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PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS OF MOVIES: MAKING NIGERIA NOLLYWOOD
This research work deals with the problems pose to Nollywood movies production in Nigeria and prospects of achieving performance from the industry. Nollywood movies have become vital mediums used to exhibit the cultures of Nigeria to the outside world. However, there are some major concerns about the way and manner the movies and video mediums are used to portray Nigerian cultures to the outside world. The study used survey method of data collection.
The study found out that some local and international critics mount on Nigeria Nollywood movies industry as a poor imitation of the real thing, as productions are plagued by technical glitches. The study also found out that despite the international attention received by Nollywood movies the quality of its productions and the content of its stories are issues that need to be seriously worked on. The Nigerian government and private sector organizations must intervene and provide adequate funding to facilitate the production and marketing of quality movies by Nollywood so that it can equate the kind of professionalism obtained in similar industries in other parts of the world.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The Nigerian Movie Productions started over fifty years ago with the likes of Latola Movies (1962) and Calpeny Nigeria Ltd. anchoring The Escapade (Wikipedia, online source). Historically, Latola Movies was one of the first and earlier movie production companies in Nigeria. It started movie production as far back as 1962 (Laura, 1993). According to Pierre Barrot (2013). Equally, the Yoruba Travelling Theatre Group, for instance, Ola Balogun, Late Hubert Ogunde, Adeyemi Afolayan a.k.a. Ade Love, Adebayo Salami, Afolabi Adesanya and others pioneered the earliest movie in Nigeria. Kenneth Nnebue was the first to spearhead the production of movie in Nigeria when movies were shot with Video Home System (VHS) cameras and edited in television studios using a couple of videocassette recorder (VCR) machines. These men pioneered the production of movies like Kongi’s Harvest in1971, Bull Frog in the Sun in 1974, Bisi, Daughter of the River in 1977, Cry Freedom in 1982 and so on. The early nineties brought Circle of Doom, Glamour Girls and Living in Bondage which actually gave life to movie production in Nigeria.
Oral tradition consists of history, religious practices, cosmology, rituals, folktales, proverbs, riddles, games, songs, dance, magic, epic tales, myths and narratives (Finnegan, 1976). The African incorporated the everyday rhythms of life into his expression. African traditions of communalism, respect for elders, rituals of life and death, child rearing practices and storytelling were to later appear in the western hemisphere, having been brought by the enslaved Africans. (Okpewho, 1983).
Nollywood is adjudged the second largest movie industry in the world, with an economic worth of about N853.9billion (US$5.1billion) (Liston, 2014). Only a few years ago, it ranked behind America’s Hollywood, India’s Bollywood and Hong Kong’s movie industry (which produces for the teaming Chinese speaking viewers) (Alozie, 2010 cited in Alawode & Fatonji, 2013). Nollywood’s annual and weekly movie output was put at over
1000 and 120 movies respectively, less than 10 years ago (Osei-Hwere and Osei-Hwere, 2008).
Records reveal that the history of movie in Nigeria predates the emergence of Nollywood itself. This was the release of one of the earliest movies in Nigeria, “Palaver”, in 1904, in addition to the newsreels put on movie by the British Colonial Administration. The newsreels, as scholars argued, primarily served as a propaganda used by the British
Colonial Administration to promote its political, economic and social policies in Nigeria through its Colonial Movie Unit (CFU) (Anoliefo, 2008; Alawode & Fatonji, 2013). However, the production of “Kongi Harvest” in movie format in 1972, an adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s play, and also of Chinua Achebe’s bestseller “Things Fall Apart” in 1987, marked the entry of indigenous players in movie production in Nigeria. Between that period and 1992, when the first Nollywood hit, “Living in Bondage” by Kenneth Nnebue, was released, movies and theatrical pieces in Nigeria were shown only by government owned television stations and theatres respectively (Ojukwu & Ezenandu, 2012). It was based on this local vacuum for Nigeria’s need for a movie industry that Nollywood was
born. The initial target for the industry was to produce for local consumption, but shrewd producers and marketers seized the opportunity to ship out the movies beyond the shores of Nigeria.
