BY ADEDIWURA OKELEYE
Veteran filmmaker and musician, Dr. Ola Balogun stormed out of the premiere of his new documentary film, River Niger, Black Mother in anger after getting called out for attacking the new generation filmmakers. Dr Ola Balogun is a first generation filmmaker in the class of the late Chief
Dr Ola Balogun is a first generation filmmaker in the class of the late Chief Hurbert Ogunde, Jab Adu, Moses Olaiya, Ade Afolayan (Ade love), Eddie Ugbomah among others.
River Niger, Black Mother premiered at Freedom Park in Lagos Island and the veteran filmmaker said it took him 10 years to produce the movie. After the screening, the filmmaker fielded questions from the audience who comprised of young filmmakers and movie critics. He was asked about his career as a filmmaker and his take on the current state of the film industry.
While answering some of the questions, he expressed his dissatisfaction with the unwillingness of the younger generation to learn from the older ones about filmmaking.
He said, “In my opinion, the present day filmmakers are not interested in making quality films. 80 percent of would-be-film makers do not want to learn the art of film making.” According to him, “In the past forty years, none of them have ever come to tell us to mentor them. I can’t go about looking for who I would mentor. They don’t want to learn anything, rather they are interested in making money.”
“There are some professionals in Nollywood such as Tade Ogidan and late Amaka Igwe. The issue is this, the young musicians usually come to me and we play music together. That’s why they are setting a high standard now. But the film makers are not interested in making good films. They have not seen any good film before, and they are not interested in making quality films,” he added.
He went further to say, “Filmmaking is a profession and the present generation of filmmakers do not want to approach it as a profession. The so-called actors in Nollywood are horrible. I can only refer to them as stars, not actors. There are only three actors in Nollywood. One of them is called Mercy Johnson, she’s a very good actress. The other one is Liz Benson. Actresses such as Ini Edo, among others, are not actresses, yet they make a lot of money.”
However, shortly after Ola Balogun’s presentation, a young female filmmaker, Emmra, who said she studied Computer Science at Ogun State University before venturing into film making, begged to differ and took on Dr Balogun following his outright condemnation of works of the present generation of Nigerian film makers.
She said, “I feel there is a big disconnect between the older generation and the younger generation of film makers in the country. I am going to relate my experience. Like you said, we are victims of the society not just the older generation alone. I studied Computer Science in Ogun State university and I never saw one computer throughout my undergraduate days.
After my graduation, I started as an intern with Clarence Peters even though I knew I wanted to go into filmmaking. During that period, I was able to save some money as I proceeded to New York Film Academy to study the art of filmmaking for one and half years. So, when you tell me that I don’t know what I am doing, it hurts. When you tell me that I am not interested in learning the art of filmmaking, it makes me not even want to meet with you to ask you some questions. It shuts that door for me. Yes, our work might not be as good as that of your generation. But there are lots of people who are out there struggling to make a good film. Whether you like it not, Nollywood has brought global attention to this country. And these are the people you say they do not know anything. If you talk like this, I don’t want to come near you,” the young lady fumed.
Ola Balogun felt trumped and he stormed out of the venue muttering, “I am not going to come here and talk again. I have not seen anything you have done. I have a new documentary here. It is called River Niger, Black Mother. It took me about ten years to produce the documentary. You cannot learn to make film by going to film school, it’s a waste of time. You make film by watching films. I am going away from here.”