During a masterclass at the Coal City Film Festival in Enugu, filmmaker Theo Ukpaa expressed his concern about the entry of heavyweight platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in Nigeria, stating that it has caused a significant upheaval in the country’s movie industry. However, he acknowledged that the influx has not diminished the impact of cinema culture in Nigeria.
Ukpaa, who is also a playwright and entrepreneur, stressed the importance of a strong creative economy and how it contributes to the national economy. He highlighted that the film and television industry supports 2.4 million jobs, pays out $186 billion in total wages, and comprises over 122,000 businesses.
While Ukpaa believes in the power of storytelling and the ability to direct real stories of real individuals, he also acknowledges that passion can wane when hard work and expenditure fail to produce financial returns. He said, “Oftentimes people focus merely on the show and glamor as well as the razzmatazz that comes with filmmaking, and end up dying broke.”
Ukpaa’s first feature film, “Lagos Landing,” was released in 2018 and was showcased at various film festivals around the world. The movie, which tells the story of an uptight French woman who falls victim to mistaken identity after connecting with a young lawyer in Africa on a dating site, was acquired by Prime Video, Tubi, and Showmax. In 2020, Africa Kulture Magazine named Ukpaa one of the top 10 most promising new directors.