The year is 2013, and Nollywood as the Nigerian movie industry is known is celebrating 20years of its existence. To be honest I initially found myself asking the question, ‘how did they come about the 20years?
Is it 20years since the first Home Video was created?
Or is it 20 years since they decided to start calling our movie industry Nollywood? (I really doubt it’s this)
Or maybe its 20 years since they used a camera to shoot something, whether a TV program, movie, documentary etc…. (I also doubt it’s this)
I still don’t have an answer but I’m hoping that someone with answers will enlighten us after reading this.
OK, so I decided to do some research…….
Apparently we had been making movies and TV programmes in Nigeria since the 1960s but the high cost of production was frustrating movie makers….. However in 1992 the release of the film ‘Living in Bondage’ and its commercial success set the pace for our movie industry as we know it now.
Age, I believe has a large part to play in the development of any movie industry.
Take a look at Bollywood, the industry is celebrating its 100th year of existence! And they know this because they are celebrating the release of the first full length feature film in India, ‘Satyawadi Raja Harishchandra’ by Dadasaheb Phalke and have been tracking their progress since in terms of No of films made, awards won and revenue generated.
Hollywood has also probably been tracking the development of its movie industry since 1910 when ‘In Old California’ the first film shot in Hollywood was made, however the American movie industry was birthed before then……..
I think it would be nice to give you all a bit of film history at this point (note I said a bit):
Towards the late 1800s, camera technology was developed that enabled people capture motion on film. This was something major in the world as it led to the development of the first motion picture ever; The Horse in Motion (1878).
10 years later, the first home movie was made but even in the production of all the motion pictures, no one had made a feature film until 1906 when ‘The Story of the Kelly Gang’ was produced in Australia. (A feature film is one that exceeds at least 40 minutes depending on who’s defining it; some say 40, others say 80).
One thing that was lacking in all the movies produced during this period however was sound, hence the films of this era were called the Silent films (a couple of you may have watched 2011’s The Artist so you know what I mean); it wasn’t till about the 1930s that the first movie with sound was produced……. blah blah blah.
I could go on but I’ll stop; I just wanted to let you know that there’s history out there on film but a clear history for Nollywood may be hard to come across. I won’t be surprised if a large number of people in the industry also lack a comprehensive history of Nollywood, but I won’t speculate.
What I would like to share however is the result of a conversation I had with a couple of folks the other day while discussing Nollywood.
One of the discussants stated that the expectations of Nigerians from Nollywood was too much at the moment because the industry was yet to find a vision nor did it have a creative purpose when it was birthed.
He stated that Nollywood started out of the situation of the people in the country and not out of a need to birth creativity….Let me give you an analogy:
‘One day, the following conversation takes place amongst a group of friends, Peter, Gabriel, James, and Ola.
Peter: Omo, this work wey no dey don tire me o.
Gabriel: Guy, wetin you wan make we do na? As our papa no come get connections nko?
James: Well, wetin we fit do sef, Ola that your camera still dey work?
Ola: Ha, e still dey work o, I even use am film one fight for my street the other day.
James: Which of you fit write story? I get one guy wey like film like this and him talk se e wan direct, we fit give am chance.
Peter: Wetin we go need agin?
Gabriel: Fine girls!!! Work no dey everywhere. I sure sey we fit find fine girls who go wan act. I no mind make I play actor sha.
James: Ok, make we meet tomorrow start to put things together. We go need money o, so make all you guys find money come, I go find out how much everything go cost..’
And so was Nollywood birthed………
This may not be an accurate account of the birth of Nollywood or the Movie Entertainment sphere in Nigeria; it cannot be sef considering that it’s my script (so copyright laws apply! If you steal it, I will catch you). But I was surprised that a lot of people agreed with the notion that the above is probably very close to how Nollywood was birthed in our country.
Now, twenty years have passed and one might argue that since origins were not so well documented or progress adequately monitored, the Nigerian movie industry is still at best mediocre.
It may be the second when it comes to production of movies in the world only next to Bollywood but it still remains as if the above is still the normal when it comes to the reason people produce films.
This has made some certain individuals question the publicity, glamour and propaganda being put into celebrating an industry that so many perceive as mostly dull and ridiculous in its content……
As one person said, ‘what exactly is worth celebrating about Nollywood?’
I hope to have the participation of individuals in the industry as well as Nigerians out there like you as we delve into the Nollywood sphere but in this first post, I would like to ask this question……
As Nollywood celebrates 20 years how many of you would proudly say, ‘I do not watch Nigerian films?!’
To be continued……..