In the last few years, short films in Nigeria have begun to gain a level of attention and respectability that was denied of the as close as 7 years ago. Now short films are recognized by the top local film festivals and award organizations . Check out my piece for Shadow&Act and see some of these short films showing what could be the future of Nollywood.
OK, So i decided to do another video essay and this time it’s on FRAMING . Using examples of films by Nigerian Directors .
Check it out. If you like what you see and want to see more. Click on the subscribe button, leave comment and if you want to you can support the making of more videos( they take time to make) on Patreon
You can see it with some notes on my guest post here
There is a saying by Archbishop Desmond Tutu “Dont raise your voice, improve your argument” . I think that is a fantastic thought process to apply to any dispute or difference of opinion.
Creatives are very defensive of their work, especially when it comes to criticism they feel is harsh,unfair or lacks objectivity. The popular response for a long time to unfavourable reviews has been to say, “Which one have you made” or “Go and make your own let’s see”.
That response yields nothing. They learn nothing and you’ve painted the picture of being someone unable to hear anything else but praise.They have your own words to paint you as a tantrum thrower,and you stay pissed off in addition to risking your health with all that anger. Nothings’ been gained .The only winners are bloggers who can post the headline “Film-Maker fires back at critics: You are all stupid”
I think that response should retire for a new one. Before I share that ; I want to remix the Archbishop’s quote.
Improve your argument,present a logical & factual case, instead of raising your voice,bringing in sentiments or insulting the other person.–
In 2017, if you feel your film has received an unfair review. You feel the reviewer didn’t understand your choices or that their views lacked objectivity. Here are some considerations
1) IGNORE IT – Many celebrated filmMakers, with not only billions of dollars in box office response to their body of work but also critical acclaim havent read a review in decades. I’m talking about some of the most influential directors of the last 20- 40 years who have made some of the most culturally impactful films. They just choose not to read reviews (or selectively read only certain critics). No matter your level of success/acclaim even a bit of criticism stings and is the one remembered.
2) FIND SOMETHING VALID – If you want to read, see if there is any validity in what they say buried somewhere in that review. Even if it’s just 1% you can take away. They paid to see your film so maybe they have something you can take from their thoughts.
3) KNOW THEY ARENT YOUR MARKET – If you make a product for everybody, you’ve made a product for nobody. As Marketer Seth Godin says “As soon as you’re willing to say ‘it’s not for you’, you’re freed up to make art.”. Maybe they didn’t get it. Maybe they aren’t your target market.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the highest grossing franchise in film history. More succesful than the Stars Wars,James Bond,Harry Potter franchises. Yet, there are people who can’t stand the films. There are people who would never watch the films even with free ticket and popcorn. Many faithful fans grew up reading the comics and watching the cartoons, to them the films are a dream come true.To others comic book movies are the death of cinema, have nothing to offer and they want no part regardless of box office success .
Some films are more about relate-ability than anything else and if a person can’t relate, then it’s not for them. Once you think about it that way you avoid a lot of stress.
4) MAYBE JUST MAYBE THEY’RE ACTUALLY RIGHT- I’ll use myself as an example. A few weeks ago I was in the office a colleague I respect and see like a senior brother. The thing about him, he never holds back and often leaves me with a lot to think about personally and professionally. We eventually got talking about a film I made and he gave me his honest opinion. He felt I could have done more with the story, I could have pushed the envelope and i allowed my own moral reservations get in the way of the story which stopped it from having the type of impact it should have. It turned out, OK, when it could have been, OH SHIT,DID THAT JUST HAPPEN. He was absolutely right. If I had prepared more, probably done another draft, hadn’t compromised and gotten out-of-the-way of the story i could have achieved much more.
Is it possible that you are too close ,too invested in your film to see its flaws? Are like the love struck hopeless romantic who thinks their lover is perfect, but friends and family can smell the rotten fufu in their character and intentions.
