Nollywood – The Future of a Nigerian Blockbuster

Nollywood – The Future of a Nigerian Blockbuster

In this age of technological advancement and breathtaking man-made creations, a movie lover like myself cannot help but marvel with speechless dazzle at the height at which movies are marvelously created, first in Hollywood, and secondly in Indian Bollywood, all in varying unique proportions. But before I wet myself fully in today’s essential drift, which is the third ranked Nigeria’s Nollywood, I would willingly want to enumerate the marvelous distinctive qualities that makes Hollywood the best, Bollywood the second in line, and the sure possibilities of Nigeria’s Nollywood meeting a match if and only if it reflects on some obviously placed shortcomings far fetched in the line of time.

First of all we make a comparison with Hollywood movies, and worthy of note is the glaring credit that successful movies in Hollywood go with a powerful soundtrack produced by creative artists who fit into the movies richly with their songs. Take for instance successful films like “Lord of the Rings” and great college movies produced alongside in Hollywood. And this obvious spice to success also extends to Indian movies where the theme of love is always backed up by thrilling music performances between the love parties involved. Indeed it becomes their selling trademark where full revealing entertainment is presented to the always possible delight of the audience, owing to the fact that movies are strictly meant to entertain and make every imaginable fantasy a reality. But behold it is then the responsibility of the producer and director to make this possible even if it means going the extra mile to achieve this by adding a secret ingredient that appeals to the senses.

If for instance Nigerian producers at Nollywood grab a hold of this creative development and place a bit of a powerful tune or tunes to back up their movies, then massive success would be the case. But then, let me dive fully at the challenge here. It’s not as if Nollywood producers don’t make use of music in their movies. As a matter of fact they do, but the problem is that they often at times make use of boring songs created specifically for the movie. Many of them even go as far as including no songs in their movies, and make the storyline go on just like that.

It is worthy fact that Nigerian songs are some of the best produced in Africa, and these songs go as far as being danced all over Africa, and more so in cases where Nigerian artists feature even in Africa and abroad. But at the same time, it is a sad fact that most Nigerian producers at Nollywood don’t patronize their own artists by including their great soundtracks in their movies. Take for instance a song like “Malaria” featuring in a Nollywood movie having a striking theme of love. Indeed that movie would sell not just for the performances of the cast, but the appealing delight from the soundtrack. We also have good Nigerian artists that their songs can do a whole lot in promoting our cultural identity. Take for instance artists like Asa, T.Y Bello, Wande Coal, 2face, Wizkid, Ice Prince, D’banj, Da Prince, Omawumi, and numerous others, to mention but a few.

It is true that movie producers pay a certain amount to music artists for including their songs in their movies. But then this shouldn’t scare Nollywood producers at all, who are all profit bound; for a good investment always reap good dividends; and having a Nigerian soundtrack that wins the heart must surely make that movie an over and over must watch, doubling profit for Nollywood producers at the same time, and more so promoting the quality of Nigerian artists and our rich heritage.

So now, as we bounce further in the recommendations that could make Nollywood movies strike a sharp balance, let’s now go back to our tradition in full and the possibility of experiencing drama to its fullest. Gone are the days of theatre and theatrical performances that always do strike a bell. Indeed this ugly trend has affected Nollywood movies greatly. If we need to promote our culture, then we need true theatre, in form of a narration taking place by a narrator, at the beginning or through the film; a compulsory African soundtrack with a feel of nativity following the movie rhythmically; and most essentially the use of ancient traditional costumes reflecting times of old. For indeed if we go back in time and admire Yoruba cultural movies like “Sango” and the rest, we would agree that the success of these movies lied in the inclusion of these essential materials, and even more facilities borrowed from the rich warehouse of theatre.

And furthermore, we lay hands at the ugly trends that have become a sad tradition in Nollywood. If we pay a closer look at Hollywood movies and even that of Bollywood, we would find out that many great movies are told in full in one single part, capturing great actions vividly. But this is not so of Nollywood, where every film produced is dragged along to forcefully create an extra part. In short terms, it kills most of the movies with boredom. And more so, we should realize that it is not all the time that a movie should take an extra part. Only successful movies that have an elaborately entertaining storyline need take an extension for the purpose of yearning fans.

