The Nigerian film industry popularly called Nollywood is a money spinning industry that has been left to its own fate since it became famous in the 1990s. Most of what is known about Nigeria in other parts of the continent and Europe is through Nollywood. There are cases of some Nigerian parents abroad who compel their children to watch Nigerian films for them to be abreast with the Nigerian culture and what is going on at home. Outside the country, Nollywood has been well received but unknown to its lovers abroad, it is an industry that is struggling to survive. It is an industry established with a tenacious spirit of grassroot entrepreneurship.
Piracy is a critical issue ravaging the industry. Many filmmakers see their investment in it as throwing money into the ocean without getting returns as their works are pirated as soon as they reach the market shelves. Nollywood Film & Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria estimated that up to 50 percent of the Nollywood's profit is currently being lost to piracy. Intellectual Property Right laws have been ineffective for years. The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) seems to have done nothing at all to salvage an industry that is rated as the world's second largest producer of films after India's Bollywood. With this rating, it has overtaken America's Hollywood. Today many Nollywood films are pirated in China and resold in Nigeria.
In addition, it is also an industry that is starved of funds. Making a good film requires a great deal of money which most Nigerian filmmakers don't have. An average filmmaker in the country has to source for money independently to produce his movie. This poor funding has resulted in films of poor quality which currently flock the market. Most Nigerian films are characterised by badly written scripts which lack depth. Most of our script writers rarely read to gain needed insight to global trends. To be a great artist in any part of the world is to be so absolutely widely read. If an artiste is not educated there is no way he can come up with a well research script for a good movie.
Be that as it may, the recent interventionist approach by the Goodluck Jonathan administration is quiet commendable. November last year, the President announced that the Federal Government will investment of $200 million (N30 billion) into the development of the entertainment industry. The Special Entertainment Fund, will be disbursed by the Bank of Industry (BOI) as single-digit interest rate loans. It is the first time in the country that the Federal Government will make such fund available for the entertainment industry including Nollywood. As good as this may sound, what the Federal Government should work towards Arts Endowment Fund like some countries of the world like Germany where the Arts is valued. It is also important that Nigeria has a cultural policy which will enable FG harness the huge potentials in this industry and make it marketable for tourism.
For this fund to be judiciously used and for investors to get returns on their money, the Federal Government must through the NCC enforce the intellectual property right laws to curb piracy. FG must also put in place a proper marketing strategy as the industry currently survives on the ordinary marketing strategy used by traders in selling their wares in the open market. The survival of Nollywood can only be possible if proper structures are put in place as it services are currently informal.
In addition, it is crucial that Nollywood practitioners put their house in order as the industry that is currently riddled by factions created by longstanding feud, and fight for supremacy. It is only when Nollywood begins to take itself seriously that other meaningful investors can come in and a better return on investment is assured.