Is it possible a screen test with an honest trusted audience before releasing the film could have revealed pacing issues or scenes to hitting the floor ? Is it possible not enough time spent on the script? Too little time in pre-production? Was the edit rushed to meet a première date ? Perhaps the editor is great with music videos but doesn’t know how to cut drama?
Is it possible that maybe the story was too generic and offered nothing new in its genre? Failed to live up to the expectations of the genre? Is it possible someone was miscast and that ruined a significant part of the film?
5) RISE ABOVE – Ok, lets assume they were wrong and your film was actually great. If you choose to respond. If you MUST spend your energy and time responding . You are a creative person who put together a film in this Naija. That is no easy feat , so let them see that creativity. Respond like the Creative Professional you are
Let it be an intelligent response ,contrasting what you feel theirs lacked.
Let it be a response detailing the reason for certain choices and what they missed.
Let it be something the fans, upcoming filmmakers and the reviewer can learn about your craft as a writer/producer/director.
If you feel the review lacked enough understanding of cinematic storytelling/film language, this is a chance to share your experience so that they can do better next time and review from a more informed place. They aren’t going away so you might as well make soup with their bitter leaf .
Let the defence be based on facts, stating the creative/technical intents in making those choices.
Rise above any pettiness you feel may have existed in the negative review.
Rise above any personal agenda/emotions you feel may have influenced the writing and let the facts be your defence.
It will be hard, especially if the review was more of a rant than anything else,but things really have to change. No film in the history of film-making has had 100% positive response. NONE. If you wait for a time where your work gets 100% love and praise, you will spend a lot of time being angry and frustrated.
If nothing else your calm and informed response will show your character and probably win you new fans who respect how you handled negativity.
I honestly feel the industry would be the better for it. I really do. The younger generation who are yet to discover they want to make films need to see that we can respond without insults or emotions and can rise above it all.
So a few years ago I’m on a break between shoots on a cross country road trip for a talent show i was working on; sitting in my hotel room channel surfing and I stumble upon the umpteenth episode of “Pimp my ride” in one week.
As usual they’re upgrading an old vehicle,or rather tuke tuke/jallopy and putting in all the efizi.
For the un-intiated,”pimp my ride” is an MTV show, where people with horrible cars get a free total overhaul, makeover if you will. Hosted by rapper X-zibit, a battered deathtrap which barely resembles a vehicle goes in the shop & a flashy ampped up Ride comes out.
The custom shop is armed with specialists for each & every aspect of the transformation of the vehicle. They got wheels,Paint,Interior,Electronics,Engine & Body experts each trained in the craft of those parameters. With a specific assignment for different parts of the transformation process each crew member brings his expertise to the table. Each person plays a part to this process.
This reminded me of the synergetic process of film making.
Film making is synergistic and has three stages. Pre-Production,Production& Post Production. All essential to the success of the final out come. But it all starts with script.
The writer is the architect who lays out the blue print for what we eventually see on screen. The story the characters the dialogue, the journey we embark on etc
A good script is VERY essential to a movie cos even with the greatest director and actors in the world. The wrong script is like a bad foundation in a house it will cave in on it’s inhabitants. Legendary and one of the most influencial directors of all time Akira Kurosawa said
“With a good script, a good director can produce a masterpiece. But with a bad script, one can’t possibly make a good film”.
Once the script is locked down the Producer looks for a director that can execute the material and once he does the pre production ball gets rolling. He begins to break down script and detail his vision. An assistant Director is hired to schedule the shoot of the film and make sure everyone and everything is in place everyday of shoot.
They begin to put together a cast . The actors who will breathe life into and interpret the characters .The director is assigned or depending on his clout picks a Director of Photography.
Now picking the right DP is like a wrestler picking the right tag team partner, if the fighter picks the wrong one he’s going to get his ass kicked. Also like a pilot picking the wrong co-pilot . The passengers better resign themselves to the reality that they have boarded the plane to their final destination.
