Lessons ‘New Nollywood’ should take from their older colleagues
In Nollywood, there seems to have been a rebirth.
This rebirth has been credited for the emergence of fresher faces, better technology and an entirely different way of telling mostly unnecessary foreign stories.
However, how much of this renaissance has benefitted the rapidly growing Industry?
A little you say? Or maybe, just maybe, None.
Below are five things that the newly birthed Nollywood needs to learn and imbibe from the old one.
THE AFRICAN STORY
At the peak of old Nollywood’s reign, telling African stories were the essence of the Industry. Even though at the time, they had the tendency to be over flogged, their whiny soundtracks threatening to irritate, they duly reflected the lives of Nigerians in Nigeria.
For instance, we could all relate to a (ridiculously looking) cultist threatening a fellow student (albeit too old to be an undergraduate) because of his pretty girlfriend, we could relate to the rich trampling on the rights of the poor, we could relate to a man opting for money rituals to save his family from the pangs of hunger.
However, with stories that seem foreign ending up in the cinema these days, new Nollywood either seems to be too cool for the stories everyone can relate to or they have chosen to be a branch of Hollywood in Nollywood.
Whatever the case, our stories are fading, fast.
DELIVERANCE FROM THE CURSE OF NEW TECHNOLOGY
Taking a short trip down memory lane, Nollywood told great stories with the equipment it had.
Fast forward to present Nollywood, the obsession with advanced technology has somehow, steered the attention of the filmmakers in the wrong direction.
Technology is good, it improves the way through which the art is shown. We love technology.
Technology, however, does not function well in film if the stories and directions are failing.
If the burgeoning arm of Nollywood can merge the technology with great directions and good stories, then nothing, absolutely nothing can stop us.
DISCARDING UNTALENTED TALENTS
Never in the history of any film Industry has there been so many superficial, shallow and mediocre acts present at the same time.
Nollywood suddenly seems to be in dire need of rescue – an immediate help from the jaws of mediocrity, caused by the heavy presence of inferior actors, who never seem to attempt to better their craft.
Old Nollywood might have been written off my majority, but we cannot write off the fact that it handed us some of the best talents the Industry has ever witnessed.
Luckily for new Nollywood, some of those acts still exist.
TAKING NOLLYWOOD TO HOLLYWOOD
One of the producers of the box-office failure, Half Of A Yellow Sun, was quoted to have said the movie was not made for Nollywood.
Jeta Amata, who created some of the best stories we have seen here in Nigeria, recently had his new movie panned by critics in Hollywood, after which he sought quick help in the hands of Nigerians, who he had initially ‘abandoned’ as primary audience.
Quick maths: Nollywood is a NIGERIAN movie industry made up of Nigerians and watched by Nigerians mostly.
Nollywood story + Nigerian audience = guaranteed acceptance.
Nollywood story – Nigerian audience + stating subtly or publicly that the movie does not need Nigerian audience + opening first in countries outside Nigeria = guaranteed failure.
No red carpet event with wide Nigerian media coverage can fix that.
I didn’t even pass Maths in secondary school, but even I know this simple equation.
WANTING HARD TO BE ‘NEW NOLLYWOOD’
New Nollywood is new Nollywood’s own nemesis.
The Nollywood that birthed Chinyere Winfred, Joke Silva, Eucharia Anuobi, Kanayo O Kanayo and several other talents, did not strive to become anything other than what it already was.
However, this renaissance that is new Nollywood seems to be trying hard to get out of the shadow of what they term the wrong way of doing things.
One thing they seem to forget is the moment they stop being old Nollywood, the moment they stop being Nollywood. Because old Nollywood we can relate to, new Nollywood not so much.
In conclusion, when Time Magazine honoured Omotola as one of its most influential people in the world a few years back, it described Nollywood as ‘Tyler Perry meets Bollywood.’
As much as that might not have been a great description by Hollywood‘s standard, Nollywood does not care. We are unashamedly what we are and we would never try to be anything else, not even when Hollywood cringes.
And this, new Nollywood needs to know.