Top Nollywood Director/Producer, Teco Benson, is an institution in Nollywood. His creativity and uniqueness stand him out from others.
He spoke with Assistant editor, AKIN SOKOYA, on the creative industry, how best to move the industry forward, his views on AGN leadership among others.
What’s your take on the creative industry?
Creative talents have enough opportunity to shine in the industry. When we talk about the creative industry: we are talking about the Film industry, music industry, comedy industry and all other facets working at full blast.
It’s just for people to know where they are gifted in. If you want to go to school, it’s good to identify where your calling is, then you will enhance it because if it’s not there, no amount of situation can put it there. If you’re not gifted or creative, it will be difficult. You might pass the exam, but in the industry that’s where the game is.
What’s your comment on celebrating old artistes who have contributed so well in the industry?
I believe so much that they used their blood to lay the foundation to what the people are enjoying today. In fact, there was no money in it then, many of them were working due to the passion they have for the business.
But today, it’s being celebrated like a profession that can keep you alive, as many people are making lots of money in the industry. For those who used their lives to lay this foundation; we need to actually celebrate them as long as they are alive.
What do you have to say about international recognition of the industry in Nigeria today?
At the moment, there is lot of international recognition in every ramification. The industry started booming from the early 90s and from the late year 2,000, it rose to climax. The journey started in 1992, and by 1997; there was full international attention on Nollywood. Academic scholars do study and release books on Nollywood.
Nollywood is a book and people come in here and study the industry. The same time, Nollywood was rated second largest film in the world. Even the name Nollywood was actually given by international media organization, so there is a lot of international recognition. So many international companies are actually trying to tap from the potentials we have. It’s something that should be taken seriously because the colleagues in the industry came together to put the structures properly so that we can really tap all the potentials that are abound in the industry, because really, we haven’t reached where we are supposed to be, all because of the poor structures we have here and there. There are plans to put in everything in order. All the guilds in the association are meeting every day. The word in their mouth is structured on how to put the industry together.
In enhancing the industry, do you think government has a role to play?
Yes, government has a lot of roles to play. The last administration of President Jonathan did a lot in the industry and I believe President Buhari has some programmes. He is going to help us in tackling the piracy because piracy has become a major problem in the industry right now and I believe if he can tackle it; there is hope. There is a movie that will be premiered now in the Silverbird, but funny enough; pirates released it about two months ago in Lagos. The movie has not been released and it’s all over the place. It’s a very bad situation and it’s only government that can save this industry and protect the intellectual properties of film makers and the creative industries.
Do you see Nollywood emerging No. 1 position in the nearest future?
Definitely, the future is there and as it is, people are working hard. The complaint we have is that, most of those ratings are based on the number of films released. So, we are trying to transient from quantity to quality. That’s why people are beginning to pay more attention to the kinds of movies that are coming out now.
Why is it that when a producer produces a crime movie, other producers follow suit about the same time?
That’s what people do even in business but it’s so obvious and sometimes, it gets disturbing because when you do a movie and it works, everybody wants to follow that way. Sometimes, the films are not just related but almost the same kind of films, with different titles and the film actors. It’s disturbing and those are part of our discussion in the meeting that we are having. We are trying a kind of code of ethics in the practice. Like I said earlier, bandwagon effect happens in all businesses. If you decide to open a shop that sells recharge card on the street and you are making it, everybody would close provision shops and sell recharge cards. We are hoping that people will be creative enough and believe in themselves because I believe that, if you do a good movie; people are going to buy, no matter the angel of the movie.
What’s your view on the leadership of Actors Guild of Nigeria?
Apart from Actors Guild, we have other guilds in the industry and different professions. The Producers’ Guild, Directors’ Guild, and The Scriptwriters Association as well, Actors Guild is just part of it.
Actors Guild has been having some running battle in their administration. The last President Ibinabo Fiberesima has been doing well in putting the industry and AGN together and she had some landmarks. We are hoping that this crisis is going to come to an end. They’ve had a lot of litigations in the court but the crisis is not doing the industry any good, that’s why we are praying that they should take it easy because we still have factional leaders in the guild. We believe 2016 will be a different year.
What are you giving your fans in terms of good film production in 2016?
My fans are the reason why I’m in the industry. Lots of them have been calling that they have not seen my movies for some time now. Right now, I just finished a TV show titled “Fast Lane”. It will hit the airwaves by February/March, we are coming with the season 2 as well and after that, we are planning a big movie.