When it comes to actors I’ll just go with the words of three legendary director. If you dont recognize the names, google them, because they are pretty awesome and they likely influenced a directorwhose work you love.
“Half of directing is casting the right actors.” John Huston
An actor should be able to get the rhythm of the script,get the joke,sing the line. People like Sam Jackson&Chris Walken don’t grow on trees – Quentin Tarantino
I believe directing actors is only really a matter of getting good actors in d first place then you just sit down and have a chat with them– Alfred Hitchcock
Right now you are probably going , “i thought he said Nollywood, why is he talking about these oyibo directors “. Please stick with me, im getting to that…eventually.
Ok , lets continue.
With wrong actors everything falls apart no matter how great the script or talented the Director or anyone else on the crew. There has be synergy with the actors, the roles they are playing and the world that it’s set .
It’s not necessarily that the actor is bad, but they may not be right for THAT role,THAT character. Miscasting happens sometimes.
It’s said that a film is made in three stages .The script,the directing and editing and after principal photography is done we move to post production. Editing is another form of story telling and the way the footage is cut determines how the story is told and how we the audience feel ,connect and eventually love,hate or feel nothing about the film.
Another part of post production is the score. The over all musical character and life of the film. The rhythms and melodies that accompany the scenes,sequences et al. Those acoustic sensations that push us to the verge of tears when a character is in a deep emotional moment. Triumphant sounds when the underdog is about to achieve victory and makes us believe that despite the odds we can get up one more time and make it.
Remember how you felt when Rocky went the distance? The roaring score when he and Adrienne embrace after the fight with Apollo?
The awe when Superman takes to the skies after saving the day?
How you felt each time the Darth Vader theme came on and you knew he was making an entrance.
The score at the end of “The Usual Suspects” when Agent Kujan starts to put the pieces together as the mug drops in slow mo and Verbal delivers the last line and it fades to black.
The satisfaction you feel as the credits roll and the score plays on after watching a great film and you tell yourself “I’m getting this on DVD”.
Even the animes have made great use of this. Like the Naruto series. Scores for sadness,goofyness, rising action,expectation etc Each character is even assigned their own score unique to their personality.
A great score adds another layer on the impact will have on the viewer achieving synergy with the rest of the film.
Most movie fans instantly recognise the James Bond,Star Wars,Pink Panther and Superman theme songs even though most of them were conceived over 30 years ago often resurrecting the memories of the viewing experience .
While on the project I began to whistle a movie score and my room mate’s ears arched up. He recognized the song immediately and said he hadn’t heard it in years. It was the score from Speilberg’s War movie “Empire of the Sun”. He last watched the movies as a child. Never underestimate the power of a score.
The work of an art director is another vital role to the creation of the world of the story. They create the rooms,apartments,rendevouz points, and offices of the characters which lend authenticity to their personality and socio economic level . They help the director make the world of the story and character believable.
Without great art directors the worlds of: Gladiator,Star Trek,Star Wars,James Bond, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and many others would have remained just in the head of writer and director.
They and their team of set designers,armory,wardrobe,make up,props department and many others make the past,the future and fictional worlds possible on the silverscreen.
EVERY JOB ON A FILM SET, NO MATTER HOW “SMALL” OR UNRECOGNIZED IT’S TITLE, IS IMPORTANT, SO DO YOURS EXCELLENTLY
All those roles come together to make the final product and great synergy is required. Film making is truly one of those field where the chain is as strong as the weakest link and as possible it for the other links to compensate for the weak link. Everyone has to do their part for the whole process to work.
Picking the right team can make or break the film and the director is like an Orchestra conductor who needs every instrumentalist to bring the best to the game to make the experience of the audience pleasurable. A football team is not only made of a striker, every other team member is needed to win, and working based on the managers plan is essential to victory.
