Nigeria’s Nollywood has grown more prolific than Hollywood or Bollywood

Bollywood-Hollywood

Most Nollywood movies are made in less than 10 days and cost about $25,000. AP Photo/ Sunday Alamba

HEATHER MURDOCK
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LAGOS, Nigeria — A 15-second drum roll and the title of the film, “Deceptive Heart,” comes crashing onto the screen in a groovy 1970s font.

Less than 10 minutes into the Nollywood movie, the heart of plot is revealed: A woman has two boyfriends and doesn’t know what to do.

The story moves as quickly as the film appears to have been shot. Some scenes are shaky, with cameras clearly in need of a tripod, and musical montages are often filled with pans of the same building.

Most Nollywood movies are made in less than 10 days and cost about $25,000.

Fueled by low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigeria’s film industry has grown by some estimates over the past 20-plus years into the most prolific on Earth, pushing out more movies a year than Hollywood in California or Bollywood in Mumbai, India.

Hollywood tends to portray Africa as an exotic land of deserts and giraffes, populated by huddling masses, according to Samuel Olatunje, a Nollywood publicist known in the business as “Big Sam.”

Nigerian movies are popular because they portray African people more accurately, Big Sam explains outside his single-room Lagos office. They explore African issues rarely touched on in Hollywood — magic, tribal loyalties, the struggle to modernize.

“Stories that you can relate to,” he says.

Ventures Africa business magazine says Nollywood knocks out 2,000 titles a year and is the third-largest earner in the movie world, after Bollywood and Hollywood. The $250-million industry employs more than a million people.

Artists say Nigeria’s bad infrastructure and chaotic legal system prevent them from making films that are as impressive in their quality as they are in quantity.

“You’ll find that we’re having to make do,” legendary Nollywood actor Olu Jacobs explains at an exclusive country club in Lagos.

Trained at Britain’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Jacobs says Nigerian artists often have the same artistic capacity as their Western counterparts, but not the same financial capacity. “We’re not happy because the finished product doesn’t have the finish that it should have,” he says.

Later that day, Jacob’s driver inches his car through grinding traffic in Lagos, the African megalopolis as chaotic and bustling as any Nollywood production scene. A young businessman in an SUV nearly cuts him off. The SUV driver’s eyes grow wide when he recognizes Jacobs, and he smiles like a child meeting Santa Claus. He lets the actor’s car pass in front.

Nollywood was born, so the story goes, when Kenneth Nnebue, a video storeowner, had too many blank tapes in the early 1990s. To find a use for them, he shot “Living in Bondage” with a single camera for video. The protagonist joins a secret cult and kills his wife in a ritual sacrifice that wins him enormous wealth but leaves him haunted. The movie was an instant hit, selling 500,000 copies.

But at the country club, Jacobs says modern Nollywood is no accident. When he returned to Nigeria from the London stage in the early 1980s, he, like many other artists, knew he could make successful movies at home.

“We all knew that we had a market,” he says. “When I grew up, cinemas were always filled up. Stage performances were all ways full. Why shouldn’t there be?”

The main problem for movie-makers, Jacobs says, is also the top complaint of almost every industry in Nigeria: not enough power. Less than half the population of Africa’s most populous country has access to government electricity, and even the wealthiest families deal with daily power cuts. Nigerian film producers pay a premium for fuel to run generators to keep the lights on and the equipment going.

Piracy also cuts into profits, Jacobs says. After a film is released, producers have only a few weeks before illegally burned copies undercut their sales. Pirated Nigerian DVDs cost no more than a dollar or two and are available at markets in even the farthest corners of Africa.

But these cheap DVDs have also helped the industry grow, making Nigerian movies wildly popular in Africa and among Africans overseas.

Last year, Nollywood ventured off the continent entirely to screen “Half of a Yellow Sun,” a movie about Nigeria’s 1960s civil war based on an award-winning novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, at film festivals Toronto, London and Los Angeles.

While it didn’t get rave reviews, the Hollywood Reporter called it an “epic-on-a-budget” that will continue to draw audiences. “Half of a Yellow Sun” had a budget of about $8 million, the largest in Nollywood history.

By comparison, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” based on a book by Suzanne Collins, had a budget of about $130 million and was one of the highest grossing Hollywood movies in 2013.

A week after the Los Angeles premiere of “Half of a Yellow Sun,” the cast and crew of a Nollywood soap opera, “Remember Me,” pack into a hot, borrowed apartment in Lagos. Director F. Olu Michaels secures a red film over a harsh white light with masking tape before calling out “Action!”

