CAMERA MOVEMENT IN FILM

Ok. So lets talk about camera movement.

Camera movement is part of the visual language of cinema, and a key part in the screen grammar in the artist kit of a Director, used to tell a story. Unlike in non narrative music videos where movement doesn’t have to be motivated. In narrative story telling , 99.9% of the time, there should be a motivation for moving the camera.

Some motivations are

Subject movement motivated : the subject within the frame is moving and the camera moves along with them to keep them within the frame.

Subjective Camera: this is when the camera sees as the characters sees, and also moves accordingly. This is mostly in POV shots.

Reveal or Conceal : this is when the camera moves to reveal or hide a character or information. This is best employed to uncover critical narrative details or actions which till that time have been off screen.

Actual Camera Movements

Dolly Shot: this allows the camera to move closer or farther from an object(or subject) . Dolly in or Dolly out, are also know as a Push in or Push out.

Crane Shot : this raises the camera vertically up or down in relation to the subject.

Steadicam Shots: Steadicam is associated with free flowing dynamic camera movement. It allows the operator freedom of movement while maintaining a stable and clean shots (free of wobble & shaking)

Handheld: When shooting handheld, it MUST have a narrative purpose. It should just be done because a tripod wasn’t available, or getting the shot as quickly as possible when shooting guerrilla style. It can be used to give a documentary style feel. But if not done right, it can feel tonally out of place and pull out the viewer from the film. If shooting handheld, consider its place visually with the rest of the film, and the purpose of shooting that scene handheld. Are you creating a sense of urgency? Chasing a character? Following a character? Portraying a psychological or emotional state?

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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

5 PRETTY AWESOME NIGERIAN DIRECTORS IN THE ABROAD YOU SHOULD KNOW

ANDREW DOSUNMU

His background in photography has made Andrew Dosunmu a very artistic filmmaker with an exceptional way of capturing black skin. His films about African immigrants in the U.S; Restless City & Mother of George have won Cinematography awards at Sundance. At a point Dosunmu replaced Steve McQueen as the Director to make the Fela biopic.

Mother of George, revealed his unique way of telling a specific Nigerian story , and he clearly has a love for telling the African story. While the biopic has gone quiet,It would be great to see what he can bring to Nigerian stories , shot in Nigeria.

AKIN OMOTOSO

He’s a Nigerian film maker based in South Africa. He has made amazing films like, MAN ON GROUND and VAYA .

His film, Man on Ground, a story about a Nigerian in South Africa facing xenophobia was a powerful insight into a serious social issue.

He has shown a talent for telling complex stories in diverse genres. Set to make a film in Nigeria in 2017 it’s something to be excited about.

DESTINY EKARAGH

She directed the hilarious GONE TOO FAR, adapted for the screen from Bola Abaje’s award winning stage play. A story of culture clash/identity between two brothers, one raised in Lagos and the other raised in London. The duo when sent on an errand run into an assortment of crazy characters out to get them.

The London based filmmaker is only the third female to have a feature film theatrically released in the United Kindgom. She was named by BAFTA as a Breakthrough Brit in 2015.

There are plans to make a sequel to the successful comedy, this time set in Lagos. With her great sense of comedy, which sells quite well in Naija. It would be fun to see a neighbourhood in Lagos be turned into their playground.

THOMAS IKIMI

Thomas Ikimi has shown a skill for making psychological dramas ,with films like Limbo, & Legacy: Black Ops .

Fun fact,: after failing to raise the money for LEGACY:Black Ops (starring Idris Elba) in the United Kingdom, he came back to Nigeria and raised the entire production and post production budget of an estimated $500,000.

As there is a need for genre diversity, and intelligence dramas , the types of stories he tells would be a welcome addition to the growth and evolution of the industry .

RICK FAMUYIWA

In 2016 Rick Famuyiwa (Brown Sugar) was tapped to direct DC’s The Flash before leaving the project due to creative differences . Earlier his film DOPE made a splash at Sundance , with the coming of age tale of a Nigerian American teen and his friends about to graduate high school, who get involved with the wrong set of people .

If you saw DOPE, you know how awesome it was. Imagine that sensibility brought to stories about Aje Butter Island kids in Lagos getting lost in a mainland Ghetto and the hijinks which can ensue.

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.

