The business of filmmaking – Part 3
I am Omoni Oboli and I represent Naija! Last week, on the business of filmmaking, I wrote about the role the actors play in marketing the movies they feature in. The actors are the poster people of their movies, the flag bearers of the finished work, and the ones who bear the brunt of the success and failure of any movie, as far as image goes. Their career hangs on their bankability, and this must be built over time, with many movies. Even if you succeed in one movie and the next ten are box office failures, the ten will cancel out your bankability.
Nollywood has come a long way, but like I always maintain, we are still at the foundation level of the industry, and everyone (producers, actors, directors, publicists and marketers) who is active now should not expect to be too visible or well enumerated for their efforts. The house is still at the ground level, and only when we raise it to the second, third and higher floors, will people begin to see us more clearly. At this stage, trying to grow individually without helping to lay the foundation that would last will only create an entity that would surely crumble like collapsed buildings. We can see where we want to go, and we believe we have the expertise to achieve it, but often in our impatience to get there immediately, we miss the opportunity to lay a deeper foundation that would help raise the building even higher in the future.
The building of this industry needs the media (print, television, electronics and social). When the media can see that the growth of the industry also means growth of content for them, in terms of news and information, then the expansion of the media would be directly proportional to the massive publicity they give to Nollywood. The media also respond to the level of enthusiasm displayed by those who are direct practitioners in the industry; namely, the actors, producers and also the crew.
We look to hollywood, and we admire them, but when we look closely, we can see that the entertainment channel, E, would not have been possible 70 years ago. Also, the E Channel, and several other entertainment outfits, set their minds to lift the industry that ultimately feeds them with the content they need to keep the audience entertained. Their reporting creates superstars, as well as turning those who are reporting into stars themselves. The final outcome is the mega growth of the film industry that then creates even more job opportunities for the ever growing talents of actors, filmmakers, crew and media entities needed to feed the growth they’ve created.
When we see this picture, like some did in the earlier days of hollywood and Bollywood, we can begin to take those calculated decisions that help our industry grow from the stone ages to the millennium age of our international counterparts. We have an opportunity to tap into the over 1 billion Africans, and evergrowing customer fanbase of our movies across the globe, to create a future that we cannot even begin to comprehend right now.
We have all the relevant bodies, who are making an effort to build this, and the producers (small or great) who have staked their money, expertise and time to make Nollywood an indirsty that could go to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and showcase what we have, on short notice, and still come out holding our head up high. We have laid the foundation of good production values, but we must take it further, by using our star power, and resources to make sure that the audience is held captive by our movies long enough to become the norm in every cinema house. We also have to constantly take a stand against piracy, and persistently educate our fellow Nigerians and fans across the globe to not patronize pirates, while we sort out the best distribution network for our work to yield the desired interest.
It’s not easy to be a filmmaker, and those who are out there now should be supported in the same way we would, without giving it a thought, the hollywood movies and everything foreign. I might sound like a broken record when I say we should help build a strong Naija by buying Nigerian goods, but it’s the only logical way to do this. Bollywood wasn’t built by great movies, but great movies were built by the Indians who deliberately chose to support their work, even when the world saw their singing and dancing as unrealistic. It’s hard to compete with the great hollywood machinery, even for Bollywood, and the Indians are not stupid. They know that hollywood produced better quality, but they willfully chose to grow a taste for their own, so that they can now proudly say, with all honesty, they prefer their own homegrown movies to those of hollywood.
That’s why, because of this, Shah Rukh Kahn (SRK), is now the second richest actor in the world! He tops many of the great hollywood icons like Tom Cruise, Johnny Dep, Tyler Perry, Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt, Will Smith and all those we have come to know and love through the ages. This is the power of the people who understand how their self determination can break the roof of limitations to achieve the impossible. They don’t sit around all day castigating their film industry for their many flaws (and they have many), but they showed their love and patriotic zeal by putting their money where their mouth is and pay to watch homegrown movies.
I’m glad that some of our movies are doing great right now, and the industry has grown in leaps and bounds. The likes of AY’s record-setting 30 DAYS IN ATLANTA and A TRIP TO JAMAICA, Ebonylife’s FIFTY, and my movie, WIVES ON STRIKE, have helped grow the interest of our audiences. The business of filmmaking should not be viewed in isolation from our participation. All hands must be on deck to locally grow another stream of income to help diversify our economy and make it less oil dependent. We all need to see our parts in the business of filmmaking, and start playing it. Many individuals and cooperations have taken on this responsibility, and I commend them for it. So till next week, keep smiling!