All about the Bigger Budgets Baby…er, WRONG !!!!!!!!!!!

So in the last few years, there have been several Nollywood films , with significantly large budgets. Budgets that are 3, 4 or even 5 times larger than the regular home video budgets. Over the years many conversations suggested that bigger budgets were the solution to better films, and if Nollywood had bigger budgets, the quality would exponentially improve. Now, there is a HUGE validity to this train of thought. A bigger budget would allow for better equipment, better pay for the crew, hire more experienced crew, hire bigger stars, better food, accomodation and more days of shoot for the director. But does it go beyond just budget? Is simply throwing larger amount of money at filmMakers going to automatically make a film better? Let’s explore this.

Now , we are ONLY looking at the Budget, the Quality of the film produced and the legacy of the film since it was made and not the box office gross.

The Godfather, is one of the best films ever made in the history of American Cinema. It’s on every top list of Best American films and deservedly so, it is one of the best written, directed and acted films you’ll come across. But it almost didnt get made. An adaptation of the Mario Puzo pulp novel, most studios turned up their noses to it. Many big name directors of that era rejected offers to take on the project. Until a young rising director a few years out of film school took it on, after being convinced by his pal George Lucas.

The Godfather was given a budget of $6m dollars , while other films financed by Paramount in the same year had an average budget of $20m. How many films can you think of that are more memorable , or have a big an impact on filmMaking,FilmMakers and popular culture as The Godfather? How many other Paramount films made in the same year still sell DVDs/BluRays and merchandize in 2014?

The Usual Suspects(1995) had a budget of $6m , it is still talked about and celebrated till today. Some other films that came out that same year? OUTBREAK $50m , Batman Forever $100m, 12 Monkeys $29m , Mortal Kombat $18m , WaterWorld $175m and the list goes on and on. In that same 1995 there were films in which the salary of one actor or the feeding or art department budget exceeded the entire budget for The Usual Suspects. But which film would you rather watch? Which film is considered a Classic, which is quoted ? Which has a very talked about reveal? It’s the $6m dollar film.

Pulp Fiction(1994) Quentin Tarantino’s sophmore follow up to his debut Reservior Dogs(1992) was made for $8m, and it is one of the most talked about films of the last 20 years, and it’s 20th anniversary was recently celebrated. A film has to be really special for it to have a 20 year anniversary celebration. Other films made that same year? STARGATE with a $55m budget , Clear&Present Danger $45m , Timecop $27m ,Never Ending Story 3 $17m ,Interview with a Vampire $60m .

Now ,im not saying those film are bad, but which one do you and your friends quote? Which have you seen people dress up as the characters for costume parties?

Which inspired a string of imitators and actually influenced a new generation of filmMakers?

Transformers:Age of Extinction had a budget of $210m and im yet to hear of anyone that watched it and actually enjoyed it,anyone that wasn’t annoyed by it and utterly disappointed. If simply having a huge budget was the key to a better film, them T:Aoe should have been a phenomenal film, but you have more people excited about THE RAID, a film with a budget of $1.1m , with no stars, in a foreign language(Indonesian).

Momento(2000) $9m, Reservior Dogs(1992) $1.2m , Clerks(1994) $27,000 , Sex,Lies&Videotape $1.2m are other films with low budgets that went on to have critical acclaim, lauch the careers of their directors and have cult followings. Many directors that made films in those same years with budgets of $20m-$50m cant even be named because their films came, went and are long forgotten.

While budget does play a huge part, it is not a magical solution that suddenly makes a film soar. Yeah, it will add a lot more production value, and make things more comfortable for all involved.. ok, maybe except the producer sweating bullets that the film better be good to make back the money.

The Script, above all, is one thing that made these listed lower budget films stand above those other films which were more generic in nature. They were risky, well crafted and had amazing stories, dialogue and character journeys.

The Directors, were all visionaries , with strong voices and something to say. They knew they did not have access to massive budgets like those being financed by the studios, so instead of throwing money at a problem to solve it, they solved problems creatively and crafted films that stand the test of time. In addition to having brilliant actors that brought the characters to life.

We need to focus on writing better scripts, giving writers time to craft better scripts, take risks on new stories, instead of the safe, generic stories (that everyone else is doing, just with a different cast). Become better directors that keep improving our fluency in the language of Cinema, directing performance and working with actors, and telling a cinematic story.

Simply throwing money at the same old type of writing, storytelling and directing, will just make a bigger and more expensive version of what we are already getting.

