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NIGERIA’S NOLLYWOOD: PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS OF MOVIE MAKING IN NIGERIA
Welcome to the world of the Nigerian Film Industry Nollywood. An ever dynamic and wave making industry but perpetually lacking in details that make a film truly a work of planning, though wave making, the movie industry suffers from market saturation, cut – throat and sterile competition. The policy thrust of Nollywood is to promote positive social transformation and build relationship between cultures and national development rather Nollywood producers tend to consider the financial benefits as the ‘De-goal’, thus bringing to bear several problems and challenges encountered in Nollywood. Chapter One of this project focuses on the general introduction of the work; Chapter Two is a literature review concerning what other people have said about Nollywood productions; Chapter Three reveals the problems and challenges encountered in Nollywood; Chapter Four portrays the unprofessional acting in Nigeria and Chapter Five concludes the project work coupled with recommendations as regards the problems facing Nollywood. The researcher’s aim is to proffer possible solutions to the virus eating deep into Nollywood.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title Page - - - - - - - - - - i
Certification - - - - - - - - - ii
Dedication - - - - - - - - - iii
Acknowledgement - - - - - - - - iv
Abstract - - - - - - - - - - vi
Table of Contents - - - - - - - - vii
1.1 General Introduction
1.2 Background of the Study
1.3 Statement of Problem
1.4 Study Objective
1.5 Justification of Study
1.6 Significance of Study
1.7 Research Methodology
1.8 Definition of Terms
2.2 Literature Review
2.3 Brief Review of Kiabara: Journal of Humanities
2.4 Nollywood Syndrome
Problems and Challenges Facing Movie-Making in Nigeria
3.2 The Bandwagon Syndrome
3.3 Movie Financing
3.4 Unplanned Scripting
3.5 “The Ban 2004”
3.6 “The Selling Face Syndrome”
3.7 Technical Challenges
3.8 The Nigerian Audience
Actors and Acting in Nigeria
4.2 Professional Actor/Acting (Defined)
4.3 Nollywood’s Star Syndrome and it’s Militating Factors
5.1 Summary and Conclusion
5.2 Prospects of Nollywood
1.1 GENERAL INTRODUCTION
“… Bollywood, Dollywood, Hollywood and now…. Proudly presenting from the stable of the Giant of Africa…. Nollywood”
Undoubtedly, “Nollywood”, Nigerian’s motion picture industry phenomenon, sprouting from the electronic media has brought about tremendous social change to the Nigerian society. This change is synonymous with development, progress and evolution. It involves rapid or gradual alteration in the pattern of relationships within a society. The concept of social change entails alteration of values, attitudes and traits as a result of prevailing social conditions such as bribery and corruption, prostitution, cultism, child trafficking, drug abuse, examination malpractice, tribalism, nepotism, sexual harassment etc. These remarkable changes, to a great extent are attributed to the Nollywood actor – his celebrity status and box office hit – major components of the Nigerian feature film presentation.
Succinctly put, the Nollywood actor is the veritable social instrument, which transports messages through forms, spectacle and symbols and also has the power to arouse such emotions that the viewers of Nigerian Home Video respond to. The Nollywood actor is the medium of communication between change and the society.
Bringing to bear problems facing Nigerian’s Nollywood, this thesis is a deliberate attempt to elucidate and perhaps, furnish the reader within depth details of the challenges facing Nigeria’s Nollywood, with emphasis.
i. On the dictatorship of executive producers
ii. The militating factors against the Nollywood actors
iii. Consequences of his stardom
iv. And problems facing movie making in Nigeria.
Indeed, the provision of this thesis will help proffer possible solutions and perhaps make useful suggestions.
1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Although the emergence of the Nigerian celluloid film production is traced to the beginning of the twentieth century 1903 to be precise. This research focuses Nigerian’s Nollywood with emphasis on it theatrical motives.
Today, we are accustomed to seeing theatrical presentations in many forms: not only in live performances on stage but also in films, in television, Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) and even CD rams on computer screens. Another issue, worthy of mention is that television, tapes, films etc. are all products of the past ten decades and theatre has existed since the origin of man. Live theatre was only a film and theatre is the performer-audience relationship. However, in film, we are always in the presence of an image, never a live-person.
ORIGIN OF THEATRE
It will be pertinent to highlight the origin of the theatre. According to one of the great theatre authorities, Oscar Brockett in History of the Theatre, the most widely accepted theory of the origin of theatre, championed by anthropologists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, envisions theatre as emerging out of myth and ritual (1).
Thus, the strongest element in the twenty-year span of Nigerian celluloid film production was the work of the artistes from the Yoruba travelling theatre tradition, and they still dominate at least numerically, current video production. In the same vein, it is more conspicuous that Nigerian Video Film Production emanated from the theatre (Nigerian Video Films 22).
Adesanya Afolabi in Jonathan Haynes (ed) Nigerian Video Films posits that:
… The imperative need to produce film gave rise to intellectual movement initiated by a handful of writers and private film and performing arts graduates, not only in reaction to and rejection of alien cultural domination but also to reinstate our own cultural heritage and re-orientate our own people suffering from colonial mentality (13).
