As someone who has stakes in the Nigerian movie industry, I believe I from my experience, I should be able to give a first-hand account for why some of our movies are bad.
Some of the problems that will be discussed here are due to the limited budget that filmmakers have to work with. Others are due to shortages of talents, especially with regards to movie editing and VFX. Equipment is definitely also an issue that is responsible for bad quality. But we also cannot rule out poor acting.
However, while all this is going on, there are some movies that are now standing toe-to-toe with blockbuster Hollywood movies. A prime example of this is the movie, Anikulapo on Netflix. When I saw that movie, I said to myself that on this day, Nigeria finally caught up with Hollywood. There is no difference between us now, the only difference is that we tell different stories as we have different realities.
Here are some of the issues on why there are still bad movies in Nigeria.
1. Limited Budget
I have worked with a film director before who made a full-length movie with a budget of around $2000. He hired a very good actor, even though he is B-list. There are other several unknown names who regularly act movies. Aside this, the main protagonist in the movie is very well known in his region of the country. He couldn’t afford to pay him, but due to the fact that they used to work together, he was able to convince the guy to show up and made provisions for his hotel and feeding.
After 7 days of shooting, and having to build an entire set from the ground up, we somehow were finally able to finish.
So, it’s true when you say Nigerian movies (not all) have bad quality, but the question is how many of you can shoot a movie with at least two known names on a budget of $2,000? It is easy to criticize things, especially if we haven’t seen how the filmmaker suffered to get his name out there.
2. Low Quality Talents (Camera, Editing, and VFX talents)
There are only a handful of cameras that Netflix has approved for shooting their movies. Nigerian filmmakers who have a decent budget often rent RED cameras to shoot. But you see, the camera is usually not the hardest part of shooting. The cinematographer needs to be brilliant and avoid using white unimpressive lights, fogging, and general control of the lights in order to produce something cinematic.
These types of talents are scarce, as most people just want to have the tag “director.” Editing also plays a role in the whole thing, the simple answer is that Nigerian studios don’t just have the talent to pull off these tricks, but the honest truth is that they don’t need to. VFX is also something that is still in its infancy in our space. I once attended a film event by a small indie group called “the critic,” you can check them on youtube. These guys are basically trying to pull off time travel or MARVEL Studios-like actions with too little resources.
When you see some of those bad scenes, there aren’t just talents to make them better, and the filmmakers are not smart enough to only stick the things they can pull off correctly.
This ties into the previous point. If you want to shoot a car scene for instance, you would need a car on which you can rig all sorts of cameras. As a side note, in all my life in Nigeria, I have only seen a total of one car chase by law enforcement. But this point also ties into the budget. Nobody is willing to destroy 6 of the same car type in order to shoot a car chase.
We also don’t have the big budget cameras as well. No matter how we look at it, with the right talent, a more expensive camera will tend to shoot a better movie.
4. Poor acting/directing
Well, this is also a big issue with the movies. Lots of times we have scenarios where actors didn’t bother to read the scripts beforehand. It is only when they get on set that they start to look through it. This of course, leads to lots of situations where some actors need to pause in other to recheck their lines. But the bigger consequence of this is that the intended direction a director wants a movie to go become compromised as it is common for actors to do a lot of their own improvisation while shooting.
But this is not a one-way problem either. Movies are sometimes not very well planned ahead of time. This also leads to problems where actors got their scripts late. But I don’t think there is any producer or director who goes to set with the intention of losing. It just happens that resources become limited.
While I can’t cover all the angles to this question, I hope you have been able to draw from my experience to see why some Nigerian movies end up being bad.
- John Aina Ajibola has a Masters degree as an engineer and has over 3 years of teaching and research experience. He is happiest when on a bike and is also interested in electric energy and computer Science.