Dont you wish this for Nollywood? Dont you wish all the references i made here were Nollywood films? Dont you wish we had the identifiable score, iconic characters who we can dress up as to costume parties? Put on t-shirts, make pop culture references. Characters we can quote ,monologues we can deliver at auditions.
To get all that we have to work for it, and the Good News is that , the only way is up. We are still relatively a young industry and with a combination of the internet and 100 + years of cinema, we have a lot of resources we can learn from and not have to re-invent the wheel. Their success and mistakes can help us skip several processes and stand on the shoulders of cinema giants.
DONT BE THAT CREW MEMBER WHO HAS TO BE MICRO MANAGED, WHOSE WORK HAS TO BE DOUBLE CHECKED OR EVEN RE-DONE. AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT
Synergy is key to the future of Nollywood. No more solo flying, no more phoning it in, no we more trying to make it all about you and we REALLY need to put egos aside and glory hogging if we want to make memorable, long lasting films which have a long shelf life beyond its time in cinema.
Films which become cultural icons and inseperable milestones from moments in the life of viewers.
We saw how fans came out and mourned the death of Star Wars icon Carrie Fisher, who was the beloved Princess Leia to the world. The articles it inspired, the eulogies, tributes and memories shared. How she and the character inspired them and what she represented to their lives.
Same for Alan Rickman who was Hans Gruber to fans of Die Hard(1988) and Professor Snape to Harry Potter fans. We need movies, characters which have such powerful impact and we cant have that if we do half hearted work or dont put in our best in the projects we do, whether you are a Production Assistant, a Sound Recorder or Associate Producer.
When Synergy works it’s magical and when it doesn’t it’s disastrous and we all have tales of disastrous films we’ve seen.
2016 was a year of incredible progress for Nollywood, but we cant rest on those laurels because we still have a long way to go. We have to keep up the momentum and build on that progress till a point when making N200m is seen as underformance for any film.
Let’s make 2017 a year of awesomeness.
2016 has been an interesting year, with many curveballs thrown, a few homeruns and many strike outs. As we enter 2017, there are some things we should let go in order to evolve and have some diversity and a more exciting industry. An industry moving, growing in skillset, craft, momentum and market share.
WHICH ONE HAVE YOU MADE(WOHYM)?
This is the most common retorts in response to negative reviews. Closely followed by “Go and make your own let’s see” . It basically means, as you haven’t made a movie, you aren’t qualified to critique mine. Its a reflex action based on years of attack Nollywood has received without acknowledgment of the challenges of making films in Nigeria, its a natural knee jerk reaction.
However , lets apply that logic being said by people from other industries.
You havent owned or run a restaurant so you are unqualified to comment about the food or service being poor .
You have never built a house, you dont know how hard/expensive it is so you have no right to complain about the bad plumbing, faulty electrical wiring and cracking walls in the one you are renting.
You havent operated a telco, so as you have no knowledge or experience in telecommunications, you arent qualified to complain about performance of the network which you pay to use.
You have never played football professionally nor managed a club worth millions,so you have no right to comment on the team’s purchases,their terrible performances or how well the manager does his job regardless of your years of loyalty to the team.
You havent served in a high office in government and experienced how hard it is to get things done, so you have no experience or qualification to criticize the performance of those in government.
If you are fine with being asked similar questions when a product or service you pay for is less than satisfying, then go ahead and keep asking Which one have you made.
Its tough to have someone who has never made a film telling you HOW you should have made yours. That one you can get annoyed at (thats a different matter entirely)
It’s tough to be told your movie sucks, doesn’t work or someone didn’t like it.BUT WOHYM kind of belittles the industry, and the skillset of ; screenwriting, directing, producing etc The question suggests that anyone should go off and make their own film. The film business is for professionals and while digital tools available to civilains(non filmMakers) have democratized it, there should always be a distinction between hobbyists and professionals who expect a paying audience.
