Maxwell Opoikumo Chairman Bayelsa AMP Says Movie Producers Think Differently

Maxwell Opoikumo Chairman Bayelsa AMP Says Movie Producers Think Differently
Comrade Maxwell Opoikumo Chairman Bayelsa AMP

Maxwell Opoikumo Chairman Bayelsa AMP Says Movie Producers Think Differently

Acting from childhood, today Maxwell Opoikumo is the Chairman, Association of Movie Producers, Bayelsa State chapter. In this interview with our Managing Editor, VICTOR OROYI, Comrade Maxwell Opoikumo Chairman Bayelsa AMP speaks on his plans to reposition the association for greater levels of partnership with government and the private sector.

Let’s meet you?

My name is Opoikumo Jerry Maxwell. I am from Southern Ijaw local government area, Amassoma Community precisely. I am a graduate from the University of Calabar where I studied Pollution and Waste Management. I love sports and movie making.

I entered the movie industry as a child, I developed the passion to do movies at a very young age. My first movie was done in Ivory Coast while as a student at the university. A friend took me there to shoot the movie, “So much a beautiful woman”. I was elected as Secretary of Actors Guild of Nigeria, (AGN) Cross River State chapter and served two tenures between 2000 and 2006.

Upon my graduation from the university, I went fully into entertainment. Entertainment is not something I have to study, it is a part of me, it’s inborn. Let me say, I am proud that I contributed to some initiatives in Cross River State in the areas of environment and entertainment.

While in school, I worked with the Waste Management Environmental Solution, a private firm in Cross River State owned by an American company. We were three Bayelsans there and part of the people who made the state clean at that time.

As the secretary to AGN, we partnered with the state government to start the carnival in Cross River State; so when it comes to entertainment in Cross River, my name should be written as part of the pioneers.

Let’s make a comparism between Cross River and Bayelsa state, what is the missing link in your own state, why can’t we see such impact in the movie industry both in the carnival and in entertainment?

The missing link is between the government and other private companies in the state. In Cross River State, why the carnival is a huge success is because we gave the government a proposal, they looked into it and bought the idea and we kick-started it.

What is the idea, every company doing business in Cross River State including banks where mandated to partner with the entertainment industry in the state. For example, if a movie producer wants to shoot a movie and he seeks assistance from the state government, they would give the producer a covering note to different companies for assistance. If we have, ten companies in the state and they all give financial assistance each, the movie would be shot to portray the state, the cultural heritage. This will improve the tourism potentials in the state, that is how Cross River State became what it is today.

When I was with the Waste management company, it was the same procedure, most of the roads in the state are not constructed by only the state government, they are done in partnership with other companies in the state.
The governor would tell the companies that if they want to work and make profit in the state, they would have to bring some percentage of the money needed for the road construction. Now, there are three companies in a street, they would all come together to bring out funds for any road project, this is how major roads with good drainage system are constructed.

As chairman of Association of Movie Producers, AMP, Bayelsa state, what are revolutionary ideas you are bringing on board for the movie industry in Bayelsa state?

Firstly, I want to sensitize the movie industry in Bayelsa state. I want more people to know the roles and activities of AMP for the economic growth of Bayelsa state. AMP is the center of movie production. Many people know actors and costumiers but they don’t know, AMP gives job to these set of people. If you know who a producer is, you will be able to work with the producer.

Some prominent persons in the state have complained that many times they give money to actors to produce films but they never see these movies. A producer will not do such because he is under an umbrella that is punishable by law. In movie production, an actor thinks differently from a producer, an actor first thinks of changing his wardrobe while a producer thinks more about making the movie which would help to boost his reputation. A producer will always want to get the job done.

So what are you bringing on board as the AMP Chairman?

Firstly, I want to bring together, the AGN, the costumiers and all other people that are part of movie production in the state because a producer cannot make it alone, we all need to come together and make sacrifices to move the association forward.

As chairman of AMP in Bayelsa state, I intend to see how we can collaborate with the state government to get other companies, private individuals come together to make movie production a success in the state as a medium to showcase our tourism potentials. We have so much to present to the world from Bayelsa, for example in Akassa, they have so much potentials that people need to hear about it, the white man graves, why are they there? People need to know and it can be done through story telling using motion picture.

In Greek philosophy and cosmology, you hear about their gods and their activities, why is it not possible that the gods we have in Ijaw lands can’t be known? Don’t we have stories of their benevolence? Why do people only talk about the negative aspects of Bayelsa state, those are the things we need to explore to let the world know that, Bayelsa is not known for militancy, we are not militants, we are agitating to protect our environment and enjoy the resources accrue from. Through movie production, we can let people know who we are, and what we stand for.

The movie industry is growing bigger and they are calling for more regulations, what is your opinion on regulating the movie industry in Nigeria?

This is like a school without uniform, when the students go out of the school premises and they misbehave, nobody knows where they are from, they can misbehave anytime but once you have a uniform and you go out of your school premises, and you misbehave, they can easily identify the school and the student will be punished accordingly.

As producers, regulation mean movies should not be produced haphazardly, to get an accurate database of practitioners. It is something that should be done orderly. Regulation will help to ensure that any movie that comes out of the industry is of a good quality. Producers need to make proper arrangements to start and finish their movie. The duties of a producer is enormous, role is the beginning and the end of any movie production.

What would be your strategy, would you be working more with the state government or private organizations?

Movie is life, it cuts across every sector of human endeavor but first we would need to partner with the state government, am discussing with my executive members so we can come out with a plan to have a courtesy visit to the state government to see how through their recommendation letter, we can now meet other private sector and companies to see how we can have a formidable partnership to make Bayelsa the hub of movie production.

Are you thinking of a landmark or flagship project to embark on in your tenure?

Yes. We just came on board. My executive committee has several template on the table we are working on and due course we shall come out with some for the public.

Are you married?

Yes, to one of the most beautiful woman in the world by name Cynthia Omiebi Maxwell with two beautiful daughters.

What are your hobbies if your are not involved in any sporting activity or making moves?

I love travelling, reading and writing, I write a lot of scripts daily. My wife has also been of great help, inspiring me to write stories and that was how my first movie in Bayelsa state was shot, it was the brain child of my wife. She said let’s do something extraordinary, and by the grace of God, it was good, a mind-blowing movie.

Share your experiences in the movie industry that will help young people to make a successful career in movie production.

I will advice young people not to be discouraged. In my early days in the industry, my instructor said the road to success is very narrow but if you look at the narrowness of the road you would not get to the end and be successful. The start may not be rosy even if you ask the king of Nollywood in Bayelsa, it is not very easy but when you persevere, you will get to the end which brings success.

Maxwell Opoikumo Chairman Bayelsa AMP Says Movie Producers Think Differently
Comrade Maxwell Opoikumo Chairman Bayelsa AMP

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