Law on Piracy Gives Room for Piracy -Lanre Awodipe
Lanre Awodipe a professional film maker, bares his mind in a chat with Wale Adegbuyi on challenges and the way forward in making the Nigerian Film Industry tagged, Nollywood claim its rightful position globally.
Awodipe, a trained movie director and filmmaker from the University of Ilorin, who also holds a Master’s degree from the University of Ibadan, opens up on some of his challenges in the industry and his experience with most directors on set.
He also frowned at the industry, which he said has become all comers affair, where he said people feel and make it appear as if there is no discipline or self-control since it is called show business. He stated that film business is a business for the serious minded people and rather a job for ‘whores and truants.’
Can you briefly introduce yourself?
I am Lanre Awodipe, a native of Ikenne Remo in Ogun State, Nigeria. I am easy going with a strict inclination to quality and professionalism. Lanre Awodipe studied Performing Arts from the University of Ilorin in Kwara State and i obtained my Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Ibadan. I am married to the best woman God ever created with beautiful daughters. Lanre is an accomplished film and television producer director and I had my professional media tutelage from the Nigerian Television Authority and other media and production companies home and abroad. I am presently the CEO of Lauren Arts House Communications, a full-fledged media/film production company.
“Piracy has been in the industry from time immemorial and the law that is meant to arrest it incidentally encourages it. Until there is stiff penalty for pirates, we will continue to face the menace.”
Can you tell us what motivated you into studying performing arts and secondly what was the reaction of your parents, when you told them you wanted o study performing art in the university considering the orientation of our parents about theatre?
That is an interesting question my brother. I have always loved the arts since my early secondary school days, which was why I took that career path. I used to read JAMB brochure from my class one days and I knew the subjects that were not important to gain admission for my course of study early enough. Literature in English was my best subject, but unfortunately I was not conscious of the course called Performing Arts.
Meanwhile, I wanted to be a lawyer who will also create contents for the screen. I loved those indigenous soap operas on NTA and I was always conceptualizing, composing and imagining things. You know in those days, you have to wait for your admission letter after passing your JAMB. I waited to study Law in the University of Ilorin (Unilorin) only to be told they had concluded admission into the Faculty of Law, I didn’t go early enough, so I had an option to pick another course in the faculty of arts.
“I always ensure that I select my casts and even crew members because as a producer, it is the ability to spot the right talents and crew that sets you out.”
Modern European Language (English) was going to be my option until Professor Adelekan, my adviser pointed my attention to Performing Arts, and I quickly jumped at it.
My parents actually thought I should wait for Law, they even went as far as talking to Barrister Kayode Sofola to counsel me, but I insisted on studying Performing Arts. I give God the glory because I am now fulfilled.
Can you take us through your experiences since you graduated?
Well, God Has been faithful because He has taken me to places. I am yet to see anyone without challenges in life. It’s been good with just little challenges. The first challenge that I faced is having to contend with ‘pseudo’ in the theatre and filmmaking industry. The moment you appears to them as someone, who has some idea on professionalism, they would put up some guards. Many things are going on that are totally against the ethics of the profession. In whatever I do, I always insist on training. All of us cannot hold degrees in Performing Arts, you could get trained informally. Mark you, ensure you pick your trainer because one cannot give what he or she does not have.
In those days, having gone through all theoretical framework of directing and practical for stage and screen, you still won’t be bold to call yourself a director. The big directors would still see you as a learner. You can only give your inputs at the pre-production meetings. These days, everyone is a director. Even though camera handler feels he could make a film without a director around and he does not know the rudimentary knowledge of directing. One of such is the reasons they force junks down the throats of unsuspecting viewers.
Can you tell us about the good days you have had in the profession since you came on board?
I have had opportunities to work with the best in the industry in directing, management, producing and acting capacities. I featured in “Adiela Onyedibia’s” “Delicate Matters” starring the late Justus Esiri, Dejumo Lewis, Emma Edokpai, Funmi Tijani and lots of other movie and film veterans in NTA.
“I also assisted my core directing trainer and boss, the late Tunji Adesina, who practically brought out the giant in me, while boss “Onyedibia” took us through lectures on analogue editing with Mr. Celestine Chukwura at the NTA New H/Q, Victoria Island, Lagos then.
“They should not despise the days of little beginning, get trained and shun arrogance. Do not be cheap in morals and don’t be desperate because it is God that makes a star not man.”
My late brilliant and exceptionally creative specie picked me and moulded me like a potter moulds clay in the arts of esteem play and directing.
We experimented with quite a lot of exceptional works transmitted on NTA. These include “the Beauty Parlour,” ‘Paradise Park, Area C ”,“ Webs of Gold ”,“ Ina-Aga ”,“ Officers and Men. I did all these with my boss either as Production Manager or Assistant Director.
Those days were learning periods for me even after I had produced and directed quite a number of commercials, events and stage productions as a certified thespian.
