Saturday, 7 May 2016

#ShootCamerasNotGuns #ProjectOffTheStreet: Setting Up Youths For Free

In this piece, ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM pictures the benefit of #Shootcamerasnotguns,ProjectOffTheStreet (POTS) championed by producer and director, Forinclay Ejeh , who is also CEO DMK Media and founder, Star Crew Academy of African Film Foundation (SCAAFF).

There is no doubt that over 60 per cent of Nigerian population is made up of young people below the age of 35. But governments at all levels have not taken cognizance of this. About 80 per cent of these youths are either unemployed or under–employed, and this has made many observers to predict that the Nigerian ‘Youthful Population’ is like a time bomb waiting for detonation. Nigeria has the largest army of unemployed and under-employed youths in Africa. One out of every three Nigerians is either unemployed or under-employed.

Several organisations have come-up with projects to empower the youths but not without swindling them of the little money they use in managing their unemployed lives  Because of their desperation to have something doing, they are unsuspecting and therefore give out whatever they have just to get something doing and have a place to go to at least.

Following this development, some people in the entertainment industry and also other professionals have decided to use their knowledge in the field of movie making and others to groom 5,000 Nigerian youths across the federation for free so as to get them off the streets, to be self-employed.

According to the project initiator, Forinclay Ejeh, who is known for his artistic creativity around the world, ProjectOffTheStreet,  #Shootcamerasnotguns is a skill acquisition programme aimed at training unemployed Nigerians for free across the federation in the area of cinematography, make-up artistry, film making, production, directing, acting etc. He also said that they would be training 5,000 Nigerian youths annually and will kick-off from Benue State.

His words: “When we have more hands, we could run it simultaneously. For now we have to move from one state to the other to get this people trained.

“We are not training and leaving them behind, we are training and carrying them along in whatever field they acquire the skill. At the end of each training, a movie will be shot in a particular state on humanity, skills, nation building, peace etc. We tend to reduce the rate of unemployment through skill acquisition programmes; through entertainment and other professions. Imagine some of us graduated and were waiting for government to employ us. I don’t think, it would have been possible to generate such laudable idea. We have to start up something on our own and grow it. Already, we are training people from the company side for free. We train and you test your skills with us so that when you leave us, you can have more experience. It is not everyone that has N500,000 to go to film school. So since this is not for certain classes of people but for everyone, it cut across shooting of cameras, make up artistry, set-building, fashion design, photography, cinematography, film directing, online editing, programming etc.”

Ejeh, who was supposed to be a soldier but couldn’t finish his  military training left just a couple of months to his graduation because of his passion of becoming an actor, refused to do what his father wanted of him. He acted on his passion where he met a mentor after playing various roles in movies and encouraged him that he would be a better producer or director than an actor. He revealed what motivated him to come up with this project.

“From where I come from, Benue State, the rate of violence on the streets is too much. We have lots of graduates; some people might not understand this until they lose someone close to them to violence. I’m from a place where youths kill themselves, kill friends in the name of cultism making their helpless parents to sob for the rest of their lives. There is no job opportunity in the state; there is a lot that is not going down well. So this project is to create more opportunities for them. It’s free. Imagine empowering 1,000 People in each state of the federation?” He asked.

Even with this laudable project, many international stars and celebrities have shown keen interest in supporting and rescuing Nigerian youths from the devil called unemployment.

Nigerian international, Anthony Ujah in a message sent out to our correspondent about the project said even though he has been a keen supporter of youths around the world, the sincerity and crave to better the future of the Nigerian youths is what motivated him to key into it.

Ujah noted: “I have supported anything that has to do with youth empowerment; I have been involved and will always be involved in projects that will impact the youths in the Nigeria. I started the Anthony Ujah grassroots sports and we are expanding gradually, I believe the sense of belonging will nurture minds that will rethink a life of crime.

“ProjectOffTheStreet #Shootcamerasnotguns is highly needed in my society where I grew up now due to an increased number of young men indulging in an inter-cult violence and killing. The idle mind is the architect of crime; it is my joy to be part of this.”

Meanwhile,  Amb. Olakunle Churchill, the husband of Nollywood actress, Tonto Dikeh-Churchill has also keyed into the project and has promised his support for the Nigerian youths in any way he could.

He said “I was moved by the work & idea behind the project. I want to feel I’m not powerless in the face of need in eliminating crime and reintroducing peace in my country where I live. It makes me feel connected to changing lives. I want to give to something that shares my ideals and values. There are 101 reasons why I am supporting this project; it is a very personal choice. However, I have been fortunate to witness the deeply fulfilling satisfaction that comes from giving to a cause that involves youth empowerment. I am passionate about it.

“Film Makers Without Borders, AD King foundation (FFA) Film Fellowship Africa. YALINETWORK, BIG CHURCH GROUP and others are sending resource persons who will train the participants for free and will be in the country for a whole year.

“All we need is logistics for a year because they will be doing it for free. We are also involving every company in each state to give back to the society because by the time these unemployed youths turn something else, I don’t think it would be easy for them to operate in the states. After this first project I will be shooting a film and the crew would be those from the training and not outsiders. After the training I am not bringing any professional, I will be using all those we have trained from the-set building down to the make-up artiste to the script writers and others,” Clay added.

On his part, Adoyi Paul Ujah, empathised with the youths of Nigeria for bearing the huge load of pain caused by some of their leaders.

He said, “I realise that Nigeria needs rebuilding, this rebuilding cannot be achieved by repairing contemporary damages caused by those that may have grown up without being given a direction. I was nearly a victim of some of these lacks of youthful direction, to have a Nigeria free of corruption, we must promote craftsmanship. Creativity keeps the mind busy and away from crimes. The basis for being an ambassador to this project is to inspire minds and impact the youths towards collective nation building. This is one of the many ways Nigeria will have a great nation tomorrow.” He concluded

Also, it has been confirmed that international football stars, Pizarro,Jannik Vestergaard, and others would be on hand to support the Nigerian youths throughout the programme.


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