Nollywood Can Learn a Few Tips from the Porn Industry to Resume Production in Post COVID-19 Lockdown

David Afolayan
Nollywood Can Learn a Few Tips from the Porn Industry to Resume Production in Post COVID-19 Lockdown

One of the greatest casualties of the COVID-19 Pandemic is the significant economic, business and commercial impact being felt globally. In fact, a survey by renown consulting outfit, KPMG indicates that 94 per cent of the Fortune 1,000 businesses have been impacted by COVID-19 disruptions. And businesses in Nigeria are not left out.

For an overall understanding of an industry where data is difficult to get, the Nigerian market capitalisation of listed equities, which was valued at NGN13.657 trillion (US$35.2bn) on Friday, February 28 depreciated by NGN2.349 trillion to NGN11.308 trillion (US$29.1bn) on Monday 23 March 2020.

While it is true that many businesses have lost out during the period, many others have gained. The common factor among the winning businesses is the fact that they all are players in the digital economy coupled with the fact that they had agile operation systems.

One of the worst-hit sectors has been the hospitality and entertainment industry.

Many experts are already saying 2020 will go down as the worst in modern history for hotels and travel businesses around the world. From acting to comedy to music and night-life. The ban on social gathering has brought businesses to a halt and entertainers are feeling the heat.

Yet there is a possible way out…

When hit by a similar pandemic many decades ago, another segment of the entertainment industry devised a system that ensured that stakeholders are protected and the show continues.

The porn industry in Los Angeles came up with its own testing system and database in the 1990s to protect actors during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The protocols were established in the late 1990s after a porn actor forged an HIV test and infected several others in the industry.

Now stakeholders are considering using that system to develop protocols for making adult entertainment during the post-COVID-19 pandemic era that is upon us.

“When we first starting talking about COVID, we felt very well prepared because we have a whole history of testing within the industry as well as contact tracing and production shut-downs,”

Mike Stabile, spokesman for the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for the U.S. adult entertainment industry.

How it works…

Porn star Sharon Mitchell, who is now a physician, created a safety and protocol system now known as PASS (Performer Availability Scheduling Services), in which porn actors are required to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases every 14 days at accredited health facilities.

The results are then entered into a database which is kept securely to inform producers and directors about people that are clean and available for work from time to time.

“All it tells us is a binary. Are you clear to work or are you not clear to work?” Stabile said.

Now, the socio-economic challenges facing the Nigerian entertainment industry and its stakeholders may be somewhat different but in reality, there are learning opportunities for the industry to learn some simple concepts that will work.

Nollywood Can Learn a Few Tips from the Porn Industry to Resume Production in Post COVID-19 Lockdown
The big question is: considering our unique challenges, how do we adopt here?

Some Ideas:

Testing and certification:

The Actors or producers association could draw out a list of accredited hospitals or test centres. Here, actors or their support staff could go for tests before they could get a clearance to participate in shoots or live events. of course, the accrediting body must be sure that the centres are trusted.

This ensures that the question of credibility is settled and everyone is indeed safe.

For the validation of the certificates, It will be valid for 14 days only. Thereafter, you need another to continue to work. If you are negative after testing, your permit will be renewed.

Group testing possibilities

The other alternative is to have the accredited centres offer on-site batch testing. Their team will come over to test all cast and crew before a project commences.

That implies that the entire crew that gets this sort of permit- after the screening exercise- must execute the entire production sequence while quarantining at the set location for the length of a shoot.

The big question is: considering our unique challenges, how do we adopt here?
Nollywood is a movie industry that has become Africa’s de facto film industry and one of the largest globally (by production volume).

Also, medics will be on set to conduct temperature tests every 12 hours as well as test any new addition before joining the crew or anyone exiting.

Your question then will be how do we shoot crowded scenes?

Well, extras and crowded scenes should be replaced with computer-generated imagery or similar archive shots. That way the cast and crew are not exposed to the danger of coming in contact with carriers. If the producers have the cash capacity, they can have the entire crowd actors in camp with them.

Open shows and concerts

This is the most challenging because they involve a significant number of people in gatherings (at times in their thousands). The possibility of an after-event outbreak is rife. Yet comedians, musicians and comperes must connect to their audience.

At the moment, entertainers are already connecting with their followers using a number of technology platforms like IG Live, Youtube and TikTok. Yet these do not guarantee the same income and connection physical audiences guarantee.

The easy way out is to have to ensure everyone gets admitted with their #COVID-19 clearances from certified test centres and their tickets. The challenge would be ascertaining the validity of the clearances as one slip could put all attendees in danger.

The possibility of having a contact tracing app that will seamlessly track the health of all attendees will help significantly too. But that cannot work without an efficient test system and an accurate database of citizens.

In conclusion

There is nothing as innovation inducing as change, especially ones that are painful. This is an opportunity for the entertainment sector key stakeholders to seek better ways of leveraging technology and due process to tighten the areas they have neglected for long.


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