I always ensure that I select my casts and even crew members because as a producer, it is the ability to spot the right talents and crew that sets you out. I have done more of soaps than movies because I see the soap genre as a sacred grove for the trained. It is a business for the skilled and the trained.
Some of the films you see around have been thoroughly abused by the so-called petty traders who do not maximize their potentials. Thank God a few of us are getting it right now by producing for the big screens.
It is not cheap to produce a standard film and that is why I am surprised, when someone tells me he produced over fifty films in a year. Film making is money and time consuming.
How many films have you directed or featured in?
I have produced three soaps and one movie. However, I have directed about 10 films so far and I am still countiing. Some of the films i directed are “The Break”, “The Couple,” I Co- directed “House 22” with Wale Ilebiyi, “Teens Time”, “The CLIEQ”, “Onida Iku” and a host of others. I am presently working on “The Scourge” aka (Change), a cancer advocacy series for the Eastern, Central and Western African audience. I was also involved in the very first Karoole reality show in Nigeria, “Entitvisite” entitled “LG Karooke Mega Show” as the Production Coordinator. I also worked on “Celebrity Take 2” and “Malta Guinness Street Dance Africa.”
What do you feel we are not doing right in the industry and how do you think we can remedy such in the interest of the industry?
A lot of things are wrong with the way we handle the business of film and television production, marketing and distribution in this part of the world.
Firstly, everyone sees the business as a joke since there are no strict and actionable rules of engagement. Ours is an industry that is almost seen as open for all.
“Real film makers are not looking for free money. We have what it takes to guarantee the investors juicy returns on their investment.”
Another point that I see as an issue is this idea of looking for cheap crew and cast. Our producers should at least try and learn the rudiments of production to enable them reason favourably with trained directors. It is becoming a trend now to see a producer and director becoming rivals on set. This even happens after several pre-production meetings where the directorial interpretation must have been thoroughly trashed out.
A terrible event happened recently when a so-called producer, who had shot a series for about seven months and could not continue for lack of funds claimed someone he showed the script to said it’s a bad script without even reading it. The question here is this, did the producer read the script all through seven months that he has been working on it? We really need to jettison mediocrity in our industry, professionalism is the key.
Another challenge we have is lack of fund to train film personnel. We can achieve a lot when the environment is made right. Real film makers are not looking for free money. We have what it takes to guarantee the investors juicy returns on their investment.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I would love to be remembered as an accomplished film maker/teacher whose shoulders lifted many aspiring film makers to the pinnacle of success. One whose works will have the desired impact in shaping the society locally and internationally.
What is your advice to upcoming artistes?
My candid advice for upcoming artistes is that they should not despise the days of little beginning, get trained and shun arrogance. Do not be cheap in morals and don’t be desperate because it is God that makes a star not man.
”It is not cheap to produce a standard film and that is why I am surprised, when someone tells me he produced over fifty films in a year. Film making is money and time consuming.”
What is your opinion about DSTv and other online television, have they liberated the film market in Nigeria or killed them? Do their presence have any effect on reducing piracy?
DSTV and other online televisions have been helpful in several ways, especially for series producers. One can at least recoup one’s investment when your product meets the required standard. Our works no longer stay under the drawer.
Yes one can complain about the price, but the point is that you are still kept in the business unlike those days when a marketer who never spent a penny on your production reaped all the gain. Content providers really need to access the right funds to get standard jobs done which most times is not there. It is what you put in, in terms of expertise and capital that determines your output.
“The moment you appears to them as someone, who has some idea on professionalism, they would put up some guards. Many things are going on that are totally against the ethics of the profession.”
DSTV and others have really pushed content providers forward thereby liberating us to an extent, especially when we considers the business where the producer produces, pays the TV stations to air and also relies on advertising agencies for sponsorship or spot adverts which some selected few have hijacked. The bottleneck is so stiffening that a beginner may not be able to cope.
On piracy, I do not see how DSTV can reduce piracy. Piracy has been in the industry from time immemorial and the law that is meant to arrest it incidentally encourages it. Until there is stiff penalty for pirates, we will continue to face the menace. It will surprise you that some marketers also movie works because they are aware that the moment they release a fresh work, pirates would pick it up immediately.
The marketers feel they can also release pirated copies of same work to favourably have a good share in the pirate market without carrying the producer along. So who is the pirate?
What is your opinion about www.movietainmentmagazine.com and how do you think we can improve on what we are currently doing?
Movietainment is really blazing the trail in promoting entertainers in Nigeria and beyond. We have noticed over the years that actors naturally attract attention from entertainment magazines. Crew and cast members are now getting the desired attention they are entitled to as a result of the unrivaled efforts of Movietainment. You guys are really pushing the entertainment industry forward. I visit your website often and I know that very soon, you will be the leading entertainment magazine in Nigeria. Keep on moving as God is in it all.