EXCLUSIVE: Nigeria Movie Industry Lack Professional Handlers – Femi Branch

Babafemi Branch is a Nigerian poet, playwright, film actor, director and producer. During a discussion with Ayodeji Ake of straightfromnaija.com and colleagues, Femi outlined the major challenges facing the movie industry one of which is ethnic stratification. He also noted that the movie industry lacks professional handlers.

Excerpt:

Femi Branch is an actor, singer and writer…

I’m an actor, singer and writer. Those are the things I do. So it was when I published a book in 2010 that people noticed I am writer, it is something I have been doing and the first book I ever published is the collection of the write-ups I have done way back in the 1990s. The collection of 50 poems and three plays and I’m presently working on another one that will be published soon.

I will be celebrating 25 years in the industry and one of the things I will celebrate it with is by releasing my new book which will be a collection of three new plays. One of the plays is ‘Shalanga’ and one other one then the third one which I’m still working on.

I’m not saying most of the things said are…

There will always be ups and down. One of the things one has to contend with in the movie industry is the media. It is always distressing, painful and hurtful when somebody springs out something and somebody else picks it up without confirming the information from the rightful source. I’m not saying most of the things said are true or are not true but we should complement each other. We do a lot of good things that the media don’t write about because everybody believes that bad news sells, and the media only stress on the bad things. If the media report the good things than the bad things then there won’t be problem.

My selling point is…

My selling point! I don’t know (laughs) but my fans are in the best position to describe me better. But the only thing that I do is that I try to give my best in whatever it is that I am doing and I learnt that from my mentor I look up to in the industry. “never believe that you have arrived, never believe that you know it all, take every opportunity as an opportunity to excel to do something different and see it as the first time you are acting”. I think that should be applicable to everyone as well because when you feel comfortable that you have arrived, that is when you start falling.

My belief is that the opportunities I have gotten so far have been God. When you keep working, the opportunities will keep coming.

Discrimination in the industry is stupid…

There a lot of challenges in the industry. One of the biggest challenges in the industry that we have is ethnic stratification. Discrimination in the industry is stupid. One person actually said to me in Surulere, national stadium to be precise the person’s name (withheld), that Femi Branch is not part of us because he is a Yoruba man (speaking the Igboish dialect) and I replied I am a Yoruba man but I am an actor and acting has no tribe. There is no English actor in Nigeria and I’m saying this categorically. We are all from one tribe or the other, English is nobody’s language. Is either you are Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa actor. Language is just a medium.

Nollywood does not have professional handling…

The problem we have in the industry is lack of professionalism. Most of the people doing the job didn’t learn it, they just came from nowhere. Maybe they failed in other profession and delved into acting because they have money or know somebody that can support them shoot a movie. Because if they were trained, they will understand that stratification does not make any sense. There is supposed to be a dialogue coach on set to put the actors through difficulties of languages. Nollywood does not have professionals handling productions because if we have, they should understand that language is just a means of communication not a means of stratifying actors.

 

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