Niyi Akinmolayanfounder/creative director, Anthill Studios, Nigerian filmmaker, director and media consultant, in this interview with BusinessDay’s glory usorotalks about how technology, streaming services, and investment in post-production have helped Nollywood rise.
How has technology contributed to the current rise of Nollywood?
From a hardware point of view, technology has ensured that we can get better quality for less. The kind of technical equipment that we used to fantasize about, like the 4k camera, is now available to almost every regular filmmaker.
Technology has enabled 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 allowed us to complete high-quality work in less time.
The rise of Nollywood has also been helped by distribution services like Netflix and Amazon. The level of certainty and the standard that they set for any movie on their platform has also caused movie producers to invest more money in technology to get a better result and profit from it.
What new equipment have you acquired to provide the quality required by a global platform like Netflix?
First, we train our post-production facility. The movie ‘Prophetess’ is the first movie where we filled 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 do that.
As for the camera, we chose an Arri mini camera to provide the quality that the global platform required. We are able to achieve all of this because we have extensive post-production experience and have invested early enough.
How long does it take for a movie to become available on a streaming platform after being seen in the cinema?
There is no time limit. It is determined by when the streaming platform wants to show it. When you are done with the movies, you can start conversations 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 theaters.
What do you do as a producer when your films receive negative reviews?
Negative feedback is a natural part of the ecosystem. When you do business that creates experiences, criticism always comes. I have never seen criticism as positive or negative, I see it as something that can benefit the film. If a review of my movie favors and encourages people to come see it, I want to promote it because Nollywood needs more money than a lot more reaction.
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So I read the negative reviews but I don’t reply because people have a right to their opinion. So, use the feedback to improve in the future.
Do you think current Nollywood movies have done a good job of fully utilizing character from their script?
The filmmakers are doing a great job of exploring the characters in the movie because now we remember the characters in the movies. There’s a lot more paid work for character development now.
What was your inspiration for the movie ‘Prophetess’ because the movie has a lot of scenes and characters?
The movie ‘Prophetess’ is a great story; It is not the story of one person. It tells the story of a church, a community, two sisters, sports betting in Nigeria and social media. The Prophetess movie is a Yoruba movie. Almost every plot or character element is significant in its own story due to the structure of the Yoruba setting.
The Prophetess was written with the intention of being a Yoruba film while also appealing to a non-Yoruba audience. Because if we don’t see the film in this way, we run the risk of missing its main point. Because of this, you may see Yoruba and Igbo in some of the movies you watch. It seems really absurd and unfounded.
I wrote ‘prophetess’ in Yoruba and Igbo before we started translating it into English. When you make a film that you want to broadcast, 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.
Although “Prophetess” included false prophecies, the Church of the White Garment called me to express their gratitude for allowing us to describe other aspects of their worship and other activities. This was crucial because we don’t want to remove them when making a movie.
However, we live in a generation where people are too lazy to watch 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 the movie, when people watch it online, they use the same eye they used to watch TikTok and social media.
When a movie is made for the cinema, it doesn’t have the same effect online; in the cinema, you are watching it with many people, sharing the experience together, projecting and shouting together, while when you are alone, you may be distracted by something in the kitchen, so you may miss many 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 had done a language film on that scale. so we didn’t know what would work and what wouldn’t, so we put all of that.