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|Nigerian Cinema In A Nutshell by Orikinla(m): 6:28pm On Dec 23, 2016|
Nigerian Cinema In a Nutshell
~ By David Parkinson, from Nigeria - A film industry of size and ambition
WORLD TOUR .
28th April 2014
Despite a sluggish start, Nigerian cinema was building on solid foundations when a parallel video sector launched in the early 1990s so fired the public imagination that Nollywood developed into the world's second biggest film industry.
A Few Firsts
Colonial film units were responsible for such early outings as Messrs. J. Walkden's Store (1923). Lever Brothers sponsored several shorts, including Tour Through Nigeria, while Angus Buchanan also traversed the country in Crossing the Great Sahara (both 1924). The first drama seems to have been Geoffrey Barkas's Palaver: A Romance of Northern Nigeria (1926), while the documentary Black Cotton (1927) prompted Graham Ball to shoot a number of travelogues and health official William Sellers to embark upon such educationals as Anti-Plague Operations, Lagos (1937).
Sellers hardly had an enlightened view of Africa and the Nigerian Film Unit was established in 1949 to help decentralise colonial film production. Instructional and propagandist titles like Sydney Samuelson's Giant in the Sun (1959) preoccupied federal and local units beyond independence in 1960. But Adamu Halilu became the first indigenous film-maker with the documentaries It Pays to Care (1955) and Hausa Village (1958), while Segun Olusola's My Father's Burden (1961) became the first short drama and Edward James Horatio's Two Men and a Goat (1966) the first feature.
Francis Oladele also established himself as Nigeria's first important producer, as he hired African-American Ossie Davis to direct the Wole Soyinka adaptation Kongi's Harvest (1970) and the German Hans Jürgen Pohland to rework Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart (1971) for his Calpenny company, which was soon competing against Sanya Dosumu's Starling Films, Ladi Ladebo's Cineventures and Afrocult, which was owned by Nigeria's most lauded talent, Ola Balogun.
Having cut his teeth as a scriptwriter at the Federal Ministry of Information and trained at the IDHEC film school in Paris, Balogun debuted with the civil war documentary, One Nigeria (1969). Following his feature bow, Alpha (1972), he directed Amadi (1975) and Ajani Ogun (1976), which were respectively the first films in the Igbo and Yoruba languages. The latter starred Adeyemi Afolayan, who also headlined Balogun's Ija Ominira (1977) before starting his own directorial career with Kadara (1978), while Chief Herbert Ogunde also moved behind the camera for Jaiyesimi (1980) after headlining Balogun's Aiye (1979), which shaped the Nigerian horror tradition.
As well as making Music Man (1976) in English, Balogun also travelled to Brazil to shoot Black Goddess (1978) in Portuguese and to Ghana to complete his treatise on Pan-African colonialism, Cry Freedom (1981). However, he remained true to his roots in Yoruba travelling theatre and the satire Money Power (1982) has been cited as a key influence on the emerging Nollywood style.
His greater influence was on such contemporaries as Eddie Ugbomah, Oyewole Olowomojuore and Yomi Ogunmola, whose features began appearing in foreign festivals in the 1980s, and new generation talents like Branwen Okpako (Valley of Innocence, 2003), who is one of the few Nigerian women film-makers, Jeta Amata (The Amazing Grace, 2006), Newton I. Aduaka (Ezra, 2007) and Andrew Dosunmu (Mother of George, 2013).
According to Nollywood legend, Kenneth Nnebue decided to start making his own movies because he had a surplus stock of videocassettes. However, Nnebue was shrewd enough to pack Chris Obi Rapu's Living in Bondage (1992) with TV icons and distribute it exclusively on tape.
When the Faustian drama reportedly sold 200,000 copies, dozens of other aspiring directors aped its roughly shot, largely improvised and hammily acted style and distributors were soon shifting thousands of videos daily, with films costing 3 million Naira taking around 10 million Naira (roughly $75,000) in their first week of release.
Wrapped in 3-5 days, pictures like Amaka Igwe's Rattlesnake (1994), Chika Onukwufor's True Confession (1995) and Chico Ejiro's Onome (1996) tackled such everyday themes as prejudice, injustice, forbidden love and corruption in a melodramatic manner that allowed violence, religious extremism, mythology and sorcery to crop up in the most seemingly realistic scenarios. Many films employed cheap special effects, but audiences were less interested in escapism than in such bleak reflections of their troubled society as Tade Ogidan's Hostages and Fred Amata's Dust to Dust (both 1997).
Nollywood Goes Global
Although Nnebue quit to preach the Bible, Nollywood continued to thrive under the Alaba cartel and it's estimated that some 11,000 full-length features were produced for VHS and V-CD between 1992 and 2009, with Kingsley Ogoro's Osuofia in London (2003), Amaka Igwe's Violated (2004) and Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen's Games Women Play (2005) being among the bestsellers.
Nigeria currently averages four times as many movies as France and twice as many as China and Japan. Indeed, only India can surpass its phenomenal prolificity. Yet front-rank directors like Tade Ogidan, Tunde Kelani and the brothers Zeb and Chico Ejiro and A list stars like Geneviève Nnaji, Ramsey Nouah, Mercy Johnson, Nkem Owoh and Kate Henshaw-Nuttal are barely known outside the country and its disapora.