Nollywood and indeed, other movies were made for the viewing pleasure of Nigerians initially, with messages to inspire, motivate, reprove and correct some anomalies particularly in the political, social and cultural sphere. The use of English Language as the main communication tool and marketing…facilitated its expansion beyond the shores of the African continent. Today, Nigeria’s Nollywood is counted among the major business centres of movie making in the world….It suffices to say that since the early 1990s, the Nollywood movie industry has churned out thousands of titles and has successfully brought to limelight many talented Nigerian actors and actresses.
Like any other movie industry, which functions as a national purveyor of culture and cinematic products, Nollywood sustains and challenges the myths and belief system of Nigeria and her people’s socio-cultural composition. Kunzler (2007:1), states that Nollywood is:…an industry that developed out of a context related to domestic and international cultural, economic, and political environments….It is heterogeneous in nature and can roughly be divided into Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo video movies which designate their production centres in the South-West, North and South-East of Nigeria respectively.
It is also important to note that economic interests have been the major driving force behind the industry’s growth and spread. In spite of its players’ economic objective, Nollywood tells the Nigerian story, using themes from local realities and the country’s cultural identity to address local social issues (Williams, 2002).
The international circulation of the “Nollywood” brand and the use people have made of it progressively created and reinforced the discrepancy existing between the idea of what “Nollywood” could represent and the “reality” of the video phenomenon.
While on one side, as I showed above, the idea of “Nollywood” as a highly successful enterprise became reason of pride for many Nigerians, the actual representation of Nigeria that movies were offering and the international reactions this representation often provoked generated a complex debate within the Nigerian political and intellectual environment (see also OKOME, 2010). As several examples from fi eldwork researches in other African countries showed (DIPIO, 2008; ONDEGO, 2005; PYPE, forthcoming), Nollywood videos’ representation of Nigeria reinforced already existing widespread stereotypes about the violence, the corruption, the moral and political disorder of Nigerian
society as well as about the influence played on it by witchcraft and occult rituals. While Nigerian videos became extremely popular in many places exactly for their “transgressive” contents, they also came to represent Nigeria as the “hell” on earth.
As Katrien Pype (forthcoming) has emphasized in relation to the consumption of Nigerian videos in Kinshasa, for instance, in Congolese Pentecostal audiences’ eyes Nigeria became a land of intense “spiritual battle” between God and the Devil, a nation where the presence of magic and evil is “overwhelming” and thus requires the constant intervention of God. Similar interpretations of Nigerian videos’ contents became common above all amongst religious audiences, and they provoked a growing concern amongst Nigerian intellectuals and politicians, fueling the emergence of numerous debates within the Nigerian public sphere. Some examples can be useful to understand the arguments
these debates were and are built upon.
The first example refers to the diverging positions assumed in relation to the video industry by two prominent Nigerian intellectuals, Femi Osofi san and Odia Ofeimun. The position kept by Osofi san over the past few years is clearly expressed in a keynote address he wrote on the occasion of the 6th Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAN)’s meeting held in Lagos in 2006. In this text he recognizes the popular success of the video industry, acknowledging the influence videos play on people’s imagination and, more generally, on the representation of Nigeria at both local and global levels.
Precisely because they have deservedly won ovation everywhere the Nollywood movies have come to assume an authority over our values and our lives, such that what people see in them comes to be taken not as just a fictional projection by one imaginative consciousness, but as the true, authentic mirror of what we really are, as a veritable marker of what our society represents, and much worse, of the ideal that we aspire, or must aspire, towards (OSOFISAN, 2006, p. 2).
If this is the case then, Osofi san suggests that Nigerians should pay careful attention to the contents these movies circulate, because from them partly depends the future of the nation, of its international reputation and of its people’s dreams and moral aspirations. Here, he underlines, lies a dilemma of great concern for all those who care about the future of Nigeria, because, as he underlines, we cannot but remark that […] the picture that the majority of them [the videos] present of our world is one that we must not only interrogate, but indeed reject very strongly.
They show us scenarios where the brutish African cults and priests are overpowered and devastated by the agents of Christianity! Thus one mythology replaces another – this
time the one imported from abroad simply replaces the barbaric local variant. Tarzan is reborn, only this time in black skin, and wearing a cassock! And it is a sign of the
deep damage done to our psyche and our consciousness by decades of European proselytizing that the Nollywood movies makers themselves are blissfully unaware of the racist and cultural implications of this fare they offer to the public.
