One of the issues Nollywood movie critics keep coming back to is the seeming over recycling of known screen faces in Nollywood movies. Over the years, it has been the practice that for one to get a good review of their movies, they would need to pay extra for known screen faces to feature in their movie production.
In fact, back in the days, and it may still be the case today, it is the faces that show up on a film’s photo art (also referred to as poster) that determined how interesting and worthy of our viewer time it appeared to be. And for this reason, while wannabe screen faces are usually not paid to act, and most times even pay in cash and/or kind to act, known screen faces receive fat pays and other VIP benefits to act.
The reason given for this wide contrast between the welfare of upcoming thespians and Nollywood stars is that while one does not have any impact on the marketing of the movie, the other does.
But is that reason enough to recycle the same people for decades on end for over eighty per cent of our home videos? Can we say that it is justified to give so called ‘super stars’ of the film industry the air of divinity and sacred cow status they enjoy in Nollywood today?
I put it to you that it is this practice that has led to the inability of our Nollywood movies to traverse from being predominantly mediocre to assuming the professional status it deserves.
You find that these demigod of Nollywood stars who have been made to believe they are indispensable in film productions abuse their powers during production. They are reportedly very difficult to manage and many times, they are the reason for certain flaws detected after certain movies have been released.
Take for instance the blunders made by Ini Edo in the movie Shanty Town. I believe if she had not been deified and assumed infallible, she should have been made to retake some of the lines she took at certain critical moments of the film.
Another good instance were the blunders made by Kate Henshaw in the movie Blood Sisters. I was not part of the production crew, nor was I there during the production, but I can bet you, she must have been difficult to manage or she would have been made to retake some of her lines which she made a mess of.
This is why I love what more recent movie producers and directors are doing today, whereby they try to make the scripts and every other part of the production top notch while they work with up and coming thespians to make movies that still make waves at the box office.
It is also the reason I give thanks for the gift of social media which has made being a ‘screen face’ and a ‘star’ a lot easier. All you just need these days to be known and ultimately recommended for movie roles is to be consistently pushing out clips of yourself creating content. This can be done with just your mobile phone and a few software applications.
The likes of Mr Macaroni, Broda Shaggi would not have been considered for lead roles in block buster movies if not for their social media presence.
Gone are the days when you need to lick the butts of movie producers to feature in movies regularly so you would attain the status of being a ‘screen face’ and thereby attain the position to negotiate whether and what you get paid for movie roles in the Nigerian film industry.
Yet, it appears these Nollywood stars are still being recycled too much. This is probably why they still enjoy the level of social media hype they are getting. And this is most likely why it is somewhat difficult to get them to improve on their art as they are made to feel they have arrived in acting and do not need to improve.
And so we get those shitty, embarrassing performances from them. We have raised them on such high pedestals that we have made it almost impossible for them to lead decent lives. Their marriages are crashing, their social lives are in a mess and many of them are stuck in one debilitating habit or the other.
The emphasis in the Nollywood industry should now be on script writers and script writing. We need better stories and better artistic directors. We need better film schools that will churn out better movie actors and actresses. We have not started telling our stories well enough. We still depend on collaborations from Hollywood and foreign outfits like Netflix to make decent movies. We still depend too much on featuring Nollywood stars in our film productions. We can do better.
By O’star Eze