SONTA, content developer seal N1b production deal

From Left: Chief Executive Officer, Plume and Partner Limited, Samuel Bob-Manuel; President of SONTA, Professor Alex C. Asigbo; Dean, Faculty of Arts, Benue State University, Professor Doki Gowon and the immediate past president of SONTA, Professor Sunny E. Ododo of the University of Maiduguri at the signing exercise conducted Wednesday in Abuja


A creative content development firm and parent company of Campus Prowler – Plume and Partner Limited — has signed a production agreement with the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists (SONTA).

The ceremony, which held in Abuja Wednesday, attracted theatre scholars such as, Professor Alex C. Asigbo, president of SONTA; the immediate past president of the body, Professor Sunny E. Ododo of the University of Maiduguri; Dean, Faculty of Arts, Benue State University, Professor Doki Gowon and Professor Mabel Evwierhoma of the University of Abuja.

Others are Head of Theatre Arts Department, Uniabuja, Associate Professor Olympus Ejue; Assistant Secretary General, SONTA, Dr. Chisimdi U. Ihentuge as well as the Public Relations Officer, SONTA, Dr. Sunday Edum.

Tagged, Project Hostage, the production cost has been put at about N1 billion and it will involve over 45 universities and 20 colleges of education offering courses in theatre arts.

It is aimed at bridging the gap between stage and the screen, script to screen play and between theory and practice. The agreement will culminate in the production of 35,000 hours of audio-visual programmes. These will span 90 epic and contemporary movies of about 120 minutes, 45 minutes advocacy documentaries on any issue of interest and 45 campus series of 20 minutes by the various theatre arts departments across the country.

Professor Asigbo and the Chief Executive Officer, Plume and Partner Limited, Samuel Bob-Manuel, both signed and exchange agreement on behalf of their respective parties.

Bob-Manuel, who sounded so much optimistic about the viability of the project, stated that his company was motivated by the need for quality content in the country’s movie industry.

He believed that coming from the professionals, the production would not fall short of standard in both artistic and technical contents.He disclosed over 88 professors, 122 doctorate degree holders as well as over 10,000 theatre arts undergraduate students shall be taking part in the auditioning to be conducted in various set roles.

“Theatre Arts departments are expected to develop scripts for entries in the different categories while Nollywood actors shall be included in lead roles in order to give the movies commercial value.

“Project Hostage shall have a strong academy of judges made up of one nominee each from member universities of SONTA and five nominees from Plume & Partner Limited to rate performances in various categories of awards, which include the best picture and the best actor of each season.”

Bob-Manuel added that the partnership would create opportunities for undergraduates of theatre arts to make entries into the movie industries, as they would be featuring in the script developed by respective universities.

“Though we are not discarding those already in the field because they brought the industry this far. So, to give the production commercial value, actors should be part of the production.

“It is also a very big opportunity for streaming companies, who should go into Nigerian market with the production that we are into partnership with SONTA.”
It is the biggest production deal in Nigeria, having SONTA side by side.

“We are bringing in a lot of intellectual and creative expertise to make this a success. It will generate job opportunities for artistic and technical crew as well as the undergraduate students not less than 10,000 across various universities who would be vying for various roles in the course of the production.”

Explaining the project further, SONTA helmsman, Professor Asigbo, noted that the project would avail every university offering theatre arts the opportunity to be represented in the production.

According to him, heads of respective theatre arts departments will liaise with lecturers to create quality content that meets the yearnings of the viewing audience, as well as have commercial value.

To ensure that only the best are selected for production, the academic informed that there would be academy of judges drawn from among lecturers in every theatre arts department for screening and selection of the best scripts from both regional and national levels.

Considering that theatre arts department involves a lot of creating writing, he was optimistic that involvement of the academia in movie content will boost the industry with quality content that will take care of several unprofessional movie products in the market.

For the sake of the project, Asigbo stated that some theatre arts graduates who are already professionals in the field and whose appearances will enhance the production would be brought in to feature alongside the younger generations of artists.

“Every head of theatre arts department is a member of SONTA and they are aware of the kind of contents that are required for the project. If not for the break across the country, scripts would have started coming in but they are being developed in all the universities on the various genres of arts including documentary, epic and contemporary movies, soups and serials.

“So, all the heads of theatre arts departments are aware of the partnership. As such, the scripts or contents will not be a problem because that is our work. We are only hopeful that Plume will be able to contain with the deluge of scripts that would be coming from our members.

“For us, it is like a competition for the various theatre arts departments. At that level, the head of departments can liaise with the lecturers in looking at the scripts in terms of quality of content and how it is going to impact the society when produced.

“At the theatre arts department level, every script would be analyzed and the best selected to represent the individual theatre arts department in each of the categories.

“Every university can come up with as many scripts as possible. We have minimum pattern that every script should meet up with before we can put it forward for production.”

Meanwhile, the production partner has stressed the ability and capability of the company to produce as much contents as would be available.According to the company’s boss, production begins immediately the scripts are ready.

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SONTASunday Edum
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