Every businessman in the creative arts has always had to deal with the challenge of piracy. From books to music and movies, these pirates continue to explore rights that should be reserved for the producers, and keep all the monies to themselves.
Cinemas are now providing a sort of respite for movie producers and film executives, and an avenue to recoup production costs and expenses from viewers across the country, without having to worry about pirates.
Speaking at the Nairametrics Business Half Hour program on Classic FM, Zulumoke Oyibo, Film executive and Co-founder, Inkblot productions said that the cinemas have greatly helped to combat piracy, which has been a pain in the throat of movie producers over the years.
For instance, the producers only recorded the sales of 50,000 copies of The Wedding Party in 2016, but marketers’ records show that over 200,000 copies were sold across Nigeria. This implies that pirates pocketed more money from the movie than the producers whose intellectual property was being explored. Oyibo added that even online streaming and publishing of the videos cannot guarantee as much returns as the cinemas, as “anything that goes online is no longer wholly yours, and it can be pirated.”
All of these have now changed with the help of cinemas. Apart from helping the producers get appropriate returns on their works, it makes the film big and helps to attract international licensing for the movies. The cinema infrastructure in Nigeria is however still growing and needs more presence across the country.
Oyibo said that as a child, her father had stopped her from watching Nollywood movies because of the fetish scenes, and so she consciously went into movie production as an adult to provide a wide variety for the Nigerian viewing audience.
“What Inkblot is trying to do is to put so many movies out there so that even if you cannot watch one genre, you will still find something that suits you. There is romance, comedy, action, and so on. There is something for everyone,” she said.
Inkblot Productions was founded in 2010 by Zulumoke Oyibo and her friends, Damola Ademola, Naz Onuzo, and Omotayo Adeola.
Though they were not actors or major players in the industry before then and did not have any film school experience or formal learning, they have since then produced major hits such as The Department (2015), Out of Luck (2015), The Wedding Party and its sequel (2016/17), Up North (2018), Love is War (2019), The SetUp (2019) and Who’s The Boss (2020).
The friends first started by bootstrapping and getting some funds from family and friends in exchange for some equity. This took care of their first production which was a web series before a government grant came later to fund the production of The Department. More funds later came from investors and film patriots who were interested in seeing the company grow.
Interestingly, challenges for the film producers did not come in the form of competition from other players, as every producer has an audience interested in its production. Oyibo explained during the program that producers sometimes have to deal with erratic louts and ‘area boys’ who demand money from them before allowing them to shoot at locations. These demands are irrespective of whatever permits the producers might have secured from the government and relevant agencies. At such points, the producers have to play along or risk having their equipment damaged by the irate louts.
The Coronavirus pandemic also ground productions and affected film production companies, particularly Inkblot Productions which had just released “Who’s the boss” on the same day Nigeria recorded its first infection case. Revenue from the movie took a hit and returning to work after the lockdown, a lot of protocols still had to be observed.
“Coming back into production, we have to do all the necessary testing and put all of the right protocols in place. So, the money you would use to give your film some sort of value is now being spent on logistics to make sure everyone is safe and you are doing the responsible thing,” Oyibo narrated. In spite of these, the industry continues to push through.