Nollywood and it’s next level of evolution

One topic of discussion that constantly comes up and probably never ends is the growth of the film industry and the need for government intervention and participation; and in recent times the government has responded which is highly commendable. But Nollywood has come this far without them; I think waiting for grants and loans is actually taking a few steps backwards. Grants and Loans are not a long term growth strategy; they should merely be an addition to the tools available for the film industry, NOT the be all and end all. The film industry certainly needs the participation of the government to thrive but the primary way should not be through grants.

Someone reading this is probably disagreeing and likely has valid objections. All I’d say is study the tenure of the United Kingdom Film Council (UKFC) it disbursed over £160m to over 900 films in 10 years and there’s still no “British Film Industry” resulting from that. Brazil and other countries also do the whole grant and loan thing but, nada, zilch. It has birthed several remarkable and breakthrough films here and there but still no industry, at least not one clearly recognized in the way the world knows Hollywood or Bollywood as identifiable film industries.

In a 2007 interview with DVD Monthly Magazine, actor Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, Trainspotting, 28 Weeks Later) was asked how he felt about the state of the British Film Industry.

It’s good to understand it , but there aren’t any British Films out there. ……………It’s a disgrace caused by legislation that’s absolutely crippled the film industry in the UK. It’s gotten to the point that where films have been shut down a week before and friends have lost huge amounts as a result – houses and stuff like that. I’ve got nothing but contempt for the politicians and of course it’s all very nice for them when there’s a British Film Industry and they’ve got their hands on your shoulder, but they don’t give a fuck. So all we get is more and more American product, no matter how good or how bad it is, it’s going to be there

So what about that £160m and those 900 funded films!!! Why didn’t it lead to a film industry? Why are the very best British Actors and Directors leaving home in frustration and crossing the pond to Hollywood to seek better opportunities and even thrive in a foreign land?

No matter the grants and loans that are given out, if the policies and systems are not put in place to make those films work upon release or allow those producers and production houses to continue making product without coming back hat in hand, it won’t make much of a shift.

Do we welcome Grants and Loans, yeah, they’re encouraging but not a long term, self-sustaining solution. Growth will come as a result of several factors


Sound Stages
For too long producers have had to either beg to use people’s houses all the time or rent a place and be restricted by immovable walls, roofs that limit lighting possibilities, camera movement thereby affecting a director and cinematographer’s visual interpretation of the story. These houses were not built with film production in mind. Sound stages will provide sets that can be swung around and used for different productions or projects. These sound stages can be used for sitcoms, movies, commercials, music videos.

It could be a public/private partnership. Subsidized for local filmmakers with budgets under a certain figure, say N5m and fully charged to brands, and ad agencies, which would be glad not to have to fly out of the country for projects.

World Class Post Production Studios
While the UK’s film industry is not big in terms of production like their US siblings, they are known for post-production, with Soho London, having some of the best VFX studio in the world, four of which Double Negative, Framestore, Cinesite and MPC are within walking distance of each other. Many Hollywood productions are brought there because they know they will get brilliant work.

That’s one thing that the Nollywood grants can do. Build post production studios that can compete with those anywhere in the world AND train/hiire the people that can run it, like any editor, colourist, sound engineer in the best studios world-wide. What if a city like Lagos, became known for the place with the best post production in West Africa? It would create a seismic shift in the industry.

This will not only help local film makers, but it brings in income to the industry from outside the country, that doesn’t depend on DVD or ticket sales for the final product. No longer with filmmaker like Kunle Afolayan, Mamood Ali Balogun need to take their films out of the country for post-production, they can keep the money within the economy.

If it’s a public/private partnership that brings it to life, Low Budget films (under N3m) and other films that meet a certain set cultural criteria could be subsidized, and a special rate given to first time film makers. While those with N20m budget and above get a less subsidized but fair rate. The company will make most of its money from ad agencies that no longer need to go to S.A and foreign productions that see the tax/fiscal benefit of coming down to Nigeria for post-production.

Tax Breaks and incentives offered by cities, local Governments for coming to film in their town. Across the US, cities like New York have film offices, which make The Big Apple, an attractive and favourable for filmmakers to come and shoot in. This has made it the choice city for many TV shows over the decades NYPD Blues, CSI NY, New York Undercover , and the choice of many filmmakers Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Edward Burns and so many more. If a city as chaotic, crime ridden and busy as New York can be a favourable film location, Why not Lagos?

Each state needs a Film Office/Commission, which liaises with film makers. Policies, created to make filming in said states mutually beneficial for both parties. This is something done in the US and many countries around the world. For example in New York, they have a policy that states.

