The iWoman In Film initiative (IWIF) at the July IWIF Lunch held in Lagos, has cautioned that the barriers that undermine equity in content development, financing, marketing, and distribution come at a substantial cost to the film and TV industry in Nigeria.
Attendees also called on the various guilds in the Nigerian film industry to place a premium on the welfare of movie practitioners across the value chain, unlike the current status quo.
The IWIF brings female on-screen talent, as well as writers, producers, directors, executives, agents, crew members and more together to discuss challenges and growth opportunities in the industry and also chart the way forward.
According to the convener of IWIF & co-founder, Inkblot Productions, Zulumoke Oyibo, it is no secret that women are more in the industry but hugely under-represented in film and media leadership. She believes that women can be better positioned to get more awareness and visibility for the work that they do. Adding that women contribute so much to the Nigerian film industry. “For example, the top 5 grossing movies in Nollywood history at this time were directed by women. We need to ensure that women also reap the fruits of their labour” she said. “This is why IWIF is leading the charge to bring these issues to the fore and also serve as a rallying point for actionable change.”
Another major challenge for filmmakers which had also been discussed at a previous IWIF Lunch is the issue with film exhibitors. It was noted that the money remitted by cinemas to filmmakers is far less than what they ought to receive. Having spent so much money to produce and market a film, the final take home after all the deductions from the cinemas who seem to be getting the lion share, is rather paltry, they said.
Actor & producer, Ebenezer Eno suggests that filmmakers should come together and explore setting up community cinemas across the country, in states different from Lagos rather than keeping the focus on Lagos alone. Speaking in the same vein, it was noticed amongst the attendees that there are not up to a handful of women who own cinemas and lead film exhibitions in Nigeria. Actor in the recently released movie, Ayinla, Omowunmi Dada suggested that women in film could come together, pool resources and create more cinemas in order to promote financial conditions for all film practitioners.
The discussion also centered around filmmakers rotating the same actors and preferring to use only actors with large social media following in lead roles. It was agreed that whilst this may be true, many producers and directors are focused on the business side of things and how they can recoup their investment from the added marketing advantage and visibility that actors with huge numbers bring. It was recommended that filmmakers should be able to strike a balance between using big names with large following and giving a chance to those who can really act, thereby creating new “big stars”.
Writer & director, Oma Vanessa Rotimi harped on the need to create bankable Nollywood stars just like Hollywood where a big named actor or two is guaranteed to sell a movie. She noted that there are only big stars in music. “What formula have the people in the Nigerian music industry gotten right that works for them as it currently is?” she asked. She suggests that filmmakers need to tap into that formula to create something substantial for people in film.
Another angle that was discussed was the issue of wellness and recreation for filmmakers. Movie director Uyoyou Adia commended IWIF for bringing women together to just talk. Noting that there are very few avenues for people in film to truly unwind, learn about other things, network and grow. “After we wrap up from the movie set, what do we do aside from attending movie premieres and other activities like it?” she questioned.
Producer Chinneylove Eze suggested that people in the business of film especially, especially producers need to take time out to pause as opposed to going from film set to film set. In her words, when people pause, they can question policies, and notice things that are not right rather than just going with the flow. When we take the time to reflect, “we can also have the chance to rest, check on our health and boost our general wellness”.
The July edition of the IWIF Lunch was attended by: IWIF Convener & co-founder of Inkblot Productions, Zulumoke Oyibo; Actor & Humanitarian, Omowunmi Dada; Producer, Chinneylove Eze; Actor & Producer, Joy Nice; Actor, Theresa Edem; Director, Uyoyou Adia; Writer & Director, Oma Vanessa Rotimi; Actor & Producer, Ebenezer Eno; and PR & Communications Consultant, Omawumi Ogbe.