As a professional you have the right to be upset about negative reviews(and option not to read them), but uttering those words publicly blinds you from seeing even a 1% validity in the review which may prove valuable feedback. It’s very tough especially with those who seem vindictive, on a rant or nitpicky, but it’s actually better to either say,“Yeah,but thats just your opinion”, tell them to F*** off(at least they’d know how u really feel) or just ignore what they have to say,rather than utter any of those sentences demeaning your own profession.
Critics and Reviewers have their function in every film industry around the world, a simple glance at Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic,Roger Ebert shows how they asses films from their own country. Its not always pretty and its not beef, or hate. While some of ours are yet to get to that cinematic analytical level, we have to accept that its not going away anytime soon, so we figure out how to give them films they cant help but champion.
Let’s be grateful we dont have the Razzies over here, na war and assasinations that one go start.
NB: I do believe anyone who positions themselves as a critic/reviewer; their writing should reflect a strong knowledge of film form/language,objective analysis and an understanding of cinematic storytelling.
Can we quit typecasting? Can we stop typecasting actors and actually allow them to grow, be challenged, takes risk, surprise us and even themselves? We want to be shocked at someone we underestimated before. See some take the polar opposite we’ve known them. See the person who has always played upper middle class eloquent characters,disappear into the role of someone who can barely speak english and is struggling to survive that we have to wipe our eyes to make sure we arent dreaming.
Ok, let’s try a little game.
Who do you think of for a middle aged, beautiful, well-spoken and upper middle class or wealthy woman, who is a bit of a snob?
Who do you think of when you think of a cocky 30 something year old playboy who charms, and then does chop and clean mouth?
You need someone to play a young, good & faithful wife who overcomes a bad/rocky relationship?
You need an attractive IJGB,stuck up young female as an ex girlfriend/the competition/temptation. Who comes to mind?
You need a thug, leader of a gang or cult. Who comes to mind?
Need a funny fat friend or goofball to bring some humour?
The fact that you can think of specific people who’ve played these roles enough times that they come to mind is something which needs to change. No matter how much you like an actor by the time you see them for the 7th time playing the same character under a different name and show, it becomes tiresome. They want the challenge. They want to show you their range. They want a great character which would make them pull out resources they forgot they had, work acting muscles which have athrophied due to phoning it in. THEY WANT THAT CHALLENGE. Give them the opportunity.
LIMITING VIEWING OPTIONS TO COMEDY
Amongst the significantly financially successful Nollywood films in the last 5 years most have been comedy, this has created the perception that Nigerians only respond to comedies. This sometimes leads to other genres being neglected or dismissed. Non comedy films from Hollywood have made upwards of N100m with less screen than we have in 2016, this means there are audiences for these genres. While distributors have a right to reject some films, it should be about lack of quality rather than on genre.
There is the saying that “Nigerians want to laugh” and as the country is hard, comedy is what people look for as a means of escape. TRUE, from the results thats a valid point. But how about the Nigerians who watch non comedy genres at home faithfully like Game of Thrones, Scandal, How to get away with Murder,House of Cards etc. Dont they also want to escape? Take their minds off their worries for that period they’re watching?
While film is film and television is televison(very different story forms). Engagement is what is KEY. Engagement is what stops them from changing the channel or walking out of the cinema.
Can the story engage the audience. Captivate them and make them feel it was worth the distance travelled and time/money spent?
While comedy has the upper hand so far, i dont believe its all people go looking for while visiting the cinema.
This is not to say a level of humour shouldnt be presen in a film; in the right proportion (and if it fits in tonally) it helps.
Give them something thrilling and engaging, mayb even frightening and by the time the word spreads they will go see it. As the late great Amaka Igwe used to say, “People go to the movies to FEEL”
US vs THEM
The first quarter of the year unveiled the scheming of a few, trying to pass a bill which would affect the entire industry in what was described as draconian. It revealed a few things, the contempt some of the earlier filmmakers of Nollywood have for the current generation of active filmmakers, and also the lack of unity in the industry, a Young vs Old battle.