The state offers a Film Production Credit a 30 percent fully refundable tax credit on qualified expenses while filming in the state. A 30 percent to 35 percent post production tax credit is also available, regardless of filming location. Refundable tax credits available for qualified commercials with added incentives for companies increasing volume of work in New York are available and there are film production activities/expenses that are exempt from state and local sales and use taxes. Also a film investment tax credit of up to 5 percent on investments in construction and upgrades to qualified film production facilities plus employment incentive tax credits for two additional years

State Film Production Incentives and Programmes

When a producer can’t find favourable terms, they go outside the country. Many US productions are actually shot in Canada because it’s cheaper and Canada offers better benefits that they get at home. American Producers discovered that certain Canadian cities could double for American cities and in the last decade + have outsourced well over 1500 television and film productions to their neighbours up North

They take advantage of the Canadian Government’s Film production Tax Credit, a subsidy for foreign filmmakers. Now they aren’t’ just giving the money away to foreigners with no benefit.

For a production to qualify for this tax credit, either the director or the screenwriter and one of the two highest paid actors must be Canadian. Think, Ryan Reynolds, Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, Rachael McAdams etc.

This is just one of many of the beneficial policies they have that attract so many American productions.

Now, imagine we had that in Nigeria, and foreign filmmakers that want to shoot on the continent see the financial benefits both on the production end and also tapping into the Nigerian fan base for when the film is released due to the stars cast?

Picture this scenario:

Imagine that Lagos State decides that it wants to become the most film friendly city in the whole country. To do this and encourage filmmakers to choose the state as their location they:

-Offer tax breaks/credits, subsidy and incentives

– Offer preferred choice locations for free which either show the city in a great light in the film , which can attract tourists, or barter with the film maker to shoot a promo video for those locations at another time.

-Offer protection, from thugs and area boys, make arrangements that film makers are not harassed by anyone that wants to claim “our zone”

What does the state get in return?
The cast and crew of the production stay in their hotels/guest houses, eat in their restaurants, use their cabs, rent their vans and trucks. Hire their caterers for welfare, their residents as crew, extras, and production assistants. They rent equipment from local productions house. These and many more benefit the residents and business owners of the state and thereby, the local economy.

Truth is, the ripple effect of a structured film industry creates jobs for; Accountants, Bankers, Lawyers, Electricians, Carpenters, Painters, Welders, Stylists, Tailors, Drivers, The Food Industry, The Hospitality Industry ,Fashion Industry etc. All jobs that are not directly film related, but support the work in the film industry behind the scene ,some on camera and others off camera.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK- That enables licenses, royalties and residuals to work. Now this would take a lot longer to achieve, but is absolutely necessary for the industry to thrive. Here’s what one American Producer said

“Hollywood isn’t in the film business … they are in the business of exploiting licenses…..The monetary value of a film lies in the ability to exploit it….. The film industry revolves around copyright, because almost every film-company asset relates to the ownership or exploitation of copyrights”
– Schuyler M Moore

George Lucas was able to exploit his Star Wars licence for decades and made several multi millions as a result of it. Licences are why Fox and Sony hold on to the Marvel Comic characters they own despite not making decent live action films. Why? They know the billion dollar value they can earn from distribution rights, TV rights, streaming rights, merchandizing etc

Films like Back to the Future, JAWS, The Godfather ,The Shawshank Redemption, Casablanca and others made 20-60 years ago still earn money for their producers/studios in 2015 each time they are sold on DVD, Blu Ray, are aired on television or streamed on NetFlix.

We need a legal frame work which will allow producers to earn money for their property and be able to prosecute those that infringe on their copyrights.

Copyright education is also ESSENTIAL in the film industry. A producer can’t wail and moan about being the victim of piracy while they used Celine Dion and Boyz 2 Men songs in their film without paying for it , or clearing the rights from the publishing owner.

Right now, there are multiplexes shooting up around the country, which is a very good thing, but we also need , smaller , community cinemas with two or three screens that charge N300- N500 or less for a film. The working class who are the majority of the population cannot afford N1500 on a single movie ticket, and most of them would likely feel out of place in a Mall where they can’t afford anything sold there.

So they need a place the can watch the kind of movies that interest them at an affordable price, this also favours those films with smaller budgets that can’t compete for screen space/time at the multiplexes against the Hollywood and bigger budget Nollywood films.

