So you want to be a film maker. You don’t want to be like those broke ass, scruffy looking white guys who show up at film festivals begging for their movies to be shown. You really want to make this money. Not in 10 years. Today.
The first thing is to get a good script. This is where a successful Nollywood movie will begin and end so pay attention. You don’t need any intelligent, mind boggling plots. The easier the better. Remember that your audience doesn’t care about twists or multi layered conflict.
Let the story begin with a happy family or a rich family or both. Show a huge mansion and please tell your camera man to always take many shots of the car park where there will be expensive cars. Let him linger there for many seconds even if there will be nothing there. Don’t forget the car park scene. Something has to happen in the car park, preferably with the Hausa guard or gateman looking foolishly after which he will run and open the gate. Good, before I forget, the gateman should never be played by someone who actually knows how to do a Hausa accent. Find a Yoruba man who has nothing close to a real Hausa accent to do that generic silly Hausa accent popularised by lazy Nigerian comedians where the Hausa man says ‘I’ when he means ‘you’. He must never be sensible or normal, always foolish and comical.
Scenes must be long and winding. No need to rush through the story. The audience loves it when there is dreary music playing in the background while the camera follows the car as it slowly approaches the house, honks, and waits for the door to be opened. Especially if it’s a nice car.
No complicated professions please. If they are rich, let them be business men with oil companies or some undisclosed business or professionals- bankers, lawyers, doctors. If they are poor let them hawk in the market or work as labourers. No regular civil servants, no geologists. It is either really poor or really rich.
The slap. There has to be the classic slap, don’t miss this. The person slapped has to hold his or her face and look back in shock saying: ‘You slapped me?’ as if he is still not quite sure if the slap actually happened. Have two or three of those scenes and you are good to go.
No Nigerian movie is ever complete without the wicked mother or mother-in-law. Please get someone with an already wicked looking face like Patience Ozokwor to play the part. This character must never be a complex or rounded character. She must just be hateful, vengeful, back-biting, destructive all throughout the movie. These days a wicked sister or sister-in-law will do if you can’t afford Patience. I hear she has increased her fee.
Now maybe you want to give your unsophisticated audience some action. Do a court scene. Make sure it is nothing like the real Nigerian courts. After all who wants to know what our legal system really is like? Dress the female lawyers in male lawyers clothes. It doesn’t matter. Let them call a magistrate ‘My Lord’ instead of ‘Your Worship’. There must be no mention of complex things like affidavits, motions or written arguments. Everything must be argued orally and lawyers must shout at the top of their voices and be angry with each other. It is not important to do any research for legal terminology. Just let it have a lot of action and shouting. Perfect.
Please note that all cultists, kidnappers and bad boys wear tight tops, black or red berets and are chain smokers who are obsessed with sucking in as much smoke as possible in one drag. The more the smoke, the better.
From the beginning, it is important to let the audience know how the movie is going to end or give them a fair idea of it. Sometimes use the soundtrack to do this where the movie is summarised in one or two of the songs. If a person is wicked, let them be wicked from the get go and let the audience just wait for when the wicked person will be exposed. If the person is a child of God let them be so from the beginning perhaps with many tests to his faith.
The movie should have marriage or barrenness or children or in-laws as the theme or sub-theme because this is your audience’s preoccupation in life- they can relate to it.
Rich men must always be dressed as if they are going for events even when they are relaxing at home. Never use any family photos on the walls. This is wrong.
If you decide to do a flashback to twenty years ago, let people have the same hairstyles, drive the same cars. It doesn’t matter, your audience won’t notice.
Spice it up with that nice guy or girl who just came back from America with a horrible accent to prove it.
All cults should dance around bonfires wearing rags and paint their faces many colours. There are no sophisticated cults. Cult meetings always happen in the bush and at night.
Ah, don’t forget the soliloquy where a character talks to himself and tells himself what he must do to overcome his predicament or complains about her lot in life. People always talk to themselves.
Other scenes that must be copiously used are: the police scene where no one looks like a police man, the robbery/ kidnapping/ accident scene where the camera is always shaky, the native doctor scene where the native doctor always has white chalk around one eye, is always slim with a little pouch and never wears a shirt, the hospital scene with a doctor who is always a really bad actor and the awkward love scene where if they ever actually kiss they do it like people who have never kissed before.
The name of the movie must be an easy summary: ‘Stupid’, ‘Why Me?’, ‘Aki and Paw-Paw’ (really just a silly movie about two midgets doing nothing), ‘Wicked Sister’, ‘Bad Marriage’. ‘End of Kidnappers’. People need to know what they are buying.
The movie must end with people crying and being remorseful and repentant. Plenty crying. Add a confession by the wicked mother-in-law or mother to it for flavour. Plenty hugging and forgiveness. A lot of mention of God. Perfect ending. To God be the glory.
Now chop your single movie up into three pieces. Call it Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 respectively. This is the only way to recover costs. Don’t bother about the rest like marketing and sales. Trust the guys at Alaba or the experts at 51 Iweka Road Onitsha.