The Octagon Room: Welcome to the Octagon Room. Thank you for accepting our invitation. Let’s begin with some introductions before going into discussions. Can everyone let us know who they are, and share a bit about what they do?
Daniel: Hello, my name is Daniel Effiong. I’m a filmmaker & actor.
Baba: Hey everyone, my name is Baba Agba. I am a filmmaker and photographer.
Ijeoma: Hello my name is Ijeoma Aniebo. I’m an actor, TV presenter/producer, writer, model, PR and Brand consultant – All round entertainment busy body.
Soji: I’m Soji Ogunnaike, digital Content Producer and director. Founder and CEO of Rushing Tap.
The Octagon: Thanks everyone. Let’s kick off. Now the world’s second-largest film industry – ahead of Hollywood – in terms of the number of annual film productions (which roughly translates to 40 films per week, at an average cost of $40,000 per project), Nollywood has built itself into a $3Billion industry in just under two decades. It was a guerrilla film industry from the ground up: there are no studios, no sets, no structure at all in place. Financed by groups of individuals, movies are made as quickly and cheaply as possible, shooting on location on a shoestring budget.
Film maker and past president of ITPAN captures the current situation by saying “Two decades down the line, that pattern has not changed much, yet, there is so much expectation with regard to the economic potential of the industry. The pattern of production and distribution soon became overly driven by desperate moves for marginal profit, without a structured, systematic distribution framework that can be sustained and verified. Worse still, the major players in the industry have become fairly comfortable with the “success” of the industry; BUT the technology that brought about the breakthrough has moved on and frankly everyone seems to have been largely caught unawares. This in my humble opinion, is the crux of Nollywood’s underdevelopment.”
What in your opinion is the true state of nollywood? What are the key areas that need to progress to get it to truely compete with the leading movie industries?
Baba: I think the new numbers have Bollywood as the biggest and Nollywood second. We actually churn out more films than Hollywood.
Soji: Nollywood to me is a moniker that doesn’t really embody an industry. It seems like another “me too” badge. Let’s try to keep those inflated numbers in our pockets for a bit and focus on the economic health of the industry. Even if we produce more films than Bollywood, has that improved the health of the industry? Every industry can cook up fancy numbers based on a metric to woo investors. So number of films churned out aside, what’s the average ROI per feature film, serial drama or short film?
Ijeoma : Thank you. I was just about to ask where these figures came from.
Baba: The figures at this point are undeniable. The question is what do these figures translate to. And like you rightly point out, the health of the industry? What’s it’s state.
I think we first need to define what is Nollywood before we start comparisons. Is it a film industry, a home video industry or a content industry. As an average and based on when the studies are ($1=N160)
Ijeoma: In my experience, there is no industry. To do that, there must be specialisation and we are either by nature or by circumstance avoiding this progression.
Daniel: I think the model which started up as a home video venture and transformed into a multimillion dollar industry is hardly sustainable. The content consumer culture is changing and Nollywood must adapt with it.
Baba: Exactly. In my view Nollywood is a home video industry posturing as a Film/Cinema industry. And making that transition is where the problem is.
Soji: The consumer behaviour hasn’t changed much in my opinion. The masses still prefer to watch films at home, regardless of whether it’s on VCD, DVD or VOD. The tech just has to suit the consumers situation.
Baba: Consumer taste has tho. And That’s another different chapter.
Soji: More like Lagos consumer’s taste has changed. The highest target demo of the “core” Nollywood consumers is still our mummies and grandmas. Don’t even get it twisted. Hence why Africa Magic Yoruba and Epic are DSTVs highest watched channels. Now let’s get back to the fundamental basics of business. Create a product, identify the niche market and sell at a margin. The more transactions that occur in the industry the healthier the industry gets. Now what’s missing is an effective distribution model where the products get into the hands of the “paying” consumers in a seamless manner.
Ijeoma: The original divide of the country has now seeped into the industry. The cinema crowd, the Asaba movie crowd, the yoruba movie industry and then there is ‘Kaniwood’. A concept which I still don’t understand. Why do they have a different name? Are they a different industry? Calabar is trying to copy that and start their own ‘Caliwoood’. Do they also factor into the numbers for Nollywood?
Baba: Divides are normal. Just as Hollywood and Bollywood are just subjects of the national film/movie spaces in America and India.
Ijeoma: Possibly. But it does it affect them as much as it affects us, in that we haven’t made any true national stars since the Rita/Geneviev/Omotola era?
Daniel: Consumer culture has changed quite a bit from the days of VCDs & DVDs to digital media consumption…Cinemas…the Internet…the industry has grown beyond the shores of Idumota.
Baba: This is why I ask what is Nollywood. Until we define this we are just running around in circles. What is Nollywood? What does it want to be? We’re can it compete?
Soji: For the benefit of this discussion can we replace Nollywood with “the Nigerian motion picture industry” ? So will you say the industry is healthy?
Baba: That is still very vague, motion picture captures everything from tv, home video, digital content to cinema. And those are different industries, all with different consumers.
Soji: Not at all. Hollywood encompasses even TV, Advertising, Production. When we try to identify the market size of Hollywood, we include gear rental, which serves every facet of the industry including web series. When a Hollywood actor represented by the CAA get an endorsement deal by a brand, doesn’t that add to the transactions in Hollywood?