British actor and producer Lucien Morgan who is renowned for ‘An American Werewolf in London’ (1981), ‘Return of the Don’ (2016) and ‘Theft Unexpected’ (2013), was in the country recently to promote the upcoming film ‘Shadow Parties’ by Media Concept Studio. The film, which is directed by Yemi Amodu, tackles communal clashes. Morgan shares his experience working on the production:
How was the experience for you on this production?
Very Good. Very organised. Very clear script and wonderful locations to work with. Good locations are very important.
They can mess up or lift your story and I was able to have a bit of freehand with some of the costume design which is quite important too. Wonderful actors like Yemi Blaq to work it and I think it’s going to be a successful film.
What do you think Nollywood producers, actors or directors need to work on to be up to par with Hollywood?
Nigerian actors are excellent. It is not my position to advise them on what to do or not, but it might be wonderful to see a Nigerian stage production for example of Russian classics.
I have also worked with quite a lot of them in Nollywood UK and they are all very good. I think what is at fault here if I’m at a liberty to say so is that there isn’t enough government assistance to make films.
There isn’t enough government encouragement or funding that could enable a director or producer to make something that will hit the international markets.
Now films in France, Germany and Italy are not in very good shape at the moment because they don’t have the place to distribute the films.
What you have here in Nigeria is a clear open market. It is going to be a boom market and it will only take one or two Nollywood films to win major awards and gain international recognition like in The Academy, in Los Angeles or Cannes.
I honestly don’t understand why the Nigerian government does not have a showcase there like so many other countries because this is the world film market.
In five years’ time, I predict Nollywood would be a world leader and very highly respected in the industry. The directors are excellent, so are the producers and actors.
What is not excellent is the attitude of the government not to back the industry. Quite frankly, I find it appalling that Nollywood is not ably represented at Cannes.
They are going to have to lift budgets in order to compete internationally. These days it’s getting harder and harder.
We live in a world where maybe there are 10,000 or 20,000 feature films released daily.
The market is flooded. So, the government should give funding to producers, directors, to lift the budget out of Nollywood to a safe place where you can make films and be guaranteed you can make a profit.
Lift the budget in dollars and then you can compete and I know if government backs this industry, it will change the world’s attitude towards the actors and films and they can win an Oscar that will change everything.
I think what is at fault here if I’m at a liberty to say so is that there isn’t enough government assistance to make films
What can we learn from Hollywood to curb piracy here?
I really don’t know technically how to make it hard for them to pirate DVD than to advise that a law should be enacted to address that.
Piracy is like theft, bank robbery. The DVD market internationally has pretty much disappeared, but I do know in Africa it’s still got 40% of the market like it used to have 20 years ago. It’s still very strong.
With the disappearance of DVD do you think streaming platforms will be the future of film distribution?
Yes, it’s already happening all over the world unless you change the nature of film production, broadcasting. Even independent producers are making millions from films that are just made for the internet.
No premier, no red carpet, no cinematic release, one or two has cleared millions from such. Certainly, in England, series like The Crown, is very successful.
I certainly think that’s one way to the future. Though it will never, ever entirely replace the experience of going to cinemas, have a press launch and do the red carpet. It will never take it away, but it is one avenue to the future.
Even independent producers are making millions from films that are just made for the internet. No premier, no red carpet, no cinematic release, one or two has cleared millions from such
Do you look forward to acting in more Nollywood films?
Very much. There is still fun in Nollywood movies and I will explain why.
Years ago, making a film, people used to laugh, joke and it was a happy experience. The budget could contain extra day shooting.
And we used to film in the 70s, a day to a page, average of a feature film, a minute to a page. All of that doesn’t exist anymore unless it is major bucks and a lot CGI special effect.
Things are done much more in a faster rate now and there is so much pressure on American films and indie films and televisions to do crazy things like 10 pages a day.
So, in Nollywood, you still have fun atmosphere and it is more relaxed to think about. It is less pressured which is why I enjoy it.