Director and producer, Teco Benson, has warned of a dire future for the film industry if players fail to act to tackle malaises including duplications of guilds and scramble for leadership positions.
In a statement entitled ‘Nollywood, the way forward’ on Tuesday, the prolific filmmaker lamented that the duplication of guilds and associations in the industry, otherwise called Nollywood, is “giving the impression of an unserious and unstructured industry.”
Benson, who condemned the multiple guilds in directing, producing, acting and the fragmentation of Nollywood said it was time players self-regulate before it became too late.
“In the field of Directing, there is Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN), being a formal guild properly and duly registered to govern the practice of film directing in Nigeria, yet on the sideline there is another parallel Director’s Guild pretending to do the same thing, with membership strength competing with DGN, resulting in lawlessness because of lack of central control for film Directors. Thus, producers hire directors without recourse. For Producers, there is Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Association of Nollywood Core Producers (ANCOP), Independent Television Producers’ Association of Nigeria (ITPAN), and several others.
“We also have Association Of Nigeria Theatre Art Practitioner (ANTP), MOPAN and several others. The most embarrassing of all these is the fragmentation of NOLLYWOOD into various woods; Kannywood, Edowood, Akwacrosswood, Yorubawood, Igbowood and what have you,” he argued.
Benson further noted that the fragmentations would make it difficult for any government or organisation to treat stakeholders with respect.
The producer, who also adduced the non-passage of the MOPICON Bill into law to the duplications, said it was time film industry players told themselves the truth and resolved the leadership scramble.
He said: “The quest for leadership has turned some of our Nollywood practitioners to politicians. They are thereby abandoning film practice, focusing on making a living through guild leadership. During campaigns some aspirants borrow as much as 20 million naira to fund elections, paying annual dues for members and buying their conscience.
“When they get ‘(s)elected’ into the office, they use every opportunity to recover and payback their (borrowed) campaign expenses and of course, makes some margin of profits to themselves. In the end, the Guild suffers. The primary reason for joining Guilds/ trade Associations is for mutual aid and protection and for the furtherance of professional interests.”
Benson offered six recommendations to resolve the issue and make the guilds more beneficial to people. They include: “removal of practitioners from the leadership of guilds and associations.
“Appointment of a Registrar to run each Guild with professional administrators as well as an Accountant. The Registrar might be a Lawyer, Retired Civil Servants (Professor of Film Studies preferably, or any other profession related to film practice).
“Creation of different committees to be headed and run by practitioners who in turn report to the Registrar.
“Collapse of all the parallel and tribal Guilds and merge them into a single professional guild to represent every unit/component of film practice.
“Strengthening the Guilds by creating a strong coalition of all the guilds and creation of a strong code of ethics to guide professional practice.”