.
In its three days course, the workshop — eventually christened NIGEROON CAMERA (coined from the combination of names of the two countries) — yielded a robust body of thoughtful resolutions, which, as hoped by the initiator/coordinator of the project, Marc-Andre Schmachtel will see to the emergence of more quality production from the countries through the instrumentality of cooperation and collaboration.

THE Nigerian team — a foursome — had been invited by Schmachtel, programme officer of the Goethe Institut Younde to meet with a crop of professional and aspiring filmmakers from both the French and English divides of the bilingual country. The meeting place was thoughtfully chosen to be Bamenda, which is the main city in the English speaking part of Cameroon. However, the Cameroon team numbering about 22 had both French and English speaking participants.
The Nigerian team included Kunle Afolayan, producer/director of box-office successful Irapada and The Figurine; Teco Benson known in the Nollywood circuit for his specialisation in action and thriller movies; Victor Okhai, a cine-activist and educator who also specialises in Documentary filmmaking; and Jahman Anikulapo, a culture media worker and programmist.
While Afolayan shared his experience on his two highly successful film projects, stressing that dreams, creative application of resources as well as commitments and strict observance of professional etiquettes are the needed tonic for a successful production and career in film making; Benson took the house on the production and marketing tricks and strategies that had smoothened the success paths of many of the mainstream Nollywood producers and directors – emphasising that “you just need to be daring and creative at all times to be on top of your game”.
Okhai gave an overview of the Nigerian film industry from the 70s through the birth and nurturing of Nollywood in the 90s; saying that the Cameroonians would have to “be Nigerians in thinking and approach” if they truly want to develop an industry that is “homegrown and relevant to your immediate society and market”. The director of a film academy in Lagos, who had once served as Director of the Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAB) Training School, emphasized the importance of training and continuous education and collaboration. These, in addition to having a genuine “sense of purpose” and not minding “pull-him-down and cynical” criticisms and ridicule from the Western media and some “envious and often times ill-informed commentators”, said Okhai, are key ingredients that were responsible for much of the success story of Nollywood, especially in spreading its influence around Africa as well as other parts of the world. Anikulapo gave notes on how effective cultivation of support of the media had been one of the wheels on which Nollywood rode to local and global reckoning. He said that the massive support of the media facilitated Nigerians’ communal ownership of the Nollywood films – in spite of their perceived shortcomings — as “authentic cultural voice of the people” as different from the Western media spokesman-ship that the continent’s people had been used to.

THE Cameroonians included such notable producers and culture workers as Isidore Modjo of Studio Karel, Cyrille Masso of Malo Pictures; Bernard Nagmo, Anthony Kamwai, Delphine Itampe and Lambert Ndzana. there was also the film scholar and historian from UK, Zigoto and the influential journalist, Jean Marie Mollo Olinga and others. They also shared their own varied experiences in production and disribution, revealing in the course of that, the tensions that exist between the Franco and Anglophone divides of the country as it affects cultural production and dissemination. The national politics was shown to be a major obstacle that the culture producers have to battle hard to overcome if they desire to benefit maximally from the marketing and distribution advantages that the circumstantial bilingual heritage of the country affords them.
Remarkably, the workshop helped in great measures to thin out the specter of suspicion and love-lost among the filmmakers; and at large culture producers in Cameroon. They left the workshop with resolve to devise strategies for greater collaborations and networking in such a way that would benefit the different circuits of culture production in the country.
German film producer and programmist, Barbel Mauch, who had had engagements in the two countries in recent years (she is had earlier workshops with filmmakers in Cameroon and; is on the faculty of SHOOT, a yearly talent-development programme of the Nigeria Film Corporation, NFC), gave a critical perspective to the film industries in Africa, indicating how networking among the various production centres on the continent would help facilitate the emergence of an authentic African cine voice. That voice, says Mauch, who is also on the faculty of the Berlinale Talent Hunt as well as being a regular visitor to the FESPACO in Ougadougou), is what the world waits for.

