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Lagos needs a film office, desperately

Olu Yomi Ososanya

“The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) encompass the key economic and creative sectors of film, TV, theatre, music, advertising, publishing, digital content and real estate as it relates to these industries.

In total, these sectors account for over 305,000 jobs, and an economic output of $104 billion.

The office promotes New York City as a thriving centre of creativity, issuing permits for productions filming on public property, and facilitating production throughout the five boroughs. It also oversees NYC Media, the largest municipal broadcasting entity in the country including five TV Stations and a radio station with a reach of 18 million households and a 50-mile radius”.

The above, is the statement on the MOME website, and you read that right, $104b economic output, in New York, not even LA, the home to Hollywood.

NY, like Lagos, is one of the busiest cities in the world, also one of the most crime ridden.

Yet it is one of the most filmed cities; TV series, reality TV to movies all shoot there. The film office makes this possible.

On the contrast, filming in Lagos is a nightmare; filmmakers contend with “Area boys”, local touts who demand payment and your equipment is “ seized” aka extortion, until they get settled.

Once they are, another set arrive. This has forced most Lagos based producers to set films indoors and within estates as this is safer.

This leads to no visual distinction, as 15 films can use the same apartment, with the same décor, same actors and everything looks the same and claustrophobic.

Lagos as the unofficial capital of theatrical Nollywood, needs a film office.

A Governor’s office of Media and Entertainment (GOME), with a satellite office in each LGA, which filmmakers shooting in that area can approach and get all necessary assistance.

GOME won’t need to spend money building; they can operate out of a porta-cabin set up at the LGA office, which would have minimal staff who do the admin, make the calls, and put the word out to set things in motion.

Canada, America’s neighbour up North is the “secret” location 90% of viewers don’t know the about. Vancouver, in British Columbia(BC) has stood in for many American cities across many films.

In recent times, Deadpool, War for the Planet of the Apes, Tomorrowland, Godzilla, Seventh Son, Elysium, Superman: Man of Steel, Mission Impossible 4, Caesar: Rise of the Apes are just a smidgen.

Creative BC is the province’s, Creative Industry Catalyst, “which has a strategic and integrated approach to growth and development for their creative industries. They provide professional and business support to strengthen BC’s motion picture interactive digital music and publishing sectors.”

Creative BC, is one of the largest centres for films and television production in North America and has a long history of servicing international productions which in turn helps local producers to increase expertise and develop partnerships across the globe.

The City provides everything a producer will need, from Pre-Production to Post Production.

Some of the financial benefits they offer; Film Incentive BC (FIBC), Production Services Tax Credit (PTSC), Development Programs, Federal Incentives which, provide refundable credits based on eligible labour costs.

Assist local based companies to develop projects and attract marketplace investment and so much more.

In South Africa, the Gauteng (Johannesburg), Kwazulu Natal (Durban) and Cape Town film offices, go to film festivals to advertise their cities to filmmakers, offering them financial and other incentives to film in their city.

Imagine an office like this aimed to make life easier for filmmakers in Lagos and generate revenue for the state and local governments; marketing Lagos at Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, Durban, Venice etc

Imagine if the Lagos scene from Captain America: Civil War had actually been shot in Lagos and the dozen American shows which have a scene/major plot point happen in Lagos.

That’s revenue for the state, work for Lagos cast and crew, business for hotels and bus/car hire companies.

As the residence of the biggest Television production companies, music concerts, film festivals and advertising companies, something needs to be done, fast.

With the GOME which issues permits, local royalty can declare holders are there with their permission and under their protection and should not be harassed.

Those same area boys can be hired as Production Assistants, Security, Traffic control, Extras, Drivers and maybe some eventually train as gaffers, camera operators, production carpenters, and more thus creating income streams for residents of that LGA.

Like LAMATA, the agency pushing the evolution of public transportation. Film, TV, and Media needs an agency/office which has the Governor’s ear, pushing forward progress and development.

With that as a catalyst, Financial, Physical and legal structures will follow to make it a sustainable, thriving and progressive city for local and international productions.

This won’t happen by accident or if myopic personal agendas get in the way as white collar area boys. It has to be an intentional plan and strategy as the state catches and runs with the vision.

Maybe 2019 can be the year this commences.

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