Life comes with various challenges and disappointments that leave a lot of people stressed up and craving for relaxation. Most people after the day’s hard work choose to relax and take their minds off the happenings of the day. One of the ways of such relaxation is mostly entertainment. In Nigeria, most people now relax by watching home video movies, thanks to Nollywood.
Nollywood is the name globally called the Nigerian film industry It is one of the fastest growing sector of the Nigerian economy. It is less than 20 years old but it is now marked third in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood in terms of volume of output, productivity and profitability. Nollywood has some uniqueness which bothers on private funding, video/digital format films and no government/international support.
Also it has a low production budget and typical short production time of 4-6wks compared to Bollywood and Hollywood. Nollywood also has popular themes for its various movies like romance, marital issues, money rituals, occult and Christian, action films etc. Also 44% of Nollywood films are produced in English and 56% in local languages with Yoruba taking the lead with 31% followed by Hausa at 24% and Igbo 1%. Nollywood films are seen in over 200,000 video clubs, on the internet and website, homes, offices, public spaces, buses, community video halls and cinemas etc.
Despite its huge successes and global recognition, Nollywood has on the other hand manifest various crisis which if not properly addressed and managed could bring the industry’s downfall. It is probably in the realization of this fact that the German Cultural Institute, Goethe Institut in collaboration with Communicating for Change organized a day Round Table discussion penultimate week in Lagos to brain storm on the challenges and prospect of this dynamic industry.
The round table had various experts from different fields air their views on different aspects of Nollywood business. In attendance for the roundtable were Jahman Anikulapo, editor of Guardian Newspaper on Sunday, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, an established Nigerian film maker and the CEO & founder of the annual International Film gathering, the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA); Teco Benson, CEO of TFP studios and former president, Association of Movie Producers (AMP); Madu Chikwendu, Regional Secretary(west Africa) , Pan African Federation of film makers (FEPACI) & organizers of the annual Lagos International Film Festival (LIFF). Chike Ofili, prolific poet, playwright, screenwriter & chairman, Lagos chapter of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) and Yewande Sadiku, head, Corporate finance, Stanbic IBTC bank PLC.
Also present were Emeka Ogbonna , zonal manager, Nigerian Copyrights Commission, members of the press and students from different schools.
The round table session was opened after a brief projection of footage of movies of some Nollywood films with themes ranging from romance, action, Christian exorcism, occultic practices, comedy rituals to epic followed by an introduction by Sandra Obiago, the founder and executive director & chair of the board of trustees of Communicating for Change (CFC). As the round table kicked off properly, some of the topics discussed include the development of Nollywood in the past five years, how Nollywood can attract funding, progress and challenges of Nollywood since inception.
Over the past five years, there have been series of developments both positive and negative in Nollywood based on the views of the discussants and comments from other floor contributors. According to the discussants, there have been notable differences in terms of the quality of Nollywood films produced by movie makers since the inception of AMAA Awards.
One other information gathered from the discussion is that there is also notable downturn in the number of films being produced due to fear of piracy and the new distribution framework which requires licensing and registration of the production and distribution network by the Nigerian Copyright Commissions.
On the issue of how Nollywood can get funding, Yawande Sadiku argued “ banks shy away from Nollywood because they want their money back.” Insisting that the problem in the industry is not production but distribution. She advised Nollywood to speak the language of the bankers so that banks can come in.
Another reason she proffered is that that Nigerians ,especially the Nigerian government has failed to accept and acknowledge Nollywood for what it is. Teco Benson was of the view that fragmentation within the various sectors of Nollywood has become a barrier towards getting funds as the industry is divided along ethnic lines. Lack of proper documentation and adequate structures were also identified as other factors that make it difficult to link the creativity and business in the industry.
As a way out, Emeka Ogbonnaya of the Copyright Commission explained that the commission has been trying its best to reduce and curb the problem of piracy in the industry. The commission, he said, has taken various measures which include “regulating the production of films, regular inspection, visits and closure of duplicating plants and the prosecution and conviction of pirates.