By Prisca Sam-Duru & Vera Samuel Anyagafu
DAN Oluigbo, popularly known as chief priest, is one of the pioneers of Nollywood who disagrees with the ovation Nollywood is currently enjoying both from within and outside the country. In this exclusive chat with Vanguard Art, the movie maker xrays the industry’s problems and charts a way forward. Excerpts.
WHAT’s your rating of Nollywood?
Movie making in Nigeria has nosedived. The only thing producers are concerned with now is just how to churn out films in order to make profit. Nobody cares about the content of films and how to improve on them.
You sound so dissatisfied. What’s your agitation about?
This industry died since 1994. Before then, after we hit it with “Living In Bondage” and I went on to produce ‘Taboo”, Guest Of Satan, I told my colleagues that it is needful that we move up, that is step up the quality of production to be in tune with technological advancement. My suggestion was that if we cannot shoot on 35 millimeters, let us at least shoot on digital film which is the high definition. Some of them agreed but sadly, after a period of time, they all ganged up against me, went to marketers, collected money and started shooting the nonsense they are now feeding people with.
The result is what you can see today. A lot of films have been made, actors are there, in fact they keep increasing in number yet they do not have money to feed. They cannot sustain themselves, because at the end of the day, the cost of living is higher than their earnings. You see a so called film maker who has made 50 films, yet he has nothing to show for it. Some of them cannot maintain their cars.
But actors say they take home up to a million naira and above?
All those things are media hype. Producers are busy pouring out films which are readily pirated and of very poor quality. You don’t expect huge sales and whereby the quantity of film sold is low, how would you expect an actor to go home with a million naira? An actor is paid between 30,000 and 50,000 naira, he comes to the papers and tells you he took one million, that is bull shit, it is not true, we know all that. Even if there are people who are collecting 100,000, is that a big deal?
This is why I said movie making in Nigeria is dead. You can imagine that there is over three to four thousand people marketing films in Onitsha with almost the same number here in Lagos. Whenever a good film comes out, it is pirated. The market for a long time has become so saturated that people are not buying movies again. Also, the Ghanians entered the field and then destroyed everything. They came into the picture and started producing films that are not in tune with our norms and values. Their films are much more adult descriptive than the ones we make. A lot of nudity and all kinds of stuff were introduced, leading to serious condemnation by parents and guardians. That also reduced the quality of films we sold, besides, because of the availability of an excess quantity of films in the market, people prefer to rent films.
Any Plans to help correct the ugly trend?
Well, I can’t join in the rubbish others are doing. I will come back to produce films but I must take my time. Now, you know there is shooting high definition of movies, or you shoot on high definition movie or better still, you shoot on 35 mm. For instance, if you plan to produce a film with fifty million naira, you are able to get a crew that is a high definition crew from either South Africa or from London who will come with every gadget.
Shooting on high definition
As for the actors, you can get Hollywood actors and pay their local expenses, give them allowance and then pay them later from the sales of the films at box office. This means that you can even shoot a small drama and sell it with that effect. You know, because you are shooting on high definition, the migration to cut that film into a 35mm reel is easy, but if you do it on DV, you will spend so much money to upgrade in a color laboratory, and at the end of the day you have nothing.
Most producers seem to be making their money through cinemas…(Cuts in)
I agree. But you see, what I am talking about is an international thing. When you make films at the range I am talking about, a lot of international distribution companies would be interested.
The problem is that the producers do not want to go through the right processes, so everybody puts in some two or three million to get the film out the following week. Sadly, Hollywood is praising them, as the biggest film industry in Africa and the second largest film industry in the world. You can imagine doing more than ten thousand movies every month in Nigeria.
I am looking at doing more professional films. I will either shoot on 35mm, or I shoot on high definition. Sony has gone to PS4. The high definition camera has gone to grade4 which gives you ability to do all kinds of magic. Now, there are 3D films with which a lot of manipulation is possible because there is high definition.
The films I want to make, if I find funds to make them, by God’s grace, am not even looking at premiering here. If I make my movies I’ll premier in the U.S or U.K and also sell there.
Does it mean no improvement in sight for the industry?
We do not have an industry, let us not fool ourselves, we just have a market place where all kinds of charlatans come together, do whatever they like and get out. We do not have an industry. For instance, up till today, which is about 23 years of film making in Nigeria, we can do not have Nollywood office just like Hollywood has. And because there is no organization, no regulation, no management, there is no future. I have also discovered from a whole lot of experiments both here and abroad, film making is not all about money, film making is about the concept you want to pass across.