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More Branches explores filmmaking in Nigeria



Writing again; I've been a bit nervous because my words seem redundant these days, I'm starting to feel like some have grown weary of my constant bombarding of self-aware Africa changing, building, and reshaping things, but it's not my fault, I'm merely heeding to the call of my heart.

Here's another article for those who care, this time I'm opening the world on filmmaking from a new age Nigerian view I guess.

It's midnight here in Yaba, Lagos, Ayuba plays Future's Mask Off and I think about my last two months which have revolved around the art of making movies, creating, directing and producing a motion picture as a big production house (Nollywood).

It's been a great revelation and I'm so happy as I love film and plan on becoming a filmmaker myself.

Working with Imoh Umoren as his intern exposed me to so much in realizing the depths to which a film reaches. Mr. Umoren often says filmmaking is spiritual, and I believe it really is.


"Filmmaking is spiritual" - Umoren

To create a motion picture in Africa's new paradigm isn't so easy but it is magical and quite spiritual, showing our own world, telling stories of our people, expressing our mind and taking a bit of our history is the general course of humanity's obsession with filmmaking and why it's the backbone of every nation, (infamously, the Nazis used film as a means of pushing their socialist propaganda) a vibrant filmmaking scene that illustrates a world for the people to marvel at, to be engulfed in, to understand and to hope for, we've had that with Nollywood to some extent.

This year has been a great one for me, one which started with Mr. Umoren working as an intern on a project, This was my first time being involved behind the scenes of filmmaking, it was a series with a sizeable budget and a good cast, a couple of veterans and a lot of episodes.

This revealed a light to how a new system was growing from within Africa through Nigeria in the filmmaking world, the exposure as well as the audience on our content was growing. This was evident in the script which although was well written, still carried the classic tropes of our Nollywood themes like comedy, Juju and bad family in-laws.

The production house sold to an Africa Magic audience which makes up most of the viewership of Nigerian television. The new age Nollywood is shaping up beginning on the steps of the cold; with comedic drama evolving around topics of love and wicked family members is what created Wedding Party the first showcase of the Nigerian cinema pulling in an excess of 300 million Naira! Every cinema hall showing this film in Nigeria was sold out for weeks and this exhibits Nollywood's potential to draw in a strong monetary gain in future.


You can see it in bits; with new ideas of filmmaking and structure being taken on, the rise of new talent and the internet aiding us, platforms like Ndani TV and Iroko TV are tools which have helped show and fuel the growth of our new cinema. They urge a new way of making cinematic content; one that helps us to innovate, to create more conscious and artistic content, more dynamism in the way we produce these films.

Mr. Umoren tells me he's most proud of the structure, saying now it's easier to make films because we have different elements of the filmmaking process being specialized, we have the sound department, costume, props, camera, light, quality control all working efficiently to bring the production to life. This expertise is helping shape and add more quality to our films.

I then got the chance to chat with Dare Olaitan who you might know him from his epic thriller Ojukokoro. He's currently working on a series with Ndani TV titled Lagos Big Boy.


On being young and making films in Nigeria?

Dare Olaitan - It's going great; making things I like, in an environment that accepts what I am trying to make. Its good to be in a space where the foundation is still being laid so to speak.

What foundations?

Dare Olaitan - Like a formal film industry with ability to create work and receive renumeration from legitimate sources.

The advent of the internet has also made it easier for people like me to learn and share our work.

Let's talk about Ojukokoro (the film)

Dare Olaitan - Well, the idea came from lekki phase 1 and all the boutiques, I was wondering who was shopping in all these places and how they could stay in business and the idea that they were fronts for hiding political funds. I don't really know anything about the Nigerian system, I just made a movie the way I had been making movies for years.

Casting was handled mostly by my producer who brought options and I chose the ones I felt the most comfortable with.

What perspective do you bring to Nollywood?

Dare Olaitan - I can only talk about myself but I bring in the perspective of someone who has grown up in a different era of technology and globalization and can attest to how it has engaged and affected people my age in Nigeria.

You're a fan of music, the new age is kicking it. What are you listening to?

Dare Olaitan - I think it's just like the movie industry, technology has made it possible for almost anyone to have access to the tools to make music.

I really like Ozzy B, Odunsi, Aylo and Fasina right now.

Your form of direction?

Dare Olaitan - My direction is very simple, I picked it up from Robert Rodriguez. Make what you want to watch.

Advice to the kids?

Dare Olaitan - Talent will only get you through the door. Hard work will keep you there.

This brief interview with Dare took me closer to the mind of this new age Film industry currently manifesting around us, it took me from the mindset of a legendary filmmaker like Imoh Umoren, to a younger generation in Dare Olaitan.

We already have a younger generation of filmmakers eager to take over the scene; a generation who now have concrete idols to help them believe in their dreams of creating global films that break box offices around the world all from studios, and scripts, talent in Africa.

The acting is finally getting better, I feel we should enable the refreshingly enthusiastic minds who are into acting for the passion, they've watched HBO, Netflix, followed countless series and now they want to act themselves and be on our screens, we should give them an opportunity to take center stage. More belief should also be put in the Nigerian content and what we're creating; yes, our industry may have been below par for years, with a few gems coming in here and there, but with short films like 'Bariga Sugar' by Ifeoma Chukwuogo which portray beauty in storeytelling/acting, 'Happiness Limited' by Imoh Umoren who is currently working on another masterpiece titled 'Children Of Mud', and others even younger, creating more incredible films, it's important we support and galvanize their spirit.

Our minds should also not be boxed in a cage of conformed storytelling, we should be willing to explore more film genres, the new filmmakers should have the freedom to create whatever content they feel like, this will help the culture channel this freedom to inspire cinematic brilliance.

We are our own Christopher Nolans, David. O. Russels, Gaspar Noé, our generation will make fucking awesome films for the world to marvel at.

#morebranches #nigeria #DanielOlaitan #ImohUmoren

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