ART IS A TOOL FOR DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION” – SEYI FASUYI
In a chat with Seyi Fasuyi, a thespian in the film making industry in Nigeria, a lot was said about how the home video made most stage performer’s enthusiasts to relax in their various homes to watch films instead of visiting theatre to watch stage performance and also sponsorship of stage performance also hinders its sustainability. A graduate of Performing Arts from University of Ilorin is very optimistic about the future of film making and cinema development in Nigeria. He also admits that Cinema culture is fast gaining relevance again and with support here and there, we will come up stage again.
Can we have a brief introduction of you?
My name is Seyi Fasuyi. A graduate of Performing Arts, University of Ilorin. 1993. Trained under the tutelage of Late Prof. Mrs. Zulu Sofola. I am married
Since graduated, what has been your challenges with the course of study and as well the performing theatre industry?
Challenges to practice has been sustenance of the family, due to access to finance to package theatrical productions. So as an artiste one has to expand his horizon to spread to various art forms for survival. I.e. Stage, Radio, TV. Films, Docu-drama, documentary … The emergence of Home video particularly created a lull in theatrical patronage, as people became more lazy to watch live shows but sit in their homes and slot in a movie. This affected the performing Arts patronage. Practice affected due to lack of sponsorship and attendant emergence of Home video.
“I have core passion area that are my forte in Arts. Art is a tool for Development and Education”
After several years in field, I have come to find a niche in Development Communications, with several credits as a Director for years. We have been able to educate the public on various issues like, transportation, voter education, climate change, moral values, etc. We have also been able to convert projects, due to needs of target audiences, from stage to screen and to radio- something innovative to the industry. These are non-commercial projects packaged by our NGO- New Generation Change Education Foundation (NGCEF), where I am the Programs Manager/Resident Director. I have core passion area that are my forte in Arts. Art as a tool for Development and Education and presently running program in major schools across Lagos state on moral values- using drama as missive. Approved by Lagos.
Do you think we can return to the era of cinema as obtained in the 80’s?
Yes we can. The imprints are already there. Right now, Cinema houses are being built round the country and private investors and Bank of Industry initiative has increased the number of cinemas presently. However, there has to be a conscious effort to educate the populace, particularly the grassroots that formed the bulk of past cinema going culture then, to embrace the new trend- so as not to tag present resurgence as elitist.
Again, we see now that Premiers are been organized now a days for major films being released. The stakes are getting higher than years back of Idumota days (who though tried for the evolution of Home video then). Higher international level must ensue
“Be patient. Your skill will distinguish you. Be of good character. Don’t rush but get knowledge. Believe in yourselves. Get a good mentor”
As a skilled performer, have you ever taken part in any screen movie? If yes! When and what is the name of the films?
I have been a crossover artiste for almost 3 decades and have several credits- apart from my core strength area of Integrated Development Communication. Early days of Home video credits, if can remember, are Blind Trust, Evil Genius…, to Playing Games…to Battle of Musanga…to my years at Mainframe for Narrow Path, Arugba- actor/Assistant Director to Tk..to Mnet days….. Largely these are credits for years including Radio dramas/ voice overs, Tv…..
with the development of the cable Television, DSTV and other TV houses as well as online television, do you think the producers are now doing better than when it was online the shop marketers that were distributing and selling films?
Yes, surely there’s more spread of networks. The DSTVs and cable networks have increased reach and patronage of screen works to round Africa and beyond. The social media too is massive for distribution of works because it’s worldwide. You cannot hold or ignore it. Surely these are beyond Idumota….distribution era. This is massive. What we hope for is the attendant financial leverage to go with the spread.
Good one! Do you think the cable TV and others have reduced the piracy or has put a stop to it?
Cable networks have in a way reduced piracy to not physical distribution. However, it has not again because piracy guys could easily sit back, watch, record and mass produce tapes. The reduction noted though, however little. Piracy is still a major challenge to the industry. Definitely it would because there would be one voice and synergy of action.
