10th June, 2011
Nollywood actor, Saidi Balogun, who is set to release a new film entitled Eti Keta on DVD, spoke with P.M. Entertainment about the film, how he plans to curb piracy and other issues
Why did you decide to release your new film on DVD?
DVD has good quality because we have to improve the standard of our movies and take things to a higher level, if not the highest.
What brought the idea of Eti Keta?
It revolves around things that are bad that we think are good and those that are good that we think are bad. I am trying to tell people that they should not judge things from afar, let’s look at the pros and cons of everything we do.
Is it based on true life experience?
It is the general experience of who we are in this country. Donâ€™t you know that One Man One Vote is Eti Keta? Look, true democracy started in this country; there has never been this kind of democracy because we counted our votes where we voted and we knew the result before it was formally announced. These are the developments and the legacy of our leaders which we are following, that is, putting a round peg in a round hole and not the other way round.
So that is all about the film?
Yes, that is it and we must look before we leap.
You featured Kate Henshaw-Nuttal and Ndidi Obi in the film, why?
We are all in the industry because movie has no language, we are all actors and acting for a living. They can interprete their roles well and when you are good, you can deliver. Gone are the days when we say it is the turn of Northerners to rule. Once you can deliver, do it and let’s see.
How much did it cost you to produce the film?
We spent close to N30 million.
How did you get such amount?
Thanks to those who have supported us. Otunba Segun Runsewe started the idea at a forum in Abuja, where he told us, I mean the stakeholders, to do different things that will potray us as Africans and not by word but by action. After that, I told him I am producing a movie and he said boy, go and do it and after watching the film, he commended me.
Did you spend your own money or most of it came through endorsements?
I contributed 70 percent while 30 percent was raised through endorsements and when the money comes, we will allow the whole world to see it because you cannot shoot ankara movie and keep it under the bed, you canâ€™t.
You want to beat the pirates to their game that was why you settled for DVD. Is it possible to beat them?
I think it will, but I am also begging the pirates to consider the money spent on the film and keep away from it. Secondly, I am working with the video club owners in this area too because they asked for a letter of authority to help catch and deal with pirates. So, I am fighting the war with them. Also, during the last elections, I was not visible politically because I had helped some politicians during their campaigns for 12 years, yet they did not enact any good law on piracy. Tell me, if there are good laws would the pirates be operating freely as they do now? I want to emulate Oprah Winfey who donated towards Obamaâ€™s campaign. The only thing politicians can do for us is to make laws that will discourage piracy.
Do you think any law can discourage piracy?
Yes, if the laws say the penalty for piracy is 25 years imprisonment or an option of fine to the tune of N20 million, donâ€™t yuo think that will discourage the pirates?
Have you really made money from from your previous films?
No, let me say all of us have just been acting, producing and not making money. Although the marketers are doing their best, we have not been lucky. So I produced on DVD so that people can get their money’s worth in terms of good picture, sound and others. So I am calling on the people to help me to kill pirates.
If you have not made money from the sale of your films why are you still doing it and still acting?
Well, thatâ€™s what I am saying, I believe we can do it. Some day, somehow, somewhere, we will get there.
Don’t marketers give you money from the sale of your films?
As I said earlier, they are trying their best, they give some people money but I go to source for my own funds to produce my movies. For example, we have over 400 marketers in Idumota but how many of them are popular and making it and those with good vision and mission?
Who is selling the movie?
Suntab Films International.
So you are the copyright owner?
Well, God knows that. He is the marketer and I am the producer. We won’t fight on copyright again because we know the truth and if we know the truth, we would not fight over that again, so the law is clear.
Do you have a contractual agreement with your marketers?
Yes, in the past everything was based on gentleman’s agreement, but right now, it is strictly business.
Did you change the release date?
Well, I have an issue with the video club owners who asked for the preview copy and gave me an idea on how to tackle piracy. We had good delibrations and we will release the work soon. They all dismissed the issue of too many releases while I believe it is good because if we are releasing 50 films in a week, we are causing more problems for ourselves. So, 20 June, 2011 is our release date.
After the release of the film, what next?
We are working on another project entitled Keke Ara, a comedy film, featuring Clem Ohameze, Dekunle Fuji, Toyin Aimaku and others.
Let’s go personal a bit. You have been spotted with some actresses and things like that, are you planning to re-marry?
That is why I love this movie, Eti Keta, maybe I have been making some noise in the papers or some people have been writing some unconfirmed stories and that is why I could not have a settled home, I believe that is Eti Keta, so why don’t we keep it personal because it is a personal issue? Let’s keep the third party issue.
No, maybe they have been reading, so let them watch.
So it will be aÂ surprise?
That is it, that is what I am saying, the third party, these are things we have been doing, making noise in the papers, putting our private homes on the pages of newspapers and magazines, possibly you writting if do. On my private life, keep your fingers crossed.
How are your Kids?
They are all fine; Zenat featured in a scene in Eti Keta.
How do you cope as a single parent?
I feel cool, that is what am saying about the third party, keep your fingers crossed because I will tell you good things about myself, so keep watching.
You said your daughter acted in your film, so you are encouraging her to act?
I donâ€™t have a choice because that is what she has chosen to do. You see, that is what am talking about, we don’t have to dictate for our kids, let them choose what they want. They have options, my own is just to guide them as a father. Let me tell you, if you watch over kids, nowadays they speak American English and most of them fail their GCE/WASCE because they donâ€™t have adequate parental care, you leave home in the morning and come back late in the night.
What have been your challenges as an actor?
If you are not known or popular, God is doing you a big favour, because the moment you are known, you become the centre of attraction, If you take a recess people will ask questions and what you buy for N200 I buy for N400 because when people see you, they believe you must drop money. I am under great pressure.
Any regrets so far?
No, the Lord has been smiling on me. I believe in Mathew 7:7, I am the first to do a three-cast movie, two-cast, one-cast and now Ankara, if not in Africa, in my country. So, I thank God for everything. If I say I have any regrets, I am not grateful to God.
Are you saying being a star has contributed to your unstable home?
Is it peculiar to stars, it happens everywhere. The attention is on me because am a star. Do you know the comical aspect of it, you can get to the presidency before me because you are a journalist. So we call it the popular man in the dark. Having kids outside wedlock is not peculiar to entertianers, it has been ordained by God.
What is your view about the music Industry in the last 10 years?
We are moving up but my advice to producers is that we should produce quality films because we are not there yet. I learnt about the 200 million dollars entertainment fund and my heart skipped a beat. I asked, are we putting the cart before the horse? If the issue of piracy is not tackled, we will go back to square one and go hungry again, no matter the amount. Even if it is 500 million dollars or more, if piracy is not curbed, nothing will work.
Who do we blame for bad quality films, the marketer or producer?
All of us, that is the third party because the producer who is not sure of himself will turn out a bad movie, same goes for the marketer. We are all at fault. If you are a marketer, market well and if you are a producer produce well, let us all learn. If you produced a good film and the marketer messed it up, the whole world will see and if you produce junks you better don’t talk.