Bump The Lamp
In August 2018, Editi Effiong Founder of Anakle, a digital marketing agency, published a powerful article on Medium, titled “Manage It Like That (MILT)” a brilliant piece on our general complicity as citizens in self-imposed mediocrity. From builders, to mechanics to tailors who do shoddy work and with nonchalance say ‘Oga manage it like that”. But its not just them, its most of us.
In his words, Manage It Like That (MILT) is a Nigerian phrase that expresses the heart and soul of service delivery in Nigeria. It means take it as you see it, and means just that. The word ‘manage’ implies “this isn’t ideal, we know, but by all means make do, because we’re not about offering a substitute”.
Over the decades this crept in the Nigerian psychology and all aspects of our lives. Every industry has been affected by it, the film and television industry is no exception. Everything which Nollywood has been mocked for since its inception has been a result of shot callers and crew members having a MILT mindset.
Scene is not lit properly? “Manage it like that, shebi we can see their faces”.
Audio levels change between scenes and it is not fixed in postproduction. “They sha can hear what is being said. Manage it like that”.
Continuity issues? “Manage it like that”
An XL Military Uniform is put on an actor who wears Small? “Uniform is uniform, we need to shoot the scene, Manage it like that”
Now, some of these is as a result of the budgets, limited resources and shoot days. However there have been non budget films with better attention to detail than films with a decent budget.
A lot of it is as a result of people working on films with PhDs in MILT, who regardless of resources and time, MILT is so ingrained in their DNAs’, taking the extra mile is considered “I cannot come and kill myself” , “this is not America”, “people only care about the story, not the technicals” .
Effiong points out “There is also the MILT Acceptance Value (MAV), which is the amount of MILT a person is ready to accept”
The MAV in Nollywood Before Theatrical (BT) was astronomically high for years and that carried over to After Theatrical (AT). Evident in the statement made by patrons so frequently “I cannot watch a Nollywood film in the cinema.”
You may argue about how many good films have been out in the last few years but that is still the perception by a significant number of people who regularly watch films in the cinema.
The opposite of MILT is, Bumping The Lamp (BTL)
A term coined during production of the groundbreaking film, where live action met Animation, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). There a scene where the detective bumps an overhead lamp and it swings, casting a shadow on him, but not on the animated character in two shot.
When the Director (Robert Zemeckis) watched it, he ordered the scene reanimated to have the lamp movement also affect the animated character so it’s more realistic. It would take hours and a lot of effort to re-animate but they did. It was a small scene which 99.9% of viewers wouldn’t notice and wouldn’t care. But to Zemeckis, that tiny detail mattered. Thus the term, “Bumping the Lamp”.
Disney adopted the philosophy of Bumping the Lamp to teach new and existing employees to go the extra mile and pay attention to detail which nobody else may notice.
Even if others won’t notice we should decide to bump the lamp for our own personal and professional satisfaction, just like we expect from our mechanics, carpenters, tailor who we rant about on social media weekly.
Nollywood is evolving as evident with some releases in the last quarter of 2018, there’s been an astronomical leap in technical quality and execution.
Lion Heart (2018) the 1st Nigerian Netflix Original is an example of what’s possible, when we don’t MILT.
Knock Out Blessing (2018) had some of the best cinematography and sound design of any Nigerian film of the last decade.
God Calling (2018) had impressive use of VFX convincing audiences that Zainab Balogun really jumped from 3rd mainland bridge.
Up North (2018), executive Produced by Effiong was a manifesto for filmmakers to leave the confines of service flats in Lagos and explore the wide open spaces in the rest of Nigeria. The cinematography was a love letter to the scenery of Bauchi, convincing many viewers tour the state.
We need to adopt a “Bump the Lamp” culture not just in Nollywood but in everything as Nigerians or no matter who is in government, entry of direct foreign investment or finally 24/7 electricity, the compounding effect of individual and organisational level MILT will cancel out a lot of progress or let it rot cos “I cannot come and kill myself.”
Asking people to do this will be met with a lot of resistance, murmuring and nonchalance but do we really want to continue with MILT?
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