Recently, award-winning film maker and producer, Kunle Afolayan premiered his latest movie, Phone Swap. The event held at the Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos with many celebrities in attendance.
ENCOMIUM Weekly on Wednesday, May 2, 2012, chatted with the movie producer on the success of his latest effort especially as it is still going around Nigerian cinemas. He revealed some of the secrets of making it in the industry, how lucrative it has been and more.
How will you rate the success of the premiere of your movie, Phone Swap?
I am really glad and excited about the acceptance by my fans, which is really one of the basic reasons we make good movies. The movie turned out very good, getting over 95 percent reviews. It is also a thing of pride to make such a good picture an also encourages me to do a lot more.
How would you describe the experience?
It’s a place I’ve been before, so it’s really not new. I have done movies that received loads of response from the audience, but for me, it puts me in a corner where I feel I have to do much better than the past, because the fans expect me to up the standard which Phone Swap is the proof. It’s quite challenging, but it helps you to do a lot better.
The movie is currently showing in cinemas in Lagos only?
No, it’s showing in cinemas in Abuja, Enugu, Port Harcourt, soon to be in Warri, Owerri and Benin. It’s also showing in Accra, Ghana and would be premiered in the UK in June.
How successful has the movie been in these cinemas?
It has gained fair success. It’s been in the cinemas for five weeks now and it has moved to the first and second position which is the best ever recorded in Nollywood. Phone Swap is currently competing with major Hollywood movies in terms of reviews (box office ratings).
Is it true that you were short-changed by the cinema owners in Nigeria?
Not like I am short-changed but some of the cinema owners are rather being unfair because the sharing ratio which some of these cinemas have decided to impose on the film makers is really ridiculous. Some of the cinemas charge a 50:50 ratio. From the 50 percent ratio the producer will still pay 20 percent tax and gets very little at the end of the day. Some cinemas even demand a 65:35 ratio from film producers. If we keep talking about promoting the film industry then the government should look into the situation because it’s also their business. The cinema owners should also be ready to equate the sharing ratio and give more slots for the movies.
What steps have been taken to avoid the re-occurrence of such in the future?
Film makes just need to come together with the cinema owners to take a decision on how to deal with this issues and to let the cinema owners know that continuation of this would only jeopardize the efforts being made by the film makers.
Of late, your movies are first premiered in the cinemas, what led you to take this decision?
That is the platform where you can at least recoup part of your investments before exploring the other distribution means. All over the world, there are movies made to meet the cinema standard and also the home video standard and Phone Swap and my previous movies fall into that class because of their quality and to avoid piracy.
What are the pains and gains of premiering your movies in the cinema?
The pains have a lot to do with all the publicity for the movie yourself and to promote a movie. It must be of best quality and have good promotional value to be run on that platform. The gains is at least the film maker can recoup most of his investment without being worried about piracy.
I am currently working on some other projects. A new film which I believe would do even better than and surpass everything I’ve done. It’s currently in its pre-production stage. I hope to start shooting this year.
Are you fulfilled with the success of Phone Swap?
No, not until I make money.
None at all.
What are the things you learnt from your dad, that you put into work in this picture?
My dad taught me the business side of film making. All this cinema standard was gotten from my dad about 25 years ago and it has helped me in setting a standard for my business.
Professionally, as an actor and film maker, I’ve been in the industry for about 14 years but I have been in the film making business for over 25 ears, when I used to follow my dad on tours and film exhibitions in secondary school. He taught me a lot that I am applying in my business today.
In 10 years, where do you see yourself?
I see myself as a millionaire, even billionaire, but I see myself most importantly in the business of making hit movies. I see myself running a film school where I’d train young people in the business of making films. I also see myself reaping and enjoying the fruit of my labour.
Has Phone Swap won any award yet?
Yes, Phone Swap won the achievement in production design award in the just concluded African Movies Academy Awards (AMAA) where it bagged four nominations.
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly on Tuesday, May 05, 2012