BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
Having released his much-talked about film, Gidi Blues into cinemas on June 4, 2016, respected filmmaker, Femi Odugbemi thinks that the current absence of a level playing field between Nigerian films and foreign films coupled with the very few cinemas in existence in Nigeria makes the distribution chain right now in the country somewhat elitist.
In this chat with TNS, Odugbemi urged filmmakers not to go into a battle with distribution chains, rather, a collaboration between both segments of the industry should be encouraged to bring about progress.
Asked whether he agreed with fellow filmmakers who think cinema chains are ripping-off Nigerian filmmakers, Femi Odugbemi responded, “My experience is that the distribution chain is a work-in-progress. We have to find a way to balance our need to have a level playing field between Nigerian films and foreign films with a conscious development agenda for our cinema. There is a reason for the concern that people are expressing.”
“If you put a Nigerian film at 10am, in the morning on a weekday, how much publicity can you do to get people to leave their offices to go there? If you put only American films at prime time slots, of course, you cheat both your audience and the filmmaker.
“I understand fully that not all Nigerian movie-goers have yet come around to the idea of Nigerian films in the cinema and I understand that not all Nigerian films can compete with international films but we are a work-in-progress just as the distribution chain is a work in progress.”
On what is needed, the DX Worx Studios boss said…
But my feeling is we need infrastructural expansion. It is not good that a country as big as Nigeria, with 36 big states with big cities across the country only has less than 30 cinemas. That in itself is a handicap because the only way for us to make money is to have urban cinema in urban places in different spaces where on the average, there will be cinemas that are dedicated only to Nigerian films and we grow the patronage that way.
We cannot put all our films in big malls and expect everybody to come and pay N1500 . So, in a way, the distribution chain right now is somewhat elitist.We need to have across countries and in ghettos, cinemas. I do not think that we can afford a fight of filmmakers versus distributors, we have to go in together. We need distributors as much as distributors need us. We just need to have the same agenda and the same developmental objectives.
On how Gidi Blues is doing in cinemas across Nigeria, he said…
For me, Gidi Blues is programmed nicely in some places, programmed badly in some places. We have some places in the country where we are showing at very odd hours but then there are also places where they have scheduled us well and we are grateful but we would like to have the best screening time across the country in all cinemas and we would like to have more cinemas.
Full interview to be published soon.