In addition to pitfalls, it has come to my notice that several Nollywood movies lack real suspense, whereby the storylines are always predictable. Either we find forbidden love stories where the parents involved are opposing the marriage and finally it happens, or we find movies where a second wife always brings evil to the family. Worse of all are the annoying storylines that lack a major focus. In other words, it’s as if no real script was ever written for the movie, and that the producers made it up as they go. This is very bad and shouldn’t be. Real movies take real suspense. It takes ingenuity and creative talent. It’s high time Nollywood producers take their movies seriously and write great scripts that win awards at the end of performance.

I am very aware that Nollywood directors and producers, as well as actors are currently undergoing some sort of specialized training, which I’m very happy about. At least that can help enforce a lot of skill and moving innovations in Nigerian movies. We should be unique in our own way, and should represent a reality focused on Nigeria, not Europe. It should depict Africa, not much Western lifestyle. You can’t pretend to show a police detective movie in Nigeria and use the word ‘cop’ which is all American; with an absurd cast claiming to be in an action movie that lacks real action. We need to see more movies having cool Nigerian soundtracks like “Holla at your boy”, “Oleku”, and many more. For indeed a few Nollywood producers that have made these trends possible are the only few who strike success with a strong balance at making Nollywood movies recognized for the entertaining thrills they do possess.

28 thoughts on “Nollywood – The Future of a Nigerian Blockbuster” by Dowell Oba (@dowell)

  1. Yeah, i agree with you.
    But it will take a lot to convince me to sit down and watch any thing made by Nollywood, even in the next ten years.

  2. @Kaycee Thats quite unpatriotic.

    1. @whizpoet, yeah, i have noticed you. Stop dogging.

    2. So to be a patriot, I have to watch nonsense?

      No wonder patriot rhymes with ‘idiot’…

  3. Abeg leave Kaycee jare. Nollywood only exploits Nigerians. They buy movies stretched to part 4, not up to 1hr per CD, with no suspense involved, the soundtrack and the plots are two different entites . Others advance, Nollywood deteriorates. I watch movies alot, Nollywood brings down the tempo of ecstasy I derive from movies. There’s no creativity, no market survey, nothing to learn. Gone are the days of their glory, now they are mockery to film production. Until I see a change I will patronize them. And I don’t think it’s happening anytime soon.

    1. But there are still few movies produced by talented Nigerian Film Directors that are worth the money

  4. @ablyguy, hehehe! Nollywood has refused to change and advance with the tide. It’s just so embarrassing, absolutely mockery to film production. Thanks for the vital input. I just pray they one day move with the tide.

  5. I don’t think the music and soundtrack has such a great impart as you are implying,the story line itself is affecting our image,the names of the films are terrible e.g scent of a woman,end of princess …., and the native doctors,babalawo,wicked step sister,wicked step mother, princess and prince is annoying.Not to talk of the way the females are dressing half naked.I met people from Niger,Gambia,and they all think Nigerians are wicked people and it is because of the films they have been watching on African Magic.

    1. duh! soundtrack of a movie has a totally great impact on d movie but hey im not about to compare great hollywood movies with nollywood(sadly i have to add that said nollywood isnt even a place) i think producers are too eager to sell a movie they completely loose the idea behind it. now d directors are d people i would just love to sink my critic nails into. they use two bloody weeks or more to direct a movie, they let the actors make bad sentences in their dialogues(im betting my ass dat there never really is a “script”)
      dont even get me started on the actors themselves cos that would just kill me
      the directors are not willing to widen their horizon and tap into creativity. every nigerian movie i hear about gives me d feeling of deja vu
      be patriotic and waste my time watching crap? no way! i once forced myself to watch a south african movie and sadly i actually enjoyed it and im not even talking about the one dat won an oscar few years ago
      loads of money being used to make naija movies that end up as total crap is just sad pipo! as for the movie titls, hmmmmmmmmmm lets not even begin that one (beyonce n rihanna? seriously?)
      im patiently waiting for the day the greatest african movie ever made will emerge and who knows get an oscar nomination? dreams have been known to come true after all katie holmes dreamed of marrying tom criuse wen she was little did she not?

      1. i meant greatest nigerian movie ever made

  6. Both the soundtracks and films are terrible.
    We have just about 10 good actors, the rest are jokes.

    1. @Kaycee, I agree we have limited good actors in Nollywood. Just so sad. I think we need to do a national audition for fresh talented actors. But corruption in Nollywood won’t let that happen. The actors use connection to become enlisted in Nollywood, and the producers are just too money conscious to hunt for fresh talents or encourage it.

