Niyi Akinmolayan, founder/creative director, Anthill Studios, a Nigerian Filmmaker, director, and media consultant, in this interview with BusinessDay’s Glory Usoro, speaks on how technology, streaming services, and investment in post-production have helped the rise of Nollywood.
How has technology contributed to the current rise of Nollywood?
From a hardware standpoint, technology has ensured that we can get better quality for less. The type of technical equipment that we used to fantasize like the 4k camera is now available to almost every regular filmmaker.
Technology has allowed for faster turnaround times than in the past when film production took much longer to complete. As camera technology improves, so does post-production technology such as computers and software. It has enabled us to complete high-quality work in less time.
The rise of Nollywood has also been aided by distribution services such as Netflix and Amazon. The level of certainty and standard they set for any movie on their platform has also caused movie producers to invest more money in technology for a better outcome and to profit from it.
What new equipment have you purchased in order to provide the quality that a global platform like Netflix requires?
First of all, we skilled our post-production facility. The movie ‘Prophetess’ is the first film where we filled up an entire stadium and that can only be done with technology. We took a lot of computer technology with a lot of processing power to achieve such.
In terms of camera, we chose an Arri mini camera to provide the quality that the global platform required. We are able to accomplish all of this because we have extensive post-production experience and have invested early enough.
How long does it take for a movie to be available on a streaming platform after being seen in the cinema?
There is no time limit. It is determined by when the streaming platform wishes to show it. When you are finished with the films, you may begin discussions with them based on certain factors and agreements.
However, we currently have an agreement with Amazon. Our film is usually released on Amazon two months after it has been shown in the cinema.
What do you do as a producer when your films receive negative reviews?
Negative feedback is a natural part of the ecosystem. When you make businesses that create experiences, reviews will always come in. I have never seen criticism as positive or negative, I see it as something that can benefit the film. If a review of my film favors and excites people to come to see it, I want to promote it because Nollywood needs more money than a lot more backlash.
So I read the negative reviews but don’t respond because people have the right to their opinion. So you use the feedback to improve going forward.
Do you believe that current Nollywood films have done a good job of fully utilizing the character of their script?
Filmmakers are doing a great job exploring characters in the film because we now remember characters from movies. There is a lot more work paid to character development now.
What was your inspiration for the film ‘Prophetess’ because the movie has so many scenes and characters?
The movie ‘Prophetess’ is a big story; it is not the story of a single person. It tells the story of a church, a community, two sisters, sports betting in Nigeria, and social media. The movie Prophetess is a Yoruba film. Almost all plot or character elements are significant in their own story due to the structure of the Yoruba setting.
The Prophetess was written with the intention of being a Yoruba movie while also appealing to non-Yoruba audiences. Because if we don’t view the movie in this way, we risk losing its fundamental point. Due to this, you may notice Yoruba and Igbo in some of the films that you watch. It appears really absurd and unfounded.
I wrote ‘prophetess’ in Yoruba and Igbo before we began translating it into English. When making a film that you want to spread, you want the Igbo and Yoruba parts to be as authentic as possible. We were very careful not to dilute some of the authentic elements.
Even though “Prophetess” included fake prophecies, the white garment church called me to express their gratitude for allowing us to depict other aspects of their worship and other activities. This was crucial because we don’t want to edit these out when making a movie.
However, we live in a generation where people are too indolent to see a movie. We are in a TikTok generation, where people want to get to the end of a movie as quickly as possible. So, unlike in the movie, when people watch it online, they use the same eye they used to view TikTok and social media.
When a film is made for the cinema, it does not have the same effect online; in the cinema, you are watching it with a lot of people, sharing the experience together, screening and shouting together, whereas when you are alone, you may be distracted by something in the kitchen, so you may miss a lot of scenes.
We wanted to be authentic with the film, but we also noticed that we have a lot of characters, and it was important to review that at the beginning of the film because it was the first time anyone was making a language film at that scale, so we didn’t know what would work and what would not work, so we put all of that in.