“National insurance policy should be created to involve all sectors in the country- as done internationally under best international practices”
As an experienced performer and behind the scene man, do you think the Nigerian Film industry is growing at the expected pace?
The Nigerian film industry is evolutionary. It is fast growing too. Not yet Uhuru though due to Equipment upgrades needed, Technical know-how, Capacity building, financial outflow, International cooperation and networking, Marketing, Royalty issues…… But knowing it’s evolution of self-financing to grow to this level is kudos to practitioners. There’s more to be done but the pace is on. Quality jobs would keep raising the stakes
How do you think we can improve the industry in terms of skills and delivery?
International cooperation and networking with foreign film institutions, investors and filmmakers. Networking is imperative for skill acquisition. Master classes, seminars, trainings, exchange programs, collaborations on film shoot, etc… Training and retraining of practitioners both in front and behind the scene. Exposure to best international practice is equally needed
Good one! The issue of taxes is now a slogan in Nigeria, how do you think the film industry can be a part despite the poverty that is affecting the industry due to lack of proper regulation of the sector of the economy?
Taxes are important worldwide and Nigeria cannot be an exception. However, the government needs to understand the terrain well to devise a special plan for the industry because it not not like any other professions. The breakdown from Executive producer/producer crew, actors, and post production……must be understood. Payment format too. How many jobs reach all artistes? How many practitioners are being paid or owed huge sums. How can we debar such owing tendencies? Can the government deduct taxes from source- producers/agencies etc? These and many more questions are needed to create plan for the industry. Again, industry is self-run. Which investments has the government created to enable taxation. So the conversation must continue till an agreeable level
Beautiful! the health insurance was at a point became a slogan in the industry, what do you think we can do as professionals to benefit from the health insurance scheme, which will in turn preserve the life our creative thespians from dying from cheap ailments?
Health Insurance is a major need of the creative entrepreneurs. The National health insurance should accommodate the industry. Again a proper study and agreement with the format of the industry is needed. I am aware that creative industry associations are working out something with private organizations. However, National insurance policy should be created to involve all sectors in the country- as done internationally under best international practices.
“I have been a crossover artiste for almost three decades and have several credits- apart from my core strength area of Integrated Development Communication.”
Brilliant! Let’s look at the aged artistes who seems to lack care and good things of life after so many years of added value, don’t you think there is a need for pension scheme to design something to prepare the intellectual industry for old age?
Pension is a good thing for all, particularly the creative entrepreneurs. However, who plans and organize this? Government? Producers? Associations? Individuals? It’s sketchy and not easy for now- yet doable. Something of a retirement benefit surely is needed.
As a member of NANTAP do you think the association is doing anything to support the members? If yes! How?
Nantap is an Association and doing their best based on their status, antecedents, finances, and present economic state of the country. Rome was not built in a day. There’s more to be done under credible leadership and direction though. Room for improvement. I also think the Association can speak for itself and members officially.
What is your opinion about Movietainment Magazine and where do you think we need an improvement, now that we are strictly online?
Movietainment Magazine is a credible magazine. Over the years the visioneers of the magazine has been able to create a platform of expression for the Arts in whole- under the print media. Now that it’s now an online magazine, I think the vision should not be lost and attempt should be rejuvenated at access, patronage, followership and credibility. This is a first and should remain on top. Kudos.
Thank you so much for your time and we hope when next we call you will be willing to grant us audience. But before we go, we will like you to advice the upcoming artistes and those intending to take creative industry as a means of livelihood
My advice for upcoming artistes is that they should go for training and retraining. Can be at a University (preferably) or at an established institutions. Be patient. Your skill will distinguish you. Be of good character. Don’t rush but get knowledge. Believe in yourselves. Get a good mentor. Pray to God. God will surely prevail.
Thank you so much, we appreciate your insight and the response to all the vital question. Thanks once again.