  7. @Khadijah, I think the soundtrack can help in making the movies look cool, because right now most of them are just so local. And as pertains the plenty evil films, I agree it’s really doing damage and painting a bad picture of Nigeria. And majority of Nollywood movies always celebrate one culture which is the Igbo culture. Is it that it’s only Igbo producers that run Nollywood? We have over 400 cultures in this country according to historical survey, needing good portrayal in films. In short, since these Igbo producers are all one sided with their films, I think we need to invite foreign producers to do films for Nigerians, centering films on several areas, settings and encouraging aspects. There are vital stories needed to be captured in universities other than cultism which they always show…

  8. I’m honestly not interested in anything tagged ‘Nollywood’.

    Has anyone noticed that those really good movies that come out of Nigeria are ahrdly ever tagged ‘Nollywood’?

    1. @Seun, even Ghana movies that just started recently are more interesting and classy than Nollywood movies. When Nollywood are supposed to be improving with time, they’re deteriorating. They’ve succeeded in acting the same stories over and over again, with an only difference in their names, and it’s totally boring to movie viewers. I think it’s high time they try innovations like acting great appealing and exciting stories from Nigerian novels and plays, since they can’t write great scripts, and adding an excellent presentation to it like Hollywood does. They need to collaborate with international directors and meet the trend.

  9. @Dowell, you say celebrate Igbo culture. Nah, they abuse Igbo culture. I’m Igbo and I can tell u that those things they do there is not our culture. They misrepresent it.

    1. @Ablyguy, hmm, if that complaint can come from an Igbo, then I believe there’s something seriously wrong with Nollywood, and their producers. Misrepresenting their own culture… How terrible!

  10. Bøllýwóòð rémáìñ$ thè bé$t

  11. I feel u Mr. Dowell. Nice essay. Nollywood has a loooooooooooong way to go…….

  12. Bollywood is really gaining audience all over because their story-lines are reflective of core socio-related issues. Hardly do you get a Nollywood movie stirring intellectual debates on the matter it is acted on. There is this joke and I think it is most true; the joke is that you can predict what a Nollywood movie will be by observing its poster.

  13. You expressed quite some facts about Nollywood,I believe with time,it will get better.

  14. Er, make una take am easy on Nollywood o. This is one of the few entities in Naija that started with ordinary people saying, enough is enough, let us tell our own stories. Just like NaijaStories is trying to do here. I hear say they are responsible for employing a lot of Nigerians that would otherwise no get job.

    The first blow is always the roughest, like one wise person say. Trust me, the same jaundice eye when some of una dey take look Nollywood now, naim some “elites” dey take look NaijaStories. This site is great, but, common, the kind gun when we dey shoot here on some of the things we submit for publication, even Osama when don die never see am before.

    So make we no throway baby with bath water. Like hip hop in America, Nollywood started something our miseducated and thieving intellectual idiots in our ministeries couldn’t start. Do you know that na one person get up one day say, enough of Bollywood and Chinese movies dominating our culture? They decided to pick up the cam-corder, and make a Nigerian movie! It allowed Nigerians and the rest of the world to see certain aspects of contemporary Nigeria, somting you won’t see on CNN.

    As with everything, the hustlers moved in, co-opted and corrupted the process. Most of these hustling “producers” and “directors” are in Nollywood for the love of money and celebrity, not love of the concept or craft. And so you see a lot of rubbish masquerading as “film.”

    I tink that una get my picture (no pun intended). But here’s how you can suggest change that may take hold for Nollywood:

    Write a bam story, pick up a camcorder, convince your friends to join you and put their monies where their mouths are, and shoot a short or feature-length. Trust me, people in the industry know a gem when they see one. If your shoot get buzz and make money, watch out. The hustlers and Hollywood might just give you a call.

    Then you would’ve done something more powerful than criticism. You would’ve shown what you mean by good movie.

  15. @howyoudey, U r right, but I feel U r somewhat wrong. How old is NS? Compare that to Nollywood. NS is improving, irrespective of the ‘Bombs’; Nollywood just keeps finding new ways to enter d mud.

