Showing posts with label pirates. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pirates. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Untold Truth about Nollywood: Separating the fact from the fiction

Poster of Nollywood Babylon, a 2008 feature documentary film directed by Canadian filmakers Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal.The documentary has been described as an “electric vision of a modern African metropolis and a revealing look at the powerhouse that is Nigerian cinema — Nollywood.”

The Untold Truth about Nollywood: Separating the fact from the fiction

Presently the Nigerian movie industry popularly known as Nollywood is no longer the second largest movie industry in the world as reported by UNESCO in 2009. The UNESCO report was based on statistics of the quantity of home videos produced in Nigeria when Nollywood was at its peak in the late 1990s and early 2000s before rampant piracy and the economic downturn changed the fortunes of Nollywood and left most of the stakeholders in dire straits.

Genevieve Nnaji is the most popular Nollywood star

In fact, we can now count the movies produced in 2010 on our fingertips, because things have fallen apart and people are no longer at ease in Nollywood.
The worst hit have been the English speaking practitioners dominated by Igbos, but the more down-to-earth and better organized Yoruba practitioners have managed to weather the storm, while the other producers of videos in Edo, Hausa, Efik and Ibibio have been doing their best in spite of their own professional inadequacies.
There are those who are the Real McCoy of the Nigerian film industry like the foremost Nigerian filmmaker Dr. Ola Balogun, Tunde Kelani, Femi Lasode, the Adesanya brothers, Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Mildred Owoh,Tade Ogidan, Francis Onwuchie, The Amatas. Femi Odugbemi, Kunle Afolayan who is bearing the mantle of the legacy of his father Adeyemi Afolayan, aka “Ade Love”, Joe Brown, Didi Chika, Joe Brown, Lucky Onyekachi Ejim, Gugu Michaels, Faruk Lasaki, Chike Ibekwe, Mark Kusare, Kenneth Gyang and the new kids on the block Niyi Akinmolayan and Chineze Anyaene whose first features Kajola and Ijé The Journey who are outstanding indicators of the future of the Nigerian film industry. They often prefer to disassociate themselves from the popular videographers of Nollywood. The other Real McCoy can be found in the heart and soul of Nollywood, such as the accomplished Lancelot Imasuen, Teco Benson, the ambitious team of Emem Isong and Desmond Elliot and those in the same league with them who have been producing good movies in videos.

The troubles in Nollywood

“Nollywood habours lots of greedy producers.”
~ Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Sunday Punch, August 1, 2010.

Notable pioneers of Nollywood such as Ejike Asiegbu, Madu Chikwendu, Paul, Justus Esiri, Olu Jacobs, Prince Jide Kosoko, Pete Edochie, Glory Young, Ngozi Ezeonu, Joke Silva-Jacobs, Rachel Oniga, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Zeb Ejiro, Chico Ejiro, Kingsley Ogoro, Lancelot Imasuen, Teco Benson, Emem Isong, Shan George, Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Jim Iyke, Ramsey Noah, Riita Dominic and other members in the same League have been busy trying their best to rejuvenate the ingenuity of the heyday of Nollywood. But there are those who have resorted to dirty partisan politics contrary to professional ethics.

Home videos of Nollywood movies are sold on the street and often pirated

Yes, desperate times call for desperate measures, but going bonkers will only worsen the situation. Frustration often pushes people to acts of desperation in the struggle for survival or trying to catch up with the Joneses. The critical state of Nollywood is also bringing out the best and the worst characters of the principal practitioners and other stakeholders as shown by the petty squabbles in the guilds. The squabbles of the opposing camps and factions of those at loggerheads have left the troubled guilds in disarray and opportunists are fishing in the troubled waters.
One of them is fond of contesting for the bragging rights over celluloid filmmakers in Nigeria. He boasts that he has shot 18 celluloid films. But not a single one has ever qualified for screening at the Cannes Film Festival where other African filmmakers have proved their mettle competing and winning highly coveted laurels among the best in the world. Making dozens of substandard movies that are the best examples in mediocrity is nothing to brag about and talking bollocks from Lagos to Abuja. How many of the films have made the list of the best films by Africans? How many of them have won awards at major film festivals in the world? And now he is the chairman of an international film festival? I wonder why Nigerians like celebrating mediocrity. What a comedy of errors.

Many of them were taking sides in partisan politics as they supported the gubernatorial quest of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, the former governor of the apex bank and were disgraced when he lost. And now they have rushed to endorse President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to contest in the presidential election in 2011. Then he has promised to give $200 million to the entertainment industry after listening to the pleas of Mr. Ben Murray-Bruce at the 30th Anniversary of Silverbird Group on November 6, 2010. But a promise remains a promise until fulfilled.

What matters most is providing a proper infrastructure for the film industry, because presently there is none. We don’t even know if the practitioners pay taxes.

