Some say it’s evolution, others said it’s changed while a tiny few hold that it doesn’t even exist but the fact is Nollywood is not what it was a few years ago, they’ve come a long way and made significant progress since overtime.
The phrase, “Old Nollywood and new Nollywood” according to Veteran actor Chinedu Ikedieze was coined by overzealous GenZ, to show superiority or emphasis differences. While this might be true, a very obvious difference exists between the Nollywood movies we have today and the former. Ranging from storyline to acting, and every part that counts, significant progress has been made within the Nollywood space.
Nollywood which is the Nigerian film industry has experienced exponential growth since it became a term in 2002. A short ride down the road of history shows that Nollywood movies have gone through 4 stages, the colonial era, Golden era, video films era and the new Nollywood film era each having their uniqueness and a significant difference from others. The Nollywood industry is broad and surrounded with many stories of its evolution. In today’s article, we will be exploring parts of Nollywood that depict a clear difference between the film industry then and now. Living in Bondage set the pace for the beginning and breakthrough for home videos in 1992 and a few years later, The wedding party is rewriting the story and raising the standard with impeccable movie quality and a unique storyline. Differences between old and new Nollywood can be seen in:
1.) Storytelling: The Nigerian Cinema industry was known to give out irrelevant and shallow stories, nothing in-depth or relatable, only superficial and frothy storylines which makes for poor scripting and acting which in the long run birthed disinterest amongst Nigerians for Nollywood movies. No one was willing to spend money and sit in a cinema to watch a poor unrealistic script. Today, the reverse is the case as Nigerians are not only willing to spend the money, we are also anticipating the release of Nigerian movies as it has proven to be better with improved storyline and more realistic plays.
2. Production Quality: While we can easily chalk this up to advancements in technology, it extends beyond this. Today, Nollywood invests good money and time in advanced filming equipment and technical expertise, it goes extra by ensuring the sound and Foley is better putting them miles away from the almost blurry pictures we once produced. This improved quality has made the Nollywood movie industry qualify at international level and to confidently submit their movies for film festivals.
3. Profitability: Veteran Actor Norbert Young said in an interview “Nollywood is a lot more profitable today compared to how it was then.” Today, one can live off from being an actor and this was not plausible or possible then because of the meager pay they were being paid. Profitability is possible in present day Nollywood thanks to increased funding and support from the audience and investors alike.
4. Distribution/ publicity: old Nollywood movies were released through video tapes and home videos with little publicity done across platforms. With the introduction of streaming platforms and partnerships between platforms like Netflix and Amazon prime, it’s easier to put out movies and more convenient for Nigerians to access and watch it.
Increased social media platforms make for more publicity. Actors, producers and directors alike all optimizing and properly managing their social platforms brings about more awareness and creates anticipation for whichever movie they are about to release.
5. Themes of the Movie: this is one of the most obvious changes that clearly differentiate old Nollywood from new Nollywood. We moved from the traditional African themes like family, religion, superstitions, culture, etc and are today exploring contemporary issues affecting present Nigerians like justice, politics, etc. This shift in theme makes it all the more interesting, interacting and relative to the majority of Nigerians.
In conclusion, we can say old Nollywood paved the way for new Nollywood to truly stand out and with the advent of technology, trends and social media it becomes easy for producers to see what sits well with Nigerians and Nigerians on the other hand knows what to expect. In the past 10 years, a significant increase/boost has happened in Nollywood thanks to improvements and learnings within the Nollywood sector. While we still have a long journey ahead, it’s satisfying to see we’ve come a long way.