Hello our MMPR readers, this is Karen your favourite PR girl in Cameroon bringing you another update from my Yaounde travels of a few weeks ago.
So during the Ecrans Noir Festival, I had the opportunity to be introduced to “Daddy” Vitalis Otia – Chairman of the Cameroon Film Industry. What a man! He was so nice to talk to for the first time and he even agreed to spare a few moments off his busy schedule to talk to MMPR about himself and his life as chairman.
Follow the chat below…
Karen: It’s such a pleasure to be able to talk with you Daddy (as he is fondly called), thanks for giving us this interview. Am sure our readers are dying to know who is Daddy Vitalis Otia?
D.V.O; I am just me, a medical practitioner today, ex student of Bishop Rogans college and a passionate actor. I don’t direct, I don’t produce, I am just an actor.
Karen; So Daddy your passion for acting insinuates you must have been long in this art. How long have you been acting for?
D.V.O: The passion started in school, while at Bishop Rogans I joined the drama club. I later stopped for a while and started work in Kribi, then moved to Yaounde and in the year 2006 was discovered. I did a few films, adverts and I just kept loving the experience, so its been 7 years in the journey.
Karen: As president of the CFI association, please help us understand more about the Association (I may like to be a part ha-ha!!).
D.V.O: The CFI Association is a platform for stakeholders in the industry to come together, share in the passion for the craft, promote themselves, promote cinema and showcase Cameroon’s talent in this domain. With a force like this, producers’ and technicians’ jobs are made easier which in turn makes our job as actors easier too.
Karen: Woah that sounds fantastic!! I used to hear of the Actors Guild of Nigeria I didn’t know ours was in the pipeline. So for how long has this Association been in place?
D.V.O: The Association was created in 2008 in Buea and a caretaker committee was entrusted with its growth and creation of guilds up until March 23rd 2013 when the General Executive was created and I was voted into office.The first general assembly sat on Saturday 13th of july to define its members and register them.
Karen: Hearing you talk about this Association makes me wonder, is it made up of just English speaking actors or both French and English?
D.V.O: As the name suggests it’s the Cameroon Film Industry Association, as such it is open to all both in the French and English sectors to join provided our aim is to foster the growth of our industry.
Karen: So the Ecrans Noirs festival just passed a week ago and you were in attendance, what exactly is it for those who do not know?
D.V.O: Ecrans Noirs is a festival or forum that celebrates cinema, encompassing all those in it from the cast to the crew. To acknowlege and appraise the work of those trying to make a difference in our industry.
Karen: I feel compelled to know Daddy, this wasn’t your very first attendance of Ecrans Noirs. What has been more perculiar about this 17th edition over the previous ones?
D.V.O: Over the years it has been loosing steam. It used to be more of a French festival but this year the English speaking Cameroon was duely incorporated. The Minister was urging us to come together to make it bigger and better.
Karen: That’s a great improvement, almost as great as the promise the Minister made on the day of the closing ceremony about opening two new cinema halls. Whats your take on that Daddy?
D.V.O: I thought it was a booster to us as film makers and to the industry as a whole. One of the halls is the Cameroon Cultural Centre and the other is a hall in the Communications Ministry. She plans to go regional with this initiative so we are excited. To have her support like that says a lot.
Karen: I am sure with that you have already laid a dozen plans for the next 4 to 5 years you have in office. What other things would you like to achieve as Chairman of CFI?
D.V.O: (Chuckles) Funny enough I have just 3 major plans for the CFI. Every other thing that should have made it a dozen falls under these three headings:-
- I want to make the CFI known
- I want to make it respected and above all
- For those involved in it to make a living out of it
You could think of distribution and piracy which is a major setback when you think of this. For actors and actresses to go back home with heavy paychecks and smiles on their faces because they deserve it.
Karen: I just want to pick up my dream of acting again after hearing your plans Daddy. You have a final word for our audience?
D.V.O: Yes! Many words actually. We need for designers and agencies to create more Cameroonian inspired attires to sell us better. Also for agencies like yours ModeMaison PR – that helps the stars be ever ready – to keep coming up. Script writers to come forth with more original and ethnic stories like Ninah’s Dowry that just earned 11 nominations in the US and grabbed 3 awards at the Ecrans Noirs. That we make our producers comfortable so they in turn make us comfortable. To all our undiscovered talents out there; don’t despair and keep fighting. Thank you Karen.
Karen: (Laughs) No thank you Daddy. It has been a true honour; pleasure and delight talking with you. We even managed to be one of the first to talk to you in your capacity as Chairman so thank you for doing this!
And with that brings the end of my catch up with Daddy Otia.
Daddy Otia and I during the Ecrans Noirs. Oh what a man I must say again. I hope I managed to capture his essence and his personality.
And that is the end of my #PRGirlAntics report.
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