New Dawn For Screen Writers As Ogun Promises Better Welfare

It was a new dawn by all standards for the Screen Writers Guild of Nigeria (SWGN) as they held their inaugural meeting.

Held at the Royal Arts Academy, Surulere Lagos, the gathering witnessed for the first time an unprecedented number of old and young screen writers who were enthusiastic to make the body a formidable force in the industry. 

Led by veteran screen writer, Mr. Yinka Ogun together with his executives like Tary West, Secretary; Chris Bonnie, Director, Media and Publicity; Matthew Okonkwo, Treasurer; the stage is set for the screen writers to chart a new course which would reflect positively in movies churned out.

The impressive gathering saw writers travel from far and near to identify with their own to learn, network and get relevant information about their welfare.
The meeting was interactive, educative and exciting. 

Veteran screen writers like BOT Chairman and former president, Ekenna Igwe, BOT Secretary former president, Tony Anih; Famous Otakponwen; Chidi Nwokeabia, Franca Brown, Uduak Ogoamanam; Immediate past Secretary,  Frederick Atigogo; Ubaka Joe Brown; Chukwudi John Ejiofor and Chjioke Nnabuchi shared their experiences and gave useful advice to the generation next on the need to be the best in their field.

Speaking further to, President of the guild, Yinka Ogun said that the essence of the meeting is to “touch base with our constituency, let them know what we are doing, what we plan to do, let’s also know what their expectations are so we can meet ourselves at a very good point.

We intend to improve the lot of screen writers along the lines of capacity building, provide a lot of training, provide a legal framework and helps them protect their intellectual property, make sure they get their remuneration as at when due. We have a website now where they can put on their profile pages and people can get in touch with them. We will provide a lot of networking, that they can have easy access to mentorship, they can network with established writers. Generally, improve the welfare and working conditions of writers.”

On what would be the positive outcome expected of this meeting in the months to come, he says; “By the next meeting, we would have drafts of the contract templates and everybody can go through and we believe that subsequently from that point, any time writers are contracted by producers, they will stick to what we’ve said, they will get the contract from the guild and we’ll be in a position to protect them. We will also be having our first training workshop. We will be announcing the date at the next meeting.”

Ogun also cleared the air on what he meant by division in Nollywood when he earlier made his speech.

“What happens is that subsequent generations come into the field of play armed with information that they have gathered in other facets of their lives and start to criticize the people they met there. You have to understand that Nollywood is an industry that evolved on its own. These are people who learnt and made do with was available. At a particular point in time, when we didnt have tracks, we used wheel chairs. We we were learning on the job. And you come 15 years later and want to deride the people who were there because you went to New York film academy but the only reason you went to New York academy was because there was a film industry created by these people. You now come back because you have learnt all that and start to deride people, then, you call yourself the new Nollywood. What is new Nollywood? There is only one Nollywood. You guys are the new entrants but a lot of guys try to propagate it and say new Nollywood, old Nollywood, Asaba this and that one-we are all doing the same thing. We are all part of the film industry. All these divisions are not necessary.”
Celebrated screen writer, Mr.Chidi Nwokeabia also gave his thought about the gathering.

He said: “In one vein, I’m particularly impressed with the crowd, in another vein, I have my fears because this is not about the first time that something like this comes because of the publicity, you see a lot of people. What I want to see is the continuity and I am happy that the committee has made promises to say 'look let us build together everybody stands to gain, it is a win-win situation.'

Another thing that makes me happy is the fact that we have young writers. When we had very few attendance over the years at SWGN, it is because that some people who are in the industry are producers, actors, directors and screen writers. So, they have a lot of other things. What we have seen today is people who are not producers per say, they are not directors, they are screen writers. This is what they do and this is what they want to do and that is why I said in my remark, that they are the future champions, they are the people that would take over. I will tell you that I am really elated that this is happening but let there be pressure on them to keep coming because these are the people that would build this guild. I am happy.”

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