Kene Mkparu: On Film Distribution in Nollywood
Kene Mkparu who first set out to be a medical doctor and was in pre-medical school in Nigeria with the likes of Dr. Bennet Omalu (Concussion Biopic) is the Group MD/CEO of one of Africa’s fastest growing cinema chains– Filmhouse Cinemas and FilmOne Distribution. He has over 26 years’ of experience in business management and cinema operations management.
You worked at the Odeon Cinemas in the UK for about 17 years, prior to setting up your businesses in Nigeria. What lessons from that experience have you applied here in Nigeria?
Odeon has been in existence for about a 100 years. Having worked there for many years alongside some members of our existing Filmhouse team, we bring over 140 years of experience between us to bear. We bring the best practices and unique skills for running this kind of business; structures, strategies, management style, and execution of all the works, from film production through film distribution to film exhibition. Our focus is the entire film industry though we started with film exhibition, that is cinemas, which we have got off the ground and still working on several other outlets nationwide.
We have conducted and still conduct training sessions on different aspects of the film industry from the business side, through the creative process to final execution, exhibition and distribution. We also fully produce some movies and have a good stake in others. We have a TV show on ELTV (Ebony Life Television) and AMC (Africa Movie Channel) and two magazines informing people about the world of cinema and film from a Nigeria perspective. We also seek to empower people. At the moment, we have 330 persons in our employment across the nation and our aim is to get to 1,000 when we meet our target of 25 cinemas nationwide.
Nigeria cannot be dealt with as a homogeneous group. We have studied and are still studying the market. People have different spending powers and we try to get as many different demographies of people to our cinemas as much as possible.
Our cinemas are the most affordable in Nigeria. We launched the ‘Everything Na N100’ scheme at the cinema where people come in between 10am and 12noon on weekdays to watch movies. A movie ticket, popcorn, drink and other items all go for N100 each at that time. We also use this to push the Nollywood films.
In addition, some people may not be able to afford the standard fees but we want them to also enjoy the cinema experience. Nonetheless, through our findings in this scheme, we discovered that interestingly, many of the people who took advantage of the offer were Youth Corp members, as well as some students and workers.
It has stopped at the moment but are restructuring it to surely come back bigger and better. We also launched a scriptwriting campaign under our FilmOne Distribution for first-time screenwriters. The lucky ones will have their stories made into movies.
We want to encourage and empower people working and those who would love to work in the industry, presenting to them other possibilities besides acting.
What new strategies have you adopted in distributing films across Nigeria and globally?
As a distributor, key to what we do is helping our clients negotiate more money for their films. Establishing global relationships to buy Nollywood content is of utmost importance, and this is what we are best at. Locally, we are establishing ourselves as the go-to distributor for the best films made in Nigeria as we can also leverage on our brand to help negotiate better local deals.
For the full interview, watch out for Omenka magazine Film Issue…
May 20, 2019