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I had always suspected that Nigerian cinemas had something against Nigerian films. The way some good Nigerian films won’t stay long on show despite customer demand (Niyi Akinmolayan’s ‘Out of luck’ is a recent example) and yet foreign films that aren’t selling stay for long as well the dominance of advert spaces by foreign films engendered this in me.
I got my confirmation last week while at a writers workshop for a TV series. (Sorry can’t tell you which as I have an NDA on my neck but it’s one that was popular in the 1990s) The executive producer Mr….(Ha! Sorry can’t tell you his name as it will give our the great secret TV series) had a talk with us where he revealed a number of things about how the Americans are coming to the Nigerian film space in order to conquer it with their products.
If I got this from anyone else I would have thought it was a joke but the Executive Producer was a foremost banker and has backed a lot of movies and notable TV series right from the 1990s. Most of the cinemas we have in Nigeria were backed by some of the US film studios in order to provide an outlet for their films here. Their original aim was to show only Hollywood content but because of Nigerian local content laws they have to show Nigerian movies on their big screens.
They were aimed at the so called Nigerian upper middle and upper classes with a view to creating a market for their films in one of the few countries in the world where local content outsells Hollywood content. That is why their prices are out of the reach of majority of Nigerians, an average of N1500 per ticket $US8 before the recent fall in the exchange rate.
Unfortunately for new Nollywood, they introduced a very lopsided revenue arrangement for Nigerian movies where the cinemas take 50-60 % of the gate takings, the distributors (in which the cinemas have shares and insist that film producers go through them) take 10% and taxes take 10% leaving the producer with only 20%.
Take note that the distributors or cinemas never help with publicizing the movies they put into cinemas. (Check out Silverbird TV’s advert of their cinema offerings dominated by Hollywood fare) and you wonder why they should take 70% of the gate takings. Well, got info that it’s to accommodate an unofficial tax that the cinemas give to their American backers. This further aids capital flight from our film industry.
Now, the US studios are coming to Nigeria to invest big. Netflix showing in Nigeria isn’t news anymore and they will be opening an office soon. Relativity media, a mini-major US film studio recently announced plans to invest more than a hundred million dollars in Nigeria and held a glitzy launch. The other studios like Disney (who has a working relationship with Ebony life TV to introduce and Nigerianize their content i.e. Cindarella and desperate housewives Africa) , Paramount and Universal are already at advanced plans to launch in Nigeria and the EP even confirmed that he was going to meet with NBC studios representatives the next day.
Now don’t get me wrong. I welcome the US studios coming over as they will create jobs for a lot of creative people like myself and its high time the lazy Nollywood producers got a wake up call. But in the midst of all these transactions we shouldn’t lose the essence of our content industry which was created out of nothing in the 1990s without government help and is now a force to beckoned with in the international film industry.
The Americans aim to promote their content and their own styles of story telling which in the long run could hurt our Nigerian movies with their unique stories as they crowd them out in the marketplace. Alaba and Iweka road are almost dead as all they churn out is rubbish which is mostly porn that they put on youtube.
We want our true professionals to stand up and tell our unique stories that reflect our lives, the way they did when they pioneered a film industry built on digital film making which has become an inspiration to Africans and Africans in diaspora and not just make knock offs of American films.
We should also build cinemas that will cater to the other Nigerians disenfranchised form the pseudo American cinema styles as they are the ones who truly made Nollywood what it is and not the so called middle/upper classes. The fare should be affordable ($US1 ticket prices looks more like it) so as to attract them. (Oh yeah the EP is working with some financiers to build 1000o cinema screens over the next years that aim to follow this logic) And companies like Iroko TV and Afrinolly providing a way to market for good movies should be encouraged.
There is a reason the Chinese aren’t allowing Netflix into their country and place a quota on Hollywood films to be shown in their cinemas. (The Chines cinema market is the world’s second biggest by revenue and is coveted by the Americans) They know that the American soft power could displace their own culture and kill their nascent film industry so they have to protect it.
In conclusion the foreign investment is welcome but in taking the
money we shouldn’t destroy the biggest brand to come out of Africa,
Nollywood. bad productions should be criticized but in the rush to
evolve we shouldnt leave out the elements that make us Nigerian like the
babalawos, the church, the aspirational lifestyle etc and become second
rate Americans. All the guilds chasing government patronage should wake up and reallign to the present realities. Let’s ensure that Nigerian films make up majority of the box office winners here and compete favorably with the American films instead of being just another outlet for Hollywood’s global expansion.
For some time now I have been shouting myself hoarse that distribution is the major impediment in the advance of the Nigerian movie industry and that any new investor should go there.