Then he silently drops to his hands and knees and crawls behind the cameraman to avoid casting shadows on the set.

After the shoot, as a generator rumbles just far enough away from the set to avoid being picked up by microphones, Michaels says Nollywood films are improving rapidly because of intense competition.

“The quality of what we bring out now is not what we brought out, even five years ago,” he says.

Still, he says, the industry has a long way to go before its actors and directors have a chance to make millions of dollars.

07:36ET 03-04-14

[+]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Readers Comments (0)

Comments are closed.

Featured

India-Canada

Indian women’s hockey team beats Canada 4-2 in Glasgow

IANS Glasgow – The Indian women’s hockey team won their Pool A opener against Canada 4-2 on the first day of action at the Commonwealth…
Continue Reading »

232-teeth tumour gum

Indian teen boy gets 232 teeth removed from “very rare” tumour in his jaw

VANCOUVER DESI A 17-year-old boy in India underwent a seven-hour long operation on Monday to have a whopping 232 teeth removed from a “very rare”…
Continue Reading »

Pakistan-U.S.

Family says teen pilot who crashed in ocean on around-the-world adventure prepared for risks

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS PLAINFIELD, Ind. — Haris Suleman knew that flying around the world carried risks. But like adventurers before him, the 17-year-old pilot from…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Surrey-weight lifter-Commonwealth Games-Glasgow

Surrey weightlifter Parm Phangura bound for Commonwealth Games

MICHAEL BOOTH SURREY NOW FLEETWOOD — 163+205=368. That stark equation scrawled in the top corner of a chalkboard means little to a casual observer, but…
Continue Reading »

BC man charged in Syria terrorism

Burnaby man accused of joining Islamist fighters in Syria (w/video)

DOUGLAS QUAN AND TIFFANY CRAWFORD POSTMEDIA NEWS A British Columbia man accused of taking up arms in Syria has become the first person to be…
Continue Reading »

Surrey-Gurdwara president-wife

Funeral set for wife of former Surrey Sikh temple president who died after alleged domestic assault

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI The funeral for Surrey wife and mother Narinder Singh Kalsi, who died in hospital after an alleged domestic-related incident, will take…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Greece

Tipsy British tourist asked to leave church after mistaking it for a disco

CEN AGENCY A tipsy British tourist had to be asked to leave a church in Crete where he started dancing after local kids told him…
Continue Reading »

BC Sikhs

Frustrated Port of Metro Vancouver truckers want government to push companies to comply with action plan

THE CANADIAN PRESS VANCOUVER — Drivers servicing the country’s largest port urged government on Monday to take swift action against trucking companies, which they say…
Continue Reading »

Rashida Samji

B.C. Securities Commission finds Vancouver woman who ran a Ponzi scheme committed $100 million fraud

ALMAS MEHERALLY VANCOUVER DESI VANCOUVER – A B.C. Securities Commission panel has found that a Vancouver woman and two companies she controlled committed a $100-million fraud….
Continue Reading »

Canada-Edmonton-stolen

Canada balks at returning Indian statue of a woman believed stolen from Khajuraho temple

DOUGLAS QUAN POSTMEDIA NEWS  India is trying to repatriate a “voluptuous” 12th-century statue of a woman with a parrot on her bare shoulder that somehow…
Continue Reading »

delays-problems-transit

TransLink says human error caused SkyTrain meltdown Monday

The SkyTrain power outage that stranded thousands of commuters Monday afternoon was caused by human error, according to TransLink. An experienced electrician was installing a…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Slam! The Tour  poster Horizdesi

Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone gear up for Bollywood extravaganzas in Vancouver, Toronto and the U.S.

IANS New Delhi – Superstar Shah Rukh Khan is ready to shake a leg with his fans in the US after a gap of 10…
Continue Reading »

Actress Alia Bhatt attends the Highway premiere during 64th Berlinale International Film Festival at Zoo Palast on February 13, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.Clemens Bilan/Getty Images

Alia Bhatt feels she’s too young to team up with Bollywood’s Khans

IANS Mumbai – Bollywood’s reigning Khans are in their late 40s and 21-year-old Alia Bhatt feels she needs to look more matured to look convincing…
Continue Reading »

Priyanka Chopra

If Hollywood has Hilary Swank, we have Priyanka Chopra: Bollywood filmmaker

IANS Mumbai – Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali compares Priyanka Chopra with “Million Dollar Baby” star Hilary Swank insisting that only “Barfi” star could pull of…
Continue Reading »