At this stage of the industry, you’d expect some of the earlier filmmakers to mentor and encourage the current filmmakers, they instead dismiss, mock and try to stifle them. Very similar to the political arena where the youth are meant to stay quiet and invisible and accept whatever happens.
Can we stop this? If we can’t/don’t want to work together can we at least stay in our lanes and let others do their thing?
Even if you think their work is absolute shite/rubbish/hot mess/trash, let them be, the wheat will be separated from the chaff. But this active intent of trying to kill the career of a whole generation must stop. How will the industry grow if people in their 20s to late 30s are considered children who should be quiet? It makes no sense.
There needs to be a paradigm shift for there to be real growth, we need a new way of thinking and working.
I know this is wishful thinking, maybe even delusion. But hey,as William Goldman once said “Nobody knows anything”
Let’s go forth and kick ass in 2017 .
So, my short film HONEY is going to be playing at the BFI Blackstar Beyond Nollywood event in London in November
A new generation of Nigerian filmmakers are revolutionising the industry.
A 3-day programme of international Nigerian Cinema showcasing a new crop of filmmaker who are revolutionising the industry – beyond Nollywood. From arthouse to documentary, animation and experimental films; Beyond Nollywood takes inspiration from my book The Nigerian Filmmaker’s Guide to Success: Beyond Nollywood.
More info can be found here http://www.nadiadenton.com/node/168
In the last few year a few Nigerian Born Directors have made waves internationally.
Thomas Ikimi with his debut Limbo and it’s follow up Legacy: Black Ops scoring a ,hot off The Wire , Idris Elba as his lead and co-producer. He was nominated for a British Independent Film Award, and won Best Director at the London Screen Nation Awards 2011, Legacy was picked up for distribution in both the US and UK with limited theatrical releases in both countries.
Andrew Dosunmu with Restless City and follow up Mother of George, both films wining Cinematography awards at Sundance.
Akin Omotoso’s crime drama ,Man on Ground, premiering at TIFF
Destiny Ekaragha’s Gone Too Far winning Best New Comer at the London Film Festival,and is only the third British black woman, following Ngozi Onwurah and Amma Asante, to have directed a feature-length film that was given theatrical distribution in the UK
Richard Ayoade with Submarine and The Double, both films received critical acclaim.
Rick Famuyiwa (Brown Sugar, The Wood) making a splash at Sundance with coming of age movie Dope and is now attached to Direct the feature film for DC’s speedster THE FLASH
While we celebrate these Nigerian kin, the thing is, all these filmmakers were either born or raised abroad and aside their names, they are almost unidentifiable as Nigerians. The question then is, despite the position of Nigeria as the second largest producer of film in the world, why aren’t we frequently making films that take the world by storm?
If City of God from Brazil , a country with no discernible film industry could get everyone talking, inspire many of today’s Nigerian directors that such a level of FilmMaking was possible from the “third world”, why hasn’t any Nigerian film(100% cast, crew & finance) had that impact?
Why aren’t we regularly in competition at the top film festivals; Cannes, Sundance, TIFF, Berlinale ,Venice ?( If there are, please let me know)
Considering the output of Nollywood, the odds should be astronomically higher than most other countries, innit ?
At the NEC event in 2013, a prominent industry figure while on a panel was asked about our lack of presence at film festivals. With condescending irritation, he dismissed the question, stating we didn’t need the festivals and that the films were made for local audiences who loved what they were getting. Is this a sincere reason, or simply a cop out from making globally accessible films? After all, film is a visual language that should transcend culture, language and creed. Be accessible to anyone anywhere; opening the filmmaker to a wider demographic and more opportunities.
Film Festivals are to the filmmaker what the Olympics are to Athletes. While you may be a champion sprinter in your community if you really want prove that you as good as or better than everyone else in the world, you do that at the Olympics.
