When you hear or see the word Nollywood, it’s sometimes times followed by a snarky comment or really funny joke. There are several ideas many Nigerians have about Nollywood that are in fact misconstrued and unfair if I may add. Nollywood is a thriving industry that was created by passion-driven individuals over sixty years ago. Yes, it’s not perfect, but the amount of hardwork that goes into every production is commendable and inspiring. Here are a few of these misconceptions explained through the words of an amateur filmmaker.
Lack of Creativity
In Nigeria, the truth is, creativity costs money. It makes financial sense to make a movie that is 90% certain of making you profit than an out-of-box film at risk of earning you ₦0. It’s no doubt Nigerians are one of the most creative and innovative people on this planet, but in a system that makes no provision to help creatives in any way, it’s usually hard to actualize your creative visions. Some Nigerians also don’t respond well to change. Many viewers watch Nollywood movies passively, a watch-and-go situation in most cases. Any film that requires the viewer to think too much, will be perceived as boring and complicated. Sometime in August 2019, I watched ‘The Set-Up’ at the cinema with my dad. I couldn’t shut up about how awesome I thought the movie was. How different it was, how good the writing was, the overall twists and turns in the movie. My dad on the other hand bluntly explained how boring he thought it was. He thought it was ‘too complicated and unrealistic’, for a man who’s an Expendables fan I found that comment rather ironic.
This is super easy to say for anyone who isn’t into filmmaking. I guess it’s easy for anyone outside any industry, to underestimate the work that people in the industry. Filmmakers work very hard to produce content they put out, even when the project doesn’t turn out as expected. In a country like Nigeria where its everyman for himself, running a production is much harder than it’s supposed to be. With limit resources and time, one has to work with the little available. As someone who has been on a couple of film sets, I know how hard every department works. From the light department, to sound, to costume, it’s a crazy bunch of hard-workers who have (in most cases) a similar vision they are trying to execute.
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This isn’t exactly true. Nollywood has over 100,000+ actors, just because the movies you watch have had one or two of the same actors doesn’t mean its a common occurrence in the industry. Financially, its more profitable to hire popular actors, regardless of their ability to embody a character. Famous, familiar faces help drive the sales of a movie. Most viewers trust a movie with an actor they’ve seen in a previous movie. The movie industry, like every other part of the entertainment industry is highly dependent on luck.
All Films Have Reoccurring Themes.
In most home videos, which make up 60% of Nollywood movies, 3 out of 5 of these movies have similar plots. I also had the perception most Nollywood movies lacked creativity in the stories they told, but what I now understand is, many filmmakers write about things that happen in their environment and things that occur in the society. Society is the major influencer in Nollywood stories. People respond better to films they can relate to in some way, it makes the story a bit more personal and realist. One of the functions of film is to mirror the happenings of the society. I guess in doing this, many films have unintentionally created certain stereotypes that actually do more harm than good.
A few years ago, I would say I had similar perceptions of the Nollywood industry. I was so quick to criticize and tear apart movies, pointing out its flaws, without appreciating parts of its beauty. Over the last two or three years, I’ve been more actively involved in the industry and I’ve had several eye-opening experiences on sets. I also watched a documentary on Nollywood recently, that followed the startups of some of the best Nollywood directors we have out here. It gave me a surface backstory on the development of the industry and made me appreciate the industry so much more.
Read Also: Drawing The Line Between Old & New Nollywood
So next time you watch a Nollywood film on Netflix, Cable Tv, or even Youtube, don’t be so quick to criticize and dismiss it. Nollywood is Nollywood because of many of these misconceptions. Its such an incredible industry built from scratch by individuals with a united passion and love for one thing, Film.
Watch : ‘Welcome to Nollywood’