Well I want to use this space to commend Filmhouse cinemas and their distribution arm filmone for doing a lot for the Nigerian movie eco system. Not only are they the fastest growing cinema chain in the country. (At last count they had 8 cinemas with 25 screens and counting) with the lowest ticket prices (N500-N600) but they are proving to be one of the biggest financiers and distributors of “new nollywood” Nigerian movies.
Film one has helped finance some major movies in the last two, three years some of which include Lunch room heroes, Taxi driver, when love comes around, Out of luck, road to yesterday, Gbomo gbomo express among others. Many of their movies have gone into unexplored grounds in Nigerian story telling and have unearthed new and talented directors and actors who know how to depict a story in different ways unlike their “kpa kpa” counterparts in Alaba.
Some might consider this an abuse of the system where their films are given prominence over other films in cinema showing times but its a common system all over the world especially in Hollywood and Bollywood and such a system is needed here in Nigeria. At a time many investors have sad tales to tell about their involvement in Nollywood and despite the fact that not all their films have been hits, Film one has shown their commitment to developing the industry by financing more movies unlike the other cinema chains Silverbird and genesis deluxe which deserves commendation.
One of the banes of the Nigerian film industry is the lack of options when it comes to distributing the finished work. Lately the American VOD giant Netflix has acquired some Nigerian films to show on their platform making many Nollywood practitioners dance in joy but before you celebrate read this blog article from Leila Djansi, a Ghanaian movie director and producer on the issue and see why you have to put a hold on the celebrations.
week, my African family social media was buzzing with joy. ‘we have
arrived! We have finally made it! Nollywood films are on netflx!’.
a Nigerian proverb that goes thus;
outside of his home, who insists his mother’s soup is the sweetest’.
I think it’s amazing, the exposure this gives Nollywood. But, exposure can go both ways. If you look good naked, you can walk around a nude beach. If you have my kinda body, small small everywhere, cover up.
has been grinding for years! Years! It needs victories. Sadly though, so sorry to
burst your bubble guys. Nollywood films on Netflix are a victory for one
person only. iROKO TV. They got the films there.
the filmmakers are given some small change, by irokoTV for their films getting on
Netflix, this would have been a major break. But they are not. The way
the iroko deal works, they pay you an ok flat fee for a number of years.
5-15,000 dollars; no royalties. Therefore, if for the next 5 years they earn 100k on
your film, they get to keep all that. All other African distributors
use this model. Sadly, if you make a film on 500k, you still get paid
same amount the person who made it for 20k gets paid. It’s a jungle out there.
have a film on Netflix. I was paid a hefty sum for the license by the
distributor upfront, plus a distribution deal, plus 50pct share of
profits. No, not a nollywood distributor. An American one. If they
release my film on any platform, or do a sub license to another platform, I’m happy, because, money will come. My
rent is due.
On the other hand, it would have been a victory for the filmmaker if the films were good enough to show the world. I’ve
seen the selection and 90% of the films there are crap. You get one
chance to prove to the world that the African can handle his own affairs
and this is what you show? I watched a film on iROKO TV called ‘Apaye’.
Oh, I loved it! I loved it! It wasn’t part of the netflix selection.
‘Tango with me’ another very good one, was not there either.
you are an actor. A distributor or a producer, you are an ambassador of
your enterprise to others. If you have an opportunity to put Africa on a
pedestal, use it wisely.
Filmmakers now that you know iROKO will put your films on netflix, and you know you
won’t see any money from the profits, at least, put up a good product,
so someone else will see your work and give you a bigger opportunity.
You can circumvent the system and self distribute your films. That’s
what I did for my African titles. I chop it up. No one has an exclusive
deal. If you want to try this, do it. You can also use an aggregator
called Distribber. I’ve never used them, so I cannot advise: https://www.distribber.com/
Now is is the time to start involving lawyers when you sell your films. A
lawyer will ensure you get the best deal possible. Giving up your film
for 10,000 dollars and having it locked up for 5 years is no life. Out
of desperation, filmmakers in Nollywood and Ghana are making sad deals.
The industry is dying off. But if you involve the legal system, it
stands a chance. yeah yeah yeah, lawyers are greedy etc. But there are
good ones out there. Distributors in Ghana could come together and pay
for a guild attorney who will handle their distribution deals, so can
their counterparts in Nigeria. That way, you get the best for your work.
The distributors won’t be happy you got a lawyer, but, they have no content without your films. Take a stand.
With all the doom and gloom in Nigeria it’s easy to forget that there are a few people who are doing their best to bring out innovations that benefit not just Nigerians but beyond.