So, shouldn’t Nollywood be a regular feature in film festivals around the world? Shouldn’t Nigerian born and bred directors have films that have the entire global industry talking? It’s larger distribution and more income so why wouldn’t anyone want that? Also with Hollywood’s love for “discovering” foreign talent, it’s creates a bigger platform for the filmmaker.
There are many filmmakers who truly have no interest in any market beyond the one they currently serving and that is fine, but that certainly can’t be the perspective of the majority, can it?
Foreign Directors (non U.S) have caught the eyes of studios when their “low budget” films, made in their home countries, make waves and are transcendent of language and race.
Gavin Hood (South Africa) won the Oscar for Tsotsi was hired to direct Wolverine: X Men origins ,
Fernando Meirielles(Brazil) made The Constant Gardner.
Florian Henckel Von Donnersmack (Germany) directed The Tourist based on the impression he made with The Lives of Others ,
Tomas Alfredson(Sweden) made the cult hit Let the Right one in and was given Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Jose Padhila(Brazil) Directed Elite Squad and was hired for the Robocop reboot and now is producing and directing NARCOS for NETFLIX
It can be argued that their Hollywood outing weren’t great ,(studio interference et al) but their work got them to the place where Studios called them, skipping over available U.S born and bred options in their backyard.
Why can’t this also be the story of a Nigerian director, who made a tour de force film for N10m and has studios fighting to hire him and give him/her $50m to make a film ?
It would be wonderful to one day, see a film, 100% Nigerian cast and crew, be the opening/closing film for any of the top 5 film festivals in the world. For a Nigerian director’s name to be called as the winner of the PalmDOr , Golden Bear, Sundance/Venice Jury Prize, TIFF etc.
Someone reading this is thinking, What about the local awards? Why do we need international glory? To that, the response is, there is a difference between the Super Eagles being the African champions and the Super Eagles being the World Cup Champions, why not both?
ACTORS,WHAT SAY YE?
So Nightcrawler(2014) was one of my fave films and performances from 2014 (along with WHIPLASH). If you’ve seen it you know the incredible performance by Gylenhall and the physical transformation into a gaunt predatory form . Then he turns around to get ripped for Southpaw(2015)
Now the time for physical and mental prep is not one that Nigerian actors are given, some are given zero prep time at all, due to logistics,schedule,budget etc etc etc . Which leads to not so many iconic characters or unforgettable performances (scripts and other factors have a part in it too)
So actors, what are the things you need from directors and producers. What kind of prep time do you need to be able to give that va va voom.
What are the present practice and expectations (attitudes towards prep and the craft) you wish could change that would take things to the next level for you as a professional?
Comment Below, Let me know. Your insight would be appreciated 🙂
FilmMaking is a tough business to crack financially and creatively. You may have all the ideas but no money, you many have all the money, but can’t put something great together . It’s a little bit of Art,Science and Business . But some people , manage to crack the code, fully or partially, and tell their stories. We’ve heard of how Robert Rodriguez did it with El Mariachi for $7,000 and years later, Shane Carruth (a former Software Engineer), with PRIMER for $7,000, wining the Grand Jury Prize at 2004 Sundance Festival.
As inspiring as those stories are, their realities are quite different from ours. There are lot of things we can take from them, but at the back of our mind, we know that stories of those Stateside, arent easily transplanted to everyday Nigeria.We need our own stories.
Glad to let you know that there are also inspiring stories, right here in Nigeria.
Here is one, that of C.J “Fiery” Obasi, the writer/director or OJUJU , a no budget zombie film which won him the 2014 AFRIFF Best Nigerian Film and AMVCA Trail Blazer award winner, Not bad for a feature debut.
In his own words.
