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.