THE workshop eventually dissolved into three working groups: Production and Distribution; Education and Training and the Media.
Among the recommendations by the production/marketing/distribution sub-group were that producers and directors should seek sponsorship through product/advert placement in films as demonstrated in Afolayan’s The Figurine – however such must be done with appropriate written contract; film makers must aggressively seek branding opportunities as well as attract government and non governmental organizations financial supports. Filmmakers should also not be afraid to approach lenders for resources to finance their films. On marketing, the group recommended the need to educate filmmakers on the vast funding opportunities that the Internet and various other electronic mediums could provide them.
On Distribution, a landmark recommendation was the plan to create a commercial company that would “put in place a network to distribute films all over Cameroon. There is also plan to ensure establishment of viewing centres in all towns of Cameroon to screen films before same are released on CDs and DVDs. The group also recommended creating greater marketing network and cooperation between Cameroon and Nigeria.
The training and education group recommended that the various film schools needed to develop effective curriculum and study module that would guarantee the quality of their teaching and products. There is also need for keener peer review mechanisms among fil schools in the countries to ensure that the best of training facilities are being extended to the students as well as professionals who desire updating their skills and knowledge of any aspect film making. Significantly, the group canvassed networking and collaboration among the film schools, which would include exchange of faculty resources, students and teaching materials and equipment. Also, individual film schools should constantly explore possibility of affiliation with international film institutions.

THE media sub-group recommended thus: • Every Filmmaker must cultivate the media right from the outset of the project
•. Filmmakers must engage a professional Press AttachĂ© for every one of their projects, who is conversant with the various organs of the media; and who: acts as the link between the project and the media; and as the spokesman for the project to the general public. Specifically, the Press Attache’s role would include to: for the Press — prepare Press Kits; organise Press Conferences; arrange Press Interviews and; organise Location visits for the media workers. For the Radio — he organises interviews on magazine programmes and talkshows; for TV — he organises locations visits; interviews on various programmes; prepare materials for Newsreel right from the outset of the programme.
• Every film project must have a Communication Budget “considering the fact that communication is the most powerful means of promotion. The population has to be adequately informed and of course cajoled for a product to be adequately consumed”.
• Filmmakers must develop strategy for Media Partnership: and with the introduction of more than one television and radio station in Cameroon, production houses need to get into partnership with TV stations, press houses, magazines, etc. In this, it was strongly recommended that the Nigeria model be seriously studied as it was one of the reasons the Nollywood is almost an instant cultural phenomenon. Partnership with media organizations will ensure that press conferences, interviews and others can be organized at very minimum cost.
• Filmmakers are encouraged to broaden their communication strategy to accommodate new social interactive mediums, which have proved to be faster, easy-to-use, cheaper and above all more effective channels to market and distribute cultural works. These are the Internet outlets such as Website; Facebook; YouTube; Yahoogroups/Googlegroups; Blogsphere; Myspace; Twitter; Flixter; Mobile phones. Specifically, it was advised that every film must have its own website “through which it can generate an audience and wider dissemination of information for itself”.
And these e-media outlets can be effectively deployed at pre, during and post production periods. Many of them could in fact work well to disseminate Newsletters — giving hints about progress of the project. Film promotion, says the group, can learn strategy from the promotion ways of reality shows.
Also the importance of advertising and public relations in marketing and dissemination were highlighted in the group’s recommendation. These could be deployed through products and gadget brandings even at pre-production levels e.g pens, cups, caps, shirts; using all PR outlets to speak about the project and; advertising the coming of the project at various outlets.
In the end, the participants launched an internet discussion group to further the networking that had been established during the workshop.

Around and about Nollywood...


Corporate support for AMAA 2010
A MAJOR boost for the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) came last week as the United Bank for Africa (UBA) renewed its commitment to sponsor the event. Though, Bayelsa State government has been the major sponsor of the continental award since inception six years ago, UBA took over corporate sponsorship three years ago. Speaking on the commitment, the bank’s Communications Director, Mr. Martins Anyanwu, said, ‘UBA has identified with the film and entertainment industry, considering its role as a tool for cultural renaissance.’ Anyanwu noted that the participation of other African countries shows its acceptance in the continent and beyond. Already, organisers have assured of a success, as it is one of the events to commemorate Nigeria’s Golden Jubilee. Founder and CEO, Peace Anyiam Osigwe, informed that the venue for the 2010 edition would be named in February during the nomination party in Ghana. The 2010 AMAA holds on April 10. Information on the award can be sourced from

February date for Zuma Festival 2010
ALL is now set for the hosting of the 5th edition of the biennial ZUMA Film Festival organised by the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), scheduled to take place in Abuja from May 2 to 6, 2010. Call for entries opens on December 1, 2009 and closes February 28, 2010. The theme for this year’s edition is Global Images Global Voices, which according to the organisers seek to consolidate on the gains of previous editions. Interested participants can make enquiries by e-mail to Similarly, entry forms can be obtained and returned to any of the Corporations offices in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Jos.