Andela an IT company that trains people practically (for free) and pays them as well as provide working experience is one of such. Addide supermarket which has more than 25 branches of their supermarket brand in Lagos and Sporedust, a Nigerian based animation house who do animation jobs for American companies like Disney are another. There are many others like them in Nigeria but do you know the common denominator? You never hear of them in Nigeria media and for those of us who have heard of them it was on foreign media, the same foreign media that some so called patriots enjoy lampooning for reporting Nigeria as backward.
The media is supposed to educate and inform as well as Entertain but for the Nigerian media if its not Home videos, music, comedy or politics forget it. It’s so bad that we complain everyday about the failings of the country and yet we don’t celebrate organizations and people that make life easier for us.
The lack of passion among media practitioners is even more evident among bloggers where all they do is cut and paste news from one blog or the other. Its so bad that one has to pay for media houses to cover a press conference! Thank God for the internet which has allowed non common subjects to be spotlighted. Its the same reason there is so much rubbish on Nigerian TV and radio where as long as you can pay any shit can go on air.
Effective change occurs at grassroots levels. You should see the number of IT programmers being churned out by Andela or the Nigerian films Iroko TV (another company which is ignored by the Nigerian media) buys to see the effect they make, same thing for many companies/individuals like ginger box a fruit delivery company, Innoson an indigenous vehicle maker and CCHub which helps incubate many IT businesses. These organizations make more of an effective contribution to our society rather than the boastful politicians and entertainers that hug all the space.
It’s a shame that I have to watch Al Jazeera or CNN to see the latest Nigerian innovations because the media is chasing a celebrity or politician. Stories like these have the power to inspire individuals to chase their dreams knowing that everybody isn’t stealing all over the place but the lack of these stories have made many people lose faith in this society. Have anybody wondered why Nigerian companies will rather advertise on foreign media than the local media which has been losing followers for years now?
We need our media to celebrate our successes like Brand South Africa www.southafrica.info does for South Africa despite its many challenges. (Shout out to the IT blogs like techcabal and techloy for updating us and letting us know that the Nigerian IT space is much more than knowing of the latest phone brands). They can continue with their selling airtime and publicity for money but at least provide some spaces for the success stories dotted all over the place. Life is much more than money.
For my movie enthusiasts audience sorry I have veered away from topics on the movie industry for a while. Someone asked me a question on a social forum about moving from her home state of Osun State to Lagos in order to take up acting and I gave a reply. I have reproduced the reply here in case there is anybody else who is asking the same question. Note that this answer applies no matter what country you are in or the movie industry. In other words you could substitute Lagos with Mumbai, Los Angeles, Paris or any other film making hub.
My sister most of the acting jobs are in Lagos. But before you begin to pack
your bags you have to ask yourself if acting what you want to do
because I can assure you there will be a lot of challenges and
roadblocks on the way. There is no guarantee that your desires will be
fulfilled as there are many ex actors and models past their prime who
didn’t achieve anything after years in the industry. On the other hand
there are people who have become stars after years of toiling and taking
a lot of poo. Even if you are good there is no guarantee that you will
make it. At the start the take home pay you will receive won’t be able
to take you home.
Its not that I am discouraging you but I want you
to know if you really desire a career in acting. I started out acting in
high school in the 90s and backed out after 3 years. 10 years later I
came back more determined and today I make a living as a screenwriter.
Along the way I have seen many talented people fall by the wayside
because of the frustrations in the industry which can be nerve racking.
(Poor pay, exploitation, sexual harassment) Tope Tedela, Kingsley Udegbe
(Oga Titus), Kiki Omeilli and Judith Audu are my contemporaries. They
took all the poo the industry gave them and today they are being
celebrated. So you have to know what you are facing before you jump in.
If you are in school stay there until you graduate so that if your
acting fails you can get a job with your degree and have an option. Also make sure you learn
a skill or craft that will attract customers and enable you survive
when acting doesn’t pay. If you do decide to come to Lagos pay attention to your
acting and attend auditions. If you can get a part time job or
something that will feed you, Lagos is expensive. Make sure you study
your craft well. Watch foreign movies to see how the professionals do it
and practice your acting before a mirror. (Sorry but most so called
Nigerian star actors are wack!!!)
The aim in acting is not to
pretend to be that character in the script but TO BE that character to
the extent that you live like the character. (Try and get these two
series leverage and hustle. They are con artistes but they are
successful because they act convincingly good as the characters they are
portraying) Forget about those so called production houses where they
tell you to register with money and they will include you in their
acting jobs. Many of them are fraudsters and of the few that are real
their jobs are so horrible nobody watches them. (I am talking from
If you are ready to be patient and take the poo
and you have someone to chill with in Lagos or can get a job or have a source of funds, then come in. But if you
feel you cant take it its better you don’t start that journey. I know
many who started in the acting world and have now
dropped off because of the stress. Do it because you love the job and
not for the money. Sorry for the long epistle but I feel you have to
understand what you wanna do before you jump in.