    Nollywood’s problem is a lack of efficient regulation. I was talking with a knowledgeable friend once, and she said one of the main reasons for the lack of originality in 9ja movies is the fact that U write a script and go looking for money. Then U show a prospective sponsor the script, and then they refuse, saying it is not good. Then they go and produce the ‘not good’ movie when U r gone.

    However, I daresay that one problem Nollywood has, just like 9ja Literature, is the single story. They keep on flogging the same horse, and if they have good stories, they make it whack with the actors and soundtrack n all. I remember back in d dayz when we had some great movies, and I know a few are trying hard to get some good movies out there anyway. Still no good script, no good soundtracks (which can raise additional money for the movie), no good directing and DAMMIT WHAT AM I DOING HERE???

  16. Nice article! You made your points lucidly with apt illustrations. Apart from a few grammatical blunders, it was great. Maybe it’s time we looked at the mediocre state of Nollywood from another viewpoint – any business which fails to realise profit, is often shut down. Not so? So if Nollywood is blossoming then I think we have to question the ‘taste’ of Nigerians and what they put their money on. Why should the producers change their tact if they are having high patronage? Those of us that question the standard of Nollywood are often dubbed as elitist snubs. All in all, as long as they have a flourishing market, things will never change!

  17. @Raymond & @Ife Watson, Merry belated Christmas and Happy New Year, my brother and sister.

    With due respect, I think both of you made some good points, but you also made my point:

    (@Raymond -Nollywood just keeps finding new ways to enter d mud):

    The race to the bottom, as exemplified by what comes out of today’s Nollywood, is driven mostly by the “hustlers” who have populated the business. If we were to go back to the first fare put out by Nollywood, one would see that even though they lacked a few things, the films had POTENTIAL. The filmmakers had a STORY to tell, and by God, they were going to tell it. This is called PASSION. But passion alone won’t take you to the top of the mountain. You need EXPERTISE. Meaning that it was left up to those coming behind to pick up the baton and push the quality button FORWARD.

    Nollywood is in a pickle because for the hustlers in it, the craft is a MEANS to their celebrity or money, as opposed to it being an END. If you write like writing is an END, you come up with your best stuff. But if you write like this writing thing is your ticket to fame and fortune, you come up short of your potential.

    (@Ife Watson -So if Nollywood is blossoming then I think we have to question the ‘taste’ of Nigerians and what they put their money on):

    Ife Watson, I will not totally blame naijas on this one. Where else would they go to see themselves in a movie? That naija buyer would buy that Nollywood film because nine times out of ten, he will see characters, language, and pictures of people, language and structures that look like what he knew while in Nigeria or Africa. This beats what he would ordinarily see in a Hollywood fare.

    The problem with Nollywood or any other movie enterprise that’s wobbly on its feet is the STORY. Trust me, if you write a COMPELLING STORY, you wouldn’t need any fancy music or special effects to keep interest or create a buzz. The Nigerian experience is so blessed with drama, sometimes you wonder why anyone would need fancy cars, guns, or any of that rubbish to tell the story.

    The trick is to WRITE that story. That’s where the work is, and the Nollywood hustlers have no time for that. They will continue to put out the same meatless stew (apologies to vegetarians), that pass as “movies.”

    Nigerians continue to buy Nollywood stuff because a good chunk of it springs from a hunger to see THEMSELVES in a movie or film. But this will not last forever. Sooner or later (Let’s pray sooner), they will want more. The guns, fancy cars, fancy homes, and posing (which passes for acting in Nollywood), will be viewed as crutches (for the lazy storytellers), than the must.

  18. howudey, thank u. He gave us a challenge, why don’t we come together here on naija stories and make a movie?
    A lot of truth has been said here. Lets call a spade a spade. Nollywood has a long way to go and I must say its hard and painful to sit down and watch a Nigerian movie and see all the things that went wrong that could have been better handled. As usual, corruption has eaten into the fabric of our society so much that ppl just want to make money with no care as to creating true art, one that shows our country in a better light. Heck, even my househelp from Togo thinks Nigerians are wicked people who are into witchcraft and wizardry, it took living with me to prove her wrong.

    As per the sound tracks, sometimes i think i’ve heard the same song in over 30 movies. they all just sound the same to me. We have great artists but u have to pay an artist in order to use his/her music in ur movie, I guess they are also running from that, saves cost.

    my people, lets trust that the winds of change will blow over. Soon enough the producers will stop trying to do it all and request for the help of trained screen writers and then our movies will get better.

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