One of the first Nollywood movies that actually caught my attention was a drama about a cheating wife. African movies weren’t really my thing back then, but I was at a friend’s house and I began to realize the interesting Nigerian content I had been missing out on. I thought, the movie was the perfect depiction of present day reality in a typical Nigerian marriage. Cheating spouses, “runs girls”and how almost everything is now about the money.
Speaking of money, it really became about the money when the movie ended before “the end” and credits began to roll just as the husband was about to walk into his wife in bed with their teenage house boy. I was so anxious to see what would happen next and the next thing I saw as the credits began roll was “Go and buy part 2 to see the remainder of this movie,” not in those exact words though. My reaction was, “Nollywood, seriously?” “This is a rip-off, is this even legal?” I asked my friend.
As I watched more Nollywood movies over time, I came to realize that it’s an old time Nollywood tradition to sell a mini-series as a movie and with a movie title. A typical Nollywood movie would be filled with minutes upon minutes of background sound (the whole industry uses thesame background sound for this) while a character is shown thinking, doing the laundry or even sleeping. If only these time-killing scenes were not in the movie, the whole story would have been told in a one-part movie, instead, they’ve managed to stretch it to 3 or 4 parts. Rip-off!
At the time, I was planning an African entertainment site which turned out to be launched as http://africamars.com a few years later. So walking home from my friend’s house that night, I started thinking to myself how much disk space would go to waste from the unnecessary parts in every Nollywood movie. The secret to streaming online video success is to keep it short and sweet,so as to save the viewers streaming time and bandwidth and also to save yourself money on server storage space. With all these in mind, I concluded that building a Nollywood TV startup would be too expensive and may even be destined to fail from the start. I thought online viewers would be bored and turned off because the online experience is totally different from the TV/video experience. Online viewers are impatient and every second of boredom is a chance for them to click away to the next site. I later found out that my assumptions were wrong and online users actually love Nollywood, but that’s another story.
Back home, I finally realized why most Nollywood movies were made almost thesame way. And the answer, “lack of creativity”. Yeah I said it, most of Nollywood lacks creativity. There is nothing wrong with selling 3 to 4 parts of a single movie title, but you really have to be creative so it doesn’t look like a series. You have to be creative with most especially the endings. Instead of cutting off part one in the middle of suspense, finish up the story and creatively revive the story to create part 2 so you could sell more dvd boxes and make more money ;). Look at and learn from how Hollywood blockbusters do their business. Look at Spider man, Lord of the rings, Hangover, Transformers and more, they all have good endings where everything ends and the title keeps coming back like the terminator. Also, not every title must have sequels.
In the long run, creativity in movie making and storylines would determine if Nollywood would actually become the truely global entertainment industry it’s been long anticipated to become, or it would actually end up looking just like another rip off industry tring to maximize some easy profits.