For me, it wasn’t really a conscious choice or decision. Most people I know at some point had to make that decision to become filmmakers, maybe as a result of an experience or whatever, for me I don’t remember ever making that decision. I just know that ever since I had consciousness of seeing movies, I knew I wanted to make films. As a child film was such a wonder to me, such magic to me, and I always wanted to be a part of that. So growing up, as an adult was always about chasing that wonder. It was never just purely about making films. It wasn’t that simple. It was more about chasing an ideal, a purpose…something idealistic like that.
As a young filmmaker in Nigeria, if you don’t have a rich Uncle who’s going to bankroll your every whim and fantasy, or you don’t have Dangote on speed dial, you have to confront one bitter truth, which is that you’re on your own. Once you’re able to swallow that bitter pill, and let it work its magic in your system, then you can wake up to reality and start making things happen for you. ‘For you’ being the key phrase here. Jim & Joan was a result of ‘swallowing that bitter pill”. Unfortunately we were never able to finish it. But we took a lot of lessons from it, moving on to make and finish OJUJU, and then O-TOWN.
I kinda figured earlier on, that if I was going to abandon a lucrative 9-5 and venture into the unknown wild of indie filmmaking, with absolutely no real prospects for success, the only way it would be worth it was, if I did it on my own terms. Maybe if I got bankrolled at the early stages, I would have made soul less films, with no depth or vision, who knows, but I always had a conscious belief in my storytelling, in my background, in my influences, and in my voice…It had to be my kind of storytelling or nothing. Some people will call that ego or narcissism but we all chase after something. If what I chase after is purity in my own art form, in my voice being unhinged, then who’s to say what. So long as I’m happy.
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So it’s been a few years since Nigeria qualified to submit an entry for the Foreign Language Film Oscar category . Naturallly since then several questions have risen
What film are we going to submit?
Why havent we submitted a film?
Do we have any qualifying film?
Why arent we making films that can qualify for the Oscars?
Why wasnt Film…………… submitted ?
I think they should submit……………. its a really good film
Ok, the last one wasnt a question, but it does beg the question. What is an Oscar worthy film. What kind of film is worthy to represent an entire country’s film industry? What kind of filmmaking is recognized for competition at the Oscars?
For one thing it isnt “by the numbers”:
– following standard operating procedure.
-Technical proficieny(Cinematography,Editing,Art Direction) isnt enough or just about any film from Europe and South East Asia would qualify.
-Entertainment factor is not enough, many Razzie nominees and winners have high technical proficiency, beautiful cinematography etc
IMO, a lot of films in the Foreign Film Category in terms of Pure Filmmaking are better than most of what comes out of Hollywood and what is easily found in the cinemas. The stories they tell are intimate, profound, thought provoking ,historical, or hold up a mirror to society. Very rarely are they just pure entertainment. They are important stories with interesting character journeys , not just for laughs, or swoonning , we get those from prat fall comedies and rom coms.
STORY STORY STORY ..what did i say? STORY
STORY is what makes many of these non English language films powerful, they are what make them transcend language and culture barriers. Human Stories of pain, adversity, struggle, triumph over insurmountable odds that connect with whoever is watching.
Those are the kind of films (in my observation) that make the cut and go on to win.
These are the eligibility rules
These are Winners from 1947 – 2012
This further breaks down and describes 10 winnners and the subject matter they approached
Do we have the stories capable of wowing the world? Yes. From our history, culture, everday lives.
The novels from this country Things fall apart, Half of a Yellow sun, and others that have crossed barriers and taken their writers all over the world show we have stories that the world is interested in hearing. Nigerian characters and experiences, but HUMAN STORIES. This is not to suggest that adaptations are the way, but the authentic stories, told cinematically , authentic human stories.
Getting excited about good cinematography and production design and screaming for Oscar entry without even lookin to see what story is being told, how its been told and how impactful it is, show that we are focusing on the wrong things.
Lets tell those powerful,moving stories, not for the sake of Oscars or any other award, but for because we deserve such stories on our screens.