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Williams urges government to open cinemas

By Omiko Awa
31 January 2021   |   3:26 am
While many actors, actresses and filmmakers are idle and lamenting their losses as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Ore-Ofe Williams, generally referred to as Bishops by his admirers...


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While many actors, actresses and filmmakers are idle and lamenting their losses as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Ore-Ofe Williams, generally referred to as Bishops by his admirers, will not allow such to hinder him from being on set. In fact, within the lockdown, he shot three movies — My Husband For Sale, God Of The Bad Guys and A Casket For God. The multi-talented director cum scriptwriter is set to do more.

Calling on government to open the cinemas for people to acquire knowledge through motion pictures, the actor said: “Information is vital in conquering any challenge and it is disseminated through communication.”

According to him, movies serve as bedrocks for effective communication; so, if there is anything the world needs most, it is the cinemas and it is now.

He said that cinemas bring communal collectivity that is not got from watching movies or stage plays on phones or personal computers.

“Don’t forget people were locked up for months. Apart from the pleasure and education derivable from the cinema, the social responsibility it brings is awesome. If markets could be opened and people are jumping on one another at the National Identification Number (NIN) registration centres, what stops the cinemas from opening? In fact, it is easy to observe the various safety measures at the cinema than in some places now given permission to open. Movies give some education, even practical ways to keep safe if the hosts are smart enough to use such platforms to sensitive their audience,” he asserted.

For those who think the home video era might likely come back to fill the void created as a result of government’s decision to lockdown the cinema industry, Williams believes it is not possible, saying home videos will disappear in years to come, though it may take time to do so in third world countries, adding that radio and televisions will also disappear in years to come while android and I-phones would take the centre stage.

Williams disclosed that the pandemic period is a blessing to some filmmakers, especially the prognostic ones because it has enabled them to use their social media platforms to connect to their fans even though it have its tolls on their data.

On how he is able to come up with three movies and others in the making, the producer said: “I run a studio and live in my Film Village. To have a studio means you have your equipment. So, while the world was locked down, I was in the studio. At some point, I was inspired to bring together some Nigerian university students who were at home because of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike.”

Aside from movies, Williams have been using his Film Village in Ibadan to grooming fresh actors, while some students of theatre and media arts come there to hone their skills. Last year alone, the village graduated over 2,000 students online.

The village has been of advantage to me in producing movies and mentoring the youth, some of who come for practical.

“The trainings are free and I am fulfilled that I could provide solutions to problems. I know some of them, even theatre arts students who admitted that the things we taught them about films and filmmaking were not taught in their schools and I think this is one of the reasons ASUU went on strike. I was able to teach them things they wouldn’t have learnt where they paid fees,” he said regrettably.

Williams revealed that he usually interfaces with his environment for inspiration and to make his films topical. According to him, “each time we respond to the need of our environment, we are interacting with it.”

You would have thought that he use of the Yoruba cultural ethos to dissipate his messages in most of his movies would have being a set back, but the director/producer revealed that such appurtenances have rather widened the scope of his audience

Describing it as the globalising the local, he encouraged Nigerian filmmakers to adopt the method, saying no matter how much local filmmakers try, they can never compete with their counterparts in the advanced countries as far as cinema is concerned because we lack the technology to do so.

He disclosed that their counterparts in the United States of America, Europe and India have access to direct cameras, especially as their engineers manufacture them, which give them access and advantage to their manipulation.

“There are Panavision cameras you can never find in Nigeria, but they are in Hollywood. Nigerian filmmakers cannot even afford to buy them; we can only hire them for a period. So, technologically, we are not with them. But, each time our films are buttered with our culture, our foreign audience becomes increasingly inquisitive. This then, is our own key and life. Songs, proverbs, axioms are the ingredients we need in the Shawarma of our movies, not trying to shoot guns and throw bombs because they will never give the real effects. They won’t be as real as they ought to be when we adopt that in our local movies.

“We may try to bring in westernised inputs if we wish, but our culture deserves attention. We do not need to speak like them or be like them because we cannot be like them. It is better to speak your language with dignity than speak another man’s language in ignominy,” he noted.

Williams who most times play different characters in his movies disclosed that he used his movies to address different segment of the society and issues.

According to him, God Of The Bad Guys is designed to change the mental reasoning of people that given up hope on the street boys, saying they can never amount to anything good, while My Husband For Sale is a comedy about the family. I did it in Nigeria, Kenya and Dubai.

“A Casket For God, which features Antar Laniyan, Jaiye Kuti, Bisola Badmus, Eze Justice, myself and many others talks about people playing god. It showcases the negative effect of such characters on humanity and calls for people irrespective of their position in the society to lead a simple life and shun pride. There are many more movies coming, but funding is key,” he said.

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