A fellow took a brief look at Nollywood Confidential, scanned through the pages and exclaimed that properly marketed, this book will sell at least 250, 000 copies in the next few weeks.
Looking at the reading index of the country, that figure is quite huge and it could be engendered by the ravishing packaging of the book which, living up to its name, has unearthed some hidden pictures of Nollywood which the public will perhaps be seeing for the first time.
Call it a book but it is more of a pictorial, beautifully spiced with some good writing by the guys who took a dispassionate look at Nollywood, Nigeriaâ€™â€™s pejorative recall of Americaâ€™â€™s Hollywood and concluded there is some beauty here to be sold to the rest of the world.
Conceptualised by the Director General of the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), Mr Emeka Mba, his team and Pepperfruit Media, Nollywood Confidential glossily displays about 158 pictures, 14 jacket covers and just about 12 pages of texts including appreciations.
From beginning to end, the book signposts the depth of creativity which forms the foundation pillars of Nollywood as ordinary pictures and even once forgotten ones spring back to life in the hands of people who were prepared to pay tributes to a worthy enterprise.
In the opening chapter which is also the heaviest in book, just two pages, Emeka Mba, the Director General of the Censors Board writes: â€œâ€œOne of the most significant developments since the boom in the Nigerian Film Industry has been the power and opportunity that has been placed in the hands of new filmmakers and the older ones too, enabling more people to tell our own stories in our voices with our people, in our own ways.â€â€
But how were the stories told? Mba nearly concludes: â€œThe following pages offer visual tapestry of raw energy, spirit and motivation.â€
Summarizing details of the bookâ€™â€™s contents, one of the chroniclers of the sector, now the editor of the Punch Newspapers, Steve Ayorinde, himself an international film critic and one of the very few Nigerians who play a noticeable role at the Cannes Film Festival, writes that â€œEvery shade of opinion was accommodated to give the book and intimate feel, from commentators in the United States to Sweden, Uganda and Zambia as timely assessment to signpost how far the industry has come as well as a pointer to a new direction and propel it to greater heights.”
Befittingly the opening chapter also displays jackets of NEK VIDEO LINKS and this at once transports one back to the beginning of history when a very self effacing business man decided to try his hands on something new and succeeded in creating not only a business but in the process giving a whole country and race a rare opportunity to tell their story.
Kennet Nnebue, founder of the company may not have been the first to do so but was obviously the first to see home video as core business when others looked the other way defeated by economic circumstances. This book for me is also a befitting testimony to his vision.
Minister of Information and Communications, Prof Dora Akunyili observed in the opening shot that â€œIt is significant that a keen global audience is listening to what Nigeria is saying through Nollywood.â€
But what stories are our filmmakers telling? Venerated Cinematographer, Tunde Kelani puts it this way: â€œI have chosen to focus my filmmaking career on the need to document history, celebrate our rich cultural heritage as well as provide a bridge for the present and coming generations of Nigerians. My aim is to thereby offer my films as a control mechanism for the political and economic engineers of our society in the present and for the future.â€â€
Nollywood Confidential captures the footprints of an industry from poverty and analogue media to the age of success and digital technology. The book doesn’t hide anything about the Nigerian background and humble beginnings of a venture; instead it takes them and projects the images on very glossy pages.
The pictures speak of more opportunities and possibilities. They project the hard work of those who work in the industry and what the country can benefit if the sector is more organized and recognised. But there is the urgent need for government to take ownership of the industry and drive it beyond the hermetic strictures of individual reach.
Nollywood Confidential will be launched on Thursday, December 17, 2009 in Lagos.
*Okoh Aihe writes from Abuja.