Azuh Amatus of the Daily Sun said there is no longer sanity in Nollywood, because all that has been bastardized.

Amatus is right, because the various guilds have no administrative polices comparable to best practices in more organized film industries like in South Africa and Egypt. The Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) simply collects a membership fee from anyone who claims to be an actor even if the person has never acted in any movie. Presently, the AGN is in disarray as two actors are fighting over the titular leadership of the guild. One of them who has a degree in engineering said he is more qualified than the rival who has only a diploma in theatre arts. The AGN is dominated and manipulated by the English speaking actors who are mostly from the Igbo tribe while the non-English speaking actors belong to another professional body. Membership of the professional body of the Yoruba actors is by apprenticeship. An apprentice pays more than N2, 000 (two thousand naira) for registration, but in most cases, the apprentices don’t get paid until after three years. There is no insurance or any gratuity. And they do not pay taxes on their various artistes fees from acting in the numerous movies churned out regularly.

There is nothing like an insurance policy in Nollywood. The practitioners and production companies are not insured. No insurance in case a studio is razed or an actor has an accident.

The Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) and the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) are functioning, but is it not troubling that a billion naira industry has no insurance and does not pay tax?

~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima,
Tuesday, August 10, 2010.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Our Music Is Dying Slowly, And Still Smiling 2

P Square, very popular Nigerian Hip-hop Singers who are twin brothers.


~ By Femi Akintunde-Johnson

Our Music Is Dying Slowly, And Still Smiling 2

My final line last week: “The Nigerian music industry is dying; and frankly, it will, or probably have to die patapata, before it can truly rise, and take its due position, in the light of things. Incidentally, the best hands to give it life, are the same starving it of the elixir for irreversible success – the young Nigerian artistes. How?”

Yes, piracy is bad for any intellectual work, especially if the product is mostly driven by profit (as it is with Nigerian popular music). All over the world, the fight against piracy is fought at frenetic pace, because the killer-disease is spreading faster than earlier thought. Nowadays, in the US, the sale of recorded CD’s is panting far behind the sales of blank CD’s. You can guess where CDs are going. Music executives are storming the courts to put legitimate e-music dispensers out of business so as to prolong near-certain extinction of the more than 150-year old American music industry. And that is America where piracy has gone absolutely and bizarrely digital, and which has a clear cut infrastructure. However, in Nigeria, the first big case involving a major pirate (an Alaba marketer) came up at the Federal High Court on the first day of this month! We routinely sweep hideouts of small-time Chinese and Hong-Kong CD multipliers masquerading as music and movie pirates. We treat copyright infringement and rights collection with childish naiveté in this climate. In such situation, only death will “do them part”.

Pirated CDs are sold on the street. Photo Credit: Medindia

But of even deadlier dimension is the mentality of young Nigerian artistes: his understanding of his role, and the appreciation of his artistic contribution to social realities. Many years ago, I wrote a series of articles that won the first entertainment reporting award at the Nigerian Media Merit Awards. It was entitled “Creative Rogues”. In the articles, I tried to juxtapose the musical arrangements of the leading lights of the 80’s and 90’s in Nigeria, alongside their foreign counterparts from whose works they literally lifted several lines and riffs without any attribution whatsoever. We basically called them what they were: creative ‘pirates’ of others’ creative nous. That was more than 15 years ago.

Today, the artistes are more brazen; more impatient and couldn’t care if an entire chorus line was lifted verbatim from “reigning” songs of their local or foreign counterparts. They just don’t care. And the fans, as it is now clear, appear not to be bothered. But therein lays the trap. You don’t need a seer to tell you that barefaced robbery, as it being churned out by starry-eyed characters that populate our studios and airwaves, will sooner or later collapse the music business into an economical cul-de-sac.

Apart from music beats sounding alike, and with fast disappearing wholesomeness in syncopation and timbre, the lyrical depth is thinning out rapidly. Now, we seem like a nation of unthinking jingoists and flippant abusers of our traditional mores on the flimsy excuse that our socio-economic realities have condemned us to this state. We fool ourselves that we reflect what is happening on the streets. We have become repeaters, and not creators. We sing complete nonsense, gibberish, and lazy repetitions that leave neutrals wondering how we got to this place.

It is such complete absence of care or self-restraint that gives light to a St. Janet. Why are we scandalized at her cheap, lust-filled “business model”, when we amusingly condoned and back-patted her forerunner, Abbas Akande Obesere (Omo Rapala) who strutted drunkenly and, I can assure you, profitably across the nation casting spells on devotees of his brand of minstrelsy? So, who can wager that St. Jezebel does not have a coterie of lewd-lappers savouring every rotten limerick trolling from her plucky bosom?

Yet, more dangerous is the professional attitude and work ethics of our latter day music magicians. More on that next week. or

(First published in Guardian on Sunday, February 14, 2010)