This owes much to the fact that the often lurid storylines lack the sophistication to appeal to international audiences and the growing reliance on sexual themes and violence committed against women and children looks unlikely to improve matters. Much more popular are dramas featuring religious cranks and corrupt politicians, as audiences like to see sins being committed before they are punished.
Equally sought are juju witchcraft sagas like Tunde Kelani's Ti Oluwa Nile (1993), Zeb Ejiro's Sakobi - The Snake Girl (1997) and Chucks Mordi and Kingsley Kerry's horror romp, Bleeding Rose (2007).
Kannywood and Decline?
Competition briefly came from the Hausa-language industry based in the northern town of Kano. But, while annual Kannywood output grew to 150 features (the best of which were masala-style musicals), directors like Abdulkarim Mohammed, Ado Ahmed and Ali Nuhu were viewed with deep suspicion by the upholders of Sharia Law and, soon after a sex tape was released of actress Maryam Usman in 2007, production was subjected to stringent censorship.
Nollywood occasionally has similar problems with officialdom, but piracy has proved a much bigger issue and distributors are increasingly offering on-demand services. New names continue to emerge, including Kunle Afolayan, Teco Benson, Mahmood Ali-Balogun and Obi Emelonye, whose Echoes of War (2004) became the first Nollywood feature to secure a UK theatrical release.
Even though the industry was valued at 853.9 billion Naira (or $5.1 billion) in April 2014, many are concerned that Nollywood has plateaued and could easily fall into the hands of opportunistic hacks or religious fanatics.
|Re: Nigerian Cinema In A Nutshell by SaintChukz(m): 8:17pm On Dec 23, 2016|
Sir, thank God I stumbled upon this. This is really why I follow you religiously.
Please I have been wanting to gain some insights from someone like you who has an in-depth knowledge of Nollywood.
This is because in the coming 2017, I do have interest in the internet business of streaming some of the best of Nollywood's contents and then curating them as collections on a web platform which would be available to be streamed by an online audience on the platform. I know you would say that's exactly what IrokoTV are all about, but then I believe the market space is large enough for a budding entrepreneur, not that I'm looking to competing with IrokoTV because i already have my own ideas.
But my major question to you is this : Please how exactly are the films/movies/documentaries from Nollywood sourced?
|Re: Nigerian Cinema In A Nutshell by SaintChukz(m): 8:26pm On Dec 23, 2016|
I mean even before thinking of setting up such a platform for the streaming of contents, one should already know how he could source for it. Now, I have been thinking how does a big player within the current market place like IrokoTV for example source for and acquire the copyrights permission to stream those contents on their platform.
Sir, I really need an insight on this and whatever advice you can give in relation to what I'm having in mind concerning this very interest.
Thank you for your time.
|Re: Nigerian Cinema In A Nutshell by Nobody: 9:12pm On Dec 23, 2016|
Great article. Funny how VHR cassettes made filmmakers more money than VCDs and DVDs. Piracy and lack of proper regulations by the government on the distribution of films dealt a huge blow to Nigerian cinema.
|Re: Nigerian Cinema In A Nutshell by Orikinla(m): 11:58pm On Dec 23, 2016|
There are enough space for niche marketing of Nigerian movies.
Source of supply is from content producers.
The producers submit to iROKO TV, Ibaka TV, Afrinolly, Mnet and other distributors online and offline.
More than 93 million Nigerians are online, but none of the leading Nigerian online video platforms has up to 1 million subscribers.
As I said in one of my articles for Shadow and Act on Indiewire, the streaming video market of Nigerian movies is worth more than US$7Billion.
But the current players have not explored the multiple streams of income.
Even YouTube, Facebook, Vine, Hulu, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and others are yet to unlock the money making machine of streaming videos.
|Re: Nigerian Cinema In A Nutshell by Orikinla(m): 12:01am On Dec 24, 2016|
shockwave91:There is a way to beat piracy with streaming videos and with YouTube now accessible to TV, piracy will soon become unattractive.
|Re: Nigerian Cinema In A Nutshell by Nobody: 3:22am On Dec 24, 2016|
I just find it a damn shame that TV is THE option for Nigerian filmmakers to beat piracy. Then where is the incentive for them to create true cinematic experiences and get people to go see them when they can just watch on YouTube??
|Re: Nigerian Cinema In A Nutshell by hushbabyy: 5:20pm On Feb 21, 2017|
Am in urgent need of a reliable location manager. Thank you.
|Re: Nigerian Cinema In A Nutshell by meobizy(f): 6:24pm On Dec 20, 2018|
This was a well researched write up.
Nollywood is not declining in any way. It has a wide appeal especially internationally.
The injection of capital and expertise from the South African company Multichoice has seen modern stories shine a light from the industry.
The former actors have now diversified, going into ventures like politics and music while trying to raise capital aimed at creating films of their vision.
The industry is now a multi-billion naira one, sustaining itself and marking a spot among the driving forces of our country's economy.
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