• Friday, May 24, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

The Black Book: Behind Nigeria’s film funding revolution

The Black Book: Behind Nigeria’s film funding revolution

For years, the Nollywood industry has faced a formidable adversary on its path to greatness—funding for ambitious movie projects. However, this narrative was about to change, and it all began with “The Black Book.”

In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown in April/May 2020, the city of Cambridge, Boston, found an unlikely hero in Kola Oyeneyin, CEO of Opportunik Global Fund. Little did he know that a simple script sent his way would become the catalyst for something monumental – the birth of Nigeria’s first-ever Movie, Entertainment, and Arts Fund.

Kola Oyeneyin, CEO Opportunik Global Fund

This financial hurdle has stifled the growth of blockbuster Nollywood action films, leaving filmmakers with no choice but to excel in the realm of drama. As a result, Nollywood has often struggled to compete with its Hollywood counterparts on the grand stage of action-packed cinema.

Read also: The Black Book: When tech founders turn Nollywood producers

Editi Effiong, a relentless filmmaker with a vision according to Oyeneyin on his social media handle sought for support to bring “The Black Book” to life. Despite being knee-deep in an ‘adult education’ master’s program at the time, Oyeneyin couldn’t resist the charm and determination of Effiong. Their initial interaction, he said, set the stage for what would become an extraordinary journey into the world of Nigerian cinema.

Kola Aina (executive producer, The Black Book) and Editi Effiong on set of The Black Book

Zoom meetings became the medium through which Oyeneyin was introduced to the script and storyline of “The Black Book.”According to him, the narrative was not just compelling but was powerful, promising to be a groundbreaking production that could make Nigeria and Africa proud.

Read also: Nollywood looks to Nigerian novels for next blockbuster

 

He also said the movie had the potential to rival even Hollywood’s finest, reminiscent of Denzel Washington’s “Equalizer.” Although Oyeneyin wasn’t a film producer by trade, his love for storytelling led him to make a life-changing decision.

Unbeknownst to him, Oyeneyin was about to embark on a remarkable venture, one where he would use his expertise in deal structuring and raising private capital for project finance. “The Black Book” will no longer be just a movie; it has become an opportunity to create something unprecedented.

Read also: Highest-grossing Nollywood movies in August

The first challenge was to craft and create Nigeria’s first Movie, Entertainment, and Arts Fund – the VEMA I Fund. Oyeneyin’s vision was grand, and it required support from fellow believers and limited partners who shared his passion for the project. With unwavering dedication, they brought VEMA I Fund to life, providing essential funding for a significant portion of the movie’s production costs.

However, Oyeneyin’s ambitions didn’t stop there. He envisioned the creation of an even more substantial fund – VEMA II – and a pan-African Fund known as AFEMA. Collaborating with influential figures in the African film industry, including Kunle Afolayan, Kemi Adetiba, David Tosh Gitonga, the Ramaphakela Siblings, Philippe Lacote, and Blitz Bazawule, Oyeneyin aims to power countless cinematic endeavours over the next decade and beyond.

Read also: Nollywood veterans Pete Edochie, Nkem Owoh unite in new movie

One thing was clear: VEMA and AFEMA would not merely fund any project that came their way. They would carefully curate their investments to ensure they aligned with their pre-set values. For Oyeneyin, Nigeria and Africa have stories that deserve to be heard and seen by the world. His role is to bring capital to the table, all while ensuring profitability for investors.

Unlike many investments in the region, Editi Effiong operated with an unprecedented level of transparency in reporting. This approach, Oyeneyin believed, was a lesson that many venture builders in Africa needed to adopt. It ensured trust, accountability, and a shared vision among all stakeholders.

Read also: Hollywood strike: How artificial intelligence will disrupt Nollywood

Effiong took to his social media accounts to express his gratitude towards the individuals who contributed to the production of the film after filming wrapped up in 2021. Among the comments, there was a heartfelt exchange between Effiong and Oyeneyin, where Effiong acknowledged Oyeneyin’s invaluable contribution and how it played a pivotal role in bringing the film to life.

As “The Black Book” debuts on Netflix and captivates audiences worldwide, the journey was far from over. Oyeneyin’s commitment to the cinematic arts and the African film industry has only just begun. With VEMA 2.0 on the horizon, the world eagerly awaits the next chapter in this remarkable story.

Read also: Whose idea are the wigs and eyelashes in Nollywood?

So far Effiong has gotten the support of his contemporary Nollywood filmmakers like Niyi Akinmolayan, Jade Osiberu, Kemi Lala Akindoju, Kola Aina, an executive producer of the film among many others on social media.

In the end, “The Black Book” wasn’t just a movie; it was the spark that ignited a cinematic revolution and gave birth to Nigeria’s first Movie, Entertainment, and Arts Fund. It was a testament to the power of vision, determination, and the belief that African stories could shine on the global stage. At the heart of it all was Kola Oyeneyin, a man who saw an opportunity where others saw only a script, and in doing so, has forever changed the landscape of African cinema.