Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu (middle), flanked by members, Film Production Empowerment Committee, Kelani (left); Mo Abudu (second left); Ferdinand Tinubu (third left); Taju Olajumoke (fourth left); Peace Anyim-Osigwe (right); Committee Chairman, Richard Mofe Damijo, RMD (second right); Committee Secretary, Mrs Funke Avoseh (third right) and Kunle Afolayan, during the inauguration of the committee by the Governor at Lagos House, Marina, on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.

RMD chairs, Tunde Kelani, Kunle Afolayan, others as members

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Wednesday, inaugurated a 9-member Committee on film production empowerment, an intervention project to revitalise entertainment and tourism sector in the state.

The committee’s inauguration came months after the Governor Sanwo-Olu set aside N1 billion seed capital to unlock the potential in hospitality and tourism businesses.

The initiative, aimed to fund youth creativity and entertainment activities in the state, following the disruption caused by the spread of COVID-19, which impacted negatively on the sector.

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Richard Mofe-Damijo – a veteran filmmaker and Nollywood actor – is the chairman of the nine-member committee, comprising five industry practitioners and four Government officials.

Other industry veterans in the committee include: ace cinematographer, Tunde Kelani, a Film and Television Producer, Ms. Mo Abudu, movie director, Mr. Kunle Afolayan, and Mrs. Peace Anyim-Osigwe.

The Government officials are: Adebukola Agbaminoja, Ferdinand Tinubu, Taju Olajumoke and Mrs Funke Avoseh (Secretary).

The committee was constituted to drive the Governor’s vision to actively support youth creativity and entrepreneurship in the sector.

The scheme is to support creative ideas of movie and entertainment producers who are constrained by funds to bring their concepts into reality.

Applicants are to be supported with funding based on the financial plans of their projects. The grant may be as much as N40 million for each beneficiary.

The governor, speaking at the inauguration held at the State House, described the entertainment and tourism as enablers of growth with huge potential for employment opportunities.

Entertainment sector, he said, is critical to achieving his administration’s youth development objectives, given its high rate of absorption of creative young people in its supply chains.

According to Sanwo-Olu: “This is a signpost of all pockets of intervention we have we have created for development of creativity and tourism sector. Aside the N1 billion set aside for hospitality industry, this scheme is specifically target at our movie industry which is known all over the world. This is with the belief that we can further raise the status of our creative output and commercialise the returns to a level it can compete with Hollywood and Bollywood.

“We realised most of our film production experts and directors face a lot of funding impediments. We are intervening to close this gap and bring credible veterans who have knowledge and have demonstrated capacity in the industry to drive this project. That is why we carefully selected five key practitioners in the industry to lead. The Committee will be supported by four Government officials to limit bureaucracy for the Committee to achieve its objectives.”

He stressed that the scheme sought to leverage idea and talent development to transform Nollywood into a brand that would compete favourably with advanced film industries, such as America’s Hollywood and India’s Bollywood.

The committee, he said has the authority to disburse the support grants to movie producers who have fresh ideas and those whose stories are yet to be completed.

He charged the committee to work out its engagement modalities and administrative responsibility of selecting the beneficiaries of the scheme.

Sanwo-Olu said: “As we roll out this scheme, we want to be able to help the industry around job creation and bring youths out of unemployment, using the creative industry. We also want to create entrepreneurs that will use their creativity to enhance the market shares of the sector.

“We want to support industry practitioners to raise capacity, support development of local content and discourage the action of taking proceeds from the industry out of the country, thereby denying local practitioners the benefits of their talents. We will not restrict your (committee’s) ability; we will give you leeway to do your job.”

While expressing optimism that the scheme would unlock the potential of the Lagos coastline and turn it into a destination of choice in African tourism, he added that the intervention would galvanise the private sector into committing more funding to the industry for accelerated growth

Commissioner for Tourism, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, said the committee members would set the conditions for accessing the fund, determine eligibility of applicants and decide on the amount that could be given to an individual applicants or group at a particular time.

Mofe-Damijo, described the committee’s appointment as “a big honour”, describing members as passionate practitioners in the entertainment industry.

“We don’t have any excuse not to perform in this assignment. We will do everything in our capacity to ensure that result which the Governor has envisioned comes to reality,” he said.

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