BY CJ ‘FIERY’ OBASI
I’ve read the MOPPICON (Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria) bill, as well as its code of conduct. And I’m sick to my stomach.
The biggest problem we have in Nigeria is that we’re always chasing after shadows, and we never learn how to address the real issues on ground. Now this bill is very elaborate, so I can’t really go into every single detail, but just know that every true creative, every struggling artist, every upcoming visionary, and anyone with a voice, whatsoever is going to be stifled by this outrageously elitist and one-sided bill. This bill and some of the contents in its code of content will kill creativity once and for all.
This bill as good-intentioned as it may seem, will never grow this industry. I have never been as vocal on any issue on social media as I am right now. I realize that some of my colleagues will be to scared to speak up, but we must realize that its about time we begin to take our destinies into our own hands. When has anyone ever spoken of how bad we have it as young indie filmmakers, or how difficult and near impossible it is to raise funds for any visionary project, how there’s virtually no distribution, and how filmmakers are paid peanuts for content (I hate that word), or even better how come there are no bills for structure within the industry – how there are no real studios. In a country of almost 200 million people, we don’t have one single world class editing suite, no single world class colouring suite, no single Dolby surround sound mixing suite, nothing, and here we are talking associations that are aimed at chaining artists, and forcing them to comply to some very ridiculous rules. Where are the priorities?
Don’t get me wrong, the bill is not all bad. But when the bad overshadows good intentions then its aim is lost. This is my voice and I’ll use it. I’ve worked too hard and suffered too much to allow my art to be constricted at this stage in my life, because I don’t belong to some association. This is not done anywhere. Only in our beloved Nigeria that such things are even considered.
In the code of conduct, this here paragraph states that complaints can be made on any practitioner, and this may emanate from an “offensive or an unacceptable project”. So basically, a filmmaker dreams up an idea, something personal, something perhaps unusual in its approach, and because it is offensive or unacceptable – this decided by some panel, he will be liable for punishment. Where is the voice? Where is the democracy? How do we grow?
No to irrelevant and outdated rules! No to constriction of visionary and creative filmmaking! Yes to structure! Yes to a distribution model that works in the favour of the filmmakers! Yes to an accountable market! Yes to professionalism!
If we won’t welcome growth and begin to support young filmmakers and doing everything possible to make life easier for them as filmmakers, rather than pushing them away, alienating them and constricting them, we are going to rebel, it is only natural. The country will lose in the end. The true creative will be frustrated OR he will either give up or find a more acceptable environment. In the bigger picture, who really stands to gain or lose?
This is where I stand on this matter.
*I encourage all my colleagues to please read the bill and the code of conduct for yourselves. And then decide….