Here, he established the fact that the involvement of the Yoruba travelling theatre practitioners in motion picture production led to the evolution of an indigenous cinema movement in Nigeria.
HISTORY OF NOLLYWOOD
Film practice in Nigeria, like other media of mass communication and entertainment is a colonial inheritance. During the colonial era, film sponsorship, production and exhibition had deliberately been oriented in favour of government sponsored documentary films. Commercial production was left in the hands of private enterprise. The first film audience was born in Nigeria in 1903 with screening of the first film by Messer Balboa of Barcelona, Spain under the management of Herbert Macaulay at the captain Glover memorial Hall, Lagos. The gate takings were three shillings.
Government sponsored oriented film production started in 1929 in an attempt to contain an outbreak of a plague within the Lagos protectorate. The initiative to use film as a medium of public enlightenment and instruction on the vectors of the plague was the brainchild of William Sellers, the chief Health officer, Federal Department of Health. Sellers employed film to illustrate to the people of the Lagos protectorate the ways in which rats carry the disease and also enlisted their cooperation in eliminating the plague bearing rats. This public enlightenment programme was timely in curtailing the spread of the false rumor and superstition on the causes of the epidemic in the protectorate. The success of this experimentation led the colonial administration to adopt film as a medium of instruction in what was then a largely pre-literate society (Shaka, 12).
As part of the British Colonial government’s instructional cinema programme, film production was introduced into most Anglophone African countries. This useful perception to aid development and modernization in what were then largely illiterate societies resulted in the establishment of Colonial Film Unit (C.F.U) in 1939, but was first established in Nigeria in 1946 and later the Federal Film Unit (F.F.U) in 1947. Some documentary films produced during the colonial period are Empire Day Celebrations in Nigeria (1948), Small Pox (1950), Leprosy (1950), Port Harcourt Municipal Council Elections (1950) and Queen Elizabeth II’s Visit to Nigeria (1948).
In 1958, Nigeria attempted a feature film called Fincho. Some have claimed that this film by Sam Zebba is the first feature film of Nigeria (Mgbejume, 65). Not many people accepted Mgbejume’s claim because there is very little information to substantiate his claims. Another film, Son of Africa is not accepted as the first Nigerian features film because the funding was Lebanese. Also the theme of the film was not treated from the Nigerian perspective.
As a result of the colonial film orientation, post-colonial film production in Nigeria emerged in 1970 and there was independent film practice, which were wholly Nigerian produced films. Like most independent practices, film productions had several challenges although enjoyed a momentary boom between 1970 and the mid-1980s. Thus, the general economic downturn in Nigeria necessitated the introduction of practitioners.
Kongi’s Harvest was the first major full – length Nigerian feature film produced by Francis Oladele. This film featured Nigerian actors with indigenous thematic thrust. Other films joined the track. Thing Fall Apart (1971) by Ola Balogun and Amadi, the first indigenous film in Igbo language shot in 1975 also by Ola Balogun; Bisi-Daughter of the River (1977) by Jab Abu; Kanta of Kebbi (1978) by Halriu Adamu and The Mask (1979) by Eddie Ugbomah.
The film industry witnessed a lot of growth in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Most films produced during this period were by Yoruba travelling practitioners who turned moviemakers, some notable names amongst them are Herbert Ogunde, Ade Afoloyan (Ade Love) and Moses Olaiya (Baba Sala). Due to economic depreciation at about the mid-1980s, the industry started witnessing a decline. The only major film shot in the country in 1990 was a film titled Mister Johnson by Bruce Beresford, although this film cannot be said to be Nigerian owing to the fact that the director, technical crew and funding were not Nigerian.
The limelight of today’s Nollywood as acclaimed by many is the video film Living in Bondage (1992) produced by Kenneth Nnebue, proprietor of Nek Video Links. This fact is often countered by some because since the mid-1980s the Yoruba have been packaging video films. However, these films never enjoyed the enormous success attributed to Living in Bondage which indeed was a box office hit. It must however be stated here that the production of the film Living in Bondage brought about the much needed revolution in the video film industry as significant development and improvement has been the order of the day since its debut.
1.3 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
According to the late theatre guru, Professor Ola Rotimi
…the problem however is the will to start the process of change. It is the parable of a Jewel deep at the bottom of a well. Though everyone knows how to crane a neck over the well and point to the Jewel but the problem is someone going down the well and getting the Jewel up but everyone turns around and walks away.
Many Nigerian audience and most especially theatre practitioners criticize the Nigerian feature film industry (Nollywood) in a most negative way but very few are willing to stand up tall to impact change in our own Nollywood. The image of the Nollywood Executive producers and star actors which has been so battered has drawn much criticism from the Nigerian audience. These stars the so-called ‘selling faces’ could be egocentric and also arrogant to co-workers such as directors, costumiers, production managers etc. out of greed and quest for quick wealth (money), some may become unfaithful. One of such acts of unfaithfulness is that of collecting artiste fee from several producers. This oftentimes brings about clashes often with very negative effects. Such star-culprits may therefore be faced with the dilemma of grappling with the often-cumbersome schedule of productions handling two or three at the same time. On the other hand, Executive producers, mostly moneybags with sole commercial interests, also have their own share of the blame. As financiers of Nollywood films they have overwhelming influence in the industry. However, because most of them are mostly non-professionals and as such not knowledgeable in the ethics of the discipline, attempts to dictate the tune for Nollywood lead often to unprofessional decisions.