According to Osofi san, Nollywood videos have internalized the worst stereotypes and exotic interpretation about African cultures produced by centuries of Christian and colonial propaganda. This uncritical acceptance of a Western perspective on Africa and its progressive internalization are, in Osofi san’s eyes, extremely dangerous processes, which Nigerian intellectuals should feel compelled to fight. A way to correct this alarming situation is, in Osofi san’s opinion, the implementation of the collaboration between Nigerian writers and Nollywood movies makers. Hence the quality of the stories the videos tell and their moral value, as well as the representation of Nigerian culture and society they circulate, would become acceptable.
In this way, Osofi san implicitly suggests, the successful story that Nollywood represents would be matched by an equally commendable representation of When the Nigerian video movie industry became “Nollywood”: naming, branding and the … Nigeria. The “reality” of the videos could thus coincide with their idealized image, the globally successful brand “Nollywood”.
In relation to these issues, Odia Ofeimun’s position is profoundly different. He has expressed his feelings about the Nigerian video industry on numerous occasions. The keynote he presented at the 2nd National Movie Festival in 2003 is probably the clearest amongst them.
In this text, after tracing the history of cinema in Nigeria, Ofeimun underlines that, whatever one may think about the videos’ contents, “it is sometimes better to tell your story even incompetently and badly than for it to be mis-told by others” (2003: 9). Furthermore, he argues that Nollywood videos, even if often in imprecise or unrefi ned ways, do express a profound truth about the Nigerian society: love it or hate it, there is a super-logical rendering of the way we are, the way we live, the messiness and high tension
of our dream-seduced realities in the rhetoric of the home video. [It does] represent a deep psychological implant pressed into place by so many untold and even unspeakable
events in our history.
It looks like an underdeveloped prong of the collective mind of a whole nation. (2003, p. 11). The Nigerian society, Ofeimun emphasizes, is as violent and messy as
the one the videos portray, if not worse. And video movies are “giving back” Nigerians a “mirror image” of the way they are while also “reflecting the difficulties” they have “in admitting it” (2003, p. 12, 13).
The central question to ask thus become related, in his analysis, to the hidden agenda of the people that do not want this image to circulate. As he emphasized, “rather than seek to change the society so that the untoward elements that figure in home videos may be removed there seems to be too much of an attempt to create a consensus around the need to make things look better in the movies than they are in real life” (2003, p. 13).
Ofeimun’s point directs again our attention toward the distance between what some people, and especially the political establishment, want Nollywood to be (a symbol of Nigeria, a successful brand to export the country and to attract investors), and what the video phenomenon is (an expression of popular culture, a controversial mirror of Nigeria’s potentialities and problems).
Another example may be useful to further develop this argument. Throughout the recent history of the video industry, Nigerian newspapers have hosted a debate that has opposed two generations of Nigerian Nollywood movies makers and two different conceptions of cinema. On one side stands the so called “first generation” of Nollywood movies makers, composed by Nigerian directors such as Ola Balogun, Eddie Ugbomah, Ladi Ladebo and others. These are those that used to produce their movies in celluloid and that were ruled out of business by the economic crisis provoked by the application of Structural Adjustment policies in the mid 1980s.
On the other side stands the “new generation” of Nollywood video Nollywood movies makers, people whose approach to moviemaking has been filtered by the introduction of digital technologies and that thus developed a profoundly different conception of what cinema
is or is not.2 This debate has often assumed very nasty tones, but it can equally be considered useful to describe the confl icts existing behind the defi nition of “Nollywood” and of the video phenomenon in general.
We just have video movie producers. Before we used to have Nigerian movie makers” (Mentor and Kolawole 2000). A similar position has been expressed several times by Ola Balogun (2001, 2005). “Does Nigeria actually have a movie industry or not?”, he asked repeatedly in his articles, and he concluded: “there is something going on that can be located somewhere in-between a purely commercial trading activity based on recycling easily predictable story formulae on video format and a loosely organized manufacturing
pattern centring on video” (2001).
