Recently, a veteran Nollywood thespian, Kanayo O Kanayo (KOK) took to his social media handle to speak out against what he termed poor costume sense by Nollywood producers. He decried how movie producers sacrifice realistic costuming on the altars of getting better pictures, fingering it as one of the reasons Nollywood movies have not been able to break even financially like the Nigerian music industry.
A critical analysis of his obviously experience- based observation has shown that indeed KOK has a good point here deserving the attention of Nollywood stakeholders. We cannot continue tolerating mediocrity and expect the spirit of the society to reward us like our brothers in the music industry, who have greatly evolved and carved a niche for themselves.
Indeed, it is crystal clear to even the blind that the Nigerian music industry has since its inception raised her standard so high both in sound production and music video production that presently, it takes a generous combination of genius and smart work to break even in the music industry.
So, the first lesson, which is probably the most important one, Nollywood can learn from the music industry is the need to insist on zero tolerance for mediocrity. Perfection. Every artiste will tell you that the most difficult aspect of his craft is mastering the sound. Several hands are usually engaged to ensure that every decibel of sound that make up the music track about to be released is perfect. It usually does not matter how much money it takes.
The same rule goes for their music videos. In the early days of David Adeleke (Davido), we heard about the time when he did several videos for one particular song; all in search of perfection. It did not matter to him how much money and time it cost him. Recently, it was even claimed that he did a music video with over 100 million Naira. Mind blowing, right? This was for a video of less than 5 minutes. Now, tell me one Nollywood movie whose production was up to 50 million Naira.
The Nollywood industry needs to understand that it is not about how much but how well. We are not contesting with any country over how many movies we make in a year. We need to start emphasizing quality over quantity. We need to stop rushing production and start taking our time to ensure our end products come out just right.
Take for instance, the movie, Shanty Town. Great movie and I am sure more work was put into its production than you would find in our regular Nollywood home videos. So, imagine my disappointment when, in one of the last scenes in the movie, the character of our own Ini Edo made a blunder that was so obvious and marred the beauty of the movie. When she confronted the chief villain of Shanty Town, she said, “…you are under arrest for MULTITUDE charges…” when she should have said “…MULTIPLE charges…” And in the subtitle, it was written as ‘multiple.’
Now, you would not find this kind of blunder in a music video of similar status. Never. The exactitude of the directors of Nigerian music is yet to be equaled by their counterparts in Nollywood. This blunder must have been because some movie director felt, “well, it does not matter. This is the take we will use. We cannot afford to take the scene again.”
Just like Kanayo O Kanayo alluded, slip ups like this are the reason those in the music industry are cashing out while Nollywood is still grappling to get her own share of the market.
Another salient lesson we can learn from the music industry is originality. We still find our Nollywood movies trying to imitate Hollywood movies. Kanayo rightly noted that one of the reasons Nigeria Music industry won over the hearts of other nationals was because they sold Nigerian culture and sounds to them instead of imitating theirs. You cannot sell snow to the Eskimos. If our movies continue to remind the viewers of certain Hollywood movies, we are still not doing it right.
You cannot listen to any Wizkid’s song or Odumodu Black’s song and you are reminded of any song by a foreigner. Even when the music artistes do a rehash of certain foreign songs, they ensure they own the song. You might turn around to even like their version better than the original.
We still cannot say the same thing about our Nollywood movies. When we copy Hollywood stories, we do a watered down job. For instance; see Sin City (a Hollywood movie) and then see Shanty Town (a Nollywood version). The need for originality in the creative industry cannot be over emphasized. You find our people forming foreign accents in Nollywood movies. Who are you trying to impress? You find actors acting a bedroom scene while fully dressed with make-ups and all. How stupid can stupid be? We cannot break even without loving and projecting those cultures, mannerisms and traditions peculiar to us as Nigerians. It is our originality that makes us and our art unique and interesting to other people. Our music industry has proven this already with our Afrobeat sound. Let us borrow a leaf from this in our Nollywood acts.
By O’star Eze