This project is basically aimed at bringing to the fore the various problems facing Nigeria’s movie industry. It behooves the researcher therefore to unveil cause(s) and seek for possible solutions to curb these militating factors eating deep into Nollywood.
1.4 STUDY OBJECTIVE
This thesis is aimed at bringing out the problems as it concerns Nollywood. Thus, the exercise concerns itself with their Modus Operandi, reaction to issues and rationale for its behavioural pattern. It is also aimed at improving the image of the movie industry, which is not very much appreciated by some learned Nigerian audience. This study attained the height of ‘stardom’ a different orientation to the profession and encourages a sense of sincere professionalism.
1.5 JUSTIFICATION OF STUDY
Acting is as old as man. Man has observed and learnt in various ways to mime, dance and express his feelings. It is perhaps, for this need not only to communicate but also to do so at the cheapest and shortest possible tone, and with maximum effect that all efforts to improve further the arts of the theatre through the new film technology has come to be. This has given rise to the invention of modern and the state of the art communication gadgets among which the latest of those inventions in the film industry. The film industry all over the world is an industry to reckon with especially American’s motion picture industry-Hollywood from which Nigeria has borrowed a leaf.
Nollywood has taken the forefront in home entertainment in Nigeria, having replaced celluloid film for numerous reasons. The purpose of communication being to foster harmonious living, progress, entertain, inform, educate, elevate or ridicule for correctional purpose etc.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The world is a global village where communication is fast changing day – by – day, giving way to what is referred to as dynamism in communication. And the artiste being the mirror of the society has from time immemorial helped to shape society. Again, theatre’s effectiveness in development communication depends very much on the proficiency of the practitioner. In Theatre – for – Development (TFD), the proficiency should not only be in the creation of highly polished productions of great aesthetic merit; the practitioner must also have clarity of what development and development communication entails. Thus, the Nigerian actor has a very important role in national development because he is a communicator. The society sees himself in the actor because he is the mirror of the society.
Suffice it to say that the Nigerian motion picture phenomenon (Nollywood) has remained one of the most effective means of communication in Nigeria and its environs. Thus, its projection to its viewers is expected to have high intellectual value and enriching fruitful experiences for shaping positively the society at large.
1.7 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This research work is based on literary and artistic methodologies. Also, references are made to both primary and secondary sources. Most of the secondary sources are materials from the library, journals and internet. Interviews with some Theatre practitioners have also formed the basis for making assertions.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
For a better comprehension of this research, it is pertinent to define some operative words and technical terms in the content and form in which they are used with regards to this study.
ACTING: Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary defines acting as the activity or profession, performing in plays or films/movies etc. (Hornsby 95). Also, the Longman Modern English Dictionary puts it thus “the act of performing in plays or films”. Sam Dede, a leading Nigerian Theatre Practitioner also defines “acting as the act of lending the body and soul to an imaginary character”.
FILM: Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defines film as a roll or sheet of thin flexible plastic that is sensitive to light for use in photography. In relation to the movie world, it is the making of motion picture (Hornsby, 975).
SYNDROME: According to Oxford Learners Dictionary, syndrome is defined as a set of opinions or a way of behaving that is typical of a particular type of person, attitude or social problem (6th edition 1216).
STAR: Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines the star as a performer, a famous and excellent singer, sports player etc. a person who has the main part or one of the main parts in a film/movie play.
NOLLYWOOD: www.goggle.com search defines Nollywoood as Nigerian home – video film phenomenon. New York times Nollywood as Nigerian’s home-grown film industry. It is also known as Multi-billion naira film industry. Nollywood is the local parody of Hollywood.
THEATRE: According to John Gassner, the Theatre is simply the act of ‘acting out’ something. It does not even need a special building and stage for it can take place in a threshing circle, in a street or any piece of ground (17).
Also is an attempt to explain the meaning of theatre as it relates to human living, Jerzy Growtowski opines to the academic thus: “The theatre is a place where an actor recites a written text, illustrates it with series of movements in order to make it more easily understood” (20).
Edwin Wilson in his book The Theatre Experience observes that “theatre is art, and as such it mirrors or reflect life” (1) theatrical performance changes from moment to moment as the audience encounters a series of shifting impressions and stimuli. It is a kaleidoscopic adventure through which the audience passes with each instant, a direct, immediate experience. Edwin Wilson also suggests that people go to the theatre for different purposes. Some go to ease the tension they get from their jobs and homes, thus they seek an ‘escape’ from every day cares. They look for something, which will be amusing and will perhaps include music, dancing, costume etc. on the other hand; people want to be stimulated and challenged both intellectually and emotionally. A theatre even can entertain, offer an escape, provoke thought, inspire, educate, challenge and delight.