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Nigerian movie producers pay assistants a paltry $8 for 15 days – Filmmaker Ernest Obi



For decades, the welfare of crew members on Nollywood movie sets and emerging actors and actresses has been a concern.

Despite the Actor Guild of Nigeria (AGN) ‘s efforts to improve industry standards and enhance member welfare, little progress has been made.

The primary focus has always been on health, particularly for veterans and those soliciting financial donations.

Even health insurance intended for actors and actresses has yet to be embraced by practitioners.

However, the death of star actor Jnr Pope and four others in a boat mishap in Anam River in Anambra State on 10 April while en route to the location of the ill-fated movie ‘Other Side of Life’, sparked a new discussion about the necessity for a complete overhaul of welfare and filmmaking operations in Nigeria.

This discussion focuses on Asaba, Delta State, which produces the highest number of films.

Skit maker and actor TC Okafor, one of the survivors of the boat mishap, claimed he was paid N100,000 to star in the ill-fated movie.

He contested this figure with the producer but to no avail.

He disclosed that the welfare fee for the ill-fated movie was N1,500 and added that the movie producer, Adanma Luke, paid him N30,000 for his first job on her project, ‘Shortcut.’

N667 per day
He revealed that movie producers pay their assistants a mere N10,000 (about $8) after fifteen days of labour.

He said: “How much are personal assistants paid? How can you employ someone to work for you for fifteen days and pay them N10,000? Even if it’s just seven days, the amount is meagre, and they will be lifting generators and carrying cables.

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“When it rains, the PAs will be outside while the producers will be inside the room. That’s unfair. It’s not just a sin; it’s a sin against God.”

Mr Obi emphasised that producers engaging in such practices accrued substantial unfair debts for themselves.

Mr Obi further urged actors and actresses to stand up against unfair treatment from movie producers.

He added that while such practices are not new in the industry, they persist due to the mentality of actors and actresses who believe “it will get better.”

“If you’re a guild member, call your chairman or president and inform him that the producers you’re working with ask you to enter a forest where there are snakes, and you can’t do it—the guild should swing into action immediately, not afterwards,” he said.

The filmmaker shared an incident in which an actor almost died due to his producer’s negligence.

Mr Obi noted, “I just showed some people a video of Mr Emmanuel Ogun, who was almost killed on a set because the producer brought an actor who didn’t have a driver’s license, and he almost crushed him to death. Upon getting to the hospital, the producer said, “There’s nothing he/she can do.”

The 53-year-old joined Nollywood in 1995 and rose to fame when he appeared in the 1995 movie Rattlesnake as Sango. He was also known for Poka Messiah in 2016, The Seed 2 in 2005, and Idemili in 2014.

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