Film producers worldwide develop ideas and stories, obtain the necessary legal clearances, secure financing, engage writers, directors and actors, organise principal photography, and employ technicians as well as many other creative contributors. Producers are engaged in all stages of the creation of the film including development, financing, pre-production activities, principal photography, post-production activities as well as sales and marketing, and in many cases
also, distribution of the finished film. One simple short cut you might want to use when thinking about our profession is this one: the producer is the person who is always the first in a project and the last out. This is true managerially and, alas, it is all too often true financially, as the producer is generally the last person to see any money back from the exploitation of his/her films.
The film producer takes the first financial risk on a film project by spending money speculatively on story and script, in the
hope of attracting investors further downstream. It is also the producer’s job to coordinate together all the different financial, creative and technical contributors – the function can almost be compared to an octopus which has its arms reaching out in many different directions, engaged in many different activities.
Here in Nigeria, the booming of the ilm sector is recent. It is arguable that the Nollywood phenomenon is barely over
20 years old! However, what Nollywood stakeholders have achieved collectively is little short of extraordinary: in arguably two momentous decades, we have invented and grown from scratch, an entirely novel cultural and industrial reality. We create films that entertain our people at home, in our vast diaspora in the Northern Hemisphere, and amongst millions of our African neighbours. At the low-end, an informal economy in a low-cost/low-standard production model provides video-based entertainment at a price compatible with lower income, to the tune of well over 1,800 films annually.
At the high-end, our maturing filmmakers have already proven their ability to break out of this low-cost/straight-to-video
template. Looking back on the past few years, I am thinking for instance, about Obi Emelonye’s Last Flight To Abuja, the
highest grossing West African film of 2012, Kunle Afolayan’s ground-breaking supernatural drama The Figurine, his successful comedy Phone Swap and his latest, the whodunit October First, Tony Abulu’s Doctor Bello, shot partly in New York but very much a Nigerian film and Omoni Oboli’s debut comedy feature Being Mrs Elliot which had its world premiere at the Nollywood Week event in Paris, France earlier this month. And although it is currently not being issued a release certificate by the National Film and Video Censors’ Board who have concerns about its impact on our society, Biyi Bandele’s film version of Chimananda Ngozi Adichie’s best-selling novel Half Of A Yellow Sun, has already had a distinguished career
in the United States, the UK and other foreign markets, since its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September. This $8 million film is the most expensive ever shot in our country and it is a sign of Nigeria’s growing economic strength that its two executive producers – both Nigerians – raised over 80% of the budget from local investors.
For the policy makers out there who still doubt the strategic part my industry plays in national wealth creation, here’s something to reflect on: the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently introduced changes to its calculation of national GDP, which for the first time, encompasses the film and music sectors. According to NBS…
Written by: Alex Enyengho
Read the full article and interviews in Nolly Silver Screen (August 2014) here.