Nollywood movie star and producer, Mike Ezuruonye reveals in an exclusive interview with Vibe.ng that Nollywood is growing but they still haven’t gotten it right because there is no structure.And the issue of royalties isn’t met, as producers are lazy…
As a producer, director, actor, and script-writer, what are the challenges you face in the Nollywood industry?
We honestly do not have the right structure. Yes, it’s growing but we haven’t gotten it right yet. The issue of royalties isn’t met, producers are lazy because they aren’t looking for other avenues to expand the clientele of Nollywood, content buyers are ripping people off, and distribution is a big issue also. Many people don’t realize that Hollywood movies are more pirated than Nollywood movies but because they have many cinemas over there, the movie makers are still good. We need structures and more cinemas in Nigeria. We are growing, I admit, but I want to wake up one morning and see that we have over 200 cinemas in this country. Imagine a quarter of the total population of Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and other African countries, spending about $2 to watch your movie, aren’t you going to smile to the bank? That’s why I always try to distribute my content to other African countries also.
We really need to join forces with other African filmmakers, and that is why I am pioneering a movement with other filmmakers across the continent to make this possible.
What came to my mind was how one man can have his hands in so many things in Nollywood, can also be thinking and working towards helping the movie industry on a continental level, while also having time for his family and other businesses that he has a hand in. I asked what his secret was and he told me it was a mixture of his multitasking and the grace of God.
The movie star goes further to highlight the problems facing the movie industry, he says; The issues of royalties aren’t met, producers are lazy and are not looking for other avenues to expand the clientele of Nollywood, content buyers are ripping people off, and distribution is also a big issue.
Having been in the industry for so long, is it true it is hard to make it in Nollywood?
Oh yes, it is true! I have seen people go for auditions upon auditions and I shake my head. It is good to audition, but are you auditioning because you want a cast or it’s because you want to show off? I usually tell them that if you have good roles for people then give new people the opportunity to showcase themselves. That is what I have been doing in all my movies, I give opportunities to new people and that isn’t something that happens anymore. What happened to me (the way I entered the industry) may never happen to anyone again.
Why don’t you audition right? I have seen an Okada mechanic challenge me artistically. It was just sad that I hadn’t started producing movies then. But whenever I am going to shoot my movie in the East, I will make sure I look for him and he will act in my movie.
Why would you be at the top and not help others? Producers should give opportunities to new people.
When asked if he would take 700 Million dollars to retire from Nollywood, he said; “I will take it o, but I will still be working from the shadows because being in Nollywood makes me happy.