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Government support should be tailored to suit entertainment industry, says Kinkumi

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As jobs are becoming more difficult to come by, the new generation of young people are putting their creativities to work and not just earning a living but also creating employment for their pairs. One of such people is Akin Harrison popularly who has carved a niche for himself as a film and television producer, director.

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Harrison popularly known as Kinkumi has produced and directed two short films, Grand Scam Money Laundering (2011) and Alpha Mom (2014), which was nominated in the best short film category of Best Of Nollywood Awards. Alpha Mom later won the Best Short Film, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress awards at the 2015 In-Short film festival in Lagos, Nigeria.

He progressed into producing and directing a TV-film, Oracles Online in (2016) with support through the Federal Government of Nigeria‚ Project ACT Nollywood, and later adapted and directed a stage play into a drama/comedy film titled‚ Homely‚ What Men Want (2018) which screened at the Udada Sisterhood Film Festival in Kenya and at MTN Digital Content Conference, the film was nominated for the Best of Nollywood Awards, and also streamed on Amazon Prime US and UK, Africa Magic channel, Viva Nation TV South Africa, and has also been re-edited into mini web series on the MTN Shortz platform.

Currently, Kinkumi is directing a Television drama series for a couple of production companies while also developing a feature film.

On how his love for the screen began, the multi-award winner said, “Now this might sound weird because looking back, I believe I developed my creativity for scriptwriting and my vision for directing films by playing with my imaginations when I was a teenager, then my older siblings had either just gotten married or gone off to University abroad and as the last born I would create thoughtful scenarios in my head.

He continued, from drawing in Fine Art classes to Literature in high school, I went on to study Radio and Television Broadcasting at Lagos State University (School of Communication). I have also had certified Masterclass training in directing through Lagos State/Nollywood Up-Grade as advised by Digital Imaging Arts, Boston University, and training course in producing through Independent Television Producers‚ Association of Nigeria (ITPAN) in 2007, headed then by Nigerian filmmaker, Femi Odugbemi.

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“ITPAN gave me professional opportunities to learn from the film works of Tunde Kelani, funny how I would pull out newspaper pages just to keep up with news and information about his production because there was no Facebook or Instagram then. I also did industrial training at Alphavision owned by Tajudeen Adepetu, from there I went on to work on Big Brother Nigeria (2006) as DSTV Director. Practically, I had hands-on training as a director under Film Director Niji Akanni, and Greg Odutayo, Managing Director of Royal Roots Communications, and a great mentor who made me understand that directing was a calling.”

As there is no profession without its challenges, Kinkumi said, “For me, like many other filmmakers, the major challenge has always been raising finance to produce film or series. For instance, I developed a story that I want to produce as film but for some time now the money has not come through.”

Speaking on the role of the government in supporting the industry, Kinkumi said, “I am aware of one or two government initiative to support the industry. My only concern is that the film industry in which I work has a unique model of business, so it is better when a government support is properly tailored to suit the peculiarities of the entertainment industry instead of just treating it like any other industry.”

Talking on piracy which affects the industry badly, kinkumi said, “I can remember that the Nigerian law against piracy states that anyone found guilty of such offence is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N50, 000 or imprisonment to a term not exceeding five years, or to both such fine and imprisonment. Now is this law even implemented? For my works I make sure they are properly distributed but one can not entirely escape it, and these days film works are not only pirated on DVDs on the streets and traffics, now you even find pirate sites with these movies.

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The bad thing is that it is not limited to piracy alone, I have had a case of intellectual property theft where someone I wanted to hire as production manager made a film from a script I had written just because we had not been able to start the production of my own film.”

Commenting on if Pay TV is paying well to showcase peoples works, Kinkumi said, ‘I can not speak for series, but one thing I understand with the business of film distribution is that TV licencing is just part of the methods of distribution, there is cinema screenings, Subscription Video On-demand platforms, In-flight entertainment, DVD or Blu-ray, before it even comes to TV licencing, so the film Producers can not make enough return on investment for their works based on what is gotten from Pay TV alone.”

Asked where the movie-maker would like to see himself in a few years, he said, “Well I am working towards positioning myself and being able to assist new filmmakers in overcoming the challenges of raising the needed funds for their film projects. I have also been training and retraining myself, so I want to take it higher so that I am in that position where I am qualified to teach film production in an academic institution.”

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