In most parts of the world, especially in the developed countries, the visual needs of the children are taken care of. Due to the vulnerable nature that comes with their ages, educative programmes are produced to develop the young minds, broaden their knowledge scope on a range of topics in various spheres, open their eyes to possibilities, and ultimately enhance their creativity base. Apart from the regular TV productions depicted through an array of cartoons, instructive programmes, and story books centred around numerous fairy tales and other themes produced by great novelists, comic characters via the Marvel and Dc comics, movies specially produced for children’s viewing delight have been produced time and time again in Hollywood and by other Movie bodies. The young at heart have also been caught in the movie web of this nature.
Parents usually fret a lot about the never ending streaming bills which habitually forces its way through the designated artificial courses into their lives. They must pay the bills if they want to remain as regular guests at life’s table, gladly partaking of what she offers (except the strong willed ones), without being subjected to any form of harassment, ridicule, intimidation by her waiting attendants in charge of electricity bills, water bills, kids school fees, transport, feeding, accommodation and other expenses. A defaulting parent can run but can’t hide forever and moves about dejectedly clothed with the garment of shame. What parents do not know is that though unpaid bills are a regular source of embarrassment, they can be settled with a snap of the finger by the messenger called “money” when either fortune smiles on them, or some one comes to their aid. However, image redemption seems likely irredeemable when you’re embarrassed by no one else than your children!
Imagine attending a get together party hosted by a Business mogul you’ve miraculously been linked to at his house in Lekki Phase 1, Lagos. You feel out of place because you’re not part of the elite class who have flocked there. The worst happens when your son locks horn with your host’s son in an innocent discussion but within earshot of the guests. He asks your son if he’s watched movies such as Spiderman, X- Men, Fantastic Four, and your son replies in the negative. He reels out more movies and your son’s silence negates any positive answer. Having run out of patience with the unfruitful discussion, he demands to know what movies he’s watched and your son enthusiastically reels out local productions on TV such as “The Adventures of kasali”, “Kasko Ni Mi”, Okpekundun Crystal Ball”, and you quickly interject telling him to shut his mouth ! The guests roar with laughter much to your embarrassment. The movie disparity originating from the educational/social background and your indifference to your child watching great movies slammed the title of “The embarrassed dad of the Month” on you !
It’s no longer news that characters form the Marvel and DC Comics are being re-lived through a life cast as seen in the movies released, such as Spiderman, X- Men, Batman, Iron Man, Dare Devil, Cat Woman, Ghost Rider, Superman, Fantastic Four, and Incredible Hulk amongst others. Flicks are generally produced for the viewing pleasure of people. Children learn by example, often from what they see, hear, observe, which makes them susceptible to vice prone situations. Movies produced for children are used in Hollywood to stimulate their creativity, help them imbibe the undertone morals to be deciphered from the plot, have a broader perspective about life, get acquainted with its challenges, never giving up in the face of adversity, and not living with the mentality that the society wherein they live in is a haven.
Hollywood has produced a plethora of children’s movies (animation and life cast) which have made a great impact in Moviedom and the release of the under listed movies have overtime been keenly watched in Nigeria by children and adults. They include but not limited to:
Mary Poppins (1964), My Fair Lady (1964), The Sound of Music (1965), Star Wars (1977), Superman (1978), E.T : The Extra Terrestrial (1982), The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Jurassic Park (1993), Mrs Doubt fire(1993), The Lion King (1994), Toy Story (1995), Pocahontas (1995), Hunch Back of Notre Dame (1996), Hercules (1997) , Mulan (1998), Pocahontas: Journey to a New World (1998), Tarzan (1999), The Atlantis; The Lost Empire (2001), Shrek (2001), Cinderella 11:Dreams Come True (2002), Brother Bear (2003), Shrek 2& 3(2004,2007), The Incredibles (2004), Brother Bear 2 (2006), Meet the Robinsons (2007), Ratatouille (2007), Persepolis (2007), Happy Feet (2007), Cinderella: A Twist in time (2007), Kungfu Panda (2008) , Ice age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009), The Princess and The Frog (2009), Up (2009)
Flicks meant for children have long captivated the teeming adults who happily ease of the daily regimented stress and happily watch the flicks without making any sarcastic remarks or have the “I mustn’t be caught by my pals” feeling. They watch not out of boredom, but in simple obedience to the natural child like desire hidden deep down in their hearts, for as Bill Cosby often declared in his closing remarks when he hosted the show “ kids say the darndest things” , ‘there is a child in every man.’
It is sad to note that while the list of Hollywood movies for kids is increasing, Nollywood is yet to produce movies for the viewing pleasure of children. Nigerian children only get to technically watch Nollywood movies rated by the National Film and video censors board (NFVCB) to be generally suitable for their ages, where the parents adhere strictly to the classification codes. However, we live in an era where both parents have to work in other to pay the bills, and are hardly at home. Hence, children watch movies not approved for their ages and those shown on cable TV, without parental supervision. They practice what they’ve seen and begin to exhibit worrisome bad habits their parents never bargained for. Most movie producers think of profit making and feel the ace lies within the palms of the adults which is a fallacy at least let’s not forget the child star Shirley Temple who saved Fox Film Corporation back in the days from going bankrupt. Macaulay Caulkin’s outstanding performance made the first Home Alone prequel a hit, with a worldwide gross of $477,561,243.
Generally, movies have a way of shaping one’s destiny. Remember that ace Hollywood director, Peter Jackson got baptized into the world of movie making as a Nine year old boy when he watched Merian C. Cooper’s 1933 classic of King Kong. He fell in love with it and grew with the dream of re-making it. John Guillermin beat him to it when he re-made the classic in 1976, but it was under valued by the public and was not a crowd puller. Peter’s childhood dream came true when he released in 2005 the best re-make (so far), of King Kong starring Naomi watts, Jack Black, Adrein Brody. He has grown to be an icon with quite a number of Oscars to his credit, and with his blockbuster movie “The lord of the Rings” trilogy hitting the $2 billion mark.
Nigerian’s own ‘Steve Gucas’ wanted to make movies as a child. He refused to restrict himself to the local turf but spread his tentacles to the International front. Based on an Interview granted and published by Sound City Blast magazine, he is said to have produced the biggest African movie “Nujoma” as at 2008. He’s also one of the rare Nigerian film makers who had a Hollywood Top rated actor (Danny Glover) appear in one of the movies he was involved in.
Both testimonials point to the fact that the right flicks can influence a child into pursing a career in any sphere of movie making. How many children in Nigeria probably besides acting, want to be pursue a career in directing, filmmaking, scriptwriting, cinematography and other spots in the production process which would impact positively in Nollywood and Moviedom in general? “PEFTI” a private run Film/TV institute by Wale Adenuga (MFR) organized a holiday camp for children who were interested in learning the ABC?