Having been heavily handicapped in the past with rushed productions, weak writing and limited technology, Nollywood is steadily clawing its way from ‘mediocre’ and is on the path to great achievements. This is fostered by the emergence of certain game changers who have invested considerable time in improving content, level of acting, and production in its entirety. More so, this has given Nollywood a seat at the table amongst its global contemporaries or should I say ‘egbons’ (hopefully this year’s TIFF is just the tip of the iceberg).
Notable among the game changers in the industry is the incredible Niyi Akinmolayan. A man who started off as a diamond in a rough, but has spent the last few years getting polished and showing off the true beauty of his craft. Niyi gave Nigeria its first Sci-Fi movie; Kajola – yes it was horrendous and would have made lesser players quit, but the Kajola experience did not hinder Niyi’s drive and passion for his craft; it almost did, but thank God it didn’t.
It’s almost scary to think that movies like Falling, Out of Luck would not have been, and that ‘The Arbitration’ won’t have brought such class to Nollywood in 2016. But as the saying goes, ‘a gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man without trials’.
Following from Niyi’s success and the amazing feedback from fans and the industry, well…. also after realizing he had extra cash to spare in his account, he decided to take a step no one has ever taken in Nollywood. He decided to make what I call a ‘democratic film – a film by the audience, with the audience and for the audience’.
Mr. Akinmolayan put out a call for scripts from the general public. Any aspiring scriptwriter could submit, however, there were conditions to the setting of the story. With the submission of over a hundred scripts, a thorough review process had to be carried out to dwindle it down to twenty scripts. These were further scaled down to three which comprised of Abosi Ogba’s “Room 315, Okonkwo Stephen’s “The Salon” and Phoenix Ifeoma Ezendu’s “Pastorpreneur.
The three scripts were made available for public consumption and voting to help arrive at a ‘democratic decision’, with Abosi Ogba’s Room 315, a Psychological thriller winning the poll.
Once the script was selected, the democratic process continued…. Niyi asked aspiring actors to audition for roles in the script and opened up his doors to individuals who aspired to work on the crew during the film making process.
On the 5th of October, he also highlighted interesting news on his website about the progress of the ‘Room 315’ project. It’s remarkable how he ensures that his fans and the audience are often carried along in all his work affairs; from his visually impressive website, to his Instagram page, to his always updated facebook page. It’s quite rare to hear news about Niyi Akinmolayan from a source that is not him.
- A shoot date (October 22nd) has been set.
- Bimbo Manuel and Tina Mba are set to star as Dr. Stone and Edwina respectively.
- There would be a red carpet premiere of Room 315 in one of the Filmhouse Cinemas.
- Emmanuel K. Uduma of Mtv Shuga fame has volunteered to produce Room 315 while R2tv’s Patience Oluwafunmilayo is also volunteering as the Production Manager.
- Free workshops were held for actors who submitted audition tapes (whether selected or not), by the renowned acting coach Sunkanmi Adeboyo..
- To top it all, Taofeek Olanrewaju Tyson has offered his services for free as the Cinematographer on the project.
- Channels TV has agreed to be media partners on the project.
This may have started as a low budget charity project, but we envision it becoming a case study for quality low budget film making in Nollywood.
Unfortunately though, the Room 315 project has met with some controversy…. Poet/Writer/Media Personality/Activist Wana Udobang has accused the project of plagiarizing her monologue series Room 313. You can read the statements issued by both parties here. Hopefully, the matter is resolved amicably.
You can follow more on the project on Niyi’s Website and social media handles. We also promise to bring you updates as they happen.
Let’s leave you with these words from Mr. Akinmolayan, “I want to basically show Nollywood that we can work together if we commit to doing so”.
It is obviously no longer business as usual as Nollywood enters an era of initiatives and forward thinking. My fellow Nigerians, I urge you to jump on board and give Nollywood just as much support as you give their international counterparts. #Room315