FilmMaking:Between a Niche & a Hard Place

Nollywood is one of those topics that polarizes people. From those inside the industry,the fans that buy and watch and those that hold it in disdain and completely dismiss it. It’s almost impossible to come across it and not have some sort of opinion on it.

For many new generation film makers the fascination by millions of fans leaves them…, well fascinated albeit through a route of bewilderment. If the average fan is asked why they love it, many can’t quite describe exactly why but they do.

I too pondered and try to asses why,one day EUREKA !!! A moment of clarity.

Nollywood has carved out a distinct niche and seized hold of a demographic similar to the way, Blaxploitation,Grindhouse and Roger Corman movies did in the 70’s and 80’s. The way Tyler Perry has done in the Noughties.

So let’s take a look at the whole niche factor. First let’s take the Vampire craze that’s been on for the past few years or at least revamped and grown in popularity in the past decade as seen in the Twilight films, and tv predecessors Buffy,Angel and now True Blood and Vampire Diaries.

Fans of the Twilight series are far& wide and very faithful to the series.They blog about it, buy the books, watch the movies,Choose loyalties to characters (Team Jacob,Team Edward) and some go as far as filing their canines to look vampiric. No doubting it , they love vampires but it is svery unlikely that those same fans would find Bramstocker’s,or John Carpenter vampire movies appealing. Nor will they rush out to buy a DVD of “From Dusk Till Dawn”,”Fright Night” or “30 Days of Night”. So when writing a vampire film, do you have both audience in mind? Or do you just chose one and stick with that tone.

When speaking demographic let’s take two directors .Spike Lee and Tyler Perry. Both make films that are targetted at a mostly black demographic,both experience different levels of succes. But it is very unlikely that those that follow Spike’s entire body of work, will rush to the cinemas to check out Tyler’s latest release. Both writer/directors with very different appeal to the demographic they target. Spike is a highly respected auteur and can be considered an authority when it comes to cinema. Perry!! Errr not so much, but few people have built a fan base a quickly as he did. Since Perrry has had more financial success in the past ten years than Spike in about 30 years, does that mean Spike should make the same kind of films that Perry does?

Let’s look at the action genre. There are many directors succesful in this genre. John McTiernan,(Die Hard,Predator),John Woo(Killer,Hard Target,Face Off),Luc Besson(Leon,Fifth Element,Taxi) and maybe the most commercially succesful action director is Michael Bay. Though fans of the genre, there are many John Woo fans that will never go to see a Michael Bay film. In fact as much as Bay may be a box office King, there are many that hold no love or respect for him as a film maker and will never go see a film of his.

When it comes to Indie films, you either love em or leave em.

Indie films usually only appeal to Cinephiles. Those that have a deep love for all things cinema and search for as much divesity as they can find. These are usually the same fans that go out to find great foreign language film as opposed to those that can’t be bothered to watch anything not in english,and actually completely write them off without even watching.

Indie films have a certain niche,and they know it. They are usually low key and mellow, with character driven stories starring usually non A list actors. Since there isn’t an explosion,gun fight or car chase in it, some people will never have an interest in it.

Films like “Lost in Translation”,”Little Miss sunshine”,”500 Days of Summer” amongst others have won awards,and critical acclaim, but have no appeal to the average bubble gum ,pop corn viewer, even though they star some pretty big names that they’d watch in a bigger budget more mainstream movie.

Woody Allen has an audience that have faithfully followed his work for many years,but there are also those that won’t even give him a chance due to the kind of characters he creates and stories he writes which aren’t so mainstream.

He may not be a film maker but I found it profound when brand expert and former Ad Agency Deutsch Inc CEO Donny Deutsch said

“Who says universal acceptance is the answer to anything? Show me one product one person one idea that appeals to everybody. You can’t.-DONNY DEUTSCH

Bottomline!!!, You can’t make a film for EVERYONE, the film will suffer in some parts as you spread it thin trying to cover all bases.

Find your target audience that likes what you love to create and stick with them, deliver a kick ass movie and make loyal fans out of them. As Donny Deutsch also said “It’s better to have 35% of the people really charged up about you and the rest hate you than to have 100% not care”.


2 comments on “FilmMaking:Between a Niche & a Hard Place

  1. Your piece suffers from what you’ve pointed out- the average reader wouldn’t be much impressed. But the rest of us know you’ve written relevant points here.
    Nollywood will find a way, folks like you have to do something first.

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