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Has Nollywood Come of Age?

Source: Nigeriafilms.com
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Posted by admin on Jan 21st, 2015 and filed under Features. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

The search for an alternative to oil as the mainstay of the Nigerian economy has become even more crucial with the prevailing falling price of crude in the international market.

Of all the options available to Nigeria, Nollywood, the nation's burgeoning movie industry seems to be the most active of Nigeria's creative industries that holds the greatest promise.
The UN has identified world trade in the creative industries' sector to account for 3.4 per cent with an annual growth rate of 8.7 percent. This gives the industry the fastest growth rate globally.

In 2012, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) rated Nollywood as the world's second largest film industry with its potential annual revenue of N522 billion; over 2,000 movies produced per annum and a captive viewing audience of over 200 million across Africa and beyond.

The Head of Department of Theatre & Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Prof.

Emmanuel Dandaura, said that a recent British Council funded survey on the nation's creative industries in Lagos agrees that Nollywood, fashion, and music combined yields more than the extant annual revenue figures.

“During the reference period, 61 per cent of the total Gross Value Added (GVA) was derived from the Nollywood industry alone. The fashion and music industries contributed 26 and 13 per cent, respectively''.

The survey also indicates a steady rise in Nollywood's contribution to the GVA from 2010 to date.

“Nollywood has come of age but the only empirical evidence on the economic performance of the industry was the mention it got in the upsurge of the nation's GDP which made Nigeria to be the number one economy on the continent.

“But there should be argument from the idea of mere economic 'potential' to more concrete, measurable economic contributions,” he said.

Dandaura, however, said that one major challenge that has threatened the rapid development of Nollywood over the years has been the mismatch between scholarship and practice.

“There is an appreciable improvement in the quality of productions from 1992 to date; scholarship appears to be lagging behind.

“The results of the few serious studies conducted on the industry so far are inaccessible.

“The inaccessibility is either because the studies are published abroad or tucked away gathering dust on the library shelves of many universities in Nigeria,” the don said.

He argues that history has shown that creative works, which are not documented or interrogated by the knowledgeable, could be forgotten sooner than later.

“Nollywood lived longer by interrogating its products and activities of its players in scholarly publications.”

The Director General, National Institute of Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr Barclays Ayakoroma, says there is need to seriously handle the evolution, development and thematic preoccupation of Nollywood movies, particularly in the present day.

The author in his book, “Trends in Nollywood”, says that the book was written to give some level of permanence to the happenings in the Nigerian film industry.

“Its historical perspective, the unfavourable economic and social climate that saw the decline of locally produced television soap opera and prohibitive costs of producing Nigerian movies on celluloid.

“Nollywood is marking its 22nd year of existence but its problem has remained technical, artistic lapses here and there which the stakeholders have not got right,'' he said.

Ayakoroma notes that from 1992 to the present, a lot had changed in the industry, adding, that “we can see that government is becoming interested in the industry”.

“So, we will say that there is a whole lot of difference between what we knew as Nollywood three decades ago and now.

“We need platforms that are created for practitioners to benefit from training programmes, with my present book, people will be better informed.

He agrees with Professor Dandaura that there is need to build the capacity of artistes in the industry, stressing that versatility will eventually come in.

“Once anybody is versatile in cinematography, production designs, costumes and others, of course, they will now bring in a lot to bear on the industry. The technical department will also improve,” he said.

He, however, said that the harsh policies of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in the 80s, also provided Nollywood its first crop of “discontented'' independent television producers and directors who thrived in the video format, a viable alternative.

The marriage between these television producers/directors and some adventurous traders has given birth to Nollywood, which has today become a commercial success.

The industry offers Nigeria's teeming youths alternative employment, either as actors, crew members or distribution and marketing players, and has become the nation's accidental “cultural diplomatic tool''.

Ayakoroma said that quality movies digestible information on prevailing political, socio-economic, technological and ideological contexts is within which the movies are produced.

“Some of these are the cross over television directors and producers; the metamorphoses of some executive producers into producers and directors to cut costs, lopsided gender representation.

“The dominance of piracy, stereotyping and type-casting, bandwagon effect in terms of production approaches and its concomitant cultural misrepresentations are its bane.

“The weak ideological foundation of the industry, the overwhelming influence of the Igbo traders turned executive producers on the creativity freedom of the movie directors are to be addressed.

“The impact of the crave for quick profit on the choice of some genres considered more cost effective as against the epic genre which requires more financial investments are the problems of the films' sector also,” the director-general said.

He was quick to add that Nollywood has shown the traditional concept of servant-leaders which is fast becoming extinct in contemporary Nigerian polity.

Ayakorama advises that for Nigeria to break away from its doldrums of development, Nigerian films ought to move toward greater functionality than entertainment.

“Sadly, the mercantile focus of the Nollywood industry as at today has made this option rather unattractive to the average producers.

“The role of the traders turned producers/directors in the Nollywood industry has become akin to the stifling role for practitioners to seek a break from their strangulation.

“This is important, as the industry has now grown beyond the capacity of these untrained interlopers.

“There is an urgent need for comprehensive mapping of the Nollywood industry to establish its actual composition, character, size and net contributions to the Nigerian economy,” he said.

He notes that such will correct the current disconnect between the sector and the Organised Private Sector (OPS).

Any investment in the sector is classified as high risk; thereby denying Nollywood the needed support from the major capital markets or the OPS.

The involvement of these major financiers is one way to free the industry from the strangulation it faces in the hands of the electrical/electronic traders who are its core investors to date.

The Chief Executive Officer of Adams Paul Production Company (APPC), Paul Adams, says that government would always have to work with individuals to be able to bring about change in the society.

“Change is something I have passion for, positive change in the society is needed and it is through movies that we can do that.

“To move forward, we need to produce good movies that will sell the country to the world.

“We should be able to create awareness, so that government and individuals, companies and organisations, can sponsor some of these enlightenment programmes,” he said.

The veteran actor notes that artistes and companies should work together to showcase these efforts in helping to sanitise the country.

“It is about teaching our people how to be decent and moralistic. Youths need to be enlightened about these things and know that it is bad and that hard work pays”.

From the foregoing, Nollywood has made giant strides in the growth of the industry but still has to grapple with structural challenges which if resolved would place the industry in its
rightful place in the movie world.

Ifeajuna writes for NAN

Nkiru Ifeajuna

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