What was the answer that popped up in your mind when you read the title of this piece? was it aligned with the aforementioned negative recurring anti-progression responses or was it a deep sigh embedded in a few minutes of silent thoughtful projection in to the future.You traveled through time and space, saw the possibility of dealing with the odds that have stood daringly in the face of the Industry’s advancement, and the injection of large doses of entertainment based, tested and proven multi-progression vitamins formula, discovered from product of years of research in to the Industry, then you declare that it’s possible!.
Whichever of the schools of thought you opt for, the truth still remains that Nollywood certainly has a lot of catching up to do in terms of “quality” and not quantity productions. Does Nollywood have a dream of soaring its flag above others, putting Africa in the forefront of movie productions in the world? It is however vital, imperative, germane to understand why Hollywood and Bollywood have a great edge over Nollywood.
It is on record that the first feature film under the Hollywood ambit was made in 1914 titled the “Squaw man”, ironically the significant year in the annals of our historical sojourn when the Northern and southern protectorates were amalgamated by Lord Lugard to birth the great nation “Nigeria”.
Over the years Hollywood has metamorphosed into a Multi billion dollar industry, arising mainly from well defined “functioning” structures on ground. The genres of movies on offer have blossomed from the usual stereotyped classes to an infusion of more liberal ones such as action, comedy, romance, thriller, sci-fiction, violence, adventure, crime, suspense, drama, family, musical, horror, fantasy, animation, mystery, film-noir. There’s certainly something for everyone, even children can indulge themselves in beautifully scripted and well executed animation flicks, re-living the numerous fairy tales that were once held bound within the pages of story books. Talking animals in flicks, a product of creativity e.g Cats and Dogs, Racing Stripes, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe, have given viewers a memorable viewing experience.
Big players in the Industry own studios with ‘back lot’ where movies are also shot, and use the synergies springing from their ownership of certain print and electronic media to consolidate on their financial gains. Theatrical releases are considered sacred and apt, first en route to a box office hit with constant trailers having been regularly aired prior to the opening, with over 30,000 screens owned by functional theater chains spread across USA. Movie goers eager to see the hyped movies throng to the theaters to quench their movie thirst. The action translates in to millions of dollars for the movie makers, and also thanks to the well structured movie distribution system that ensures the legally hitch free access to these flicks.
The movies are also viewed in other continents, distributed to English speaking countries, dubbed with voice over by actors in the non-English speaking countries or simply subtitled. Access to these movies for one’s viewing pleasure at home, months after the theatrical experience, comes through the purchase of DVDs, renting of same, and the legal broadcast of the movie on TV stations. Low budget movies are not left out of the picture as the DVDs are directly released to the public after production. Financial empowerment for making high budget films is sourced from banks, companies and wealthy investors who rely majorly on the track record of the producers, directors and cast, especially the popularity of those saddled with the responsibility of taking the lead roles.
Perhaps, what Hollywood has going for it, is the blend of spiced up advanced technology with a well crafted story, great cast resulting in A- rated quality movies. The modern high powered use of “CGI” (computer generated imagery to create unimaginable superior special effects), visual effects, lovely cinematography, unbelievable stunts and scenes, use of 3D technology, clear audio void of sound interference and high quality output have certainly placed them well ahead of the pack. Top rated actors are highly paid and smile to the banks with millions of dollars. The presence of the various well structured organizations on ground such as Writers Guild of America, Motion Pictures Editors Guild, Motion Picture Producers and Distribution of America, Motion Picture Sound Editors, Motion Picture Photographers Association, National Organization of Theater Owners, America Cinema Editors, America Society of Cinematographers, Casting Society of America, Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, have aided their dominance, and fostered unity amongst members of the same team.
It can take months, and even years, for proper planning, finance sourcing, and all the pre to post production stages of film production to be well executed, especially with the looming consequences that could befall a shambolic production. Hollywood doesn’t shoot movies in twelve days or less like their Nollywood counterpart.
The first movie in India was shown on July 7th 1896, but its Industry was birthed on May 3rd 1913, with “Raji Harischandra”, a silent feature film by Dadasaheb Phalke. Alam Ara broke the silent movie jinx in 1931 and with legends such as Dharmendra Singh Deol, Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini and a crop of fine actors including Jeetendra, the 60’s -80’s witnessed hits which reigned such as Sholay, Amar Akbar Anthony, Johnny Mera Naam, Seta Aur Geeta, The Burning Train, Bobby, Kabhi Kabhi, Dharamveer, amongst others. They currently operate in the shadows of Hollywood in Nigeria.
Bollywood’s popularity has continued to soar higher, opening new market and doors of opportunities for it, which has translated into better quality productions causing a break from the usual stereo typed marriage norm stories, and boasting of good cinematography. Besides, the opening up of more Theaters in their country has enabled Box office hits to be recorded. A blend of Western dance styles with tech beats have been infused in to their dance and millions of dollars (not rupee) are spent in making high budget films sourced from large studios and private distributors.
The realization and drive to be at par with their Hollywood counterpart in terms of special effects have seen experts in the requisite field from the USA being hired to actualize such, which has helped in opening up a wider range of genre of movies to be made. Shooting in other parts of the world such as Europe and other areas seems to be a norm making waves amongst the movie makers there, especially with the Box office hits recorded from shooting movies in that terrain.
Nollywood’s story is not unfamiliar to the Nigerian people, having sprouted its shoots in 1992, with the acclaimed movie “Living in Bondage”. However we ought not to forget that Nigerian films shot on celluloid had been in existence prior to this period. In one of my articles titled “Nollywood: Origin and Unresolved problems”, i painstakingly gave a detailed account of how the Nigerian movie industry evolved from the Colonial era, through the “Golden years” into the Nollywood era and the many problems plaguing the Industry.
Financial and distribution problems, re-cycling of old faces, watershed plots, simulacrum of Hollywood movies, low audio and visual quality production, banal stories, high predictability rates, ear sore sound tracks, narrow genre of movies to choose from, and the conspicuous absence of grand special and visual effects, piracy, are some of the problems the Industry has been battling with to overcome.
A lot has to be done to restore the confidence of Nigerians in the Industry. We could go on and on, whine and complain about the set backs, inadequacies the industry faces, though solutions have been proffered by stakeholders and friends of Nollywood time and again. The question still remains whether practical steps have been taken to implement the well thought out strategies that would rectify the problems, fill the lacuna and set Nollywood on the right path to Glory?
Nollywood still maintains a large percentage of their shibbolethian ideologies and has sailed on the High seas for too long, constantly being attacked by unrelenting pirates now and again. It’s time the Industry puts its house in order, disposes of prosaic movies and alters its course ably guided by the compass of cutting edge technology. There are new heights to attain, so Nollywood where do you stand?
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