2010:Taking Nollywood out of the woods


Nollywood StarsThis year, practitioners in the  movie  industry should strive to consolidate on the gains of the previous years. As Ugo Harris Ukandu submitted two years ago, there is the imperative need for the industry operators to learn to reach out, in a highly organised

form, to engage the government, corporate entities and international organizations for grants and loans from banks to support and encourage the film industry.

In as much as this effort is being made, effort should also be placed on high quality Nigerian movies, good stories to tell about Nigeria and Africa and less emphasis on negative portrayal of our national and traditional lives.

The positive story about our villages, our cultures, our towns, our elders, our youths, our schools, our government, democracy,  rule of law and decency, should be encouraged and emphasised.

Also, while commending  the steps taken by industry operators to work with Nigerian film makers based in USA(FAN USA), for marketing and distribution in USA and Europe, anti-piracy, repatriation of their money and efforts back to Nigeria. This is commendable but more efforts  need to be done. For examples, the dubious contracts individual film makers, marketers, actors and producers undertake with crooks internationally and locally for their personal marketing and distribution rights should be checked.

And these contracts are not biding or enforceable in the international copyright laws or anywhere in the world. Such hasty contract to produce and distribute Nigerian arts and films internationally with no money coming to them or into Nigeria, is a win-win situation for the pirates and copyright violators.

The time is now for the movie and music industry in Nigeria to come together and have a conference, workshop for days or weeks for a way forward for our new industry so that Nigeria can earn money from the sweat of her artistes, and not to let this industry become a curse like oil.

Also, Nollywood producers must learn to toe the line of Bollywood in terms of quality production, storyline, sustainable distribution network and exploration of themes that capture family life and society. The experience acquired during the ION International film festival, which held in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state capital, last month, is still valid.

Nollywood practitioners need to network and interact with their counterparts across the world to be able to be meet with global standards.

Bollywood Model

Indian  ace-producer  and  broadcaster, Deepak Jain, said while many film industries across the world largely depend on government support to survive, Indian film industry is driven by private sector initiatives. This means that the level of government involvement in the running of the industry is rather minimal. This model is recommendable for the Nigerian movie industry.

Jain believed that the impact Bollywood made in recent times on the international scene was traceable to the distinct way the industry was fashioned to operate in India.

He argued that while Nollywood was on the way to Bollywood, Nollywood, unlike Bollywood, had a lot of grounds to cover, in terms of storyline, good acting and quality production. “Nollywood is on the way to Bollywood. But what makes Nollywood different from Bollywood is because of the fact that Bollywood thrives on emotions, relationships and other thrilling themes. We do action movies, documentary, emotional as well as sport movies,” he said during a recent encounter with HVP.

Jain oversees Mauritius based Zee Network offices across the countries of Africa. As a major stakeholder in Bollywood, Jain’s Zee Network brings Bollywood closer to people of different races and origins, including the South Asians and mainland Africans.

Outlining various ways in which Nollywood can toe the line of Bollywood in terms of improved  production quality, storyline, distribution and sustenance of the industry, Jain stressed how every movie as done in Bollywood explores one’s personal life.

“There are varieties of religions in India, cultures which are reflected in our movies. We also do movies exploring the themes of how women climb the ladder of success in their various professional endeavours. Every Bollywood movie you watch gives you enough relaxation, connects you to one’s emotion, and that’s why Bollywood is breaking grounds across the universe,” he added.

“Talking of production quality, Bollywood movies have improved over the years. We have invested a lot of time and money into assembling production facilities.  Today, when you watch Bollywood films, you will notice that the production quality has appreciated a lot,” he added.

For Nollywood, it’s time to go international and improve on the production quality. Bollywood has not only shot many movies in Bombay, or India but also, we have gone outside the shores of India to shoot our movies. We have gone to places like USA, UK and other European countries to shoot our movies.

“The same thing could happen to Nollywood. They can come to India to shoot their movies, while we come to Nigeria for our movies. We have featured a few foreign actors in Bollywood movies, just as Hollywood has also featured a few of Bollywood actors in their movies.  Growth is exceptional in this regard, and we have to pull our forces together to work in relationship with each other.”

On the need to engage in exchange of production technique with Nollywood producers, the Zee Network African head said, “it’s always better to learn from other people’s  mistake or their breakthroughs. The storyline should be such that people have moved out of Nigeria to experience a different kind of life outside their locality.

“Let’s learn to educate the populace by means of the screen. Nollywood, coming new on the block, can learn from Bollywood’s production technique. And because we have some similarities in our cultures and lifestyle, there’s a lot that we can learn from each other.”

However, according to Jain, Bollywood is private sector driven, and does not enjoy the  government’s  participation.  Hear him:  “Bollywood is a business venture. People invest their money to run the industry. The success Bollywood has recorded in recent times is not because of political infusion of funds into the industry but the fact that the government create enabling environment for the industry to thrive.

“They support every project embarked upon by Indian film makers. For instance, if Indian film makers are coming to Nigeria to shoot a film, our government will write to the Nigerian government, officially soliciting the Nigerian  government to give the film makers every assistance they would require to make their mission a success. My government does not fund the film industry, but they only do the ground work for us.”
Distribution of films in Bollywood
“Everything is commercially oriented in Bollywood. Distributors carry out a kind of feasibility study about a particular movie- what the budget will be like, the cast, and the storyline as well as the duration of the movie. As a result, some of the funds needed to make a film in India are provided by the distributors. Every distributor invests  his or her money in the making of a particular movie, hoping to partake in the sharing of the profits equally when the movie becomes a hit.

“In terms of distribution network, if the government is allowed to get involved in it, then, there ‘s a problem. We have a regulatory  body like the censors’ board as well. But it’s not involved in the distribution of films in India. What the body does is to ensure that a film maker conforms to the rules of the game,  determine the age bracket in terms of watching a particular movie.

Movies must be devoid of sentiments or religious bias. The board does not control the distribution channel. This is because the distributors finance the making of the movies and therefore, detect how the movie will be distributed.”