It is no longer news that Nollywood is the third largest film industry in the world. The success of Nollywood can be attributed to the collective and collaborative efforts of Nigerian entrepreneurs in the sector such as producers, editors, actors, other film production associated businesses and even pirates and the people for whom Nollywood creates.
This last group, the audience, cannot be left out of the success story. This writer believes they are important and should now be the main focus of the industry. Evidence shows that, beyond entertainment, the passion for creating, profit generation and general creation of content for public consumption purposes, Nollywood has the capability to contribute to national development. Having grown remarkably over the years, Nollywood has the potential to positively affect the country and filmmakers owe this duty to the people who helped build and are still instrumental to sustaining the industry.
Admittedly, the industry is still currently facing challenges such as lack of funds, bad infrastructure, lack of proper production equipment, bad scripting, the need to adapt to changing technology, etc. However, filmmakers must understand that the images they create, and the very art of filmmaking itself, can impact the social, economic, political and cultural fabrics of society. Realising this is an essential first step for industry stakeholders who will inspire and lead innovation towards national contribution. They need to go beyond the mere pursuit of profit and be at the forefront inspiring societal change through their works.
There is presently an evolution in the film industry that is permanently altering our cinema culture: video on demand (VOD), which makes creative content available to people all over the world. It presents an opportunity for filmmakers to showcase their movies to international audiences and gives the industry increasing global recognition. This in turn creates better revenues and provides more funds for better production. This is why we are now seeing several high quality and high budget movies leading the rise and rise of ‘the new Nollywood’ with producers like Tunde Kelani, Tade Ogidan, and others in the forefront.
These changes and increasing fortunes create the perfect opportunity for filmmakers to manage the various shortcomings of the growing film industry and contribute to national development. There are several possibilities for them to contribute (or continue to contribute) in any of the following categories:
1. Economic development
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Nollywood contributed about 2.3% to Nigeria`s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is expected to contribute about $1 billion dollars by 2020. This clearly demonstrates that the Filmmaking business in Nigeria is important to the Nigerian economy. Nollywood is reportedly the biggest employer of labour asides from government and agricultural sector, with hundreds of thousands of jobs in the film production and distribution chain. With adequate investment and continuous improvement, the film industry can exponentially increase its contribution to the economy in the near future.
2. Social development
Filmmaking can bring about social change in the society. Films have a unique capability to combine enlightenment with entertainment, enabling the citizenry to get important messages while being entertained. By being deliberate about images and messages, characterisation (gender roles for example) and infusing messages of nationalism, human positivity and general good, films can contribute greatly to social development.
It is clear that Nigeria’s social evolution requires urgent corrective and positive messaging for change, and filmmakers can play a role in this regard. As a creative writer once said “the creative artist has the attributes of a healer. He concocts. And if his concoction is efficacious, it heals the diseases of the society”. It is time to tone down messages of violence, nudity and general debauchery and substitute them with stories that promote peace, good neighbourliness, patriotism good governance, good parenting as well as respect for human dignity.
3. Cultural education and preservation
The preserving and propagation of culture is a very important for any society’s continuous existence and development. For a country like Nigeria, with diverse cultures and beliefs, it is even more important. Filmmakers have a role here: to create culturally appropriate movies that educate viewers while also serving as a store of culture. This includes promotion of films in local dialects.
Movies like this can be a big financial success as well. An example is Mo Abudu’s The Wedding Party which showed the glamour of a typical Nigerian wedding and ended up becoming the highest grossing Nigeria movie because many individuals could relate to it and this further helped it in. Similarly, the 1992 movie Living in Bondage was a major hit despite the actors speaking the Igbo language. Through this kind of deliberate filmmaking, our culture and identity can be well-preserved. No other person will be able to tell our stories better than we can.
4. Promotion of Tourism
Movies can help promote tourism, which in turn can boost any country’s GDP. A typical example is Hollywood and their depiction of America and the American Dream, which makes the average person want to visit and enjoy similar experiences. Nigerian filmmakers replicate this.
Some are already doing it with movies like Up North, a 2018 Nigerian film shot in Bauchi. The movie displays the beautiful scenery and cultures of Nigeria’s northern region in a way many never knew existed. We need more films like this, which show the beautiful side of the country as a means of promoting tourism.
5. Cultivation of a positive mindset
Movies themed around nationalism and patriotism will help educate viewers. Films that take viewers through the world of possibilities that good governance and law abiding citizens can attain will definitely cultivate a nationalistic and patriotic mindset in them. Movies can also make citizens more determined to be productive, more responsible to themselves and others around them, and more committed to the country as a whole.
At the end of it all, filmmaking is definitely a serious business/. However, filmmakers should, in addition to creating entertainment for profit, also lay create films for the greater good of all. It is time to realize that Nollywood, and indeed the entire filmmaking industry, is not just a dumping ground for “wanna be” celebrities.
Courtesy: Folasade Adu for Pulse.ng