I have been reading about Paul Romer’s concept of charter cities. These are private cities
built by private individuals and corporations and it looks interesting.
These cities apart from having their own infrastructure theoretically
don’t have to depend on national, state and local laws and can have
their own judiciary/legal systems in other words they will be autonomous zones.
Some say this concept will allow real
development and leapfrog the bureaucratic bottlenecks that stifle many third world countries in their quest for development. This is the concept
that was used to build Dubai and now Abu Dhabi is following it, both of them in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The
Chinese in the late 1970s also created special economic zones where
Chinese laws didn’t apply and that was the start of their economic
miracle as investors poured in to build factories. Hong Kong is another good example of this concept operating differently from Mainland China that its based in.
Right now this concept is being experimented with in Honduras who have created autonomous zones where foreign corporations can build charter cities. But It has not being without its challenges. Paul Romer who was on the board overseeing the development of these Honduran autonomous zones has resigned citing his objections to the way the Honduran Government is running the project.
Many African and Asian countries are stifled today because of the over bearing bureaucracies, bad infrastructure and terrible law implementation. I know many critics see this as creating walled gardens for rich people but shouldn’t we give this concept the benefit of the doubt?
These charter cities could provide an avenue to let inhabitants unleash their creative potentials with the legal framework free from the host countries inefficiencies. With adequate electricity, water, sewage and transport links along with a good education and health system creative people could have the chance to execute their ideas and concepts. They are also a place where social experiments can be carried out like in Saudi Arabia with the new King Abdullah economic city being built.
Now my question
to you all is do you think an independent city like that is possible in
Nigeria, where Nigerian laws don’t apply and they could adapt laws and
legal systems from the developed world? What sayest thou people?
I saw this report in the BBC about a world skills championships currently holding in Sao Paolo Brazil which intrigued me.( World skills championships!!!?)
This is a Olympic like competition where skilled workers under 25 years of age from around the world compete against each other for medals in various skills endeavors like plumbing, floral arrangement, carpentry, graphic designs, bakery, robotics and the likes. Its held every two years and has the feel of the sports olympics with opening and closing ceremonies, supporters clubs and medal presentations.
Many countries take this competition serious as an avenue to groom young people for the skilled labour sector in their countries. Many of the medalists get cash and recognition in their home countries and best of all multinational companies turn up to see who they can recruit.
In some countries this competition is a big deal. In Korea winners get cash and houses while the Brazilians enjoy university scholarships. The Americans get to visit the white house and dine with the president same as the French medalists who get to visit the president at the elysee palace.
Many people at the event including the head honchos of multinational companies like Samsung opine that this olympics is much more important than the sports Olympics as the skills set displayed will have an effect on the economy of the participating nations. The multiplier effects of these skilled workers cannot be quantified.
Its too bad that all people think of here is chasing a white collar job. I remember my dad always telling me when I was young to find something to do with my hands in addition to education.
I remember when I started my first job. There were so many things that I had no idea about like customer service, marketing, etiquette etc. which I had to be learn on the fly. Many graduates can relate to this experience which can be overwhelming for many. Some don’t even get over it.
There are other signs that our young ones are not getting a good and useful education especially on social media where you see the poor sentences and terrible thinking on display and you cannot reiterate the need for an overhaul of the education system.
Education is the primary means of social mobility for lower income people in any society but when it cannot help one earn a good living then something is wrong. What is taught in many schools today is sorely outdated and the rote learning employed as the means of instruction does not enhance critical thinking which is needed for any society to progress.
Many young people today cannot get employed because they bring no value to the table which is the hall mark of successful people. Many of them get clueless when the theories they learnt in school don’t work in particular work situations. This is why the Nigerian education system has to be changed to get people thinking creatively and being able to think out of the box.
Some people look down on certain sectors but people can make money out of any profession today as long as they have the knowledge of marketing their offerings in the right way, customer service, book keeping skills, financial management and learning how to build a business system around their passions. Even the vocational jobs people look down on are being taken up by many young people today as they realize they need something practical that can feed them and some have built businesses out of it.
A forward looking education sector should be able to inculcate these practical skills into their students so that they can stand on their own. The apprentice system practiced by many traders and vocational professionals do this with their trainees and I say its the most effective method of learning as the students can learn by example rather than reading books about theories they know nothing about.
