BusinessDay

Nollywood top jobs and where to learn them

For most people who idolise Nollywood actors and someday want to be like them, there’s simply no better place to start that journey than in Lagos. Home to Nollywood’s finest stars and more arts, culture, and entertainment, the country’s commercial city is a place that fosters creativity, celebrates diversity, and makes dreams come true.

Being in Nollywood and making it in the film industry are two different things. Anyone can turn up for auditions and job interviews or create skits on social media in the hopes of being spotted by the latest scout, but there’s a far more strategic path to take on the road to fame and making a lucrative income in the movie business.

Future practitioners’ education and training, with a focus on media creation, was created with the intention of serving as a pipeline for talent into Nollywood. We’ve listed some of the best Nollywood job descriptions, along with information on where to enroll in classes and earn the necessary credentials.

Producer

A producer can be a writer, an investor, an idea guy, a manager, or all of the above, making it one of Nollywood’s most ambiguous job descriptions. The head producer, sometimes known as the executive producer in the film industry, is in charge of pre-production, production, and post-production for the entire film.

In pre-production, the producer reads scripts and hears ideas from writers, directors, and agents. After choosing an idea, the producer has to raise money to fund the project. One route is to get the backing of a major movie studio, another is to go solo and seek funding from individual investors.

The producer is responsible for hiring a screenwriter, a director, production staff, casting directors, art directors, camera and lighting crews, and editors.

It’s the producer’s job to make sure that the project stays within budget throughout production and post-production. A good producer not only makes good films but makes money for the investors.

Like most jobs in the film industry, producers work their way up. You might start as a production assistant or a script reader, learning how to spot a good idea and how to bring it to fruition. Or you can just leap right in and learn by trial and error, making small, low-budget films and working up to bigger ones.

Producers seldom work on salary and most of them take a cut of the film’s earnings at the domestic and foreign box offices, streaming video contracts, and more. And those earnings move quickly into the millions.

Institutions where the business of movie production can be learned include Del-York Creative Academy, The Sword of Excellence Drama-Film University, and PEFTI Film Institute.

Director

Directors oversee the artistic vision of a film. Directors aren’t usually involved in the financial side of filmmaking unless they’re wearing multiple hats as a producer-director like the legendary Chiko Ejiro and Kayode Kasum in some of their elite feature films, to mention a few.

In pre-production, the director works closely with the screenwriter and the producer to figure out the best way to visually represent the script and its themes. An experienced director will have a preferred list of cinematographers, art directors, cameramen, casting directors, and even actors. Even if the producer does much of the actual hiring and location scouting, it’s the director who has the final say.

During filming, the director coaches actors on the best way to read their lines and express emotions. He or she works with the cinematographer to ensure that the action is faithfully and artistically recorded. And the director decides how many takes are necessary before the crew can move on to the next shot.

In post-production, the director sits with the editor to assemble the finished film and works with a composer and music director to create a score and soundtrack that supports the story just as recently witnessed during the creative process of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther movie sequel.

To succeed as a director requires a persistent vision and the ability to collaborate with an extensive team to bring that vision to life so some usually start with small, independent projects, sometimes as part of film school programmes.

The art of directing a film can be taught in almost all film schools in the country with notable examples such as Royal Art Academy, Magnus Film Academy , Del-York Creative Academy, PEFTI, and National Film Institute, Jos.

Actor

Actors are the performers; they are the ones that give life to the creative minds of filmmakers, writers, and directors. Actors are the link that connects the director’s vision, the screenwriter’s words, and the audience.

Being an actor requires awareness and control of one’s movements and expressions, which can take years of formal training. The most successful actors, however, look like they’re not acting at all. They inhabit the minds and bodies of their characters completely, what is commonly known by Hollywood as Method Acting.

Actors are often the most celebrated on and off the screen. While most of them stumbled into acting based on talent, others came in through film school. Almost all film schools in Nigeria take acting courses.

Cinematographer/director of photography

A movie might have the best performers, the most imaginative directors, and the most talented Nollywood screenwriters, but the image on the screen is ultimately what counts. The project will fail if all of that creativity is not authentically captured on film, and for this reason, the best filmmakers spend money on renowned cinematographers.

The cinematographer’s job is to transfer the director’s vision and the screenwriter’s narrative to film or video. A cinematographer needs to have a keen aesthetic vision as well as a command of camerawork technology and technique. It’s not always the same individual who serves as the director of photography (DP) and the cinematographer.

In feature films, the cinematographer is solely responsible for shot composition and planning, while the DP manages the camera and lighting crews. The DP is also responsible for choosing the camera, lenses, booms, and other equipment necessary to get the shot.

Just like acting and directing, cinematography can be learned in most film schools in Nigeria including KingsCrew Film Academy, AI Multimedia Academy, High Definition Film Academy, Abuja, Del-York, and Royal Art.

Screenwriter

There is no movie without a script, and while the work may not be as profitable for aspiring scriptwriters, the highest-paid screenwriters in the Nollywood industry are those who have written blockbuster drama films. A screenwriter might participate in a movie project in a variety of ways. Writing an entire script from scratch is one option. The plan is to draft the script first, then submit it to agents and producers in case one of them decides to engage you or purchase the script for future production.

Even professional screenwriters are not required to write the script. They may schedule meetings with producers to pitch script ideas, thanks to their representation. Then, the producer can choose whether to simply purchase the concept or to commission the screenwriter to prepare a longer or shorter treatment.

While some screenwriters begin their careers as poets, journalists, novelists, or other types of professional writers, others transition directly from writing for print to writing for film and television. While most people don’t invest enough time learning how to develop a good screenplay; they just try and write one. It helps if you have the discipline and the necessary contacts, which film schools offer as parts of their curriculum taught in their programmes, as it is a fairly tough field to enter into.

Scriptwriting is one of the most common courses studied in most film schools all over Nigeria, with programmes running for a duration of three to six months. Del-York, NFI, and Royal Art are examples of film schools that offer the course.

Read also: Animators struggle for spotlight in Nollywood

Film and video editor

One of the most crucial, yet unglamorous, positions in Nollywood is that of the editor. A director may shoot hundreds of hours of material that must be condensed into a short, 90-minute or 2-hour movie. A talented editor will choose the scenes and precise shots that best convey the director’s actual message.

Editors are the IT professionals that work long hours in front of a console with multiple computer monitors, slicing extra seconds from shots and carefully editing sounds. Larger film projects have a variety of editors, each with a particular role, such as rough cut editor, conversation audio editor, and special effects audio editor.

Not many film schools offer these courses but some of the best institutions that offer editing as a course include MFA, Del-York, PEFTI, HD, and AI Multimedia.

Art director

Together with the director and the producers, the art director creates a precise vision for the movie’s sets, settings, and surroundings. Afterwards, it is the duty of the art designer to translate that vision into the screen. A large group of draftsmen, set designers, set decorators, prop masters, and set construction managers are under the direction of the art director who builds a completely realised world for the actors to live in.

Young filmmakers who aspire to work as professional art directors learn costume and set design in film schools to expand their knowledge on how to handle projects effectively and be creative while staying within the budgetary constraints of the movie. Examples of top film schools offering Costume and Set Design are Del-York, PEFTI, and Sword of Excellence.