#BounceExclusive: Nollywood Is Tough, Only The Smart Survive
For a film maker in 2017, the good news is Nollywood has enough space to let the movies fly, but the challenge is to find a way to distribute the ‘product’.
There are now many options outside cinema - a culture bug that has bitten both the millennials and everyone who knows anything about movies.
The platforms for film makers to show their movies inside and outside Africa keeps growing, so the distribution platforms are trying to catch up.
This piece of information is critical for film makers whose works might not make it to the big screens.
Abba Makama smiles alot now. His disappointment was turned into a blessing.
His film "Green White Green" was turned down from being shown in Filmhouse cinemas, because it was not ‘Box Office’ quality.
Abba was advised to take his film to festivals.
Now it has shown in film festivals in Canada, Sweden, UK and Germany, with a Netflix deal in the works-the smile has not left his face.
“‘Green White Green’ is a commercial success. We have done well at festivals, but we have also penned a lucrative deal with Netflix, and it's going to be on several international airlines.
"We are making our money back, and then some. So, there isn't just one distribution portal in the planet. There are several”
The rise of Nollywood movies showing in cinemas across the country has its down side, as other genre of movies outside comedy hardly make money.
Films with more serious themes like ‘76’ which touched on the assassination of late president, Murtala Mohammed, and ‘96 Days’ that told the story of Ebola’s ‘adventure’ in Nigeria were flops at the box office
The production for each film were top notch, and ‘76’ even won the best film at the 2017 African Magic Viewrs Choice Awards, but they were not funny.
Presently the top 3 movies that broke all the financial records at the cinemas are fit the category of rib crackers- "The Wedding Party" AY Makun's ’30 Days In Atlanta’ and ‘A trip To Jamaica’, with the 2017 comedy, 'Banana Island Ghost' being tipped to become the highest grossing film of the year.
This one-way traffic only confirms the need for film makers to find other avenues to distribute their films in Nigeria and to the rest of the world.
Abba understands that its all business.
"It's business, you know.They have spent billions of Naira setting up this infrastructure to make money back.To now say 'we are going to test with this art film.' It's business. I clearly understand where the powers that be are coming from."
Another film maker, Oluseyi Asurf, who 'survived' the 'Box Office' test at the cinema by sprinkling comedy in his movie 'Hakkunde' just wants cinemas to stop 'force feeding' Nigerians with comedy.
"As an exhibitor you have the power to change culture. If you say for instance in the first quarter of the year, we are going to show action genre of Nollywood at cinemas, then the second quarter could be comedy, third could be romance, that will be great.
"Slapstick comedy is all that your feeding them. The reason why comedy is selling is because this is what your feeding them"
Asurf believes cinemas are playing it safe by sticking to comedy.
Netflix, a live streaming and Video On Demand platform, currently spends a lot of money producing and buying original content, because of its vast distribution network, as it is in hundreds of countries around the world.
Recently Niyi Akinmolayan announced that 2 of his films, 'The Arbitration' and 'Out Of Luck' has started showing on Netflix, which already has films lilke Kunle Afolayan's 'October 1', Genevieve nnaji's 'Road To Yesterday' and some other Nigerian projects on this digital platform.
Asurf offers a 'survial kit' to Nollywood filmmakers through his words on how platforms like Netflix, can 'kataput' a movie or documentary to a wider audience.
"You should have a business plan on how to sell your film, because not all films are meant to go to cinemas. You can make a film for TV. Majority of our people just want to do film and jump into that stereotype of 'my film needs to go to cinema'
You end up spending a lot of money to promote the film in cinema and at the end of the day you don’t make any money from the cinemas.
If you can channel that energy into spots and platforms that will help showcase your film and reduce cost, then its better you just go straight to that medium.
Some of them are DVD, VOD(Video On Demand), iTunes, iPlay, Amazon play, DSTV box office for rentals, Irokotv and Ibaka. Now we are lucky to have a lot of distribution platforms"
Tope Lucas who works for Irokotv was glad to explain to Bounce News how film makers can get their content on its platform.
"We only accept new content. A full length movie or TV series. We don’t take short films.
You have to reduce the film to mp4 and send it to my email address, from where it would be reviewed between 6weeks to 8 weeks. Once we have watched it, we will send It back to you with a review.
If the review is good, we will start negotiating whether to buy it outrightly or not, but if it is not good, we can give you the offer to do a partnership and put it on our YouTube platform, and we only accept English movies, if it is not fully English, then it should have a subtitle" she said.
If a film maker is tired of the hassles that may be involved in registering on an online platform, Asurf suggests that you can hit the road like him.
"If I want to connect with people in the north, I have to take my film, my projector, my sound system, and travel to northern states and do a tour, throwing it open for as low as 200 or 300 Naira or 500 Naira, the good thing, I am not sharing that money with any distributor, if its 500,000 or 300,000 Naira I make per state, if you multiply it by the number of states in the north, also considering the risk. I think it’s a good risk, at the end of the day if we come back alive."