Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Nollywood Millionaire

This is another import from The Valve, from March 2009. The post surely deserves an update†, but I don't have time for that now. FWIW the first comment to the original post was a press release from  Natty Bruce Idigbogu, who identifies himself as "a Nollywood action oriented writer, producer, director, actor and stunts coord" in his Facebook entry.
I was working my way through the TED* Talks, particularly those on Africa: the Next Chapter, and I found Franco Sacchi on Nollywood. Nollywood? What’s Nollywood?

It’s the Nigerian film industry. It brings in over $200M per year and produces over 2000 titles annually; it’s the third largest film industry in the world (after Hollywood and Bollywood) and employs a million people a year, making it second only to agriculture. The films are made on a shoestring, budgets of $10K to $20K, and are produced in a week or two. Limited budgets mean the industry is built on digital technology, HD cameras and post-production on Macs and PCs. The films aren’t shown in theaters, which are scarce in Nigeria, but are distributed on VCDs (video CDs) and DVDs to be watched in people’s homes.

These are movies for the masses: love, witchcraft, corruption, families, action, women’s rights, all that good stuff. It’s thriving. And, of course, it’s on the web (Google query). I found and interesting post on “Slumdog Millionaire and the Nigerian Dream!" [now gated, alas, BB]. The author concludes:
Ever since the success of the movie, most Nigerians have been asking to know when Nollywood would have their big moment as well, but I have refused to comment because the last time I wrote an article on the Nigerian film industry, I was called unprintable names and told to mind my own business by a Nollywood big name. But if it helps in any way, then maybe we should take note that Slumdog Millionaire is actually a British film (and not a Bollywood creation) simply based on an Indian story!

But the lessons I draw from the movie are more for we Nigerians as a whole. First of all, the movie was made with $15 million and that by Hollywood terms is unbelievably cheap. Yet it went on to win 8 Academy Awards. The point being that we do not always have to spend all the money in the world to achieve results. For example, unlike in the past when billions of dollars had been spent to generate power in Nigeria, we should draw a lesson from that and make sure that the recent N303 billion allocation to power this year actually yields results and we are not left with many more stories at the end of the year. Both the Minister of Power and Governor of Benue State, have stated in clear terms that 6000MW of electricity is achievable by the end of this year and we would like to take their word for it.

Another lesson for me from the movie is the ability to discern, go for what you want and follow your heart. A lot of Nigerians especially the young ones today, are clueless, career wise and even when it comes to relationships. Most people, young and old do not live for themselves but to please people around them. Like Jamal did in the last two questions, it is important for every one of us as individuals to be able to dig deep in the most trying times (like with the financial crisis now), take risks and be ready to make responsible decisions for ourselves. They may not always work for us but they are better taken than left undone. We cannot always expect to be guided especially with issues that affect us personally.

Also, we were made to see that the power of persistence does pay off at the end of the day. Jamal and Latika were childhood friends and he had always wanted to be with her but one circumstance after another kept tearing them apart; yet he never stopped trying to have her to himself. He did at the end of the day and it seemed like the perfect time for the both of them to be together; all grown up and with a whole lot of money. So never give up because you may not have realised your dream simply because it is just not the right time yet.

The last and most important lesson for me is the ability to learn from our past and shape our future. Jamal was successful at playing the game because with each question he was asked, he was able to look to his past and draw an answer from there. He was no genius but just a young boy who had a history and used it well to his advantage.
*TED: Technology, Entertainment, Design. It’s a chichi conference held annually in Northen California featuring innovators, nabobs, and fun: “The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).” Some of the talks are astonishing. And some aren’t worth the bandwidth. So it goes.

* * * * *

†I note, for example, a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, Nollywood Is Ready to Go Global Thanks to Netflix, 24 May 2019. Japan Today reports, Nigeria's Nollywood film industry reels in foreign investors, July 8, 2019:
US giant Netflix, France's Canal+ and China's StarTimes are among those making moves in the globe's second most-prolific film industry, which churns out more than 2,500 films each year and is topped only by India's Bollywood.

At an event in Nigeria's economic capital Lagos this week potential investors from France mingled with local directors and politicians as they heard about the possibilities on offer.

"The revenues from the box office rose by 36 percent between 2017 and 2018 from $17.3 million to $23.6 million," Chijioke Uwaegbute, an expert on the industry at PwC Nigeria, told those gathered.

"Nowhere in the world will you see this kind of opportunities and growth."

Traditionally, Nollywood films have been low-budget productions, often shot in just a couple of days at a cost of several thousand dollars and marred by poor sound and image quality.

Rampant piracy and the widespread circulation of unlicensed copies has eaten into profits and put off investors from increasing funding.

But higher quality Nigerian-made films have in recent years been having far more impact at the box office in a nation with a potential market of almost 200 million people.
And so it goes. 

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