$100 Million Film City Project Planned In Nigeria To Elevate Creative Sector

Published 7 months ago
By Forbes Africa | Oluwatomisin Amokeoja
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Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos State, disclosed construction begins soon for a $100 million African Film City Project, emphasizing support for Nollywood’s growth. Stakeholders welcome the initiative as a game-changer, addressing industry challenges and foreseeing economic and cultural benefits.

In an announcement at the 12th Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) press briefing, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos State, Nigeria’s cultural capital, revealed plans for a $100 million African Film City Project in Epe, a town situated on the eastern edge of the state.

Lagos, as one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, plays a pivotal role in shaping the cultural landscape of Nigeria, serving as a hub for various artistic expressions, including music, film, literature, fashion, and visual arts.

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Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the project is set to commence construction in the coming weeks.

Emphasizing the commitment to fostering creative endeavors, he elaborated on increased financial and training support. “The goal is to further empower our creative talents, and we are doubling our financial and training support. This means more opportunities for skill development in modern filmmaking and increased grants for short stories.”

Highlighting the broader vision, he asserted, “Elevating the creative industry is our goal.” He acknowledged the significance of the moment for African cinema.

“We’re seizing this ‘African moment’ to play our role in aiding Nollywood’s growth.” Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry, has its roots in Lagos and has grown to become one of the most prolific film industries globally.

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Sanwo-Olu called for collaboration, saying, “Let’s collaborate and tell our stories to the world. Together, we’ll put Lagos and Nigeria on the global filmmaking map.”

As the news of the African Film City Project reverberates throughout the creative community, stakeholders’ response reflect a shared sense of enthusiasm and anticipation for the transformative possibilities ahead.

Creative producer Embeleakpo Joseph Berepamo, popularly known as Emy Josephs, welcomes the announcement.

Josephs tells FORBES AFRICA that the initiative reflects a pivotal moment for Nigerian filmmakers, addressing long-standing challenges and unlocking new possibilities for the industry’s growth.

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“This investment is a game-changer for Nollywood,” remarks Josephs. “Access to affordable filming locations has been a constant struggle for filmmakers, hindering our creative process. The Film City Project not only alleviates this burden but opens doors for diverse and captivating settings, enriching our storytelling.”

“Projections by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimate that the industry’s export revenue will surpass the $1 billion mark. This prediction is indicative of the industry’s potential for not only substantial local growth but also its capacity to make significant contributions to Nigeria’s global trade landscape.”

Josephs highlights the crucial role of structured support mechanisms for the industry’s advancement. “Filmmakers often face financial barriers, limiting our ability to explore innovative projects. The Film City Project’s commitment to offering support for emerging talents is a testament to recognizing and nurturing the wealth of creative potential within our industry.”

The creative producer also acknowledges the safety concerns prevalent in the industry. “Harassment on the streets has been a dark shadow on our work. A safer working environment is not just a luxury but a necessity for fostering creativity. This project signals a shift towards ensuring filmmakers can focus on their craft without fear.”

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Josephs emphasizes the broader significance of the Film City Project. “It’s not just about boosting the economy, although that’s crucial. It’s about recognizing the cultural and artistic value of our films. This investment signifies a turning point where Nigerian filmmakers are getting the respect and support they deserve. It’s a moment to celebrate and build upon for the future of our vibrant film industry.”

Similarly, Joseph Omoniyi, a film producer and director, expresses his elation, telling FORBES AFRICA:

“I have always hoped for days like these when the Nigerian government would be intentional in taking bold steps toward investing in the Nigerian creative industry, which is one of the nation’s greatest assets.”

Omoniyi commends the comprehensive approach of the project, emphasizing the significance of the proposed training support to be provided. He hails the choice of Lagos as the host city, describing it as “arguably the cultural, financial, and entertainment capital of Africa”, asserting its influence across various sectors.

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Highlighting Nigeria’s standing as the second-largest movie industry globally, Omoniyi lauds the initiative as a “bold, groundbreaking move”. He stresses the potential impact on the Nigerian film industry, foreseeing an elevation that would empower countless creatives and talents.

Expressing optimism, Omoniyi notes the multifaceted benefits of the project, anticipating a substantial economic boost. “Film cities attract filmmakers, production companies, and related businesses, leading to an influx of jobs and economic activity,” he remarks, underlining the potential for the project to contribute significantly to Nigeria’s economic landscape.