Veteran producer, Ralph Nwadike, who alongside some of his colleagues gave Nigeria some of the most memorable drama on television including “Fortune”, “Mega Fortune” and “Palace” has been the President of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) for about four years. In this interview with eelive.ng, he speaks about a number of issues affecting film producers in Nigeria.
What would you consider as the main achievement of your leadership of the AMP?
When we came in, we met an association with an obsolete constitution. We also had challenges with our BOT Chairman (late Chief Eddie Ugbomah) who was eager to let the status quo continue. It took us time to convince him to agree to the new order. We had meetings after meetings, but he later saw that new constitution would be in the interest of the association. With one or two more sittings now, the constitution will be ready.
Then of course, funding was a grave issue that affected us and it’s still affecting us. Some members don’t pay their dues, and when some pay, it comes in very late. This however doesn’t mean there are no members who pay on time and we are grateful to those who fall into the category of early payers. Most importantly, we have been able to bring members of the aassociation to close ranks. We have dealt with the frosty relationship that existed between our aassociation and other guilds and aassociations, that reduced tremendously.
What are the major impediments that you have had?
The most serious impediment we have had is funding to run the association, the goodwill to succeed is there, but you can’t build success on nothing. Without adequate funding to engage in projects that will be beneficial to all.
People say Nigerian filmmakers are not united, they don’t speak with one voice and that this is one of the reasons progress is slow, what do you say about that?
Even family members do have disagreements and that doesn’t mean they are not united. We have our disagreements, but we are one. We can only wait for our industry to become stronger to be in the best conditions to collectively tackle some of the challenges life throws at us. Piracy has almost diminished our collective earnings, and it’s of recent that films started making money again. All l can say at this time is we shall overcome our challenges.
Every now and then you find members of your association falling ill and soliciting for funds, have you considered proposing an insurance scheme for instance.
I really don’t know why our members have refused to embrace health insurance. Majority of us have refused to see the good in that initiative, but as the saying goes you can lead the horse to the steam, but you cannot force it to drink from the stream. Most of us are still alien to the importance of a working health scheme. But we keep talking to ourselves even though the business climate affects the resources available to people.
Are there any attempts to integrate directors in the Yoruba and Hausa sectors to AMP?
Every man or woman has the right to association. We can’t force anyone to join the Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo Associations. AMP is standing strong as a Nigerian association for all.
What is your vision for AMP and the film industry as a whole?
Our vision for AMP and the film industry is to have one strong Nollywood fit enough to empower its members locally and internationally through deals and agreements that will benefit them and make each one independent in terms of his/her earnings. A viable industry that the Nigerian government, business persons, organisations locally and internationally will be proud to do business with.
Has AMP taken the whole of your time or you still find time to produce?
When you work for AMP it’s a 24/7 deal. Sometimes, you don’t even have time for your family issues. Hopefully, now that my tenure is drawing down, l have started to look at old proposals again. But my service has been worth the time. l give God the glory and thanks to my people for the opportunity given me to serve.
What are you doing to see that funding gets better?
We came into office when Nollywood became almost a pariah to the Presidency because of the perceived relationship with former President Jonathan. We were simply left in the cold as there were a few programmes that required input from Abuja that couldn’t pass across because no one wanted to relate with us. To make things worse, we came in during the beginning of recession and that reduced patronage and support from companies. We are grateful that the government has now come up with a loan scheme. But there are two issues from the meeting we had with one of the leading banks. The first is that we expect that this loan could be at about 5% interest rate like Agriculture instead of 9% that they have fixed. The second issue is about the 30% equity expected from people who want to access the loan. The CBN has assigned some N200 Billion for this purpose. Various segments of the creative industry are expected to benefit; movies, music, fashion etc. For movies you can ask for between N10m to N30m, but they have also said you must provide equity contribution of 30% which most of us have rejected. They are to go back to their drawing board to propose something we can afford in terms of equity contribution. Our demand is for 10% equity and nothing more.