A few years ago I visited Redeemed Camp , not for the monthly programme, but because a good friend lived in the estate. It’s a large and beautiful place that Is extremely well planned. The houses are well built, the streets are planned and the electricity and water system works very well. There was are guest houses for rent, supermarkets ,a school on the grounds and years later a University followed . It’s a clearly planned community by someone with a vision.
This got me thinking recently, what if there was a film village on the outskirts of Lagos, just like Redeemed Camp? Somewhere as large, and well planned as RC. Anyone that has shot a tv show or film in Lagos knows how frustrating it can be; whether it’s traffic, noise, area boys , there are numerous things that can throw your creativity out of sync.
So let’s go on a journey of imagination of a film village that can serve us all
One of the biggest challenges of translating the script to reality is location. The current means is hiring someone’s house, and with that come several terms and conditions. Limitations which affect how free the cast and crew ; “don’t touch this”. “you can’t move that” , “You can’t use this room, or sit on that couch”, “Don’t breath here”. You can imagine how that would affect a director’s ability to tell his story, or an actor’s performance and freedom. A sound stage where sets can be built and locations created from scratch would be a great solution.
“great editing skill protect a director from suicide” -Sean Penn
The neighbourhood of Soho in London is one of the great homes of Post Production in the world. Home for over a dozen post production houses , where many Hollywood blockbuster movies have been sent for cutting. It’s a million pound industry. Aside a few production companies that have in house edit suites, I don’t know of any dedicated post production house in Lagos. Nigerian film and tv industry needs this, where there are both online and offline editors, both permanent in house editors and free lances that are invited to some jobs. From TV series, to documentaries to feature films, the producers and directors can take their work there to be cut and shaped.
Here the systems will be able to carry what laptops and personal computers can’t. They will be able to render all night, as the place will be retro fitted to run 24/7 with alternative sources of power that aren’t dependent on just one source.
This place will also cater to Sound Design and VFX, all equally important members of the post production family.
This is a part of film making that is grossly underserved but it VERY essential to the selling of the story. Imagine Gladiator, Cleopatra, BraveHeart ; where they skimped on the wardrobe. The suspense of disbelief will be broken. A lot of the time , actors wear their own clothes for shoots; understandably, this is because of low budgets and cost. This would be a place dedicated to buying, storing, designing costumes, wardrobe that would be utilized in films, TV shows, and commercials. There would be in house designers, tailors, seamstress that enable the costumer department appropriately clothe the characters of any production. It could grow to be the biggest costume house in the country and maybe the continent, where almost anything can be found.
We’ve all seen those silly guns in movies that immediately they are drawn, we’re so busy laughing that we can’t take the danger seriously. Like the costume department, this could be a home of creating, acquiring and storing props. From guns for cops and robbers to swords and shields to ancient warriors and palace guards, to those little house hold items, that will distinct he house of a banker earning N200,000 a month, and the business man that earns N20m. This would be the go to place for Art Directors and Production Designers, like a kid in Willy Wonka’s factory they should be able to find anything they need.
The use of green screen and the possibilities it creates for the imagination of a director are unlimted. Films like 300 and Sin City where almost entirely shot on green screen, creating worlds that would have cost a sizable amount to construct in reality. Why can’t we have a facility that would enable this? I’m certain that music video directors would jump at this , movie directors would take advantage and save themselves the stress that comes with certain locations.
We all have a score that we can never forget; whether it’s the Darth Vader or Robocop arriving, Superman taking Lois Lane flying, Brave Heart giving a stirring speech or James Bond walking into that gun barrel frame, a great score is as important to a film as great characters. This would be a place where composers can create scores for movies, TV shows, documentaries and even stage theatre. Built to accommodate a full symphony orchestra and audience, this can also be a place music schools can put on shows and even foreign orchestras can hire when they are in Lagos for a show.
Anyone that has worked in film knows that the 11th Commandment is “never keep your crew hungry”. This could be the home for craft-services, caterers dedicated to feeding film and television crews with energy surging foods. This is a niche that needs to be explored.
As productions take weeks, and sometimes months, a lot of the cast and crew would save time and energy coming from home by staying in the allotted guest houses( paid for by the production). This would save producers the nightmare of having a DP ,Sound Man or lead cast member delaying production because they are stuck in traffic. Editors can stay for several days or weeks until the cutting is done.
These large halls can be used for reads, rehearsals and private screenings between the producer, director and investors or colleagues. Hired for conferences, seminars etc . They can also be used as locations for film.
Now, I haven’t covered everything, but you catch my drift. This is the kind of capacity building that can serve the entire industry. It would make the production side of film a lot more structured, professional and stress free( expect maybe the cost)