Now, imagine, a community cinema in every local government in Lagos, and then imagine every state in the country replicating that. Now imagine a N3m budget film screening in 50 of these across the country, each cinema is 100 seater . At N500 per ticket the odds of that film making its money back have been raised astronomically. The presence of each of those cinemas would create business opportunity to those selling snacks, shop owners, branded stores with grass roots services.

To a very small extent, Brands have gotten involved with Nollywood productions, but not nearly as much as they can or maybe even should. Product placement is one of the ways Hollywood finances and markets their films. Sometimes it’s done so well that the product enters our subconscious and before we know it , we’ve bought or seek to buy that

The Mini Coopers in both the original The Italian Job and the remake. AOL in Austin Powers and You Got Mail . Even fake products by a real brand The Power lace Nike shoes, and Mattel Hoverboard in Back to The Future, the Audi cars in I Robots and Minority Report.

All these brands aren’t running a charity. They see the benefit in having their brands associated with these films, the subconscious effect it has and the rise in sales they have.

A young Tom Cruise wore Raybans in the movie that made him a star Risky Business (1983) and sales of the glasses went up by 360,000 pieces.

Reese’s Pieces which appeared in the movie Spielberg movie E.T (1982) got a 65% jump in sales two weeks after it premiered.

It cost BMW $3m and a Roadster to become the new Bond car in Golden Eye, movie goers saw the movie and BMW made $240m in advanced sales. Little wonder Heineken paid $45m to become the new drink of James Bond in Skyfall (2012).

On TV shows like Elementary, there are several guest appearances of Windows 7 tablets and laptops as do other tv shows with other brands. All the brands that young ladies started buying because their favourite characters in Sex&The City or Gossip Girl had worn or praised them.

For some of those films that screen outside the country e.g. Kunle Afolyan’s OCTOBER 1 that has a NetFlix deal, it could be exposure to a new audience for the smaller, local brands.

Watch any Michael Bay film The Island , The Transformers films and you won’t see anything less than 8 Brands present on the screen, although he lacks a subtle hand, but these brand make themselves available with each film he wants to do.

Cinema is VERY powerful, and we as Nigerian film makers need to show both the local and multi-national brands the benefits of investing in our films and getting involved in industry, the benefits that it can add to their bottom line ,not only in the immediate but in the long run. We need to find a way to make this work in Nigeria.

This might just be me building castles in the sky but, What if there was a film village? Similar to Redemption Camp, set in the outskirts of Lagos and others cities like Jos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Asaba . It would have the above mentioned Sound Stages, Post Production Houses and much more.

On those same grounds there would be Guest Houses, a gym, Provision stores, Restaurants ,Music Studios and Orchestral Stages for recording scores. Art Department Warehouse, Fashion Designers/Houses, Craft Services, Photo Studios and Design Houses, that work on clothes/costumes, EPK and Posters for TV shows, Films and Commercials. That’s A LOT of jobs right there , and the trickledown effect leads to jobs for drivers, cleaners, personal assistants, production assistants, secretaries, security guards etc

There could even creative hubs that smaller producers can use for production meetings, writers conference. Workstations that freelance web designers, editors, poster designers, colourists, graders can rent for days or weeks, powerful enough to handle 4K material and not have to worry about NEPA or other factors .

A producer could camp his cast and crew in the film village and have access to shoot on the sound stage, supervise edit, grading, colour correction and sound mix in the post production studio, work on posters/promotional material with the design studio. This would cut down a lot of the time wasted driving from mainland to island or running after The Film Village would be a place where a producer/director has access to everything and doesn’t have to leave to look for anything.

HOWEVER After all is said and done
If things similar to the described and more don’t happen in conjunction with grants; we will still be having the same conversation in another 20 years. If despite the loans and grants, the issues that make the environment structurally, financially and legally hostile aren’t resolved, then all the money won’t make a difference. Sure it will help some producers get projects off the ground which may still struggle to turn a profit, but no ripple effect to the entire industry.

It’s like cleaning the wounds of a Bantamweight Boxer, giving him Lucozade and then throwing him back in the ring with Floyd Mayweather and thinking the Lucozade you gave him to drink will make a difference in the outcome.

But hey, what do I know.

MOVED ,New URL, New Site, Same blog…ok, some new things

Hi Guys, Happy New Year to you all, yeah, i know, we’re already in Feburary , but hey. hope you are all having a great year so far.

I just want to let anyone interested that i have moved site im now at

All the entries from here are now, there , and all new entries will be posted there . Thanks for reading , checking in, liking, reposting. Hope you decided to continue with me there. Have a great week.

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


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?


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”

Marriage Isn’t For You

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.

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…

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