How the government can add value to the entertainment sector
1. State of the Art film village
Lagos State could invest in a state-of-the-art film village, a site dedicated to providing a cinematic resort-like experience for vacationers wanting to combine the latest and greatest in cinema technology with luxurious destination splendor. The film village would serve a robust offering of options for visitors, complete with sound stage, recreational attractions, shopping mall, sports stadium, hotel, and of course a cinema. A film village like this would help to create hundreds if not thousands of jobs for the area. A film destination similar to Tinapa in Calabar, Nigeria would also be a terrific tourist hot spot, bringing in tourism revenue for the state and increasing its visibility and prestige globally. This would bring incredible value to the entertainment sector as well by showing that Nigeria takes the movie-going experience seriously: the cinema is always a welcome social venue for movie lovers as well as aficionados at a time when more and more shows are going direct to video streaming.
2. Capacity building
By investing in capacity building, Lagos State could help workers in the entertainment industry obtain new skills, improve upon old ones, and put to use the knowledge they may already possess in the film and TV business. Lagos State could become known as the premier investor in Nigeriaâ€™s evolution as an entertainment titan in Africa. This would involve bringing teams together for workshops, hosting seminars and training sessions with studio and industry experts and partnering with leaders in the entertainment business like Ebony Life to match young talent with veteran leadership. As Nigeria transitions in the coming years into a self-sustaining nation, governments that want to be take a leading role in that transition can do so by playing a supportive role in the advancement of industries like the entertainment sector which is growing so rapidly now. Developing the talent, skills, technology and training of individuals who can then go on to make the movie business and TV production business that much stronger is something that could benefit Lagos substantially. Workers in the industry need knowledge, tools, equipment and other resources in order to do their jobs effectively.
Lagos can add value by supporting the industryâ€™s marketing needs. This would include allowing producers to leverage government billboards (LAASA), BRT buses, and lamp posts, and give the industry leaders free or discounted ad space for a period of time to promote movies and streaming series. In return, Lagos would receive film credits and studio patronage as well as recognition throughout the industry for being a film-friendly government. Other ways in which the state could facilitate the industryâ€™s marketing ventures could be by allowing publicity stunts to be staged in the area, allowing publicity crews to film with stars of films and series, and granting permission for producers to work directly with Lagos in creating a film-friendly environment. The kickback for Lagos would be that it receives the perk of advertisement in the publicity stunts and can boost its own tourism and revenues as a result, which would inevitably lead to Lagos being known as the Hollywood or Bollywood of Africa.
4. Tax Incentives and Rebates, and VISAs
By limiting barriers to entry, Lagos could help bolster the entertainment industry in the region as well. The difficulty of getting VISAs can keep visitors out, which can have a negative effect on the entertainment industry in the region. Tourism can be a huge revenue driver and reducing barriers to entry is a great way to boost tourism. This would benefit both Lagos and the entertainment industry operating in the region.
Tax incentives and rebates would also be progressive ways for Lagos to come across as more film-friendly: by incentivizing filmmakers and production studios to come shoot in Lagos, the state could increase its renown by essentially getting free publicity and advertising in films and TV series. Its locales and venues would be featured in popular entertainment seen by millions around the world. In return, production houses could benefit by getting tax breaks, rebates and incentives to make it worth their while to shoot in Lagos.
5. Permits and locations, Police (pay off, lost 4 hours of shoot. Even)
Lagos is a great location but is also a very difficult place to shoot. Lagos could work with production to make the process easierâ€”starting with applying for permits to shoot online. Then, once film crews have arrived, Lagos could play a direct role in providing security and granting easy access to some of the regions more picturesque places, bridges and public spaces. Local police in areas of interest should be equipped to manage and give out permits when needed. If there are any issues, the police should be able to assist (instead of referring producers to the head office). In New York City, permits are freeâ€”a production crew does not have to pay at allâ€”and that is why NYC is one of the top destination spots in the world for both film crews and tourists. It is attractive (like Lagos) but also facilitative to the needs of producers. In Lagos, producers pay for permits and end up getting harassed by locals. Once a producer gets the permit, support should also be available to discourage locals from engaging in harassment. This should include law enforcement on the scene, police unit/escorts, in addition to letting the public know that permission has been granted ahead of time for the shootâ€”as in a brief press release to the public days in advance. Ebony Life helped make Lagos look amazing to millions of people in several of its filmsâ€”so it is only reasonable that Lagos be willing to give back and help out in building that two-way street.
6. Infrastructure for entertainment facilities
Lagos can stand to improve its infrastructure for entertainment purposes. Currently, structures are underutilized. The National Stadium, which is primarily used for sports, is crumblingâ€”and if the state cannot fix it for football, it cannot fix it for the arts. Lagos should have a cultural agenda in place to address this issue. The National Theater is another example: it needs refurbishing and a Creative Directorâ€”i.e., the program director for music, dance and theater. The Mandela Concert at the Stadium in South Africa should be the standard of what Lagos strives to achieve. By investing in revamping, replenishing, and rejuvenating dilapidated structures, Lagos could make the region even more inviting to tourists and production crews. The entertainment industry needs entertainment houses and structures so audiences can feel welcomed, warm, safe and excited about being part of the cinematic experience.
Lagos should help to raise public awareness about the problem and illegality of digital piracy. The government should take action through public service announcements to encourage citizens not to buy counterfeit videos on the street or download content illegally from the Internet. Doing these activities undermines the industry and makes it more difficult for studios like Ebony Life to bring great entertainment to audiences year in and year out. Lagos should be committed to fighting the likes of Alaba markets and creating an environment in which film and TV can prosper and proliferate in a legal and ordered manner. If no action is taken, the entertainment industry can end up losing billions in lost revenue, which means lost tax dollars for the state. By clamping down on piracy, Lagos would be helping both the industry and itself. Lagos should devote more police and regulators to the problem of piracy to keep illegal DVDs off the streets and illegal streaming sites blocked to users.
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