Nollywood’s Akolawole Olootu: “Piracy, bad market drove me out of movie production”


Akolawole Olootu has been an independent presenter on radio for thirty years but has also doubled as a Nollywood producer. He speaks to Segun Adebayo on why he stopped producing movies, his growing up and other issues. Rather bizarrely he claims that women producing Nollywood movies have unfair advantages.

Q: How would you describe your sojourn into independent broadcasting?

A: The journey started thirty years ago with my friend, Kolade Alabi, who introduced me to the profession. I actually started as a poet; I went to a lot of occasions then to entertain with songs and dances. I went presenting during one of Kolade Alabi’s programmes, he was the one who taught me all I needed to know concerning radio presentation. He knew everything about presentation before me; we started with one programme called Ejire with Radio Oyo during the time of Bisi Adesola, who was the General Manager of BCOS then. After sometime, we had different programmes, so, when Osun State was created, Kolade Alabi had to go to Osun State. After about five years, we parted ways without any problem. I started my programme, Oselenkejo about twenty six years ago. In fact, mine was the first independent radio presentation on Oyo Radio, there was nothing like paying for air time then, it was only the Christian and Muslim programmes that they do pay for these days. I am the first independent radio presenter that bought airtime in BCOS.

Q: You did not start as a presenter; you started as a poet, why the change of focus?

A: The kind of presentation we do then was purely grassroots and majorly Yoruba programmes. Any professional poet should be able to fit into radio presentation without any problem, so it became very easy for me to switch over to radio programming because of the experience I had garnered over the years when I was under the tutelage of Kolade Alabi. I was trained by him, because he had been with Radio Nigeria for a long time before I met him, he gave me the idea and it became a success.

Q: At what point of your life did you discover your talent for presentation or did it just happen overnight?

A: It has always been part of me when I was very young and I can say that I noticed the gift when I was in primary school, I was one of the most outspoken boys during our days. During our end of the year activities, I was always the one speaking on behalf of other pupils. I read so many Yoruba books, listened to Olarawaju Adepoju, Tubosun Oladapo and others. I love listening to their music a lot when I was growing up, so I was able to pick one or two things from them that helped my growing up and shaped my intellectual ability. I was from a very poor family, because we couldn’t afford quite a number of things. The passion and interest of what I do is what I am enjoying today; I did not start because I wanted to make money, the interest was always in my mind every time and because I knew I was good at what I am doing, I was very sure that one day there will be a break through.

Q: Which was your first episode?

My first programme on air was Bodewasinmi, I was very happy because it was my first time on air, I went to everybody and told them that my programme will be coming live on air, I mean the excitement and the fun was so overwhelming. Another funny thing then was that it was not a money spinning business like what we have today, the highest you get then was 100 naira.

Q: You have not been producing movies for sometime now, did you relinquish movie for radio presentation?

A: I left movie production because the economy was very bad and it was not encouraging for somebody who wants to produce quality movie to survive, the buyers are also not supportive. People love watching Nigerian movies but they don’t want to pay for it. How can you buy fifteen films in one CD for 100 naira? Piracy, poor state of economy, bad market, and distribution are the major problems that have reduced the development of good movie production. If you watch most movies today; you will discover that they are produced by women, and the funny thing is that when you ask them where they get the money from, they will say my boyfriend gave me or somebody very special dashed me, I mean all sorts of stories that you can’t imagine. You cannot invest ten million naira and make that kind of money back, and the truth is that I am not an actor neither am I looking for fame, all I want is to invest money and make cool cash at the end.

Q: Are you saying bad economy forced you out of Nollywood?

A: Not really, but we are actually planning to come back very soon with something bigger and better. The movie industry is presently in a sick state and I pray it gets out of the mess for the betterment of everybody. Let the government flush out piracy from the movie industry and it will become boom.

Full article here


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