March date for Fribourg Film Festival
THE organisers of 24th Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF) have begun accreditation of international filmmakers to the festival, which holds in Fribourg, Switzerland, from March 13 to 20. Since its foundation, the festival has committed itself to the promotion of cultural diversity. Its programme features essentially work from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Each year, the festival plays host to a hundred or so national and international premieres. Today, the FIFF carries the reputation of an unparalleled platform for creative and cultural exchanges; furthermore, the event distinguishes itself as a Mecca of cinematographic discoveries. The Festival enjoys an excellent international reputation, and is also recognized as a national reference. The artistic director of the FIFF is Edouard Waintrop, a former film critic for LibĂ©ration. The competition section of the festival introduces around 12 feature films and documentaries completed during the year preceding the current festival, and which have not yet been screened in Switzerland or in Europe. The Grand Prize carries a CHF 30’000 reward. There is also the Panoramas, Retrospectives and Short Films. In that section, the thematic programmes featuring five to 18 films are compiled by the artistic director or film specialists. These films approach and discuss current trends, question established genres, reveal uncharted episodes of film history and pay tribute to personalities of outstanding merit. The short film programmes present the work of young contemporary filmmakers. The Forum@FIFF platform is dedicated to film professionals and hosts conferences, debates and encounters that promote the exchange of experiences, deepening of knowledge and networking in general. Filmmakers can get additional information on the festival at
Waka pass…

Producer- Amebo A. Amebo
Director- Mr. Gossip
Actors- Nollywood Celebrities

Ejike Asiegbu is the biggest Super Eagles’ fan
I’M not sure that there is anyone in Nollywood, who loves Super Eagles like former Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) President, Ejike Asiegbu. He virtually shut down personal and domestic business and affair last Tuesday, just because the Kanu Nwankwo-led Super Eagles had a crucial opening game against the Pharaohs of Egypt at the on-going Orange Nations Cup in Angola. Waka Pass gathered that he had declared some hours of fasting; and so, his wife, Nkechi, didn’t bother to prepare breakfast or lunch. Even his five phone lines, except for the one known to waka pass and a few were switched off. Waka Pass gathered that he did not want to be ‘disturbed’. Anyway we heard that Presido joined his acting compatriots to view the match on the big screen at the O’jez Restaurant, Surulere. We don’t know now if he enjoyed the match. No one will, not with that 3-1 bashing the Eagles received. But we hear that Presido has declared that never again will he be that anxious.

Emeka Rollas ageing Mercedes
HOW come people have refused to mind their business? What is their concern sef if for instance someone decides not to use the air-conditioner in his car? Why will they be insisting that it is not by choice that someone is not using his air-conditioner? Haba, one waka pass has been insisting that we ask the embattled AGN National Secretary (by a Board of Trustees appointment) Emeka Ejezie Rollas why he has refused to upgrade, the same way he did an AGN presidential aspirant to becoming the Secretary General of the guild. The waka pass said he doesn’t think that it would show that the AGN is re-branding if a ’hole Sece (secretary) will be fanning himself in a moving car. Waka pass didn’t catch the gist until we saw Rollas koro koro somewhere around Masha area of Lagos struggling to fan himself while negotiating a bend by the bridge. Hear the prayer that we said for him as he drove past: ‘Oh, Lord, make his reign as ‘sece’ great so he can fix the air-conditioner the Mercedes 190 Benz.’

Where is Chioma Akpotha?
WHOEVER knows how we can get to Nollywood’top actress, Chioma Akpotha nee Chukwuka, should please get in touch, and urgently too. We have been trying to reach the Lagos State University graduate of Banking and Finance since we started receiving un-ending mails from her fans, who said they cannot wait to see her light up the screen again. They said the last time they heard from her was when she was preparing to download the second fruit of her ‘marriage made in heaven’ with Oga Akpotha. They argued that it is such a long time for a superb actress like Chioma to take the back seat. They also said that they wouldn’t mind to send a delegation to Oga, if he is the reason why sister Chioma has not bounced back. So if you know someone who knows someone who knows how we can get to sister Chioma let us know. We hear Oga likes rice and dodo and fresh fish a lot. We may come with it when we are coming to ask for sister Chioma back to the fold. Abeg sister Chioma, let us know in good time if there is no need…
To God be the Glory!

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