Do we need more money, YES, it certainly helps. But Kaizen(Constant and Never Ending Improvement) is what we need even more

A BETTER US(CREATIVES) will make BETTER MOVIES

PS-As per local films? “Modupe Temi”, directed by Daniel Ademinokan, is still one of my fav Naija films, a simple story of marital conflict; One location,Two characters and im certain they did not spend up to N8m making it. Was it perfect? No, but it had good production value, hilarious performances, good video/audio and in terms of entertainment and my desire to recommend it to friends, it totally delivered; unlike some films in the last 6 years with budget close to N50m or above, which were actually annoying in how disappointing they were on all fronts with absolutley no redeemable qualities.

Lagos on the Silver Screen? Who can bring it?

Marina-at-Dusk

If you follow their body of work, you’d notice that Scorsese, Woody Allen, Spike Lee have a love for NewYork and this amorous affair is evident in their movies. For Allen, Manhattan is a clear example, Scorcese titled on of his films New York New York and Spike Lee has Do the Right Thing and The 25th Hour.

Watching those films, if you have never visited the city it kinda make you want to go see it.

They are all very different filmMakers, and show very different elements of the city , through neurotic Jewish eyes, Socially concious African American eyes and Street smart Italian American eyes.

For me i would love to see some filmMakers bring that to Lagos. Now i know what you’re thinking.

“Guy, e no easy to shoot for Lagos”.
“Lagos Ke!!! Is it beans”
Area boys go just obtain you

Ok, now we’ve fired those arrows from the quiver of excuses . Think about it. Would really be cool wouldnt it?

Now, these guys are not Lagos based or even based in Naija, but there are three directors, who based on their work i’ve seen, would like to see how they bring Lagos to the big screen

Akin Omotoso of MAN ON GROUND
His use of sound and visuals as a thematic thread for his narrative was just amazing

Andrew Dosunmu of MOTHER OF GEORGE
The visual palette of MoG, how he captured the party and celebration lifestlye of Nigerians

Thomas Ikimi of LEGACY:BLACK OPS
His psycological and existenstial approach in his films , applied to the city and a character trying to stay sane in it would be very interesting to watch.

These three guys have shown that they can play at a global level and their films are very cinematic. What would make it even more awesome is if Remi Adefarasin did some of the lensing.

Imagine exploring the dark side of Lekki and what goes on behind those “picket fences”. The swimming in the coroporate Shark Tank of Victoria Island or the Lavish life of those in the upcoming Eko Atalantic City. The hustle of Agege and Agegunle , the midlife crisis in Magodo or Ogudu.

Then again, skilled filmMakers based in Eko, can take up the challenge of making a film that is a love letter to the City of Excellence . :)

Black & African Cinema is in good hands

So i recently watched MOTHER OF GEORGE , the Andrew Dosunmu film that won a Cinematography Award at Sundance. Having watched his debut feature RESTLESS CITY a few weeks before seeing MoG, i realize that, like Spike Lee’s penchant for African American stories, Dosunmu has one for the story of Africans in diaspora.

His partnership with Cinematographer Bradford Young produces very rich visuals which are a delight to look at, and i personally love how they shoot Black skin. Dosunmu’s fashion photography background is very clear in his compositions and his art direction, and his love to traditional African music and classic artists is clear and present. Though his films are very arty and sometimes get carried away in their own beauty thereby creating a disconnet, i do think he is an interesting director and i look foward to his next outing, especially if he reteams up with Bradford Young. Like Spike Lee who has a long creative partnership with his DP, Ernest Dickerson, Dosunmu and Young may be another great Nubian duo.

Young is also a rising star in the cinematography world and has also worked with Ava DuVernay and Dee Rees. Now im not one to look at films/people/talent based on shade of Melanin, but i do think that the rise of someone like Young and his collaboration with these directors is a great thing for both Black and African cinema. His available light style and his visual versatilty has won him Cinematography Award, U.S. Dramatic, Sundance Film Festival for lensing “Pariah”,”Mother of George” and “Aint them Bodies Saints”. At age 37 he still has a very long career ahead of him and if he keeps up the momentum, in another 20 years we could speak of him the way we speak of Deakins and Willis now.

Dosunmu was tapped to direct the Fela biopic that Steven McQueen had been previously attached to, and even if that doesnt work out, i hope to see him shoot a film in Lagos one day and see how he brings that delicious visual style of his to the city of excellence.

Bradford Young

The Life of an Indie filmMaker…the 9th wonder of the world

LOVE THIS VIDEO, very encouraging. Often times in Naija we think we are the only ones that have difficulty financing, making and distributing our films. But the reality is , everyone that is not being financed by the studio system has all those same issues. Even for those financed by the studios, sometimes there is so much interference from the suits, that you cant make the movie you set out to make, and they take it off your hands in post pro and do what they want.

Ultimately, are you making films SOLEY for profit? Soley to make an obscene amount of money?

Or are you making films because you cant see yourself doing anything else but telling those stories, and you just enjoy that privilege and are satisfied with it paying the bills and allowing you to make another film, and the next , and the next.