HOW “THE WEDDING PARTY” SHOWED US THE FUTURE

The Wedding Party has become THE highest grossing film in Nigerian box office short history, making over N200m under three weeks . It has been a clear winner with Nigerian audiences with its very relatable wedding affair in which audiences can see themselves,experiences,friends and family. It’s also a shining example of the power of collaboration and the benefit of bringing resources together.


This isn’t an endorsement of the film, nor a commentary on the performances,directing,cinematography, or screenplay. But on the business model used in financing, producing, promoting and distributing the film

The combined power of Ebony Life + Film One + Koga Studios + Ink Blot brought this film together and arguably, it probably wouldn’t have been the same film if one person had decided to go it alone.

I think there is a lot all filmmakers in Nollywood can learn from this collaboration. Each studio brought something to the table and their collective strength enabled it to go very far. At this stage in the industry we need a lot more collaboration than competition. At this stage, any success is a collective success. Right now , we are still in a battle to win the sceptics who still have reservations about seeing our films in the cinema. The people who see 5 -6 films every month, but are hesitant to make any of those choices a Nollywood film. These are the people we need to win as they spend more money than everyone else.

While different filmmakers have different visions and ambitions, sometimes, going it alone is a dis-advantage and spreading the investment, risk and reach takes it just that much further.

Mission Impossible is one of the biggest franchises in film. The most recent film MI:ROGUE NATION was the collaboration of several productions companies ,Bad Robot,Sky Dance, China Movie Channel, Ali Baba Pictures and Distributed by Paramount Pictures. Individually each of those companies already have tremendous success in their various endeavours, doing millions and billions in annual revenue, but they came together to make that film happen, and it was succesful with the next film already in the pipeline. There are many other examples of this as a film needs, Conception, Creation,Financing,Production and Distribution with each company bringing something beneficial to the table.

There needs to be more collaboration and not only by the bigger companies. The “little” guys need to do this and maybe even need to do this more than the bigger, more liquid companies. I’m sure you can think of some films from the last 4 years which with a little more financing could have elevated what they are able to do and how far they could have travelled. How much could have been put into marketing and distribution. Films which were under-seen because the producers were only able to raise enough money to make the film, but not enough to market it to get as many asses in seats as the film deserved. There were only able to do social media, but no billboards, very little radio and probably no TV at all. No matter how fantastic your film, if people don’t know it’s out there, they wont see it.

Not everyone would be a good fitting. Not everyone can work together. Not everyone wants to tell the same story. There will always be creative conflict and creative differences. The key would be in finding a vision you can lock into in which everyone involved brings value for a collective win.

Clearly the ELFIKE Collective believed in the vision of The Wedding Party and it has paid off. For some people it’s the first Nigerian film they have watched in the cinema in years, many declare it as the best they have ever seen. Others have praised the production values and scale as the difference. Each of the companies released individual films between 2014-2016, none of their film’s box office total, comes close to how fast TWP made so much money and received such good word of mouth.

This is not to say EVERY film released has to be a collaboration and not every collaboration has to be on the grand scale of TWP; even smaller stories can benefit from collective resources and passion. Regardless of your thoughts on the actual film, it’s evident the collaboration approach has brought a bountiful harvest. As the saying goes “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”

MAKING NIGERIAN STORIES CINEMATIC – ANDREW DOSUNMU’S IMAGERY

Andrew Dosunmu is one of the very interesting Nigerian born filmmakers working in the international scene. His background as a fashion photographer brings a unique representation of his stories and characters which i think are admirable and worth studying.

In his two feature films he’s told the stories of African characters in a foreign land adjusting to their new environment, while maintaining a strong African identity and sense of community.

The beautiful thing about his work is how he captures the black skin and portrays Africans in a way few other filmmakers do.

But the focus today is on his film MOTHER OF GEORGE and he how uses imagery to tell a story, add subtext and let you know how the characters are feeling.

MOTHER OF GEORGE is a story of Adenike and Ayodele, a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn, are having trouble conceiving a child – a problem that defies cultural expectations and leads Adenike to make a shocking decision that could either save or destroy her family.

SPOILER ALERT

The openings scene shows the wedding of the couple surrounded by their friends and family , this is one of the few scenes where they are surrounded by people. The clothing and the lighting here is the brightest in the entire film. This reflects their world and how they are feeling emotionally. Notice how the framing takes in more than just the couple and their friends but shows their world.

After the wedding their life goes on and as they discuss having a child , Dosunmu, using a frame within a frame portrays their situation as they discuss the challenges of conceiving a child, medical expenses and the expectations they are experiencing. By using a frame within a frame, he shows how they feel trapped by this situation.

