10 Challenges Facing Nigeria Film Industry and Possible Solutions

The Nigerian Movie Industry, famously known as Nollywood (a nod to Hollywood), is one of the biggest movie industry in the world today, in terms of production.

In 2015, Al Jazeera reported it was worth over 5 billion dollars, making it the second largest movie producing industry in the world behind India’s Bollywood and ahead of Hollywood.

When looking at the above figures, you might be compelled into believing that Nollywood is one of the best movie industries in the world – you are wrong.

10 Challenges Facing Nigeria Film Industry and Possible Solutions

Nigerian Film Industry and challenges – photo source: https://www.youtube.com

Despite what many has described as progress in over the last couple of years, Nollywood is still behind many of her contemporaries, in terms of quality, storytelling, production and even talents.

Here are some of the obstacles the industry needs to surmount before it can be considered among the best in the world:

Piracy:

The average cost of producing a movie in Nigeria ranges between the sums of 3.5 million naira – 5 million naira. When done with the production, the movies are made immediately available in DVDs at the price of 1,000 – 1,500 naira. That means for investors to successfully recoup their money and make profit, about 4,000 – 5,000 units of DVDs needs to be sold.

Although this might seem easily achievable when considering the fact that there are over 180 million citizens in the country – that is not the situation.

As soon as a movie comes out, pirates begin making copies, selling them for just 200. Majority of these pirated copies are made at Alaba in Lagos State, Aba in Abia State, and Onitsha, Anambra.

A recent study by the BBC revealed that 9 out of 10 copies are pirated. Consumers sees the pirated ones as bargain and rush to purchase it. This usually leads to massive loss for producers, who will be left with lots of unsold DVDs, thereby leading to a loss for them.

Paying For Roles

One of the surprising challenges facing the contemporary film industry is the paying for roles by aspiring actors. Although this practice may have been going on for a long time, it only became rampant recently with many young talents desperate for quick fame.

These aspiring actors, who are not necessarily talented, get to star in movies while depriving real talent from getting the roles. Modern movie makers use this practice as a means of raising funds for their next project. Eventually, this usually leads to cringe-worthy moments in movies whereby actors failed to portray proper emotions to match dialogues because they were not trained for it.

Lack Of Funds

As we all know, writers with good stories to tell and no funds to finance their dreams are as good as being unemployed.

Many times, movie makers have to resort to unconventional means, such as requesting for payment for roles and begging on social media, in order to get money for their movie.

As one of the major challenge facing Nollywood, the lack of fund have led to the dearth of good story. Stories have had to be watered down in order for budget to be met and many movie makers who do not want to compromise have had to travel out of the country where it is easy to get funds for movie.

Lack Of Talents In Acting And Producing

The history and evolution of the film industry in Nigeria would not be possible without the talent of many creative thespians.

From the producers like of Herbert Ogunde to actors likes of Pete Edochie then Genevieve Nnaji and ultimately the current crops which include little Emmanuella, the film industry have never lacked talents.

However, when looked at critically, one will notice that the industry is also saturated by many talentless individuals. These people ostensibly joined the industry for the fame or money and not because they love the job. Some of them are so awful, it is better to watch paints dry than see them in movies.

Also, many of today’s memes in the Nigerian social media sphere are pulled from movie clips. A whole lot of them are about hilariously subtitled scenes.

While they can be funny, they bury a serious problem that many people overlook – bad movie productions by talent-less producers. A movie produced by a talented filmmaker won’t feature scenes of ghost peeling recharge cards to make a call or poorly subtitled scenes.

Lack Of Government Support

In 2010, former President Goodluck Jonathan release the sum of 200 million dollars in grant to the Nigeria movie industry for filmmakers to borrow from and make quality movies with. In March 2013, an additional 115 million dollars in grant, under the name “Project ACT Nollywood,” was disbursed into the industry by his administration.

During this period, the industry experienced significant change in terms of movie production and global reach. Movies such as Half Of A Yellow Sun and Flower Girl got made from these funds. Also the digitalization of cinemas such as Silverbird, Viva, Ozone and many others were funded by these grants.

But like many grants before it, the Jonathan’s administration grants soon disappeared into thin air due to lack of proper monitoring and corruption. Perhaps due to that, the Buhari-led administration have neglected the industry opting to grow other industries while forget that Nollywood, if invested in rightly, has the potential to give our crude oil industry a run for its money.