Will you be satisfied with just enough people seeing it to make it profitable to finance the next film but not getting mainstream distribution or name recognition?

Your reasons for being in the business will determine how you deal with delay, rejection, not getting recognition and even affect the kind of films you make etc

There are many great indie filmMakers out there whose films never cross the shores of their country for one reason or the other, some that are only seen in selected theatres. Not everyone would become a household name. The sooner we learn that the sooner we can move on.

So for all Indie FilmMaker, hope you are as encouraged from this as i am, we may have our down times,be broke, discouraged and maybe even depressed at times, but the satisfaction of making our films and getting a great response, certainly beats doing a “secure” job and living the rest of our lives with “shoulda coulda”

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Marriage Isn’t For You

oludascribe:

Ok, i know , thisi isn’t my usual entry related to film, cinema or pop culture, but i saw this and found this interesting and thought to share.

Originally posted on Seth Adam Smith:

Kim and I

Kim and I

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. :) I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my…

View original 573 more words

Which one have you made ?

Which one have you made???

This is a question usually asked in annoyance or even fury on movie reviews sites by trolls fans of films/filmMakers who get angered when their film gets criticized,panned, badly reviewed.

There’s a definition for this

APPEAL TO ACCOMPLISHMENT is a genetic fallacy wherein Person A(Movie Producer) challenges a thesis(bad review) put forward by Person B(Cinema Patron or Reviewer) because Person B(Patron or Reviwer) has not accomplished similar feats or accomplished as many feats(made a film) as Movie Producer

Example

The question is meant to say one of two things(or both)

You haven’t made a film so you are not in the position to say what is wrong with this one.

You haven’t made one, so shut up and don’t complain/criticize until you do so.

Some go as far as name calling and throwing all sort of insults at people that give their film a bad review.

So, if they like your film, they have great taste, but if they dont, the fact they have not made a movie makes their opinion invalid? Hmmmmmm. What if they hate your current movie but liked the previous one so much that they saw it a second time and bought tickets for 5 friends to see it too. Is their opinion still invalid? Are they still a “hater”, “a failed actor/producer that is jealous” ?

As someone once said “So to criticize a film one must be a filmmaker? That makes no sense”

So is a person’s opinion only valid if they like it?

Hold that thought for a minute and let’s apply that to some other situations.

SCENARIO 1

-Your phone network provider gives horrible service, and while you have not been able to make calls you have been charged, but before you call them or write on social media about how horrible they are. Which network have you run,operated ?

SCENARIO 2

-You have a wedding to attend, a material to sew but your regular tailor is unavailable, so you have to leave it with his apprentice. He does a horrible job, wasting the material and the result is unwearable. Do you complain or keep quiet because you have never made one before and therefore are in no position to complain?

SCENARIO 3

-You eat at a restaurant, but the food is horrible, undercooked and over-salted, plus the staff are rude and incompetent. Very upset, you ask for the manager. But think for a moment. You have never run a restaurant, you have never coordinated multiple culinary staff. Who are you to question their service just because you paid to eat there?

SCENARIO 4

-You are watching your favorite team play yet another disappointing match. With the emotional investment you put in this team you expect much more. The manager uses bad formations, he benches the good players and refuses to buy good players even though he has the money to do so. In your opinion he’s an idiot. But before you start a hashtag to campaign his removal, think, You haven’t run a football team before, you have not been in his position. Which team have you managed?

We all have something we are passionate about that sometimes disappoint us eg a sport team . We have services we pay for and expect to give us our money’s worth but many times don’t . Wont you be livid if after getting bad service , you are asked by the CEO/Manager, “Shutup, Which one have you made “?

Do you have to be able to run a restaurant to expect good service? Must you posses the skills of Sir Alex to recognize that a team is underperforming? Is it a requirment to have been a LGA Chariman or Governor, before you have the right to complain about the lack of provision of basic infrastructure in the city you reside?

Back to the film world

Steven Spielberg has won multiple Oscars, BAFTA,Golden Globe,Directors Guild Award,Producer’s Guild Award, his films have made over $15 billion, he has made many iconic films and inspired MANY filmMakers all over the world. He is arguably the most recognized director in the world, even by those who may have never seen his films(or know they have) and he STILL has people that dont like his films. People who have their valid reasons for not taking him seriously as a filmMaker(too sentimental, too sugary,too commercial, too this too that)

I was on the FaceBook page of Criterion Collection, and there was a post in which quoted Chris Nolan saying he never went to film school and was self taught , the comments that followed showed how many people were not impressed by the billions his films had made at the box office; comments like these

“His poor film grammar in action sequences and gimmicky narrative style makes his admission about a lack of formal training kind of obvious”

another commenter said

“he doesn’t seem to understand the most basic elements of action, like where to point the camera and when to cut, and his plotting is of course a mess (see the aimless, bloated last third of most of his movies). Most self-taught filmmaker learn this stuff by watching other movies, but maybe his ego and grand “vision” got in the way? He is ambitious, I’ll give him that, but he doesn’t have the talent to match”

WAIT, there’s more

On IMDB some headlines for viewers’s reviews(not critics) for INCEPTION were

INSIPID- The pointless film

You are not as stupid as Nolan thinks you are

Insulting

Good idea lost in the noise

One of the most overrated films ever! The most un-dreamlike film about dreams I’ve ever seen!

