The Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja is becoming the preferred location for Nigerian Movie producers over its once favoured location, Lagos.
The shift to the nation’s capital was induced by the activities of the ubiquitous street urchins popular known as ‘Area Boys’ who often forcefully demand payment from movie makers for using prime locations in the state.
According to businessday.ng, Movie production in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), rose by 83 percent at the end of the second quarter of 2021, showing that the FCT is giving Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial hub a run for its money.
That movie producers are now thronging the nation’s capital is evident in the data recently published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Nigeria’s movie industry (Nollywood) produced 635 movies between April and June 2021 across eight locations in the country. This, compared with 416 movies produced between January and March 2021, means that movie production in the country rose by 53 percent in the second quarter of this year. This increase aligns with the earlier report of the NBS that the nation’s arts, entertainment and recreation sub sector recorded a 1.22 percent real GDP growth rate in Q2 2021.
Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub still accounted for the highest number of movies shot during the reference period. However, its status is now being challenged by Abuja, Nigeria’s administrative capital.
Interestingly, movie production in Abuja gained more traction during the second quarter of 2021, increasing by 83 percent compared with an increase of 57 percent in Lagos, and 24 percent in Onitsha, the commercial hub of Anambra State. Both Abuja and Lagos surpassed nationwide increase in movie productions during the period.
In terms of market share, Lagos State topped the movie production chart with a market share of 37 percent, but that was a marginal increase over 36 percent market share at the end of the first quarter.
“Movie production is about the story line, the environments that accentuate the visions of the producers, production costs and locations of your crew members. It also depends on the medium of projecting it to the public as different platforms require different qualities. So, you cannot produce a movie meant for Netflix the same way you will produce movies to be shown in semi-urban cinemas and all of these go into the decisions producers make when deciding production locations”, says Eniola Abayomi, a Nollywood actress.
The market share of Onitsha fell from 34 percent in Q1 2021 to 27 percent in Q2 2021 corresponding to 140 and 174 movie productions respectively.
On the contrary, Abuja gained more market share in the second quarter. With 107 movies in Q1 2021, Nigeria’s administrative capital accounted for 26 percent of the movie production market activities. The market share increased to 31 percent in the second quarter of 2021 when 196 movies were produced in the nation’s capital.
Collectively, the three most preferred locations for movie production – Onitsha, Abuja and Lagos, registered 604 movies, representing 95 percent of the entire movie productions in the second quarter. The same locations registered 396 movie productions, out of 416 movies shot by producers at the end of the first quarter of 2021.
“As regards Lagos, most low budget films are shot around Ikorodu while stories with contemporary settings are shot around Lekki down to Ibeju Lekki, the medium to high income areas of Lagos State. Now that street urchins (area boys) have got wind of this, they are constantly harassing filmmakers around Lekki while also demanding a huge sum of money.
“Only secure estates are safe for outdoor shoot around Lekki. It is just normal that filmmakers who could not stand the stress and disturbance will find a better location like Abuja, so far the budget can cater for it”, says Jimoh Samsideen, an animator and a filmmaker in Nollywood.
He also attributed the increasing preference for locations outside Lagos to piracy, saying producers in Lagos, especially Yoruba filmmakers experienced a lot of piracy in their works, and to beat that ugly trend, producers and filmmakers have production service apartments and hotels in Onistha, the commercial hub of Anambra State.
Meanwhile, an analyst has attributed the increasing preference for Abuja to the quality and aesthetics of houses, hotels and recreational centres in the nation’s capital plus its rising fortune measured by internally generated revenue (IGR).
In the last three years, Abuja has maintained its position among the top three highest IGR generating units in Nigeria. In 2019, the FCT administration generated N74.6 billion which made it the third highest IGR generating unit in Nigeria. Its IGR fortune further increased to N92.1 billion in 2020 when it accounted for 7.05 percent of the total IGR generated by sub national governments in Nigeria.
Other movie production locations included Benin, Bauchi, Kano, Port Harcourt and Jos but operated at the fringes as they all registered 31 movies at the end of the second quarter of 2021.
But stakeholders in the sector have disagreed with the data from the bureau wondering why sector prime locations in the country was completely left out of its statistics.
According to Filmmaker in a trending post made online, he said:
“This effort is welcome. All the Stakeholders need research. However the data from National Bureau of Statistics was obviously obtained from Secondary Sources,: likely National Film and Video Censors Board and Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria.
“Curiously Onitsha is mentioned as a production centre but in reality Asaba and Owerri respectively produce more films than Onitsha which is a distribution centre not a Production centre. Clearly the egg heads at NBS turned the location of the Censors Board at Onitsha to a Production centre.
“It is also strange that Kano which is the heartbeat of Kannywood is not captured at all.
“Moreover the data does not mention a very significant number of movies that bypass censorship.
“A little Primary Research would have captured the pockets of production activities in Ibadan, Oshogbo, Uyo, PH, Aba, and Kaduna etc. This will demonstrate the movement of production activities outside the comfort zones. Being an otherwise credible institution the danger is that fatally flawed information will be quoted repeatedly. Like the so called “study” by PWC.”