OpinionOPINION: Enhancing Safety In Nollywood: Lessons From The Tragic Loss Of Junior...

OPINION: Enhancing Safety In Nollywood: Lessons From The Tragic Loss Of Junior Pope And Colleagues

April 15, (THEWILL) – The recent passing of Pope Obumneme Odonwodo (Junior Pope) and his colleagues, in a tragic filming accident, has sent shockwaves through Nigeria’s entertainment industry. As the nation mourns their untimely departure, the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) must reflect on the circumstances leading to this devastating incident and chart a path towards preventing such tragedies in the future. While it’s easy to assign blame or attribute the event to fate, the focus must now shift towards proactive measures to safeguard the lives of all involved in filmmaking. Below are some recommendations worth considering to improve safety standards within Nollywood.

Standardised Safety Protocols: One of the foremost steps towards mitigating risks in film production is the establishment of standardised safety protocols. These protocols should encompass a wide range of considerations, from set construction and equipment usage to stunt coordination and emergency procedures. By instituting clear guidelines, the AGN can ensure that all productions adhere to minimum safety standards, irrespective of budget or scale.

Yearly Accreditation for Producers: The role of producers in ensuring the safety of cast and crew cannot be overstated. Beyond their creative vision, producers must demonstrate a commitment to safety by obtaining yearly accreditation. This process should assess not only their filmmaking skills, but also their knowledge of safety protocols and their capacity to implement them effectively. By holding producers accountable through accreditation, the AGN can incentivise a culture of safety consciousness throughout the industry.

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Producer Responsibility for Cast Safety: Contracts between producers and talent should explicitly outline the former’s responsibility for the safety and well-being of the latter. This includes providing a safe working environment, adhering to established safety protocols, and addressing any concerns raised by cast and crew members. By making safety a contractual obligation, the AGN can empower actors to voice their concerns without fear of reprisal and foster a culture of mutual accountability.

Monitoring of Filming Sets: Regular monitoring and inspections of filming sets are essential to ensure compliance with safety standards. These inspections should be conducted by trained professionals who can identify potential hazards and address them promptly. Additionally, unannounced visits can deter producers from cutting corners on safety measures in pursuit of tight schedules or budget constraints. By maintaining a proactive stance on monitoring, the AGN can prevent accidents before they occur and protect the lives of those involved in filmmaking.

Shared Responsibility: Safety on set is a collective responsibility that extends to both producers and actors. While producers are tasked with providing a safe working environment, actors must also play an active role in advocating for their own safety. This includes undergoing safety training, familiarising themselves with emergency procedures, and speaking up if they feel their well-being is compromised. By fostering a culture of shared responsibility, the AGN can ensure that all stakeholders are actively engaged in upholding safety standards.

The tragic loss of Pope Junior and his colleagues is a stark reminder of the inherent risks associated with filmmaking. However, through proactive measures and a commitment to safety, the AGN can minimise these risks and prevent similar incidents in the future. By implementing standardised safety protocols, accrediting producers, clarifying responsibilities, monitoring filming sets, and promoting shared accountability, the AGN can create a safer working environment for all involved in Nigeria’s vibrant film industry. As we mourn the loss of these talented individuals, let us also honour their memory by striving for a future where such tragedies are no longer a reality.

*** Written by Kenechukwu Aguolu

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