HR Guru Turned Movie Producer

“So, I got a part in my first movie. I left the office that day later than I usually would…the thoughts in my head made the journey to the movie set even longer. What would people say, will the industry accept me?

This is an excerpt from my book, life unusual. In this book I share about living purpose, career progression and finding all your expressions, a phrase I often employ when I mentor myself or others.

I share with you my journey to building my career in HR, finding expression for my passion and the opportunities in the entertainment industry, I hope you find inspiration from my story.

My best results in school were in literary subjects, I loved poetry drama, arts, and everything creative. I was going to be a great Entertainer in all these expressions. But then I went on to study Law. Plus, I soon realised life had a few lessons to teach me on work and passion, they can be different. In fact, most times they start out different till you can merge the two or find an alignment, therein lies career happiness. Topic for another day.

Building my HR career:

I started out a career in HR (Human Resource Management) and fell in love and so I gave it my all including acquiring a Master’s degree in International Human Resource Management. I deliberately worked my HR career in such a way that I served across various sectors from Financial service to Telecoms, Manufacturing, Oil and Gas etc. Every sector has its human capital expression, and this has contributed to my broad understanding of people issues and relevant legislation and regulatory issues affecting people and organizational productivity across sectors. A recipe for any top HR responsibility within the public or private sector.

While I had professional fulfillment from this, I was not quite sure I had found full expression. I had deep interest in creative arts and in fact, employee happiness became my favorite HR work. I am very fascinated about how best to leverage employee engagement for peak organisational performance. I knew I had to find expression for my passion for creative work and it was not fair to put the burden of that fulfillment on any other area of my life. This was my conviction and what gave me the courage to chart a new course in this area.

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Forging a new path in the entertainment industry:

So, I birthed my passion for film making 2 years back. As they say, “creativity doesn’t wait for the perfect moment, it fashions its own perfect moments out of the ordinary”. In between work, while still joggling my career I started to fan my interest in this side of me. Please find out your organisational appetite or proclivity for other interest areas and ensure disclosure in line with organisational requirements. Usual benchmark is in a non-competing area of interest. My involvement in film making is usually creative script writing over night or filming through the night or a weekend so there is no potential opportunity for a clash.

The discovery, Opportunities, Challenges:

It was a huge shift for me as I found a different mental strength is required for this type of work. I had to find it. I had to overcome the challenges of being new at something again (a D1). I tasked myself with quickly building the right network and learning the language of the industry.

Gaming is considered the most profitable part of the entertainment industry, but I was clear that I wanted something to fuel my creative writing and story telling skills. From a plethora of options in this industry I quickly narrowed down to my area of interest, skill, and high impact – Movie Production. Strangely I found I could pull from my HR skills of managing people for strategic advantage to work in this field of managing resources for business profitability. And I went back to school to learn the business of film! Ask me about this another time.

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The future of the entertainment industry:

What fascinates me is the fusion of entertainment with everything else, the tech world, digitalization, politics, regulatory affairs etc. It is vast. Financial projections indicate that by 2023, revenues for the global entertainment and media (E&M) industry are expected to reach $2.6 trillion, with digital revenues accounting for over 60%. Please be aware the media and entertainment industry include gaming, film, print, radio, and television and vast opportunities exist here.

Streaming is also beginning to play a key role with ‘Over-the-top’ video content becoming the most important way that people watch movies and programs. OTT video revenue for media and entertainment like Netflix, reached $20.1 billion in 2017. This is about 15.2 percent over the preceding year.

Another interesting aspect of this industry is access to opportunities. Various industries have democratised access and promote inclusivity to allow individuals find expression. The entertainment industry is however ahead when you consider digital platforms like YouTube that allow actors, singers, and other entertainers to showcase their talents while bypassing the traditional gatekeepers.

What is instructive to note here, is the penetration of this industry into different facets of life, the minimal barriers to entry and the revenue projections and possibilities. This is how the future of this industry is panning out and the possible opportunities to plug into.

Improvements required.

I will respond to this from the perspective of the work I have been privileged to get involved with in the industry.

There is obviously plenty of room for improvement, issues like piracy, informal structure of the industry, access to funding all come to bear. But I am passionate about SGBV (sexual gender-based violence) in the entertainment industry. Being female, being a HR professional I see opportunity for regulation of this aspect on movie production sets. In December I moderated panel conversations on this in a program sponsored by ActionAid and it was eye opening to hear the frustrations of both male and female actors, producers as well. I look forward to making a change in this area via policy enactments and implementations and driving awareness for change.

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Nollywood is a major employer of labor, reportedly second only to agriculture and generates millions of dollars every year. Its importance to the Nigerian economy cannot be over-emphasized. However, while it is the second largest film industry in the world in terms of volume, when it comes to revenue it falls far behind Bollywood and Hollywood. To create a more enabling environment, our Government still has a lot of work to do. Suggestions like introducing tax breaks for filmmakers; fast tracking the copy rights law and general improvement of funding challenges and access to funding will go a long way.

I am deeply passionate about my film making investment and I can do this in conjunction with my day job as a thorough HR professional because I believe there can be multiple expressions of one individual. We can do more and be more. I am happy to coach individuals on how they can find and harness their passion the right way and currently accepting requests for this.

I believe in the Joy message. I have to have joy, whatever gives me joy must be incorporated in my life, so work, career, the people and things I love, my family, exotic travel and holidays, high impact networking, lights, camera action! I do it all. I create time for each. It is a deliberateness with living.

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