Veteran Nigerian film maker, Fidelis Duker is one of Nollywood’s earliest practitioners, with over 80 different motion pictures to his name.For more than a decade and a half, he has successfully hosted the Abuja International Film Festival, earning himself a slew of awards in different categories.
In this interview, he speaks about The Tube Awards, an upcoming project being put together for the benefit of the thriving television industry in Nigeria.
You have been working on a new project called The Tube Awards, can you share what the idea is about?
The Tube Awards is a collaborative reward system put together by a couple of colleagues directly and indirectly affiliated to the business of Television broadcast to reward excellence on the continent of Africa. We feel that one of the most needed incentives is a credible reward system for the television industry both online and terrestrial. Something in the mold of the Emmy Awards.
The television business has evolved over the years and a good example is the Nigerian television experience which is over 60 years since the first television emerged in the old western regional capital of Ibadan in 1957. Thereafter, there has been this greet shift from the old black and white television to a more digitally driven online television which is speedily taking over the world.
My generation while growing up, had to wait till four pm before the television stations would begin showing programmes for the day. Today, television is no longer limited by time or medium but has been driven by every source digitally possible including our mobile phones.
We found out that there was a need for us to celebrate the excellence that has come to the television business on the continent and see how we can bring in the content creators, TV station owners and others. Then, we will seek verifiable ways of rewarding excellence amongst television content producers on the continent. That was how the idea of Tube Awards came into existence.
We found out that one industry that has not been properly positioned in terms of rewarding excellence on the continent is television. Most national and continental awards have just one category for television. We felt there was a need to create an authentic continental award for television.
Why the name Tube and how much of what the digital age has made television to become will it cover?
The name was carefully chosen to reflect our understanding of television. If you remember television has always been known as the tube until recently when we now have television on the go. This, I mean is the use of phones and other modern television devises like the LED and LCD screens. What is however important is that the tube covers the entire television landscape.
What do you hope to achieve by instituting this award?
Our expectations as a team, which by the way cuts across the continent, is that apart from rewarding excellence; the awards will precipitate an improvement in the quality of television content and practice on the content. Practitioners will also use the awards as a platform for networking as television content producers will converge annually to celebrate excellence in the profession. We also wish to bring to the fore the incomparable content and reach of television across the continent thereby encouraging practitioners and stakeholders.
But why this new award? Don’t you think Nigeria already has too many of those and that there is already a fatigue?
I don’t think so and there cannot be enough of any awards as different awards target a different segment of the situation and different practitioners. The Tube Awards has become incumbent because practitioners in the television sector who hitherto feel abandoned now have an award that specifically targets their sector of the industry.
The issue of fatigue is relative because every day I hear television producers complaining that most of the awards we currently have target the film and music industry forgetting that there is a huge continental television industry that also needs a reward system. Also note with interest that in Nigeria, the media awards only reward a section of the television industry.
You said it will be a continental award. How do you plan to overcome the challenges of logistics?
The Tube Awards has been in the pipeline for two years, we have been working behind the scenes. Prior to now, we were trying to get our act together to make sure it would be a success. If you are organising a continental award, you have to be very careful because of the diversity of the population of our continent in languages, values and custom. We have some countries where they speak basically Arabic; we have the francophone countries, anglophone countries and even the Portuguese-speaking countries. We need to understand all these elements and see how we can integrate all these countries into the award. We are not starting out very big as we have about 15 categories available to be rewarded in the first year. We decided to keep it compact so we can ensure a clean demonstration of all the plans and hard work happening behind the scenes.
Most of the team, which will be revealed to you very soon, have worked assiduously in bringing many movie and music awards to live in Nigeria and across the continent. Our advisory committee is made of very senior practitioners with continental and global exposure in the business of television and television broadcast. The depth of experience and support garnered from the hardworking team convince me that we are on the right path and have what it requires to berth a huge and acceptable platform for television practitioners. Of course, Nigeria would be the host country for the first few years and these will ease the issue of logistics as we will be organising the awards in our comfort zone as we collaborate with colleagues across the continent.
The problem isn’t always really about starting but sustaining it. How do you plan to ensure that this award survives?
I have never been involved in anything that would not succeed and I am not about to start now. None of the awards and festivals that I have been involved in has gone into extinction. I was the pioneer producer of the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). I produced it for about three years. I do not get involved with people that are not focused. Till date, I still contribute to the success of AMAA if they need my help. Eleven years after, the event is still in existence. The Abuja International Film Festival was the first major film festival in Nigeria apart from the National Film Festival. The Abuja International Film Festival has given birth to the rise of other film festivals across Nigeria and we are still in existence. The point I am trying to make is that I do not get involved in anything that would not stand the test of time so if your fear that The Tube Awards is another repeat of the existing awards, then I say no because it is unique and different.
We have a clear-cut project plan for the awards for five years and we have Identified the Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to our award. Therefore, we are ready with a sustainable plan that will keep the awards running uninterrupted for a minimum of five years after which are sure to have found our rhythm.
Our core reason for not rushing the idea out is because we want to be convinced of covering all grounds within human weakness and ensure that when we start we don’t stop.