Lagos State is set to house its first film city. The film city, spanning a sprawling 100 hectares, will serve as a comprehensive production hub, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, including sound stages, editing suites, production offices, and all the necessary infrastructure to bring the magic of filmmaking to life.
The new city will be located in Ejinrin town, a tranquil and beautiful waterfront town in Epe Local Government Area of Lagos State. This is strategic as the town is a fast-growing centre for real estate activity. With 900 meters of prime waterfront, the location is poised to provide a captivating backdrop for a myriad of film productions.
The project, valued at $100 million, will be executed through a public-private partnership, with Del-York International Group, a media and creative company that operates in Nigeria (and Africa). According to the Del-York group, the film city is the synergistic confluence of Del-York University, Studio City, and a Theme Park, transcending the mere concept of bricks and mortar, representing the foundation of a vibrant film and creative arts ecosystem for Nigeria. The PPP model employed for the film city project highlights the significance of fostering collaboration in the growing entertainment industry.
A partnership meant to be?
With 21 million people and a GDP of $102 billion, Lagos State is the cultural and economic powerhouse of Nigeria. It is also the epicenter of the creative industries in Nigeria, spanning music, literature, fashion, and film. The city boasts Nollywood, the world’s second-largest film industry, which produces over 2,000 movies annually and generates $1.2 billion. Lagos constantly hosts several film festivals, which support and celebrate the film industry.
On the other side of this project is the Del-York Group, a media and creative company committed to providing African filmmakers with invaluable access to knowledge, resources, and opportunities in Nigeria and Africa. Founded in 2007 by Nigerian filmmaker Linus Idahosa, the group has blossomed into a multi-faceted enterprise, encompassing a film school, a film agency, and a film production company. The Del-York Group’s has been instrumental in propelling the continent’s film industry to new heights. The Del-York Creative Academy has trained over 1,000 students from 38 African countries since its inception, and many of its alumni have gone on to win awards and recognition at local and international film festivals.
The project is expected to create thousands of direct and indirect jobs, stimulate economic growth and investment, and showcase the rich and diverse culture and talent of Nigeria and Africa to the world. It is also expected to enhance the capacity and competitiveness of the local film industry, which is already one of the largest and most prolific in the world, producing over 2,000 films annually and generating over $600 million in revenue.
A potential drawback
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can have many benefits, such as using the skills and ideas of the private company, reducing the risks and costs of the government, and making sure the service is good and fast. This approach has proven successful in numerous instances, balancing government oversight with private sector expertise to deliver impactful projects. Moreover, the idea of such a project is not without precedent. Similar projects like to be transformative forces, revitalizing local economies and propelling them onto the global entertainment map. A good example is the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, USA, which was built with money from both the public and the private, including $50 million from Walt Disney’s wife, Lillian Disney.
However, while public-private partnerships offer immense potential for economic growth and development, they are not without their challenges. For one, Nigeria’s track record in public-private partnerships has been mixed, with some projects failing to deliver the expected returns due to bureaucratic hurdles, corruption, and a lack of transparency. Yet, the challenge is not limited to Nigeria’s sentiments. In 2007, the Glasgow City Council, Scottish Enterprise, and Pacific Quay Developments, a private consortium in Scotland, launched the Film City Glasgow initiative, a project aimed to establish a film studio complex and a media village. However, the project was plagued by delays, cost overruns, and disputes. It was ultimately abandoned in 2014, leaving behind a trail of criticism for wasteful spending and unfulfilled promises. Moreover, Government overreach in the entertainment industry can stifle creativity and growth.
Nevertheless, the Lagos Film City project is not just a game-changer for the local creative scene; it’s a glimpse into the future. Lagos State, with its rich cultural heritage, diverse talent pool, and strategic location, has all the ingredients to become a global entertainment powerhouse. The proposed film city project is a bold step towards realizing this. Linus Idahosa, the founder of Del-York Group, the private partner in this venture, articulates this sentiment. “Collaboration is the heartbeat of creativity. With the Lagos Film City, we will unite diverse cultures in a shared creative vision, serving as a melting pot where the global creative community converges and collaborates. When we come together, work in unison, and craft stories together, we don’t just make art; we make history. Lagos has the potential to not only be a hub but also the epicenter of the global entertainment industry,” he said.