Nollywood grabs global attention as film school investments surge

Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry and one of the fastest growing in the world, is getting the help it needs to ramp up the quality of output, including talents, through film schools.

In the last two years, investors have flocked to be part of film school projects as a way of positioning themselves for the promising future of Nollywood.

The latest is Ben Murray-Bruce, chairman of Silverbird Group, who reportedly signed a $145 million deal with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) for the construction of a complex to be known as the Ben Murray-Bruce Studios and Film Academy on a 32,725-square metre land area in Eko Atlantic City. It is projected to be the largest film school in Africa.

There is also Kunle Afolayan’s film school, KAP Film & Television Academy, which started receiving applications in March 2022.

In 2021, Mo Abudu launched the EbonyLife Creative Academy, which provides free training funded by the Lagos State Government, through Lagos State Creative Industries Initiative under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

The deal, worth $100 million — comprising both debt and equity investment —, was signed by Helen Brume, director, project and asset-based finance, at Afreximbank, and Murray-Bruce on the sidelines of the recent Africa investment forum in Côte d’Ivoire.

Murray-Bruce had tweeted about the deal in April 2021 from his verified handle.

“Would you love to enroll in the Ben Murray-Bruce film school in Nigeria — in partnership with giants from Hollywood?” he asked on Twitter.

Victoria Ogar, Nollywood account manager at Filmone, attributes the growth in investments to the unique stories coming out of Nollywood that are appealing global audiences. “The stories, in many cases, reflect the cultures, values, belief system, and practices of the Nigerian society. The global appeal of these stories has led to attention being given to the future of the industry.”

The impact of these successes is the rise of more foreign investors and collaborations so as to effectively tap into this immense growth, Ogar said.

“Also, Nigeria is the most populous black nation and has a strong presence of livelihood all over the world. This means that the audience is loyal to their roots; so they always identify with their products. There is a general acceptance globally, people are watching our movies and relating with it,” she added.

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A film school, an educational institution dedicated to teaching aspects of filmmaking, including such subjects as film production, film theory, digital media production, screenwriting, has become the best option to bridge the shortage in quality of talents.

While universities continue to churn out graduates of Creative Arts, many filmmakers and directors in Nollywood say they often fall below the quality measurement. Majority of the graduates are often given fresh training before they are given jobs in the industry. Stakeholders often blame the falling standard of education and the inability to upgrade the curriculum to ensure that students are 21st-century compliant in their studies.

Low-quality talent is often blamed for the substandard production of many Nollywood movies.

“I’m so glad to see Nigeria actors investing in movie sites, film schools and sort; it’s long overdue but I know we will get there. We have more than enough sites/location that needs to be explored and showcased to the world at large,” said a Nollywood fan who simply identified himself as Agbeloba.

Niyi Akinmolayan, who has produced many Nollywood blockbusters such as ‘Elevator Baby’, ‘Prophetess’, is one of those in the forefront of realigning and equipping Nigerian talents with the right knowledge in the industry.

“This is the best time to open a world-class film school in Nigeria. Complete with sound stages and a lot of land space for practicals. The really good film/video professionals are very very few, and half of them don’t even work in Nollywood,” the founder of Anthill Studios said.

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