In both Balogun’s and Ugbomah’s point of view, what defi nes a movie industry is first of all the format (celluloid), then the level of organization of the production, the system of distribution in place (particularly the existence of cinemas) and the availability of funding. In their perspective, then, the Nigerian phenomenon does not match any
of the required standards that defi ne a movie industry. A number of Nigerian newspaper columnists had supported this position over the past few years, criticizing the industry for the quality of the video produced, for the incapacity of reaching non-African audiences and international festivals unless as a curiosity, and for sticking to a format, the video, generally considered as an inferior variety of the one used by other movie industries (cf. AZUAH, 2008; IROH, 2009; JIDEONWO, 2006; OBI-UCHENDO, 2007). The vignettes reported in image IV, V, VI and VII, published in Nigerian newspapers in the past few years, give a visual representation of this kind of criticism.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
As noted, the downturn in Nigeria’s economy, especially during the military regime of General I. B. Babangida (1985-93), forced movie producers to change from celluloid to video. A camcorder is ideal for making movies. Unfortunately, Nigerian movie producers started shooting with cheap analog technology and the results were not always encouraging. The good news is that many of the movie companies that could not afford top-of-the-line cameras like the Arriflex SR3, Beta-Cam, and Super-Cam series, have switched to digital cameras with improved image quality.
The ordinary digital camera is now being replaced by HDV, a sophisticated high-tension digital camera with lenses that have the capacity to create special effects. Still, critics have complained about the “dialogue-drowning sound track noise” and the “gloriously ridiculous special effects” (Möller 12). Better equipment, such as boom and environment-friendly microphones, would take care of some of these problems. Unfortunately, certain equipment, such as the crane, which is useful for establishing shots and following shots, is simply not available.
Like the Nigerian theater before it, the video movie industry has disappointed many. They feel it is a dumping ground for those who have failed to find their feet in other lucrative businesses. Many people who have ventured into the business of moviemaking lack the necessary skills, as is obvious in the amateurish direction, cinematography, scriptwriting, and acting. Nollywood movies maker Eddie Ugbomah once lamented that those who parade around as Nollywood movies makers are really mere “videographers” (Balogun). People who have only ever handled a still camera or video camera at a village funeral or a traditional wedding ceremony somehow feel they have the skills to use a sophisticated movie camera to shoot a narrative movie. But the cinema has its own language; words like shot or take should not be taken for granted. Consequently, the composition and framing of the image in some movies is poor.
In some movies, the editing is poor. Techniques used to signal a transition from one location to another, such as the dissolve and superimposition, are blatantly abused, and the timing of the shots is wrong. Lighting is another crucial element that, used creatively, can shape or embellish an image and have a psychological impact on the audience. Unfortunately, the Nigerian industry lacks basic lighting equipment, and in many video movies, very high or very low lighting affects the quality of the color. With no deliberate attempt to create a dramatic effect, a good number of the movies contain shadows that could have been eliminated with proper lighting.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
1. To examine the Nollywood movies production in Nigeria.
2. To examine the criticisms pose to Nollywood movies making in Nigeria.
3. To identify the problems of nollywood movies making in Nigeria.
5. To identify the prospects of nollywood movies making in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
1. Does Nollywood movies production in Nigeria?
2. What are the criticisms pose to Nollywood movies production in Nigeria?
3. Are the problems associety with nollywood movies production in Nigeria?
5. What are the prospects of nollywood movies making in Nigeria?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: Production of Nollywood movies does not attract a problems in Nigeria.
H1: Production of Nollywood movies attract a problems in Nigeria.
- SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The geographical area covered the problems and prospects of movies: making Nigeria nollywood
1.7 LIMITATIION OF THE STUDY
Despite the limited scope of this study certain constraints were encountered during the research of this project. Some of the constraints experienced by the researcher were given below:
i. Time: This was a major constraint on the researcher during the period of the work. Considering the limited time given for this study, there was not much time to give this research the needed attention.
ii. Finance: Owing to the financial difficulty prevalent in the country and it’s resultant prices of commodities, transportation fares, research materials etc. The researcher did not find it easy meeting all his financial obligations.
iii. Information Constraints: Nigerian researchers have never had it easy when it comes to obtaining necessary information relevant to their area of study from private business organization and even government agencies. Business education students in Enugu state university, Caritas University and Institute of Management and Technology
find it difficult to reveal their internal operations. The primary information was collected through face-to-face interview getting the published materials on this topic meant going from one library to other which was not easy. Although these problems placed limitations on the study, but it did not prevent the researcher from carrying out a detailed and comprehensive research work on the subject matter.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Nollywood movies: The term “Nollywood” is a coinage used to refer to movies produced in Nigeria or the Nigerian movie industry.
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