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How Nollywood Became World Second Largest Film Industry

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Nigeria’s film industry is huge, both in productivity and reach. But how did it get to this stage and what are its origins?
The term ‘Nollywood’ was coined by the New York Times journalist Norimitsu Onishi in 2002 when he observed film-making activity in Lagos, Nigeria. The term mirrors two of the most famous areas of film production: Hollywood in the US, and Bollywood in India’s Bombay. For some, Nollywood encapsulates the array of actors and actresses emerging from the film-making activity in Nigeria; for others, it refers to the collection of the thousands of movies that have been made there.
However, Nollywood is best understood as referring to the process of film-making in Nigeria, where the films are produced using any and all tools available, adequate or otherwise. This can mean creating movies in volatile and uncertain conditions, often with incredibly short turnaround times. Observing this seemingly impossible production environment is what inspired Norimitsu to coin the term ’Nollywood’, which really refers to ‘nothing wood’, i.e., creating something out of nothing, we have come from ‘nothing’ to all that the world acknowledges today.
The first operators in Nollywood created stories and scripts that fitted into what was being produced at the time, while supporting a business model that guaranteed profit. The early stories were united by popular themes such as love, marriage and conflicts with mothers-in-law. Film-makers produced clusters of movies based on those themes until the trend tapped out and a new one took its place. But the themes of love, betrayal, conflict, deception and triumph unite most of the stories.
Early Nollywood movies reflect the colourful culture, architecture and, in many cases, the relative affluence in our Nigerian societies, while remaining true to authentic, believable storytelling. Stories had to resonate with target audiences and be supported by a strong cast, usually with at least one popular figure. The films were often shot in residences and offices over the course of a few days, and in iconic vehicles, such as BMWs and Mercedes, which were hired for short-term use.
More recently, however, global recognition has brought about bigger budgets, with interest from institutional finance, and more mainstream productions. The producers of Half of a Yellow Sun, for example, raised most of their estimated GBP 4.2 million budget from local investors in Nigeria. This development has somewhat diluted the inventive, cutting-edge instincts of the early film-makers in Nollywood.
In the early days, movies like Living in Bondage,  Rattle snake, Violated, Glamour Girls, and Nneka the Pretty Serpent were financially very successful. In more recent times, movies like 30 Days in Atlanta, October 1, Ije, and The Meeting have also earned awards and critical acclaim. The jury is still out on the business success of these movies, as there are cries of rampant piracy. Though piracy was present in the early days of Nollywood, it was better handled then. Our main objective then was to be profitable, so we factored piracy into our profit calculations, as we didn’t have the resources to deal with piracy according to US or UK models.
Livingin Bondage provided imagery to a widely believed urban legend: human sacrifice for riches. Rattlesnake identified the strenuous path to success for a young man bearing great responsibilities early in his life, brought on by the loss of a parent and the oppression of extended family. Violated brought on the glamour of high society and the discrimination against the less fortunate, the hook being the triumph of love over these barriers. Glamour Girls had the benefit of iconic actors and elegant locations, telling a story of widely believed deception. 30 Days in Altlanta typified the increasing desire among film-makers to film abroad and alongside Hollywood talent.
Nollywood was unplanned – it sprang from the interplay of a few unique coincidences and circumstances.
Initially, it shared its audiences with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), equivalent to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the UK. Between 1970 and 1990, the NTA created and broadcast a rich slate of compelling television shows, including The Village Headmaster, Cock Crow at Dawn, Mirror in the Sun, Behind the Clouds, Supple Blues, Checkmate and Ripples.
The NTA was the sole broadcaster of media content back then. When NTA made a decision in 1990 to stop producing media content, it released its in-house talent – and, most importantly, its audiences to other operators. Nollywood’s talent came from actors, writers, directors and producers who cut their teeth in the NTA environment, and who had benefited from state-sponsored training, albeit for television production.
The role of technology is crucial to the story of Nollywood’s evolution. Video cassettes and video cassette recorders had gained wide popularity in Nigeria on the back of a high-spending civilian government.
Nigeria has long known about conventional film-making; however, a visionary young trader (Kenneth Nnebue) with a passion for films thought that combining the talent from the NTA with VHS (Video Home System) technology to meet the demand of Nigerians hungry for new entertainment was a good idea. The result was the straight-to-video release of Living in Bondage, a film whose commercial success effectively launched a whole film industry.
Alongside these events, digital technology was rapidly replacing audio- and videotape in both music and film industries around the world. This resulted in huge stockpiles of discarded VHS cassettes in vast warehouses all over Lagos and the south-east of Nigeria (Onitsha and Aba).
‘VHS cassettes were an inexpensive way to distribute straight-to-video movie releases.’
The rapid sales of Living in Bondage revealed a way to capitalise on the large numbers of unused VHS cassettes in storage, namely by using them as an inexpensive way to distribute straight-to-video movie releases. This business model became the primary way to finance the making of more movies.
Another critical development in Nollywood came as its films started to reach new audiences abroad. Prior to the mass production of movies in Nigeria, Africans and people of African descent had only been served by film or video produced by either Europeans or Americans.
Nollywood made it possible for Africans to view films made by fellow Africans on a huge scale for the first time. The movies dissolved a lot of the mutual suspicion and mistrust, and encouraged intra-African tourism, trade and engagement, as the films cast light on common traditions, habits and cultures across the continent. They cultivated a massive African audience as a result. To date, this has not changed and has led to several other African countries, e.g., Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa, getting involved in this kind of film production.
There is, however, a concern that many new film-makers are seeking validation and acceptance too eagerly from the mainstream global film industry. This raises questions about whether, by trying to emulate mainstream film production, they are sacrificing the advantages that have made Nollywood the second largest film industry in the world in the first place.

