Entertainment, Interviews

Top producers on how to make award-winning movies (3)

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PRODUCING an award winning movie is no child’s play. A lot of factors are to be considered your budget, the cast, location, costumes and a whole lot.

We spoke with three award winning producers on how to make a movie that can clinch an award.


‘Story telling is a business, so try and pitch the story to diverse people’ -OMONI OBOLI,  actress and movie producer

What are the ingredients of producing an award winning story?

1-Fullscreen capture 11252015 105721 AMA story is just a story. To make it into an award winning one would need, first, an understanding or knowledge of structures in plotting stories. There are internationally accepted standards, so learn them. Don’t try to start by writing in your own style before you learn what is already obtainable out there. When you have grasped what is the existing structure, you can then use that as a template to create your own style. Before you start concocting a story, several things must be understood; who is your audience, because you can’t always tell that story that resonates globally, so learn to tell it from a perspective that gives the story relevance to your target audience. Is the story sellable? Storytelling is a business, so try and pitch the story to diverse people, male and female, in your story’s demographic target, because you don’t want to produce or sell a story that only interests you.

Keep the story simple. Don’t try to tell too many stories in one story. And listen to criticisms. It helps you build the whole picture because everyone’s affirmation or disapproval helps to give life to that single story.

In story telling, there is a skill set that can be learned, but the real ingredient has a lot to do with your innate talent. Some people are just gifted in telling stories. Two people can tell the same story but only the one with the talent will be applauded.

What are the challenges of producing an award winning movie?

Producing an award winning movie is a mixture of learned skills, talent, ability to manage people and resources, with an understanding of time management. It’s not an easy job! It’s a labour of love; you must love what you’re doing before you can make these movies. You must have an eye for excellence to demand it of others, so that everyone who is working on my project has to walk in line with my own pace as I lead them to the finishing line. If you do not understand people, you will have a disjointed production.

If you do not understand resource and time management, you will run over budget and make a loss long before you finish the production. You also cannot give what you don’t have, so learn what your strengths and weaknesses are so that you can look for others who can compliment your efforts and fill up those gaps in areas that you’re unable to perform optimally. Don’t be proud or selfish to let go of areas you feel are too sensitive when you know you don’t have the skill set to handle it. The biggest challenge though is managing people so they don’t waste your resources and time.

How capital intensive is an award winning movie?

I can’t put a cost to the financial requirements for an award winning movie. It is largely dependent on the creative competence of those you have chosen to make your movie; the cast and the crew. As Nigerians say, Soup wey sweet, na beta money kill am. You want the best, you pay for the best. In the converse, if you do not want to run over a certain budget due to obvious financial constraints, then you have to spend some quality time in your preproduction, dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s. This saves you a lot of money during principal photography, because you were able to work only with what you needed and shot the scenes that were absolutely relevant to your movie.

The long and short of it is that award winning movies are expensive to make generally, but if you’re diligent enough and your story is not a big one, you can still win the award with a small budget.

Do you always recoup the money invested in a movie?

I don’t know about everyone, but so far, I do. We can’t all recoup our investments. Movie making is business, and like every other business out there, we’re not immune to losses. You might make a beautiful movie, only to find out that the world has moved on from that story at the time of your proposed release, so your story becomes irrelevant, or your story isn’t just interesting at all to most people. You win some, you lose some. That’s why as filmmakers we must learn to listen and pay attention to: the customers and potential ones to know what stories and quality makes them tick. And learning the business of film production, so we don’t end up being cheated and run out of the movie business altogether.


‘As a producer, your job is to give your movie a chance to recoup’

-CHINAZA ONUZO, movie producer

1-5aaWhat are the ingredients in producing an award winning story?

I think the focus shouldn’t be on trying to win award, but on making the best film you possibly can. The ingredients necessary for making a good film is to focus on making the script as good as possible, and assembling the cast and crew that can successfully translate the script from the page to the screen.

What are the challenges?

Writing a good script is hard and takes dedication. The screenwriter needs to be focused and able to rewrite the script until it is production ready. Nollywood movies are low budget, compared to our foreign counterparts, so the production also needs to be creative in order to get the best out of the money that we spend.

How capital intensive is an award winning movie?

There isn’t really a definite figure for this, but it is true that the more money you have to make a film the easier it is. However, there is a type of creativity that can come from having very little money. So you want enough money to achieve your vision, but not too much money that would make you complacent.

Do you always recoup the money invested in a movie?

As a producer, your job is to give your movie a chance to recoup, which means that you have to budget smartly and not spend more money than you can recover. However, once you have done that, the rest of it is in the hands of the audience. You make the best film you can, and hope the audience embraces it. Once both of those things happen, you will no doubt recoup your money.


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