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Two Nollywood Star makers want you to see dollar signs in equipment rentals

By Sam Adeoye
27 November 2021   |   1:41 am
IF a world-famous singer, in this case the effortlessly genial Davido, could between one sunrise and sunset — allegedly — raise a no-questions-asked N200 million ($486K) from the general public (as he did on October 18, 2021), wouldn’t you, an average Joe, be instantly motivated to re-evaluate your current situation and wonder: what does one…

Kevwe Ogunje

IF a world-famous singer, in this case the effortlessly genial Davido, could between one sunrise and sunset — allegedly — raise a no-questions-asked N200 million ($486K) from the general public (as he did on October 18, 2021), wouldn’t you, an average Joe, be instantly motivated to re-evaluate your current situation and wonder: what does one have to do to level up to such princely equity in this town? Well, there may be a way to achieve what you’re thinking.

But, before we go any further, please know that the way isn’t to become a singer. One, you may lack the prerequisite talent for that. Sorry. And two, you may not have the time to stomp, shout, and sweat your way into wide popularity.

This is why your best option is to do the next, and more logical, thing: become an investor in the arts.
By “investor”, we mean anyone who starts a business that supports the production and performance of entertainment; and by “the arts,” we’re referring to pop music and Nollywood.

This, if you’re wondering, I have extrapolated from my discussions with actor, model and film entrepreneur Kevwe Ogunje. “If you go into equipment rentals, you can never be broke,” Kevwe said.

This is so because the famously prolific $6.4 billion Nigerian film industry is constantly shooting a movie, TV series, Web series, skits, documentaries, and commercials. This relentless buzz of activity requires a ton of production tools, so much so that, more often than not, “demand beats supply.”

And it’s uncanny to hear Kevwe use the words he used because Cyril Ogoro, voice over artiste, actor and producer, had earlier uttered them in his conversation with me about the same subject.

In describing the openings that one might find in this rental venture, he’d said straightaway that it was pretty common to not find the rigs one might need even if one was lugging around a pocketful of cash. “There are times you’ll be looking for lights but you’ll not find any,” Cyril said.

If you’re familiar with Nollywood royalty, you may easily guess that Cyril is connected to Kingsley Ogoro, revered producer and director of the Nollywood classic film series Osuofia in London.

Cyril and Kingsley are cousins — and Cyril confirms that he’s not only learnt film production from his older relative but has also picked up the skills needed to run the supply of filming equipment from Kinglsey whose Klink Studios currently rules the market with an inventory said to be worth $10 million.

Should you suddenly feel like visualising the implication of Nollywood’s prolificacy, you must start by visiting the Klink warehouse in Lagos. It should be worth it, even if your eyes end up being overwhelmed by the monumental assembly of industrial-grade gadgets — from electric generators to trucks, to dollies, grips, cranes, lights, and some of the most advanced Alexa and RED cameras.

However, while Klink’s grand status may intimidate the film industry novice, it remains quite easy to break into the business even if your start-up fund is only in the tens of millions. As Kevwe and Cyril said, you can comfortably say you are in business if you do have N50 million but if you can only start small, you should be okay with N10 million.

“Just avoid the cameras, though,” Cyril said. “Cameras are costly. And apart from that, the technology is fast developing. What you bought for millions in 2021 may be seen as obsolete in a couple of years. Unless you’re buying cameras for personal use, I’d advise that you invest instead in lights and outside broadcasting [OB] instruments.”

Yes, while that’s a good idea, Kevwe thinks with some street smarts, you may still choose to go for a certain type of camera. He said, “If you’re looking at budget cameras like the Black Magic, which should still be in demand for at least two years, with 10 million, you’ll be able to buy three cameras with good lenses. And trust me, those cameras never sit idle. You will make very good ROI in good time.”

The keyword in this case, however, is “budget.” Kevwe’s own company, Rave Rentals, targets “budget productions — people who spend two to three million naira to produce a film.” After listening to him for just five minutes, I knew he was pleased with the trajectory of his enterprise. Then, I asked him, as I also did Cyril, if one might need to first intern somewhere before plunking down millions of naira.

“It’s just a street business.” I totally got what he meant. To operate a film equipment rental business in Nigeria, you would need native Nigerian insights, a connection to the market, and abundant common sense.

One of such things to know is that the biggest market for what you’re doing is, obviously, Lagos. Aside from Lagos, “Port Harcourt is good,” Kevwe said. “Abuja also is good.”

All considered, it is tempting, isn’t it? What a brilliant, even passive angle into the ever more exciting Nollywood game. As a UN study published in October 2021found, film industries in Africa could quadruple their current combined $5 billion revenue and create 20 million additional jobs. Well, we do know that the lion share of that money and the jobs will be coming to Nollywood, the world’s second largest movie industry by volume.

If we drill down just a little bit, we can compare Nollywood to Hollywood and imagine the slice of this pie that equipment rental might grab right now and in the not-so-distant future.

In Hollywood, according to research by IBIS World, the “motion picture and theatrical equipment rental sector” is valued at $ 2.2 billion. Yes, that’s in USD and Hollywood is at present much more valuable in money terms than Nollywood. But, still, do you not feel the lightbulbs as they flick on in your head right now? Do you now see what’s possible?

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