WHEN he appeared onto the main stage from backstage the response he got was muted. Then he decided to add a comedic twist to it by telling the audience he would go back and expect that it would applaud louder when he was reintroduced by the host, I.K. Osakioduwa. That worked like it usually does as the response was rapturous this time.
Despite this induced response from the audience, dominated by Nigerians, it was obvious neither Salvador nor his craft was known to most of them hence a lukewarm response to his first few jokes. However, when he got into the flow and started tearing their ribs apart with good jokes they could identify with, the applause came in fast and thick. In the end, the comedian from Uganda got a standing ovation and some wished he had stayed longer.
Besides Salvador, who was the main comedy act, there were other comedians from Nigeria who were used as fillers in-between breaks at the star-studded 4th Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards, which took place at the sprawling Eko Hotel and Suites at Victoria Island in Lagos last Saturday.
It was a night that exuded with huge amounts of glitz, glamour and everything else between razzmatazz and zinger! The red carpet was huge and it was filled with the people for whom it was created: Africa’s glitterati across film, music, television, comedy, fashion and media all glammed in different types of styles from both the continent and beyond.
As a reporter from Ghana, certain things caught my attention with the five below being some of the key ones that ought to be noted and, if possible, should serve as lesson to us in our bid to improve on our event organizing and approach to same:
AMVCA IS A BIG DEAL: The first thing to note is that the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards or AMVCA is considered by some people to be a very big and respected awards for the film and television industry in Africa. Especially so are our closest neighbours (in relationship, of course) Nigeria.
It would be because their content dominates the Africa Magic channels or that as a people they are predisposed to taking everything that comes as competition seriously. You do not get the feel back home that the actors, actresses, producers, directors and other professionals in the film and television industry take this awards seriously.
News flash, the AMVCA is a big awards. It could pass for the biggest on the continent at the moment. I was at the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) last year and I just returned from the AMVCA and I can assure you that the AMAA has nothing on the AMVCA. They two are incomparable in anything.
This is a viewers’ choice awards which means most of the categories (save the technical and merit awards) are won through public voting only. It is time the Ghanaians, when they are nominated, should rally their fans and the country to vote for them so they will have any chance of winning. The Nigerians do it and they win.
It is a bit unnerving sitting at the auditorium touting your proud “Ghanaianness” and among the handful of people who clap when a Ghanaian nominee is mentioned only for your compatriots to get by-passed in almost every category they are nominated. Indeed getting nominated is pride enough, but winning is better and we wished those nominated from here would have picked more than just the one Shirley Frimpong-Manso won for us in Best Picture Editor for Rebecca.
TONNES OF OOMPH ON THE RED CARPET: We realized to our pleasant surprise that at the AMVCA the issue of red carpet is not taken for a joke. You either turn up or you go home! No middle ground there and the people who know take it pretty much serious than I have seen it done back home.
The red carpet at the AMVA was gigantically enormous! It laidy sprawling for more than a thousand metres (or I could be exaggerating) right from the edge of the reception to the very entrance of the conference rooms of the Eko Hotel. When I was at AFRIMA last year, I noted that the red carpet area, done similarly as this, was very hot because of the sheer number of people.
The producers of the AMVCA red carpet anticipated this and so placed additional mobile air conditioners and several fans with cooling systems that ensured that in spite of the huge numbers that thronged the place it remain cold for the entire duration.
Besides, there were several branded positions with risers that different television crew could use for interviews apart from the main stage for Studio 53 Extra and the other MNet and DStv owned productions. The red carpet at the 4th AMVCA was a major spectacle that added several tonnes of oomph to the whole show in Lagos.
KEEPING TO TIME IS POSSIBLE: One thing we realized from the AMVCA was that it was important that event organizers kept to time. In order words, start when you announce to start so you can end when you intend to.
It had been announced weeks before the event that red carpet will begin from 4pm Nigerian time and the main show will start at 7pm. Holy macaroni, it worked with Swiss precision! At exactly 4pm Africa Magic started with the red carpet and exactly 7pm the main show was on and at exactly 9:40pm the show was over. What was left was the after party.
When the main show started it was announced that there should be as little movements as possible as it was being shown live on TV and that if people wanted to use the washroom, etc. they should do so during commercial breaks.
Every aspect of the show, what the hosts I.K. and Minie Dhlamini said on that stage in the massive conference room at the Eko Hotel last Saturday night were scripted. They had very little room to ad lib and so they didn’t say much more than they were required to say.
The award recipients spent very little time to comment and they didn’t have to go beyond a minute of talking and if they were exceeding that the reminder sound was played and if they continued their mic was disabled. A few people had this level of pan-continental embarrassment bestowed on them for good measure.
Except Flavour and to some extent Yemi Alade who performed two songs, every single musician who showed up on that stage had to perform one song. One very quick song and they moved over for the next act. It is important to note also that the music performances on the night were very few to give room for the main reason we gathered: awards!
We also learned that it gave enough time for the after party if the show ends on time. Oh yeah, we really partied till late last Saturday night.
ARTISTES ON TIME AND PRESENT: It is a truism that all awards ceremonies are held for the people who operate within that industry. All other people who attend are therefore not the most important people as far as the awards are concerned.
The movie awards is for movie industry people, the music awards is for musicians and so on, hence those who matter the most are actors and technicians and musicians respectively. All others are just spectators. Organizers therefore like to have these category of people present and on time to get things going.
One of the biggest nightmares of event organizers in Ghana is the habit of celebrities to turn up very late for awards events.
I noticed just like I did at all other awards I have attended in Nigeria that despite their celebrity status, musicians and actors arrive on time to go through the red carpet formalities and then settle in early before the show would start. They were also present in their numbers from all over the continent to take part in the awards.
This is something good that our local celebrities can learn from. It is just one day for a big industry awards ceremony. You won’t lower your street cred if you attend on time and go through red carpet early enough for the show to start! It is not asking too much, is it?
AMVCA IS THE NUMBER ONE FILM AND TELEVISION AWARDS, BUT…: Having been successful in its fourth year, the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards has proven to be the industry’s most glamorous event and one that is respected by the practitioners.
It brings together great television and film industry professionals mainly across English speaking Africa. There is the need however for it to go beyond the glam and ensure that there is quality work coming from the industry.
However, I think that in spite of all they do by paying for nominees, journalists and other relevant industry people to be present there is still more they can do to endear the scheme to people in all the participating countries.
It is not the fault of Nigeria that they dominate the AMVCA in that manner. Nigeria is a content juggernaut on the continent and they practically choke the Africa Magic channels with content from that country. It is logical therefore that in the nominations and winnings they will dominate.
However, I think there should be effort on the part of the producers and organizers to ensure that in the other non-competitive categories they would balance it out by presenting awards to people from other countries.
For example, three merit awards were given on the night and all went to Nigerians (deservedly), but they could have found people from two other countries who equally deserved it to ensure that at least there would be some semblance of equity.
I am sure if the organizers can do some of these little things they will gradually defuse the notion that the AMVCA is too Nigerianised. The fact is that it cannot be entirely eliminated and that fact should be faced, but an effort at doing so would go a long way to help the scheme itself.
By Francis Doku