– Ace film-makers chart the way forward for industry
Nigeria’s motion picture industry, Nollywood is fast growing! It is becoming commonplace for the budget of movies to run into tens of millions of naira.
The question, however, is why do big budget movies not recoup the huge investments and what’s the way forward?
ENCOMIUM Weekly had a chat with some of Nollywood’s finest producers and they shared their insight.
Lawrence Onuzulike, producer
On his part, he felt piracy was a big hurdle. His words, “Piracy is the simple answer. Our distribution network is very bad. A lot of people are very wary of the industry, they are scared to invest because we don’t have good distributors.
“In Nigeria, when your movie sells 500,000 copies everyone claps for you, whereas the producer may not get money for up to 10,000 of it because of piracy. People will be calling you from as far as Tanzania, Uganda and Italy telling you that they’re watching your money, at the same time the marketer will be telling you the movie is not selling.
And if you go to his office, true to his word, you’ll see 100,000 copies of the movies piled up and packed in one place. Yet your movie is in every home you enter in Nigeria. It makes you wonder how come that’s possible. It’s piracy. While the original ones are packed in the office, the pirated ones are on the streets selling. This is one of the biggest concerns.
“These days it’s cinema, I make cinema movies. Nobody will tell you but most of the figures are inflated. So a movie that makes N6m, they’ll say it made N40m. They don’t pay taxes in Nigeria so anybody can claim anything. Assuming we do pay taxes, people will start saying the truth. A lot of things need to be done but there are some good movies that recoup and make profit.
Cinema is the best way to go but by the time you pay the owner of the cinema, the movie still comes back to almost nothing. The good thing about movies, much like music, is that overtime you can get your money as new avenues are opening up all the time. So over a period you can make back your money. I have some friends, like Chico Ejiro, who shot some movies in VHF as far back as 1992, when Africa Magic came out,
they converted the movies and sold to them; same thing with Iroko TV.
You can keep making good money from movies after a long time, it’s an investment. Even airlines now show Nigerian movies and they buy them. But whether it’s fast or slow, you’ll eventually recoup your money.”
Kunle Afolayan, Producer and director
The multi-talented thespian and producer believes film-makers should explore other platforms other than cinema and DVD sales. According to him, “If you don’t explore different distribution platforms and rely
solely on cinema in Nigeria, you can’t recoup your money. There are other distribution platforms you can subscribe to, especially outside Nigeria. There’s online, netflix, television.
If you have a very good film, you can sell to Africa Magic for as much as $50,000 to $100,000. There are other television stations outside of Nigeria you can sell to, there’s Iroko TV. You can sell rights to different platforms and make your money.
“If you are making a film and not looking for the best ways to maximize the distribution opportunities, I think you should allow other people handle the business side of things for you. If you’re just a filmmaker, then concentrate on making films and have other people handle the business side.
“Four years ago, we had less than 10 cinemas in Nigeria, today we have over 20. If Ije could gross N50 million in just say five cinemas five years ago, then imagine what a good film can gross now in over 20 cinemas.”
Ayo Makun, Producer
The comedian and producer, who made his production debut with comic flick, 30 Days in Atlanta shared his thoughts.
His words, “You can trace that to the way business is being perceived here. It’s a problem when you shoot a big budget movie and you don’t have enough cinemas to show it; and the sharing formula with the few cinemas around is not suitable for the producer. How do you then make your money?
“Those who invest in big budget movies look at the international market. And based on precedence and the perception of our movies that we do low budget movies that people cannot relate to, we need to convince people out there to pump more money.
“I think with the way things are going with the likes of 30 Days in Atlanta that is changing, we’re showing a better sense of direction.”
Speaking on the way forward, he added: “What we have to do is sell our products to investors who understand and believe that what we do is beyond just grabbing a camera and shooting anything that comes to our mind. We have to continue putting out quality well-researched work.
“Nobody believed in 30 Days in Atlanta, but now one or two persons are calling to see if they can invest in the next project. When we produce movies that attract that kind of attention, trust me the industry will go places.”
Muka Ray, producer
The actor and director thinks piracy is the major challenge, but he also believes proper promotion of movie will go along way.
He said, “How you handle the marketing of your movie forms a big part of whether you make money, people have to know about the movie. You have to go through the proper channels to market the movie, else you
won’t make recoup your money.
“Another challenge is piracy. Piracy is a big problem. If you give your film to cinemas, someone can steal it and pirate it from there. So, to make your money becomes very difficult.”
On what should be done, “We need government support, especially by fighting pirates. If we have that, we can make back our money.”