22nd August, 2011
Â Benson Akintola Akindeju is the Chief Executive Officer of AK Media Concepts, producer of popular TV serials, Face-2-Face, Family Ties and Nowhere To Be Found. In this interview, he speaks about his success, challenges and other issues
You have been in the film industry for many years now, how has it been?
The industry is moving on, although the challenges are there, the industry is moving on.
Your soap operas, Family Ties, Face-2-Face and Mission To Nowhere are doing well, how did you come this far?
It takes the grace of God Almighty and seriousness. It is capital intensive but we are coping. Once you start a soap, you must not repeat the episodes, but God has been strengthening us at AK Media.
Apart from finance, what other challenges are you facing?
Our industry has so many challenges. Apart from money, we also face the challenges of artistes and locations. You may use a particular house for this season and the next time, the property owner may say you can no longer use it. Some artistes can also start demanding for too much when they realise that you are making money.
Most Nigerian artistes have ego problem, how do you cope with them on location?
There are so many artistes, especially the popular ones, who donâ€™t keep to time, when you fix a particular time with them, they wonâ€™t come and when they finally do, they may decide to spend two or three hours doing make up. But some of them are highly responsible. In AK Media, we donâ€™t tolerate indiscipline because we pay artistes well and regularly too. Besides, I prefer using new faces in my jobs because there are thousands of them out there looking for such opportunities.
Apart from the fact that you use new faces in your productions, what is the other quality of AK Media Concepts?
We donâ€™t owe those working with us and we also keep to time in all our dealings. I actually learnt all these from Wale Adenuga when he was my boss and the secret of success is making those around you happy. But when you owe your workers, they wonâ€™t be happy working for you and as a result, you wonâ€™t get the best from them. As for the artistes, we also attach much importance to their welfare.
What is your position on the influx of foreign soaps into Nigeria?
Our Minister for Information and Communication has done well in that aspect because most of the foreign soaps have been suspended. We still have foreign soaps but not on family hours on our TV stations again, so they donâ€™t pose any challenge to us.
What are the differences between these foreign soaps and their local counterparts?
You canâ€™t compare the setting of foreign soaps to ours in Nigeria. They have film villages, where their soaps are done, but here, we have not got to that level. I believe we will get there some day.
Most of the foreign productions have the backing of their government but the reverse is the case in Nigeria, do you think we would have done better if there is support from government?
Yes, if we have the backing of government, we will do excellently, but unfortunately, we donâ€™t. In fact, it is not easy for us to use police stations or vehicles in our productions. These are just some of the numerous challenges we are facing.
If you were to be the Minister for Arts and Culture, what will you impact on the industry?
It is easier said than done, but if I have the opportunity to be there, I will encourage the industry very well. I will ensure that we have a film village, at least, this will be top on the list of my priorities.
Letâ€™s talk about Nigerian movies. Feelers from viewers suggest that the quality of Nigerian films are on the decline. How true is this?
You are very right. You will realise that when watching some of these films, you wonâ€™t even understand the story. There is need for orientation for our script writers in form of seminars as most of those that we have right now are none professionals; some of them just woke up one day and began to write stories, but fail to realise that it takes sheer brilliance and creativity to write good scripts.
Movies should be used as a platform to correct the ills of the society and, of course, enlighten the audience, but in Nigerian movies, we see people smoke passionately in while some do prostitution and at the end of it all, viewers donâ€™t see these characters face the consequences of their immoral acts?
Thank you very much for that question. We have a body that controls soap operas and which will not allow unnecessary smoking, prostitution or kissing in our productions. Most of these acts are seen in movies, not in soaps. If your soap portrays such scenes, even the TV stations will reject it.
Youâ€™ve been producing soaps for many years now, are you considering delving into movie production?
I canâ€™t afford to waste my energy because we all know the level of piracy in the movie industry; it is really on the high side. Basically, piracy is not giving us the chance to join the movie industry.
You worked with Wale Adenuga for 19 years before establishing AK Media Concepts, what things did you learn from him?
Without mincing words, I learnt a lot from him. In administration, Wale Adenuga is very sound and I have learnt that from him. In AK Media, we donâ€™t operate any how. He is someone that respects time a lot and doesnâ€™t owe his workers and TV stations.