Sunny Okonkwo made his mark in the Nigerian entertainment industry by being an advocate of humanity through filmmaking. He is first an economist and a business analyst with expertise in business analytics and intelligence. He is the chairman of Libra Scale World, a production company addressing societal problems with life-changing movies. In this Interview with CHINASA AFIGBO, he reveals his passion for inspiring young people to dream big dreams:
Being an economist and entertainer
I believe I am a man of a renaissance with multipotency in knowledge and skills. This helps me create time for all I do. Each field has its own timeslot. It also comes naturally from within to diversify and optimize all forms of talent I discover in me. It goes beyond being trained but practising with determination and passion.
The business of filmmaking in Nigeria
Filmmaking in Nigeria is not as easy as it appears on TV or social media, but the industry is thriving. It is fascinating how a lot of producers like myself make a living out of it, amid our economic problems. Aside from that, the industry is huge and keeps expanding by the day. Before now, the Nigerian film industry was informal with a structure that was understood and worked for its filmmakers. This can be attributed to the operations of Nigerian film marketers who have for many years monopolized the process of financing, producing and distributing films in the English language. But lately, there’s been the absence of plan and outlines on how to capture return on investment. Thereby, deterring other forms of private financing and closing doors on potential lucrative distribution opportunities in overseas, where a chain of title is a prerequisite.
Movies under my name
I have independently produced four films: ‘The Shift’, ‘INBRED,’ ‘MASKED’, and ‘Family Reunion’. Among these are other movies co-produced with my colleagues. These films are tailored to unravel certain societal issues that we don’t address enough. Mostly centred on depression and suicide, rape abuse, cultures, and silent rivalry among siblings and parents. I love making movies that convey vital messages to my audience with compelling characters that resonate with people’s emotions.
“Personal challenges as a movie producer in Nigeria
Besides minor challenges of funding, the major issue most film producers face in Nigeria is distribution. We have limited platforms to distribute our films and these have effects on almost everything with regards to making a film. When the hassle of movie production is over, movie distribution comes with heavier clout. Distribution issues range from having limited channels, dishonest aggregators and agents, and underpricing of content. This affects the producers’ next project. Also, cinemas in this country are adding to the difficulty.
It’s a lot going, however, there is a beam of light and it keeps improving every day. We are also optimistic that this year 2020 will be a great year for filmmakers in Nigeria.
What Nigerian youths should know
I would always advise young adults to first discover themselves, explore, and know who they are and identify their capabilities. I believe Nigerian youths are talented and hardworking. As such, they can do whatever they put their minds to. Take a look around, even in the midst of all the economic issues and challenges, some youths are thriving. You can always combine work and what you are passionate about if you make up your mind to survive, not just by striving but with passion in every possible way. Time management, priority setting, and planning help me a lot to combine all. Everyone has a gift, discover that talent within you and use it to save yourself and the world. Ask yourself what you are here for and go for it. Keep your head up and believe in yourself. In addition, train yourself to multitask. What are your dreams and goals in life? Always have a clear vision of what you want out of life.
First, ask these questions: What problem do I want to solve with this business? What kind of business am I passionate about? It’s key to have an objective. As a strategist, I always tell people to study the business environment and list out services and products to match the peculiarity and needs of the people in that environment. The greatest thing you can do for yourself as a first timer in doing business in Nigeria is to do your research properly and carry out what we call SWOT analysis and also PESTLE analysis, if possible, to enable you to understand holistically what you are signing up for.