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Appreciation begins at home

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I am Omoni Oboli and I represent Naija! I don’t care who you are, or what you’ve achieved in life, or how many times you’ve experienced it, receiving an award makes you beam with pride. It’s that feeling that your effort is appreciated, valued, and noticed by at least those who have given you the award. There’s no better adrenaline rush that makes you want to go back and do even better so that you can experience it over and over again. That’s how I felt winning the Female Movie Producer of the year at the just concluded Exquisite magazine’s ELOY Awards 2016.

There’s something very fulfilling about being appreciated for the work that you’ve put out for all to see after you’ve spent time and resources to put it all together. When the work you’ve done in obscurity, the pains you’ve felt, the hours of sleeplessness, or very little sleep you’ve expended to do what you do so that others can enjoy it, is given the big thumbs up with an award, it sparks something inside that makes you want to give even more than what you have given before. It’s the boost needed to make you go back to the drawing board to cook up something that would make the awards to keep coming.

I’ve always maintained that if the reward system is done right, and the recipients are those that meet expectations, the whole system will begin to sway towards excellence. There are so many talents in Nigeria, and in Nollywood, the crop of new actors, actresses and crew in the industry today would confuse the organisers of many awards. It’s not easy, but the ability to choose the best would help sway the industry in the right direction. It makes me so proud anytime I receive an award, and I know I’m not alone in this because I work hard to achieve the results that I see on the screens. It’s not easy doing even a bad movie; you sometimes spend the same time and money, with the same number of personnel and cast to make the film come together.

In the end, your work is ridiculed or appreciated, rated low or rated high, makes no money or makes ‘A TRIP TO JAMAICA’ money. Whatever the case, you’re either lifted high or brought down low by the response to your work. Often, the brutality of the criticism from people who don’t know or want to identify first with the intricacies of making movies in Nigeria is the order of the day. Proper criticism or appreciation often comes with a little more knowledge of the history. That’s why we forgive the flaws of our children and loved ones because we can identify with their struggles, and how far they’ve come, knowing their limitations, their history.

When A TRIP TO JAMAICA opened up at the cinemas, many people came out to show their appreciation for the efforts of AY, and the same happened for my movie, WIVES ON STRIKE, and the result is seen in the sales. The criticisms came, and like I said, they weren’t always flattering, but we will get to the Hollywood standards someday, and we will address those questions that huge budgets and more experienced crew can answer. Until then, we need to realise that a little more understanding and history of those whom we regard as our own people would go a long way in boosting the morale and zeal to keep improving. This is what other countries did to get to where they are today, and since Nigerians are not aliens, we will do the same.

When we learn to see that bullying and pulling down, instead of being kind to each other and building up, is the catalyst we need to break through the barriers of self-doubt and a defeatist attitude, we will help ourselves to reach goals that affect us all. I speak for myself when I say that being recognised for my work encourages me to do even better. On the other hand, criticism only makes me shut down, and I can’t remember changing to appeal to the critics.

AY’s movies surprised the critics. Ths is because you can’t speak for the masses, who simply love what they love regardless of your criticisms. Constructive critics, on their hand, is done out of love for or understanding of the person who’s being criticised, and that’s the criticism that makes producers achieve results. I’ve often been criticised in secret by friends, fans, and acquaintances, and because of the spirit that they did it, I heard them and either changed or cleared the air so they could see my point of view. If they had criticised unduly, whether in public or in secret, there would be no positive result from it.

Regardless, the only criticism that really hits the mark and makes sense is when your movie makes no money at the cinemas. It makes you reevaluate what you’ve done because the bottom line (money) is being affected. Movies are made for various reasons; strictly for profit, to entertain (whether it makes a profit or not), to educate, simply for personal fulfilment or a combination of them. Whatever the case, an understanding of the history of the movie must be understood to make a well-informed criticism, whether privately or publicly. If you don’t understand Nollywood and how we operate, then you shouldn’t be a critic in it. I don’t expect Steven Spielberg to rate our movies since I don’t believe he will understand the way we think. If I wanted to cross over to sell my movies in the Hollywood mainstream cinemas, then his criticism would be gold.

I just want to say that we should learn to appreciate our own and begin at home. If we don’t lift ourselves up, who will, just like the ELOY Award, women celebrated the women, and I’m proud to be appreciated by my fellow women. Until next week, keep smiling!



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