BY DEOYE FALADE
Have you ever experienced a moment you wish would be over in a few hours/days or a week at most, but still manages to linger uncomfortably? Yeah, I’m having one of such moment right now and it’s because of this Motion Pictures Practitioners Council of Nigeria (MOPPICON). I’m thankful for the fact that there’s an ongoing conversation about it – for and against. I particularly love the takes by Feyi Fawehimi and Seke Somolu.
But see, there’s no fuel right now and it’s driving me nuts.
I doubt that I would want to make a film though I love the process but for the most part, I’m always looking from the outside in – usually sitting right in front of a screen. But should I decide to make even a short film someday, this bill if passed will be the most annoying and unnecessary obstacle. And for what? Filmmakers have enough problems already, power, equipment, expertise, etc., but Nollywood grew in spite of these things.
I’m a writer, even though I studied Journalism, I would still be a writer if I didn’t go for a degree. Now, it would be funny if someone wakes up to push for a council that would regulate my ability to pick up a pen or laptop and explore the lengths my imagination would take me, especially when the final product, depending on the medium, would still go through certain checks. Even if it’s online and it doesn’t meet up with certain standards, it could be reported. I think that’s enough.
We can’t say this enough; filmmaking is an art, acting too. People should be able to responsibly – or otherwise (the audience decides in the end) – express themselves creatively. We already have an Actor’s Guild, There’s the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, National Film and Video Censors Board. Are these bodies not enough? Let people make their films, let the already established bodies decide if those films should see the light of day the ultimately, let the viewing public decide if whoever’s behind the film should continue in business or close up shop.
Let people make what they want. Let people watch what they want. There’s a reason the most progressive nations of the world have an ideological stance of seeing the media as a place where there’s a free marketplace of ideas. There’s no chaos yet. And there wouldn’t be, not by a long shot.
To me, in Nigeria we have an obsession with associations that borders on a manic scale sometimes. You can’t sew clothes, cut hair, sell groceries and so on without belonging to an association. Heck, you can’t even grind pepper! It’s crazy, especially when you look at portions of the bill that attempt to dabble into protecting religious sensibilities, as well as restricting producers/directors/actors from handling more than one job at a time. In 2016?
I totally get the fact that certain professions need councils to determine who’s ‘worthy’ of practicing – doctors, lawyers, etc., but for the most part, not in the arts. It’s even funny that some supporters would mention the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) as a basis. The workings are totally different. And what qualifies as a ‘Motion Picture’? Would those involved in making animations, music videos and even video jingles/adverts be included? We have a penchant for creating unnecessary bodies and duplicate agencies in this country. Let the already established ones suffice or tweak scope of operations where necessary but another one? Ask yourself: if Quentin Tarantino was Nigerian and there was a MOPPICON, would he have ever been able to make a film and work his way up? No, the headache no be here abeg.
Ultimately, who MOPPICON epp?
An Aside on Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
Well I’m a comic junkie so I was excited that some element of Frank Miller’s work made it to the big screen via this film (although there’s an animated version released a few years ago). BVS is arguably the most anticipated superhero movie of 2016 but it was panned by critics.
It gets more intriguing when a large percentage of the regular viewing audience rated it highly. How?
Well I guess, people will watch and love what they want, regardless of what critics say. In addition, it also shows again that for the most part, critics reviewing a movie are not talking to everybody. I believe that they’re addressing those responsible for the film and other industry stakeholders. The average cinema lover cares less about the plot, characterization, lighting, photography and all that – people just want to be entertained.
Chances are, viewers would read a negative review, watch the movie regardless and then wonder if the critic was high – even if he’s right. So maybe there’s some reprieve for filmmakers here and everywhere else not to go all emo at the sight of a negative review. Just take notes and move on because viewers don’t pay much attention to critics. But if they don’t like your film too, then you’re in trouble.
PS: Who else is excited about Jamestown, the miniseries from Victor Sanchez Agahowa, commissioned by Africa Magic? I am. Saw the trailer and I don’t know if it’s the themes I expect it to explore or whatever, I’m taken. Really hope it would be worth the while.