Lawyard Interview with Ife Idowu
- LAWYARD: What University did you attend? Also please include postgraduate institutions attended and qualifications obtained.
Ife Idowu: I attended the University of Lagos and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Law. I also attended the Nigerian Law School and was admitted into the Nigerian Bar. I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in International Business with Law at the University of Salford, Manchester.
- LAWYARD: What factors influenced your choice of educational institutions at both University and Post-Graduate levels?
Ife Idowu: The University of Lagos, arguably has the best law faculty in the country and this is evident in its alumni and current lecturers. The Vice president was a former lecturer, the Attorney-General of Oyo State was one of my lecturers at some point and so, choosing Unilag was a no-brainer. The decision to enrol at the University of Salford was borne out of the need to supplement my experience working in international business with my legal background and also learn about globalization.
- LAWYARD: Would you say that mentors influenced your educational and career decisions? If yes what role did they play in your career decisions?
Ife Idowu: Well, I wouldn’t particularly say so, but the realities of the Nigerian legal and labour system did. However, people like Kene Okwuosa, Moses Babatope, and Jason Njoku heightened my willingness to work in the industry, albeit with a business-laden approach.
Professional Life and Law Practice
- LAWYARD: Where do you currently work, your specific role and how long have you worked here? Also kindly include the nature of your work.
Ife Idowu: I work with FilmOne Entertainment (an affiliate company of Filmhouse Cinemas). FilmOne is a studio-styled filmed content company and it is arguably the biggest in West Africa. I Joined the company in September 2017 and over the years, I have been tasked with the internationalization of indigenous filmed content as the Licensing, International Sales and Contracts Manager. This is done to broadcast outlets beyond local cinemas and including foreign cinemas, digital and streaming platforms.
- LAWYARD: You previously worked as an Associate Lawyer at Technolawgical Partners, a specialized law firm. Now you work with Film One in another specialist role. Please tell us about the strategic decisions that led you here rather than rise through the ranks of a law firm.
Ife Idowu: I have always had an idea about what I wanted to do and achieve in my career. I had a taste of traditional legal practice during my NYSC as a junior lawyer in a purely litigation firm and it somewhat cemented my opinion on the traditional legal industry. The major strategic decision, was to turn my interest in the entertainment industry into a career and by researching and gaining knowledge about the role of lawyers in the entertainment industry, I discovered that it was imperative to become a social engineer constantly creating innovative legal and business solutions within the industry.
- LAWYARD: What structures do you have put in place to ensure easier job delivery?
Ife Idowu: My job is three-pronged (Legal, Finance and Operations). Open-mindedness and the willingness to learn is a major systematic structure I have put in place to ease the of my job. I work with basically all departments in FilmOne – Legal, Technical, Finance, Marketing, Communications and Operations.
Gaining competitive advantage for the company involves the need for total understanding of all aspects of the business and the creation of synergy between the different moving parts of the business.
- LAWYARD: You recently led the Ancillary team at FilmOne Entertainment in the execution of the multi-picture licensing deal with Netflix. Please tell us more about your role in this deal.
Ife Idowu: Although, not the first multi-picture licensing deal we had done, our industry, not only in Nigeria but also the rest of the African continent, needed another ratification of its immense growth between 2017 and 2019. Netflix is the world’s biggest streaming platform and the right avenue for us to showcase our growth to the whole world. Along with an excellent team, we handled the whole sequence; from the selection of titles, negotiation of fees, compliance and due diligence, execution of license agreements, management of rights, delivery of required materials and financial management/ appropriation.
- LAWYARD: What are your thoughts on the nexus between Intellectual Property, Technology and Entertainment law in Nigeria. How would you say this affects the film industry and movie streaming services like Netflix in Nigeria? What do you envision as the future of movie streaming platforms and services in Nigeria and Africa at large?
Ife Idowu: The connection between all three cannot be underestimated. Entertainment law revolves around Intellectual property exploitation and protection and Technology creates new ways for this exploitation.
The Nigerian legal system in relation to intellectual property exploitation and technology is still in its infancy, and requires increased focus for its development. A lot of entertainment industry practitioners are not well versed in legal knowledge in this area and this unfortunately results in multiple infringement cases and disputes.
There is strength in the African population with respect to the future of streaming platforms, but weakening factors such as poverty and the high cost of data need to be addressed and solutions need to be provided. Once data becomes affordable, and more people gain disposable income, there will be a surge in the number of platform subscribers and available platforms and this may consequently lead to a ‘streaming war’ targeted at Africans among these platforms.
On a Lighter Note
- LAWYARD: Outside of work, what do you enjoy?
Ife Idowu: I’m a big Football and music person, so I spend quite a lot of time on both outside of my work. My job affords me the chance to travel quite often, and I always enjoy exploring new countries and assimilating the different cultures.
- LAWYARD: Considering how highly competitive the world has become, what are those non-negotiable skills you would recommend to young lawyers considering a similar career path as you?
Ife Idowu: Curiosity, adaptability and passion are the top three non-essential skills for me. Passion drives curiosity, and adaptability is key in executing all tasks to gain or maintain competitive advantage.
Ife Idowu is a Nigerian lawyer whose focus lies in Entertainment Law, International business, and Technology law, Ife leads the Global Rights Management and Ancillary Distribution team at FilmOne.
Established in 2016, the team, led by Ife has secured multimillion-dollar licensing deals with the biggest non-theatrical platforms in the world and also gained significant inroads into theaters and cinemas outside the primary market of Nigeria. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org