Hollywood Contra Nollywood By Tee Jay Dan
APRIL 23, 2013 2 COMMENTS
“Critics should be active participants…propound and participate.” BM Dzukogi.
Nothing said in praise of Nollywood, in whatever fashion or design will invalidate the fact that the industry is threatened with poor funding, low quality production, technical ineptitude, piracy and blighted distribution channels. But we must not dwell on the many sins of Nollywood. We should appraise the industry; analyze her with the genuine hope of rediscovering her lost beauty. We must, stakeholders and consumers alike, collectively and jealously trade ideas and criticism; serve as a galaxy of souls to our very own motion pictures enterprise. I am playing my quota by writing this article in hopes that every reader will play their role by spreading the word until the identified defects are righted!
Here’s a little education on how a proper film industry functions. Top on the chain is THE MONEY nearly bracketed by THE FINDERS.
THE MONEY is further categorized into FILM and TV. The FILM category consists of major studios such as Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers e.t.c, whereas the TV category refers to Cable Networks such ABC, FOX, CBS e.t.c. Like every other business, these studios and Networks are structured with CEOs, Presidents, Creative Executives, Assistants and Business Affairs Executives.
THE FINDERS literally refers to professionals who find talents/stories for the studios/networks. The Finders serves as mediators between studios/networks and the products. Since studio execs are too preoccupied to read through heaps of specs/scripts these guys handle the hunt job. They function just like literary agents in the business of publishing.
It is the collation of these two factions; THE MONEY and THE FINDERS that makes up what is known as Hollywood. There is more to the solid structure of Hollywood but this will suffice for lack of space. Sadly, Nollywood strives on the exact the opposites of these dictates! There is no single Studio in Nigeria! The absence of a skeletal framework is Nollywood’s first and major problem. With a functional structure in place, Nollywood will look sexier to potential investors as investment returns will become guaranteed – only then can we bury the old days of financially constrained productions.
It is funny how the lots of producers in Nollywood believe funding to be the most pressing need that must be remedied if the industry is to be revitalized. They often find out albeit painfully so that even with the billions of the world they cannot make mind blowing movies with only money. In this business of ours it is believed that a good film could be made with a bad cast and poor production but no good film can be made with a bad story. There is no gainsaying the fact that our home videos are pretty predictable because the stories made into films are stereotypes! Any good screenwriter could easily hash out two or more stories from a typical Nollywood flick! Do you feel mentally exhausted after seeing a Nollywood film? This is because your brain is busy trying to patch together the unrelated stories/scenes in our home videos. Our producers need to pay closer attention to stories before they give the green light. Here’s an assignment: watch a Chinese, Bollywood or Hollywood movie without the sound then watch a Nollywood film in the same manner – watch the Nollywood clip first if you like. Then return here and share your experience. Please pick films you have not seen before and remember to mute the sound. Yes, that is the power of a good story of the lack thereof!
Recently I joined camp with Balogun Omo Oba Dayo of Ravernsbourne UK; a Nigerian Filmmaker based in the United Kingdom. In the course of our joint venture I learned a great deal. Nigerians making good movies are either independent producers or our brethren in the Diaspora. Movies like DR. BELLO, LAST FLIGHT TO ABUJA, TWO BRIDES AND A BABY, THE LOST NUMBER by Tony Abulu, Obi Emelonye, Blessing Egbe and Kester Nsirim respectively are clear examples. Oh, there are three kinds of filmmakers in Nigeria; the Nollywood filmmakers, Nigerian Filmmakers in the Diaspora and the Independent filmmakers. It is therefore out of good faith that I propose a conscious romance between these three factions of Filmmakers of Nigerian origin.
Funding is a crucial part of filmmaking especially in Nigeria. Here’s a bitter truth. Over 80% of filmmakers in Nigeria source for production money from marketers in Alaba. These marketers go as far as dictating names for films without reading the scripts! Have you noticed some Nollywood flick with a title that clearly conflicts with the storyline? Now you know why. A similar percentage of the technical crew are a bunch of ‘trial and error’ apprentices who self-graduated or were actually sent forth by their ‘masters’ to wreck Nollywood the more. The camera man you hire for your birthday today might be shooting Nollywood’s next ‘block buster’ tomorrow if he knows a producer or if a friend of his wins a lottery and decides to make a movie. As much as lack of funds is a problem, industry veterans should sign up for professional courses. It doesn’t take a lifetime!
We still suffer some shamefully from poor sound and picture quality in Nollywood. Take the just concluded AMAA 2013 event for instance.
Finally, because Nollywood churns out thousands of movies annually is not a yardstick to say it is without blemish. Popularity isn’t necessarily prosperity so goes the saying. A female Nollywood apologist argued that the industry guys are making big bucks alright hence do not need to up their game. This is laughable. See, in Nigeria pirates earn more than the filmmakers. Forget the paparazzi, safe for some side ‘runs’ our movie stars will be dying in penury. To say Nollywood is fine as it is is a terrible misconception. Let’s have a working structure then we can attract investors. Let’s build a tight knit industry and engage in collaborative ventures so we can make superb movies. Deal with Nigerians in the Diaspora, tackle piracy and pirates head on, mend the rift in AGN, and awaken DGN and SWG from slumber then watch Nollywood bloom.