Boring, too long, illogical, awful dialogue

Im sure you know of Nolan’s accomplishments,(you can look them up) so , if HE can still get reviews like those and some people look at his work or Speilberg’s and go BLEH!!!

Unless you have the level of worldwide acclaim, regard and ability to greenlight an original project with $100m+ budget, why do you expect absolutely EVERYONE , to fall in love with your film(s), or cease to have an opinion otherwise? Does it make it any easier to swallow criticism? No, but it is a REALITY of every creative endevour that some people for valid or invalid reasons, just wont like your output, and they reasons they don’t like it will be the very same reasons others LOVE IT.

Unless you want to give up your right to complain or be upset about ANYTHING you invested in emotionally or financially regardless of how it disappointed ; “Which one have you made” should be eliminated.

While some comments on those sites are indeed immature, malicious,bitter and downright idiotic,some are a result of careful analysis; maybe it’s an opportunity to analyze what is being said,see if there is any validity.

If there isn’t , discard it and move on or better yet, stay away from reviews. Many of the best and succesful film makers in the world have gotten horrible reviews both from critics and fans when their films dont meet expectation or the standard they have set, so it happens to the very best . But posing such a question makes one appear one of the following; arrogant, unwilling to learn or maybe a little insecure.

Speilberg, The Original Wunderkid

Long before the likes of Tarantino, Chris Nolan and JJ Abrahms become household names , and a release of their movie was an event that had people all over the globe waiting with glee. Steven Speilberg was and probably still is, the best known director in the world. Over the years the man has tackled a variety of genres, winning directing awards from almost every significant film body there is. From films of childhood wonder to alien invasion to resurrecting dinosaurs to War to love stories to adventurous archaeologists; almost every thing he touches turns in Cinema gold.. almost. While he has had a few turkeys, his body of work is nothing short of outstanding, and his contribution to Cinema and pop culture eclipses any failure he may have in his filmography.

Like many great directors Speiberg has many influences that impact his vision, to which he adds his techniques. Not a meer cut and paste, but a cinematic touch that makes it a thing of beauty on its own . He also has various themes that are present to a discerning eyes, similar to how Tarantino has a criminal underworld theme in most of his work, and JJ Abrahms has scientific mystery and un-answered questions.

I came across this video essay that analysis his work and shows some of his influences, shows how meticulous he is , and that directing is not just about calling action and yelling at your crew, but pulling your viewer into a world and taking them on a ride to remember

Im pretty sure any young director(in career) watching this , would hope to have a body of work in about 20-30 years to which someone would dedicate hours to create such a respectful and admiring video essay.

Candle goes out for “The Prince of Darkness”

When it comes to Cinematography, in the last 40 years , there are two names that stand out for their brilliance,and their contribution to cinema; one of those names is Gordon Willis. He shot films like The Godfather Trilogy, Annie Hall, Manhattan, All the President’s Men and many other classics.

His distinctive trademark lighting of using shadows and not allowing eyes to be fully seen earned him the nickname Prince of Darkness.

Willis recently passed away but his legacy lives on, many directors and cinematographers have been influenced and inspired by the body of work he has left behind; and that’s the thing about great work, it speaks for you

Good Night Prince

Director arth thou

There are diff types of Director:

The Spike Lee type, Steve McQueen type, The Tyler Perry type, The Lee Daniels type & the F Gary Gray type. Each different in tone, each with a different level of mastery on the language of cinema. From politically/socially conscious to existential to summer blockbuster to sappy .

Some are more popular than others, but popularity or box office receipts has not always been a measure of cinematic quality. If so, “Twilight” will be said to be a better film than “The Shawshank Redemption”.

There’s certainly a need for variety in the market and diversity, each coming with a different voice for the punters to choose from the pack.

But in the Nigerian cinema market, do we have too much of the same? The same genre that dominates the market? Little distinction between voices of the storytellers?

What of the political commentary, social commentary, allegorical,satirical,quirky,dark,existential, etc

Do we have such diversity in Nigerian Cinema? As we evolve and new voices enter the market place slowly, What kind of directors would you like to see?

What kind of and genre,tones and styles do you believe would make the market place more interesting?