Zeb Ejiro in an interview with YES! International Magazine has slammed actresses who think they are bigger than Nollywood just because they are dating politicians. He also spoke about why Nollywood has not moved forward more than the way it is now.
As one of the pioneers of Nollywood, what would you say is the greatest challenge facing it?
You know that Nollywood is not what it used to be in those days. In those days, people can put some few thousands together and make a movie. Today, if you want to make a blockburster, you have to be armed with nothing less than N10 million/N15 million. And this money is not something that you can get by the asking; it’s something that you need huge investors.
Sometimes I feel sorry for the Nigerian banks, because they are not doing enough to invest in Nollywood. What they are doing, they will regret it at the end of the day, because what DSTV did to the like of NTA, Silverbird and co, that’s exactly what they are going to do to them. Because what DSTV is doing, what Africa Magic is doing today, that same proposal we gave to NTA so many years ago. They didn’t bother, because they looked at the movies as who is gonna watch them outside Nigeria. But DSTV came and today, Africa Magic is the most watched channel.
If you go to policy makers, their homes, governors, their television sets are permanently on DSTV. They are not watching NTA. They only tune to NTA or Nigerian television stations when they want to listen to news. After that, they switch over to DSTV. So, these are some of the problems we have in the industry today. Funding is a major thing.
I want to seize this opportunity to thank President Goodluck Jonathan, because he is the only President that loves Nollywood. He’s given so much to Nollywood. Mr. President has given N3 billion to Nollywood for capacity building, production and distribution. But this money is not coming! It’s going to more than one year now since he gave us this money. This money is there, but the people who are handling the part of disbursement, I don’t know what is wrong. We’ve attended series of interviews, we have filled applications; I’m tired! (Laughing). I just pray that the money will come out as soon as possible.
And I want to give an advise to my co-producers � when you get a loan, when you get sponsors or you get funding, please, the job has to be done well so that you open doors for other people; so that you don’t close that door. Because if it is not properly done, that door will be closed.
As a star maker and also someone who is in constant touch with these stars, where do you think that most of them get it wrong?
See! There are a lot of people who never dreamt of being what they are today. Suddenly, they found themselves there. People are running after them. Ah! I need to see you, I need to see you and all that. They start seeing themselves above God. That’s where they get it wrong.
The movie industry did not start with the stars that are there today. It started with others. When we were talking, we mentioned a name � somebody you saw some days ago in Ikeja trekking or something. If somebody had told that person that at one time, this is how it’s gonna be, the person will not believe.
Where they get it wrong is that they see themselves above God, they see themselves above the industry. People who suffered to make them who they are, they dump those people, they don’t respect them. You are doing something today, maybe a child’s naming ceremony, marriage or whatever, they don’t attend. They don’t come, they don’t need you anymore! Because the politicians are giving them so much money, the politicians are buying them cars; female politicians are buying the male stars cars, homes and what have you. The male politicians are buying the female ones whatever they want. So, suddenly, they don’t need the producer anymore.
They can even make bigger movies than you now because one politician will give them N100 million and you are looking for N15 million to do a blockbuster. So, suddenly, they find out that they are bigger than you. Not just you; they are bigger than the industry. They start to equate themselves with God and forget that these politicians will only use you while you are the reigning star. They will flock around you for that period of time. Immediately somebody else springs up, they will dump you and go to that person.
I know a lot of these stars that are now calling me to say Zeb, I heard you are doing something, you are not calling us. Why? Because they are not getting jobs anymore; they are not relevant anymore; the politicians are not giving them money anymore, because the politicians have now seen younger people that they are frolicking with. I think the banes of the movie industry are the Nigerian politicians. That’s the truth!
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