One of the choices Dosunmu makes in shooting a scene is to forgo the convenstional shot reverse shot, to cover a conversation, by focusing on one character for most of and sometimes the entire conversation. Allowing the viewer to pay attention to that character and see how they are feeling,what they are saying/being told is affecting them.


Here Adenike is having a conversation with the doctor about the difficulty she’s having conceiving


Adenike being harrassed by her Mother in Law for not yet being pregnant after over a year of marriage

The character who the information is most important to is the focus of the scene.

Here Adenike is speaking with Biyi who is having a guilty conscience and want to tell his brother the truth about the pregnancy. The camera stays with her most of the time and we hear Biyi off screen

He composes his shots using architecture or props to underscore the meaning of the scene, whether it’s distance between characters or a division being created between them.

Some of his compostions represent isolation; emotionally,psycologically or actual seperation from someone. Notice how none of the images after the wedding are as bright or as colorful. Some of the scenes have a cool blue tone in contrast to the warm tones of the wedding scene.

This shot below combines the frame within a frame and also isolation. Biyi getting the news that Adenike is pregnant, and only three people know his brother is not the father. He is unable to celebrate as life is about to get really complicated.

It’s said the human face is a landscape of emotion. Dosunmu sometimes lets the shot linger on the face of his characters, without any accompanying dialogue, just sometimes silence or non digetic mood sounds

There’s a misconception that great cinematography is about drone shots,sweeping movements and all sorts but the thing about Dosunmu is that he rarerly moves his camera. He may follow a character with a handheld shot and they are usually composed, centre frame

His choice of clothing color and framing to draw our eyes to a character to make them stand out are worth noting

What i love about Mother of George is its a very relatable Nigerian story which has been told in hundreds of Home Videos, but not in the cinematic and beautiful way done in this film.

His collaboration with Cinematographer Bradford Young is undeniably a part of the great look of his films;their collaborations, Restless City and Mother of George both won Cinematography awards at Sundance. I look forward to whatever he chooses to do next and to seeing more Nigerian stories beautifully captured cinematically by other Naija filmmakers, especially those at home .

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 .

FILMSPIRATION -WHEN PLAYING SAFE IS WRONG

If life were a game, you’d never win or score if you tried to continuously play safe. If you worried about staining your jersey, getting bruised, offending a player on the other team when you go in for a tackle.

In filmmaking it’s the same thing. You may make a film which makes money, but it can still be passable, it’s not remarkable, and it’s not worth talking about. It might make them chuckle, but a few months from now , will they remember it, talk about it?

Sometimes playing safe is a matter of money and maybe time. You are in a rush, so you don’t take the proper time to plan. Funds are limited so you restrict your creativity. At the end of the day, you have a product to show , a film to your name . But are you satisfied? Is it the best YOU are capable of producing? Can you stand by it 100%? If its the last film you ever make and the only indication of your capabilities , is it what you want representing you?

I was forced to ask myself this question this year and I didn’t like the answers.

As a filmMaker in an era where several hundred thousands videos are uploaded everyday on YouTube alone. Why should anyone watch your film/video when they have other options? Is your short worth the data they will consume> What makes your different, Unique. Remarkable, Worth talking about and sharing?

Lets enter 2017 and quit playing safe. Its better to do something ballsy which may not work than play safe and people not really care about it.

What getting pick pocketted taught me

So a little over a week ago, Friday Night October 21st precisely; a day of infamy, someone picked my pocket. The scoundrel Pick Pocketted me. (Is that a word?) Anyway it was a odd experience. How did it happen?

Well i was heading home around 9pm. I had visited the set of a tv show and spent the day watching the cast and crew doing their thing , it was fun, and interesting ,especially watching another Director, Direct while i just sat back and observed. Anyway, the rains came and cut short the shoot . So heading home a lot of traffic had built up, causing congestion and a lot of bus drivers reluctant to head back in that direction. So from the bus station (if you can call Ikeja Under Bridge that) where it would normally take under 5 minutes to get a bus , myself and the growing crowd found ourselves there for close to an hour. Eager to get home before the rains started again or it got too late,so we were getting pretty desperate. Each bus approaching was our potential rescuer from the coming doom. Bus after bus and it was apparent, we were going to be there for a while.

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God, Cinema, Life and all that jazz