Some formal companies are now inculcating this in their education experience. One good example is the talent accelerator company called Andela. The US-Nigerian company train students in computer programming for four years and along the way get their students to work on projects for large companies in silicon valley gotten through Andela . This gives the students much needed skills and practical training as they get to work alongside experienced programmers. They get to do this from Nigeria through the internet and the students don’t pay anything to enrol but the admission process is brutal (usually only 1 out of 100 applicants get accepted) which ensures only the best get in. The good thing is the students who get accepted in the next stage get paid a good salary (around 80000 naira monthly) while being trained. Tell me what deal is better than this?
Andela aims to train 100000 programmers around Sub Saharan Africa through this method.The founders Iyin Aboyeji and Jeremy Johson believe that many people in the developing world do not get the opportunities their western counterparts get so they have set out to provide this opportunities and have trained a 100 developers so far in the one year they have being operating.
If more companies adopt this method maybe we can reduce the high unemployment rate in the country and get the economy moving.Making our educational system a more practical oriented system that encourages critical thinking and provide skilled individuals will help everyone in the long run and should be done straight away instead of relying only on a rote learning method. (Hey this could be a solution to the “years of experience” thingy that drop so many young people during job interviews)
Hi people, I got this post in one of the whatsapp groups I belong and I thought you would all like to see it both Nigerians and non Nigerians. It says a lot about why Nigerians behave the way they do and you will agree with me after reading it that it is so on point. Enjoy
Institutional and normative culture shapes success of a country
What about Nigeria?
If we explore the Nigerian culture through the lens of the 6-D Model©, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of its culture relative to other world cultures.
This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies
are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these
inequalities amongst us. Power Distance is defined as the extent to
which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within
a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
Nigeria scores high on this dimension (score of 80) which means that
people accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and
which needs no further justification. Hierarchy in an organization is
seen as reflecting inherent inequalities, centralization is popular,
subordinates expect to be told what to do and the ideal boss is a
The fundamental issue
addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society
maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s
self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist
societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct
family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to ‘in groups’ that
take care of them in exchange for loyalty.
Nigeria, with a score
of 30 is considered a collectivistic society. This is manifest in a
close long-term commitment to the member ‘group’, be that a family,
extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist
culture is paramount, and over-rides most other societal rules and
regulations. The society fosters strong relationships where everyone
takes responsibility for fellow members of their group. In collectivist
societies offense leads to shame and loss of face, employer/employee
relationships are perceived in moral terms (like a family link), hiring
and promotion decisions take account of the employee’s in-group,
management is the management of groups.
score (Masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be
driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being
defined by the winner / best in field – a value system that starts in
school and continues throughout organizational life.
A low score
(Feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society
are caring for others and quality of life. A Feminine society is one
where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the
crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates
people, wanting to be the best (Masculine) or liking what you do
Nigeria scores 60 on this dimension and is thus a
Masculine society. In Masculine countries people “live in order to
work”, managers are expected to be decisive and assertive, the emphasis
is on equity, competition and performance and conflicts are resolved by
fighting them out.
Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with
the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control
the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety
and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in
different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel
threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs
and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the score on
Nigeria receives an intermediate score of 55 on this dimension, which does not show a clear preference.
Long Term Orientation
This dimension describes how every society has to maintain some links
with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and
future, and societies prioritize these two existential goals
differently. Normative societies. which score low on this dimension, for
example, prefer to maintain time-honored traditions and norms while
viewing societal change with suspicion. Those with a culture which
scores high, on the other hand, take a more pragmatic approach: they
encourage thrift and efforts in modern education as a way to prepare for
Nigeria scores very low (13) on this dimension, meaning
that its culture is normative instead of pragmatic. People in such
societies have a strong concern with establishing the absolute Truth;
they are normative in their thinking. They exhibit great respect for
traditions, a relatively small propensity to save for the future, and a
focus on achieving quick results.
One challenge that
confronts humanity, now and in the past, is the degree to which small
children are socialized. Without socialization we do not become “human”.
This dimension is defined as the extent to which people try to control
their desires and impulses, based on the way they were raised.
Relatively weak control is called “Indulgence” and relatively strong
control is called “Restraint”. Cultures can, therefore, be described as
Indulgent or Restrained.
With a very high score of 84, Nigerian
culture is said to be one of Indulgence. People in societies classified
by a high score in Indulgence generally exhibit a willingness to realise
their impulses and desires with regard to enjoying life and having fun.
They possess a positive attitude and have a tendency towards optimism.
In addition, they place a higher degree of importance on leisure time,
act as they please and spend money as they wish.