I wanna be a Nigerian Movie star: Hype Williams where you at?

The Nigerian film industry emerged in the late 1970s, as the nation's economy collapsed. Public funding of movies and original television programming vanished, and crime made cinemas too dangerous to visit. European and American shows soon dominated national television. But, disturbed by the absence of black faces on Nigerian television, the country's fledgling filmmakers began spinning vibrant tribal plays onto the screen. By the early 1990s, filming on celluloid had become too expensive and production shifted to video.

Unlike African art films, which appear on the global film circuit and are commonly financed by European investors, Nollywood films are backed by African merchants. For instance, a merchant-investor could pay a director $10,000, covering the production costs and procuring the film's distribution rights. About two weeks later, the merchant-investor gets the film's master tape, then sends it to one of many mass-dubbing centers in Nigeria. The movie is copied onto a Video Compact Disc, known as a VCD and widely used across the developing world. VCDs cost $1.50 to make and are usually sold to consumers at outdoor markets in Nigeria for $3, or less. (more)

The Cinema of Nigeria is colloquially known as Nollywood, the name given to the Nigerian video movie industry. The term is of uncertain origin, but was derived from Hollywood in the same manner as Bollywood (see also: Tollywood and Kollywood). Nollywood has no "studios" in the Holly
wood sense. Many of the big producers have offices in Surulere, Lagos. Idumota market on Lagos Island is the primary distritution center. The video movies are shot in locations all over Nigeria with distinct regional characteristics in northern movies (primarily in Hausa language), the Yoruba language movies produced in the west and the popular English language movies shot in the southeast. Many foreign and local critics have criticized Nollywood for trite plots, poor dialogue, and poor production values. Some worry that the prevalence of witchcraft and violence in the movies may encourage the worst stereotypes about Africans. At the same time, these local movies have achieved the difficult feat of outselling Hollywood films in Nigeria and many other African countries. Nigerian video movies are distributed through the informal economy of petty traders in Africa. In this way they are available in even the most remote areas of the continent. (more)

"We have the stories to tell, thousands of them, but there's a lot to be done," says Charles Novia, a popular director who has 28 films to his credit. "We need to be more in tune with the new cinematic techniques across the world; we need courses in production techniques. But what is most striking is how popular our films are, not just among our fellow Nigerians, but across the continent. It's mind-blowing."

"I don't think we're that close, to be honest," says actor Mofe-Damijo. "Until we start working up to international standards, we can't take part in film festivals like Sundance in the U.S. or others in South Africa and Europe. Until we speak the international language of film, we're going to be very limited." (story)

"Nollywood" is here to stay because the term is irresistible to journalists and, more importantly, because it neatly expresses powerful aspirations by people in the video film industry and by their fans to have a big, glamorous entertainment industry that can take its place on the world scene and appeal to international audiences. The export of Nigerian films has been remarkable, even if most of the profits do not end up in the right hands. They are what is on television in Namibia and on sale on the streets in Kenya. In Congo, they are broadcast with the soundtrack turned down while an interpreter tells the story in Lingala or other languages. In New York, Chinese people are buying them. In Holland, Nollywood stars are recognized on the streets by people from Suriname, and in London they are hailed by Jamaicans.

Nollywood's ambassador plenipotentiary to the world is Zack Orji. His is perhaps the most recognizable face in Nollywood, as he has appeared in more than 150 films. Born in Gabon and partly raised in Cameroon, he is bilingual in French and English and an internationalist in outlook. He has been in many Nigerian-Ghanaian co-productions, including his directorial debut, The Web, made with the collaboration of Ghanaians, South Africans, a Sierra Leonean, and an Australian. When I caught up with him recently in Los Angeles, he was fresh from shooting a film in Cameroon with Dakore Egbusan, and his next stops were Cote d'Ivoire and then Gabon for other film projects. There was talk of his returning to Congo, where he'd spent a month in 2002, to make a film there. My interview with him was delayed while he visited the costuming department of the Twentieth Century Fox studio in preparation for shooting the first Hollywood-Nollywood coproduction. He was working with the noted Hollywood director of photography Bruce Dickson, who visited Nigeria to make a documentary and fell in love with the place and its screen culture. (more)

OK so here's the move... we take america's best music video producer to Nigeria and make the real movie joint that we are all waiting to see. My Movie will be titled "Gas Money". This shit is gonna be mad crazy, you got Militants kidnapping western oil workers, corrupt government officials, multinational corporations, Buck wild youth gangs ready to set it off, and the world looking on to one of the biggest stages for oil production after the middle east. This is some big time pimpin, a movie that needs to be made. Yo Hype holla at ya boy cuz we could seriously make a full length feature and 2 sequels for the price of one of your videos! Now I know alot of cats wasnt feeling "Belly" but that shit was off the wall and is still in heavy rotation at the crib and in the whip (Belly was the first DVD I watched in the ride) so lets do this. Lets call this entry my "Open invitation to Hype Williams" to make a movie in Nigeria. I got Plenty of plastic to fuck up so budget shouldnt be a problem and as long as we can cut this joint in 30 to 40 days I wont be in jeapordy of getting the boot from my job. Hype lets do this... I all ready got the screen play written so holla at ya boy.

Lets make a movie.