Sanwo-Olu Kicks off Construction of $100 million Lagos Film City
By Yemi Olakitan
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Wednesday, laid the first foundation block for the development of Lagos Film City — an ecosystem of creative cinematography, tourism, leisure, entertainment and learning.
The project, being sited on 100-hectares in Ejinrin town in Epe Division, is a legacy infrastructure initiated by the Sanwo-Olu administration to harness local talent and creativity to create new economic opportunities for talented youngsters in culture and entertainment industries.
The State Government sealed a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with entertainment investors facilitated by Del-York Group to develop the one-stop campus for learning, film production, post-production, visual effects, and other ancillary services that support the filmmaking process.
Ogidi Studios and EbonyLife Cinema are among the indigenous entertainment partners that would work on the project to bring the Governor’s vision to reality.
Ejinrin, a coastal boundary town, literally became a beehive during the groundbreaking held at the site of the $100 million project.
Roll call of Nollywood veterans and notable theater practitioners that attended the ceremony included Alhaji Adebayo Salami, popularly known as Oga Bello; Prince Jide Kosoko, Tade Ogidan, Prof. Sola Fosudo, Adewale Elesho, Saheed Balogun, Kunle Afolayan, and Raymond Anyiam-Osigwe among others. There were movie directors and young filmmakers.
The event also had in attendance traditional rulers and members of the diplomatic community, who expressed their excitement seeing Lagos launching a world-class infrastructure to tap into the global entertainment market.
Sanwo-Olu said the occasion marked a significant milestone in his administration’s journey to creating a thriving film industry in Lagos that would have a global appeal, while contributing to the economic growth and cultural development of the State.
The Governor said: “Today, we embark on a journey that will redefine the landscape of the film industry in Lagos. As we break the ground for this $100million project covering a land area of 100 hectares and which will be executed through PPP model, we are laying the foundation for a creative hub that will serve as a catalyst for innovation, talent discovery, and storytelling excellence. This is a testament to our commitment to nurturing the arts and supporting the dreams of aspiring filmmakers, actors, and technicians.
“It is our strong belief that the film industry has the power to transcend boundaries and bring people together. It has the ability to inspire, entertain, and educate. Through the magic of cinema, we can showcase the rich cultural heritage of Lagos, while telling stories that reflect our shared experiences, and amplify the voices of our diverse communities. This film city will serve as a canvas for these stories, providing a platform for our talented artists to shine on both local and global stages.”
When delivered, Sanwo-Olu said there would be no need for filmmakers to take their creative contents out of the country for final production of their works.
He stressed that all required infrastructure and equipment needed to produce a globally accepted cinema production would be available in the Film City.
The Governor appealed to residents of the host community to support the project, noting that the Film City would turn around fallow assets of the town to create wealth for its inhabitants.
Through the project, Sanwo-Olu said Lagos would tap into the global entertainment GDP and create job opportunities for young cinematographers, while stimulating economic growth and attracting more foreign investment into the sector.
“The Film City is not just about bricks and mortar. It is about the people who will walk through its doors and breathe life into its spaces. It is about the dreams that will be realised, stories that will be told, and impacts that will be made. Our creative community is the beating heart of this film city, and we are committed to providing them with the resources, support, and opportunities they need to thrive. This is an ecosystem that will nurture creativity, foster collaboration and empower artists to push their craft beyond the local boundaries,” the Governor said.
Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka, noted that the idea to embark on the Film City project was initiated during the Governor’s transition period in 2019, adding that the project required committed investors and partners to bring it to life.
She said the commencement of the project’s construction further testified to the commitment of the Sanwo-Olu administration to invest in the infrastructure, and create an enabling environment for the creative economy to thrive in Lagos.
“By the time the Lagos Film City comes on board, the spiral-effect on Lagos profile as a tourist destination of choice would be appreciated beyond the entertainment sector,” the Commissioner said.
Founder of Del-York Group, Linus Idahosa, said allocation of private equity to investors in the project development underscored the Governor’s understanding of key partnerships required to deliver the vision and enhance growth in the creative sector.
He said: “This idea of strategic collaboration between the Government and stakeholders is what it takes to push the country forward. The future of this country will be determined by the creative energy we are about to harness through the Film City project.”
Elejinrin of Ejinrin, Oba Rafiu Balogun, said the occasion marked a new dawn for the natives, describing the Film City as the “first modern project” to be brought to the town, decades after the colonial masters left.
“Talents and endowment deposited in Ejinrin can now be enhanced for national development,” the monarch said, thanking the Governor for siting the project in the town.
Popular movie star, Femi Adebayo, who spoke on behalf of Nollywood, said the project represented the collective enthusiasm of theatre practitioners and creative community, stressing that the infrastructure would elevate professionalism in cinematography and entertainment.