More filmmakers are reacting to the controversial Motion Picture Practitioners Council of Nigeria (MOPPICON) Bill which has been rejected by most Nollywood practitioners. Veteran Nollywood producer and director, Charles Novia, recently took to his Facebook page to write an open letter to young filmmakers who aren’t members of any association.
According to him, he finds it disturbing, and considers it an open disdain of what Nollywood should be.
Titled “These ‘young’ filmmakers amongst us,” here’s what Novia has to say:
My thoughts on the MOPPICON BILL I have written in an earlier post. The summary of it all is that the bill should be reviewed and amended to make internal regulation paramount by the guilds and associations in Nollywood and not the government. And of course, no jail terms but appropriate sanctions.
But I find something curious and strange.
All these new upstarts and up and comers in Nollywood; the propagators of the so-called ‘New Nollywood’, the new actors and actresses, directors, producers, writers and cinematographers…
Why do they not belong to any of the existing guilds in the industry? How come they operate without some form of membership of any association in Nollywood?
READ: Filmmaker C.J. Obasi Reacts to the Moppicon Bill
This is disturbing and I personally see it as an open disdain of what Nollywood should be by these people. They are the first to quote famous filmmakers and film theories from Hollywood. They copy every trend in acting and directing and debate high and low about theories and practicals. Yet they forget or choose to selectively remember that in Hollywood, you can’t work professionally unless you are inducted into the guilds or associations or at least initiated into the entry level regulations over there.
But these same people over here just carry on with some measure of abandon with no care at all about even joining any of the recognised associations.
I find this funny.
As a young practitioner in the mid – nineties, I promptly joined existing associations then. There was NANTAP for the theatre and as a theatre arts graduate, I joined in Lagos and contributed much to the association back then. In fact, many of the friends and traction I got and made in the industry started from my NANTAP days.
In 2001, I joined the Director’s Guild and the Producers Association. I think I applied too for associate membership of the Actors Guild and also joined the ScriptWriters Guild. I was young and radical back then ( I’m still young) but I knew and was trained and disciplined enough to know that I had to submit myself to a structure within my industry.
When I apply for my visa renewals each time to either the UK or America, there is a segment in the questionnaire which asks for information of my membership of guilds and associations to back up my claims as a filmmaker. I proudly fill the ones I am a member of. This helps the process.
In fact, the Directors Guild of Nigeria, the Association of Movie Producers and the Actors Guild of Nigeria are recognised by the British Embassy and the American Embassy and any letter of attestation from these guilds to the embassies of their members applying for visas is usually taken seriously and treated on merit.
READ: MOPPICON BILL: Film is an Expression of Art & Should Not Be Regulated- Uduak Isong Writes
So, I do not know why a lot of these young folks in the industry don’t want to join associations. If they say that it’s full of ‘old timers’ as I’m sure they would give as one of their excuses, then don’t cry out when the old timers dictate the flow of regulation in the industry. You cannot change a system from outside but from within.
The people you call ‘old timers’ built this Nollywood you guys are reaping from. Whatever anyone thinks of what they did in the past, these people sacrificed their blood, sweat and tears to ensure that the world took notice of the talent here in the creative arts. If these new upstarts ( and perhaps ‘up tarts’ ) wish to learn anything instructive from those they consider old timers, it should be that there’s a time for everyone. Those who were the big stars a decade or more ago are now given the respected status of veterans and rightly so. They worked hard for it. They created this space.
READ: The Moppicon Bill is Certainly Not The Way — Filmmaker Steve Gukas
I do not see many of the new generation, with their sense of artistic infantilism, going beyond pop culture status in their careers. And pop culture is like Bubble Gum; when the taste dies off, it is spat out.
Nollywood is not only about Sex, Sins and Successes ( which have been elevated to High Art in the past five years or thereabouts), it’s also about Seriousness, Sanguineum and Solidarity. So, screw your ideologies which are for personal aggrandisement and not for the collective advancement. Because whilst the ‘old timers’ fought tooth and nail to ensure that a measure of an industry found its feet, these new up and comers are usually beset by the ‘Me Complex’. It’s all about ‘Me’. I am the ‘Fine Boy No Pimple’ or the ‘Pretty Face No Talent’. They never have the ‘ We Mentality’.
Perhaps, dissent and all, the positives of this MOPICON BILL hearing and review would be that they would sit up and learn the hard way.
You gotta belong somewhere. If that place is not giving you the high you require, stay there and change that system.