Celebrating the “Nameless” MVP Faces of Nollywood and Its Awards
When it comes to high-powered flashing showcase, the world’s citizens are always ready to become fashion stylists, visual critics as well as show analysts for the moment, nit picking at every little thing they deem worthy or unworthy of efforts made and shown. But can we blame them? Certainly not, although we can steer them into appreciating other aspects that are just as important; that is, all the work behind the scenes, popularly known as BTS (not the KPOP band, although that would be nice too. Ah, I digress).
In today’s society, a lot of people are more caught up with praising all the glitz, glam and power showcase when it comes to films, series, awards and the red carpet, especially in Nollywood (this is not to say the other Woods don’t have their issues, but for now, let’s focus on home, shall we).
From being underpaid, underappreciated, often bullied verbally as well as physically, putting their sanity and health at risk, all to ensure that every moment seen or experienced by the public or participants are so memorable that not talking about it would be considered a sin, thanks to the pandemic invasion and its increase in ensuring the protection of mental health, this has further shed a light on the need to recognize and appreciate individuals, especially in the entertainment industry, and along with this a strong call for giving them their flowers, just desserts as well, in order to motivate them and improve work ethic behind the scenes.
The entertainment world has been constantly undergoing various changes since the pandemic began over two years ago. Distance work became the new standard for many organisations. By going digital and quickly viral, this led to the exposing of the underbellies of certain industries (of course, Nollywood definitely wasn’t spared) while still socialising and educating people. Thanks to this, since the pandemic slowly loosened its grip on humanity, allowing for semi-regular work, the entertainment industry has a sudden and slightly overwhelming boom for people with piqued interests on and off screen. As media (film/series/ production) authorities around the globe worked tirelessly to ensure that appropriate changes were made in how BTS life ran, not only ran but ran as seamlessly as possible for their employees, a lot of them suddenly had to assume the role of crisis managers, support systems, referees, punching bags, middle men, etc., in order to show positive support to their employees with everything they needed to keep the industry running smoothly – whether they were available or not, and I can assure you that, that in itself is no easy feat because if different strokes for different folks had physical bodies and lives, it would be those behind the scenes.
Ever heard of development hell, development purgatory, development limbo or production hell? No? Well, let me enlighten you a little bit so you can get a glimpse of why I believe the real MVPs are those behind the scenes. So, these terms used above are popular media lingo used during a supposed downtime or possibly end time for production (it varies based on type of production and the media company in charge. For your information, these terms are used in the gaming world as well. Yeah, I know gaming right, who doesn’t love a good game of positive thrashing in Mortal Kombat…ah, I digress again, forgive me), in this case, be it production or idea or in-between, it can unfortunately remain in development for a really long and positively annoying time, often moving the teams or team from different crews, scripts, locations or studios before it may or may not actually progress to reality (I know it sounds so hectic and toxic; yeah it is actually, anyway). Crews face extreme odds of survival in which their sanity, health and pay are always on the line (talk about a high blood pressure causing situation, huh?). They are very often dependent on the success of the production or the blessings of a sponsor. In rare, yet common cases of turnaround deals, crews may either be moved with new leads and continue with lower pay or benefits till a final decision is made, or in heart-wrenching cases let go of with less pay or no pay at all. Now imagine this: you have sacrificed relationships, high paying jobs, be they temporary or permanent; you have fought with your parents, spouses, keke drivers, bus drivers, bike riders, other members of the team, street gangs (a.k.a. area boys) police, residents of a shoot location; you have been bullied so bad your mental health is literally standing on the edge of shark-infested waters (and willing to jump in); you may have been molested, raped, falsely accused, insulted; you may have slept in uncomfortable places (that’s if you even got the opportunity to sleep at all), had a clapping festival with mosquitos, become a snake charmer to avoid being bitten, become a rain dancer to try and hold back the rain, turned into a preacher man because of the weird jumpy sounds at night, nearly embarked on a career as a Babalawo (a.k.a. jazz man) so the things that go bump in the night can fear you much more than you fear them, turned into an errand girl or boy and just a lot of tough, rough landings just to work on a production; now picture all of that – crazy, huh, and now imagine either being let go of with little or no pay to compensate you for all the torture you went through! Now you see why I call them MVPS – their diligence and cutthroat loyalty to the very end is the only reason we as individuals or, in this case, Nigerians can celebrate the film industry as much as we do now, positively or negatively. Their hard, thankless work is the reason why we on the outside can, in our little living rooms, become fashion stylists, visual critics as well as show analysts for the moment, nit picking at every little thing we deem worthy or unworthy of efforts made and shown without ever breaking a sweat.
In the recently concluded AMVCA awards, we were royally and beautifully flushed with the glitz, glam, fashion hits and misses, sensual bodies, divine figures, emotional speeches, breath-taking recognitions and so much more, bearing in mind it is still talked about weeks after its end. All of it was only made possible through the cumulative blood, sweat and tears of everyone who worked endlessly and tirelessly to fill our visual and sensual needs, why won’t we applaud them for it?
So here’s to the “nameless ones’, the ‘faceless ones’ who give us riveting content, who make endless sacrifices, who are least thanked yet make all the much needed difference in the media/ film/series award world, Mimidoo Achineku Bartel, Matilda Shola, Nicole Nkiru Asinugo, Ladun Awobokun , Isioma Osaje, Temidayo Abudu, Eku Edewor, Yolanda Okereke, Busola Tejumola, Nora Awolowo, Mboutidem, scores of makeup artistes, hair stylists, film distributors, cinema workers, logistics crew, security detail, script writers, camera crews, assistants, the interns, the stage crew, the media crews, the design teams, the event planners, the sponsors, the film companies, the directors, the producers, the stylists, the photographers, the videographers, the cinematographers, the concept creators, the cleaners, the sweepers, the runners – both men and women, thank you for all you have done, are doing and will do. Thank you for helping us connect with stories and stay motivated. Thank you for focusing on customer experience even while navigating all the difficulties of the industry yourselves. You truly have made such a difference. You all are the real MVPs that keep the Nigerian film industry running and I absolutely salute you.
Love Deola ademokoya contribution