Financing films has always been a challenge over time even in Hollywood. Film is the only business where you can never be absolutely sure how the returns will be. This perhaps explains why our banks as interested as they may be are watching from the ringside all the millions being made with salivating lips but little courage to enter and take the profits. They have asked all sorts of questions about how they can finance films and make money but because of the poor record keeping and secret nature of transactions in the industry, they do not have adequate information and numbers to permutate with. Does that mean it is not viable? Far from it, or we would not have the increasing numbers and interest in the industry or the flambouyant lifestyle of the stars. I will be talking about how the banks can come into Nollywood and make real money at a later date, but today I would like to examine the issue of film funds for the movie industry.
In more advanced climes, not just countries but regions and states have film funds to promote filming in their territories. These funds are sometimes loans, other times outright grants or incentives to encourage film makers to come and shoot in their regions. Requirements for accessing certain funds is that a percentage of the film or funding received must be shot in the area. This is to boost tourism, build local capacity and stimulate spending for local businesses.
In some cases, funding is tied to using local talents where those accessing it are from outside the region.
Film promotes culture and tourism. It is laughable when armchair critics in government especially pontificate to practitioners in Nollywood about the need to shoot certain types of films to promote our values or image. The only way you can gate-keep or have an influence over how a film is shot or the message it sends is if you co financed it. The French are good at this. Across Africa especially francophone Africa, all the films that considered “FILMS” have been financed by the French government largely until perhaps recent times. They decide what stories are “good enough”, they decide who tells it and how. They also control distribution. At the end of the day, what is considered African cinema is nothing but cinema according to “Saint Funders”.
Is the Nigerian government going to fold its arms and let foreigners bring in the badly needed funing as they have started doing in recent times and dictate how and what stories we should tell and how we should be projected out there or is it time to do the right thing and use this potent tool for projecting our values, cultures, ideals and if you like, like the Americans our “Super power”ness. If we fear America today, it is largely from the perception we have of their military might and the indomitable super heroes we have been fed with subliminally over time.
It is good to “dash” Nollywood money, but it is better to empower and partner with Nollywood to make Nigeria great.