Since the revolution in the movie industry began in 1992 with the blockbuster movie, ‘Living in Bondage,’ the industry, which recently turned 20 years, has grown in leaps and bounds, to the extent that it was rated the third largest in the world in terms of quantity.
Even at that, the industry has greatly improved as practitioners are now shooting world standard movies shown in cinemas at home and abroad. They are more recognised and appreciated globally.
However, for a movie to become a success, a lot of factors come into play and that includes; the storyline, setting, characterisation, costume and property. All these factors are interwoven into one another but the primary focus of this piece is, setting or location.
Right from when ‘Living in Bondage’ became a reference point in the motion picture industry, the location of the flick, which is Lagos State, became the ‘bomb’ for subsequent movies.
In Lagos, Surulere, which is on the Mainland, became the unofficial headquarters of movie kingdom. Winnies Hotel, located around the Masha area, became a hot spot.
Everyday, aspiring and establishing actors would converge in and around the hotel looking for audition notices or for directors or producers to engage them in acting or to be part of a production crew. The area became so busy and notorious as well.
In the world of acting, where no formal training is required, according to some schools of thought, all manner of human beings would naturally avail themselves of the opportunity to want to take advantage of the situation to better themselves either positively or negatively, especially in a country where unemployment rate is growing astronomically by the day.
The train however shifted to the National Theatre, which provided a bigger space for the army of unemployed youths. Still, they converged under trees for their auditions, while smart ‘alecs’ make brisk business by selling both edible and non edible items to the job seeking wannabe stars.
As the industry continues to wax stronger and new faces emerge, the ever busy Lagos became unconducive to take Nollywood to the next level in terms of having less interference during shooting coupled with the limitation of using some government agencies and establishment in their movies. They moved to Enugu State.
Though, Enugu has been used as locations, but not as pronounced as it later became.
Even as most of the popular actors like Nkem Owoh, Chiewentalu Agu, Ofia Mbaka, among many others, reside in Sullivan Chime’s serene state, many blockbuster movies were shot and produced in Enugu even till date.
As dividends of democracy begin to trickle down and hitherto underdeveloped or/and undiscovered places began to be uncovered, Nollywood also moved.
The next port of call was Asaba, the capital city of Delta State. What they thought can only be obtained in Enugu became what is now taken for granted. Asaba opened a vista of a whole lot of opportunities for the industry as intending thespians and established ones thronged, ‘The Big Heart of the Nation’.
Some took permanent residence. It became so successful that veteran actor and current Commissioner of Tourism in Delta State, Richard Movie Damijo, explained that the attraction of Nollywood to Asaba has to do with what the Emmanuel Uduaguan-led administration has created out of Asaba.
He said: “Nollywood wanted a place that is peaceful, conducive and of course, has enough hotels. What we have done outside of the provision of infrastructure in the town is to make sure that the town is beautiful enough when it is on camera.”
It was also gathered that Asaba, which used to be a ghost town in most weekends, is now full of activities that getting accommodation has become a herculean task. Thanks to the influx of Nollywood activities, which has boosted the social life of the state.
The relative security in the state as attested by producers who most times shoot late into the night without any form of fear or molestation is a very big factor for choice of the filmmakers to do business there. With the flurry of activities in the Delta State capital, businessmen and women have suddenly woken up to the reality of the potentials of the hospitality industry as mega hotels are springing up all over the state capital by the day.
Another plus for Nollywood in the oil-rich Niger Delta region is the use of already made scenery, setting and props for epic movies.
Stephen Keshi’s town of Illa and other places are often used for such movies. Now and then, students in tertiary institutions in the South-East and other states in the South South, hustle there to get a cameo role or crew position.
In fact, it is reported that half of the entire movies produced in Nigeria are done in Asaba.
While Asaba is experiencing an unprecedented boom, courtesy of the foresight of the current administration, a new frontier is gradually being opened for Nollywood.
There is every indication that Awka, the Anambra State capital, is next in line to witness movie production upsurge. With the wonderful developmental infrastructure by the out-gone governor, Peter Obi, the docile town has received tremendous boost and the result is the mass influx of people, especially Nollywoood practitioners, into the now beautiful capital city now being run by Willie Obiano.
Seasoned Nollywood actor and current Senior Special Assistant on Movies/Entertainment, Bob Manuel Udokwu (FCAI), said: “Yes, it is true that Anambra State has taken back its pride of place in the production of movies. By the way, Anambra is still as conducive as it used to be for movie making.
“If you check the list of mainstream Nollywood practitioners, they are from Anambra State. The biggest distribution point in Nigeria is in Onitsha, Anambra. The executive producers have their headquarters in Onitsha. And of course, Anambra State is the light of the nation.
“Take a trip and see for yourself. There are a thousand and one hotels to accommodate any number of people. Even the rural people know that Nollywood people are special people.
“The average Anambra person buy movies, they don’t rent. Apart from all these, the governor has enormous plans to turn the state to a wonder to behold.
“The governor is going to build a world-class hotel in Ogbunike Cave that has been designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site. There will be three major link roads. There are also other tourist destinations like the Aguli
For Browny Igboegwu, another seasoned actor, who has relocated to the South East, Awka has all it takes for a complete movie setting.
Hear him: “For all I know, locations are not many. Nigeria is not a place to build new set and carry it over to the next location. Movie makers are trying to explore new areas. “People in Awka are welcoming movie makers. Asaba is already explored, it is getting saturated. Once you turn on your television, you hear people say, ‘this Asaba people sef’, it is that known.
“But, Awka is a virgin land, there are so many buildings that are yet to be used. They have good location structures.
“Awka also have many villages where one can shoot village scenes or even epic films, unlike Asaba where the only village that is used to shoot local scene is Okpanam village. I think it is a new and welcome development for the motion picture industry.”
© 2014 Nigeriafilms.com
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