Non-availability Of Cinemas

Currently, there are less than 50 cinemas in the whole country. That is, there’s an average of 1 cinema to almost 4 million Nigerians! Like that isn’t alarming enough, about 10 of those cinemas are in Lagos alone. This means there are perhaps states with just one cinema or worse still states without cinemas at all.

This problem consequently leads to piracy because actors are forced to release their movies in DVDs instead of at the cinemas thereby making it easy for pirates to get their hands on the movie. Unlike India, which has more than 13,000 cinemas catering for her citizens.

Lack Of Quality Control

An average person can’t just walk into the hospital to treat patient. However Nollywood, an average Nigerian with as little as 50,000 naira can decide to make a movie. This is because they believe anyone can produce and act the movie once they have the resources. This usually leads to horrible and badly scripted pictures.

Many patrons who do not have the money to pursue their projects have had to watch in the sidelines as these amateurs bastardize the industry with terrible movies.

Lack Of Unity Among Practitioners

You may not know it from the outside but the Nigeria film industry is divided into three. Namely: The Yoruba sector, the Igbo sector and the Hausa sector (weirdly known as Kannywood).

The Yoruba and Igbo faction are debating who originated filmmaking in the country while Kannywood set itself aside because it is conservative in nature.

Like that is not enough problem on its own, the Yoruba sector is divided into additional two to three factions all claiming to be the authentic one.

As the proverb goes, a house divided against itself cannot stand. Hence, Nollywood is like a car plagued with various mechanical problems which cannot move forward unless those problems are taken care of.

Lack Of Umbrella Association

According to veteran producer, Wale Adenuga, the consequence of the disunity among practitioners eventually leads to lack of an umbrella association to represent the organization.

Lawyers have the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Teachers have the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) but the film industry have no collective association they can point to.

Instead, we have various associations claiming to represent different groups of actors. This has made it very difficult for anyone to see Nollywood as a family.

Bad Story Lines

Many of Nollywood movies are easy to read without even watching them. The ones about evil stepmothers or mother-in-laws usually features the enigmatic Patience Ozorkwo. Jim Ikye is almost always the bad lover boy.

On the Yoruba side, Taiwo Hassan is always usually the good guy (even when he does something bad, the storylines finds a way to justify it). These typecasts and bad storylines makes movies seem like horrible remakes of earlier ones.

Biopics of Nigerian leaders or heroes are never brought to scene. And even decent sci-fis are missing from the industry’s CV. Instead we are treated to the same old stories with ends easily predictable from the beginning.

The above are the challenges facing Nigeria’s Film Industry. However, despite the complexity and quantity of these problems, Nollywood can quick rise and compete with the rest of the World if the following solutions are adopted;

The Federal Government show look into the whereabouts of the Goodluck Jonathan era grants and recover them, while prosecuting those who mismanaged the funds.

Government should release more grants that will help brilliant but broke filmmakers bring their stories to life.

Money from the grants should be used to establish film institute that will teach aspiring filmmakers, directors and actors more about their craft.

More cinemas should be established by government and private investors so that many Nigerians can benefit from the magical world of movie pictures.

All the stakeholders should be called together to bring an end to the unnecessary arguments of who brought filmmaking into Nigeria, instead they should find a way to extend the olive branch to one another while coming together under one umbrella association.

Nollywood should make an attempt for quality control so that not everyone with money will be able to make movies, instead, only professionals should be allowed to operate in the industry.

Aspiring actors who do not know the basics should made to go back to acting schools and the corruption of payment for movie roles should be curbed.

Movies should have to pass some sort of quality tests before they are released to the public. That is badly produced, subtitled or directed movies should not be allowed to see the light of day.

Pirates should be punished with lengthy jail time and filmmakers’ money should be protected from wasting. Police should be send undercover to the pirating hubs at Alaba, Aba and Onitsha so they can easily identify the kingpins and have them arrested and convicted.

Biopics, science fiction and books should be adapted on the big screen into order to diversify the movies seen by Nigerians.

Like the recent team up between Mo Abudu’s Ebony studio and Sony, more Nigerian production companies should seek to partner with foreign investors so as to take our stories outside the shore of our country.

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