By: Charles Igwe
Igwe is CEO, Nollywood global media.

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Kizz Daniel Set To Drop Two  New Singles

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After kicking off 2024 on a strong note, Kizz Daniel is set to continue his fine form with the release of two new singles titled ‘Double’ and ‘Baby Sha’.
Kizz Daniel made this revelation on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, in a post of him and his wife in what seems like a video shoot for the new single ‘Baby Sha’.
The new singles were expected to be released yesterday, May 2024, and they will come off the back of the release of his hit-filled EP ‘Thankz Alot’.
Kizz Daniel has been in fine form in 2024 first releasing the Davido-assisted remix of his hit single ‘Twe Twe’ before sharing a 4 track EP that packed the hits ‘Showa’, ‘Too Busy To Be Bae,’ and ‘Sonner’.
The  Tide Entertainment reports that the award-winning sensation recently marked a high point in his career after a sold-out show at the OVO Wembley Arena in the UK where over 10,000 fans filled up the hall to see him perform his hit single.
Since revealing his marital status, Kizz Daniel’s wife has been a recurring figure in his promotional videos on social media.
Kizz Daniel’s new singles can be expected to convey the groovy signature that combines Indigenous elements with pop music and relatable writing that makes him a brilliant songwriter.

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‘I Was Told Playing Talking Drum Might Prevent Me From Having Kids-Ara The Drummer

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Famous talking drummer and the cultural ambassador of the Ooni of Ife, Aralola Olamuyiwa, simply known as Ara, has recalled how people tried to discourage her from playing the talking drum.
Ara, who is Africa’s first female talking drummer, disclosed that she was told that playing the talking drum might prevent her from having children but she broke the jinx.
”There are some drums females cannot play. I started with the traditional drums. But I evolved over the years. I played different instruments like bass guitar, keyboard, and set drums.
“But I wanted something different, so I started learning how to play the talking drum. People I asked to teach me were skeptical about teaching me because I am a woman. So I am self-taught.
“Although at some point, I was afraid. I was like, ‘what could happen to me?’ They were like, ‘you might not be able to have kids.’ It’s a traditional thing but I broke that jinx,” she said.

 

 

 

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Incompetence, Greed, Almighty Corruption – Charly Boy

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Nigerian singer and socialite Charly Boy has expressed his disapproval of the recent change of the Nigerian national anthem back to the original one.
Charly Boy slammed the change stressing that the national anthem was not a pressing problem for Nigerians.
“Misplaced Priorities, incompetence, greed and the almighty CORRUPTION can never be covered up by false propaganda. My people, What is our major challenge in this country, HUNGER or NATIONAL ANTHEM?”
Charly Boy’s followers took to the comment section, equally reacting to the recent change. A follower commented, “They don’t have bills in the house to sponsor. They can’t even recite the one we have today they want to go to learn the old one written by another man.” “The disconnect between the political rulers and the citizens is alarming,” said a concerned user. “WHICH WAY NIGERIA?” asked another person.
The Tide Entertainment reports that this comes after the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the legislation to change the national anthem from “Arise, O Compatriots” to “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.” Shortly after that, on May 29, 2024, President Tinubu signed the bill into law.
Lillian Jean Williams, a British expatriate who resided in Nigeria during its independence era, wrote the lyrics for “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” while Frances Berda composed the music. However “Arise O Compatriots” was written by Pa Benedict Odiase, a Nigerian composer, and it was adopted from 1978 until 2024.

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