Tag Archives: Nollywood

Nollywood and the power to influence(not taken)

A few weeks ago, this came across my twitter timeline.

“In Hollywood movies, Russians/Arabs are (Nuclear) terrorists, the Japanese die aimlessly in battle, the Americans are the smart, patriotic, pragmatist who always saves the day. That is how Film is used to brand a country, to shape the social values and worldview (politics) of a country. If you have never visited America, Hollywood is all you need to see it as an enviable paradise, pillar of justice. But America is, obviously, shitty from within. You need to visit America or “read” protest writers (especially the minority) to see the real America. But this is not even the point. My anger is at Nollywood and how it does the opposite”- @KelvinOdanz

There were a lot of replies, the usual outrage in defence of Nollywood, then the other side, some people confirming their experiences and encounters (with fellow Africans)  due to perceptions from Nollywood. Is this valid?  Does Nollywood have blame in some of the negative ways the world see Nigerians? If so, can  do the opposite and  shape a fully dimensional image of Nigerians?  Not necessarily a “positive” image but a more realistic picture?

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The thread reminded me of the power of narrative and perception and a friend who schooled and then worked in the U.S for 10 years. In that time he never saw any FBI agent in their famous stencilled windbreakers, not once. But the television shows and movies made him aware of their existence.  His perception of American Law Enforcement had been shaped by Hollywood long before he set foot in the U.S.

Today all you need is a social media account to interact with everyday American citizens. Before the internet, most Nigerian’s only exposure to American s  was from television shows, movies and music videos.  If you didn’t know any American, the movies were your major exposure.  Nerds wore glasses, bad boys rode motorcycles, cool guys played football and the cutest girls were cheerleaders.

These movies and TV shows were the catalyst to a generation  of 80s kids deciding America was where they needed to study and settle. We heard of Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, CALU, UCLA etc and desired to attend those schools; were sold on the American armed forces by films like Top Gun, Iron Eagle, Stripes etc.  Young Nigerians left  for the US and joined the Navy or Army because these films sold us on the nobility, patriotism (and bad-assery) of being a U.S soldier, a Navy Seal, the few the proud the free. Something they would curse you for suggesting they do for Nigeria.

Film and TV shows in the 90 s painted a picture of African Americans as mostly thugs, gangbangers, hood rats or people with a chip on their shoulder who blamed “the man” for everything wrong with their life. Why? The prevalence of hood films, the stereotype of Black men as criminals, black women as weave snatching loudmouths with multiple baby daddies.  The same way Hollywood convinced many that Africans all live in mud huts in the midst of wild life, something many still believe in 2017.

Cinema has been used throughout history for various purposes; Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” convinced a lot of Germans to believe in Hitler’s cause. Utilizing the language of film and powerful imagery it won the Fuhrer the support he sought.  Uncle Sam responded with “Why we Fight”, which convinced many Americans to support the government in joining WW2, whether it was by joining the arm, buying war bonds, morale or other means. Cinema is that powerful.

Nigerians were collectively pissed about the portrayal of Nigerians in District 9, ditto, the Will Smith accent in Concussion, cos we didn’t like those portrayals, inaccuracies. How we portray and what we say about ourselves in all art forms and stories are equally important.

I’m not suggesting we run away from the reality that there is a lot of evil in Nigeria like anywhere else in the world, a lot, but even in that subject matter, tone, context, delivery etc all matter in how the narrative is presented. Gritty realism of City of God didn’t put the whole of Brazil in a bad light but the shaping of the narrative highlighted it was a harsh reality for many young Brazilians.

However, what is glorified or normalized on screen as our identity as a people, especially without a balance to show shades of grey, absolutely matters. Hollywood is also bad at portraying anybody who isn’t Caucasian; resorting to lazy stereotypes, archetypes, clichés and reductive short cuts in portraying Asians, Latinos, Africans, Indians and other ethnicities. The people from these communities are justifiable outraged and disappointed and many have decided not to wait for Hollywood to portray them accurately and tell their own stories.

“Art is inherently political. Even trying to make a film that has nothing to do with politics is, in and of itself, a political act. Once we make the work and release it into the world, it’s beyond our control.” — Barry Jenkins

We can’t complain about the American sitcoms making Nigerians the butt of jokes and negative portrayals in Hollywood films when we do similar to ourselves with tribal stereotypes/cliché’s, shallow archetypes, one dimensional characters; the lazy gateman from a certain tribe, the seductive house-girl from a certain part of the country, witchcraft, Pastors or Imams being the solution to all things. Perception matters and these create more than the laughs they intend to get.

African American filmmakers like Spike Lee know this power I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to express the views of black people who otherwise don’t have access to power and the media. I have to take advantage of that while I’m still bankable.

This is not to suggest that every film should have a “message”; navel gazing, meditative, pseudo intellectual or life changing. Nor saying, filmmakers shouldn’t make entertainment, fun films or aim to make people laugh while making a tonne of money. There will always be room for such films and not every filmmaker can pull off certain tones and themes. But we have to keep in mind that cinema is powerful and in as much it can be entertainment, it also has life changing ability. Films have shaped paradigms, worldviews, perceptions, ideology. We can’t finance and put blood, sweat and tears into reinforcing the existing negative images they have of us.

The visual images of cinema penetrate our subconscious, taking a place in the deep recesses of minds and lying in wait till it can be confirmed or reinforced. Nigerian filmmakers can play a huge role in how the world perceives us. Through stories, narrative and the power of cinema, we can show we are more than the negative press on 24 hours news cycle, the email they received from a Prince, the bad experience their friend had, or the conclusion they have drawn from hearsay. We can shape our own narrative, and it’s not by whitewashing, pretending to be squeaky clean or creating a façade, but by being intentional with the narrative we shape through the power of cinema.

Why Nollywood MUST tell our History

 

Nigerian History as a subject,  does not exist, many years ago it was stripped from our school curriculum ; several generations have gone by and know next to nothing about anything that happened in this country.

We know little pre-colonial, colonial or post-colonial history. We know very little about the many coups, parties involved, why, and the effects. Aside from what our parents, uncles and aunts may have told us – which is just their side of the story, could be tainted by prejudice based on what they and their parents lost – there is nothing. This is wrong and dangerous. As the cliché goes, “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

So how can this be rectified? How can the younger generation learn these lessons, know these stories and avoid getting their information from hearsay, conjecture and ad hominem.

Movies have always been a way to bridge this gap. Those who don’t like to read or watch documentaries can always get into a well told narrative.  They can get engaged in a story well told while being informed about past events.

Watch the video below and see why these stories need be told.

 

Short Films , Nigerian Film and Nollywood’s possible Future

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.

WHAT’S IN THE FRAME – VIDEO ESSAY #2

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

Which one have you made(R.I.P)

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.

Synergy : Working for the awesomeness of Nollywood

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 treesQuentin 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 themAlfred 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.

DEAR NOLLYWOOD ,CAN WE LEAVE THESE BEHIND IN 2016

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.

TYPECASTING
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 .

HONEY selected for the BFI Blackstar/Beyond Nollywood festival in November

So, my short film HONEY is going to be playing at the BFI Blackstar Beyond Nollywood event in London in November

HONEY

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

that time a Nollywood director got a three picture deal

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.

shaking hands

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?

Preparation of an actor- How much is needed?

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 🙂