Search Results: hollywood

Ghanaian Anchor Baby Actor, Sam Sarpong, is dead after committing suicide in America

by NMN (Staff) / 9,038 Views

British-born American Actor who is a native of Ghana and star actor in Anchor Baby - SAM SARPONG, is dead after committing suicide in America. The gifted actor, who was also a super-model, musician and an MTV show host; jumped off a bridge in Pasadena, California on October 26 after several hours authorities tried to negotiate with him to retreat from such suicidal act.

Anchor Baby Star Actor, Sam Sarpong, is dead after committing suicide in America

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A Second Look At Nigeria's Entertainment Industry

by NMN (Staff) / 960 Views

Since Nollywood, the Nigerian competing equivalent of Hollywood debuted with Living in Bondage in 1992, local film enthusiasts have been inundated with a legion of films. The recurring lackluster of the Hollywood-style pizzazz by the Nollywood lot, has also been a major let down.

The high-volume production of these videos has seen film premieres to the gallows and heightened possibilities of alarming piracy with equal gusto, just as the movies, produced and released on a daily basis, have earned the industry the number two slot on the list of the biggest movie spinners in the world (only behind India's Bollywood).

The cast of a movie can be assembled in a matter of weeks. The production crew, costumiers and other departments can come in a jiffy and the lights would click away, reeling out a movie for Iweka Road, Alaba International, and other movie markets in the country.

Though the movie industry has gained applause with productions like 'Living in Bondage' by Kenneth Nnebue, 'Magun' and 'Maami' by Tunde Kelani(the latter scheduled for release this month) and other films produced by, Amaka Igwe and Jeta Amata, the many afflictions of the film business in the nation remain palpable.

Nollywood has assumed a vertical growth since the 50s. But there is no auteur (producer with grasp) in sight, and the bulk of the directors, producers and cast lack the intelligence and imagination to ad lib or improvise.

Flashes of thespian propriety have come from relatively accomplished actors like Stephanie Okereke, Jeta Amata and few others, but a lot remains undone.

Popular actor and theatre teacher, Dr. Sola Fasudo has criticised the industry as being all about money and not quality.

Nollywood best actresses
"Home movie in Nigeria has been bastardised. They produce movies every week, which is not supposed to be. They have turned it to money making business. And because of their selfish means of trying to make money, they feel they can keep producing more films so that they can make enough money, but they have made people give us all sorts of names abroad. We don't know where we are going in this country", he lamented.

The old theater warlock added that: "The problem is that people are not ready to learn, so someone would just wake up one morning and say he wants to be an actor. Then the next step is for him to look for where they are doing audition and attend".

According to him, "Even if you have the talent, you still have to go and learn it. You need to go to school, because you need to put some finishing touches to the talent to make it more solid".

The trained actor, says he prefers "being in soap operas, because that is where you can breed yourself to be a good actor, not all those road side people they put in films and start calling themselves actors".

The failure of a typical Nollywood flick starts from the costume and permeates the entire production.

Lighting as a theatre or drama technique is yet to be mastered by the production cadre of the industry. The same goes for interpretation of scripts, speech, body manipulation, improvisation and adaptation.

Most Nollywood directors and producers cannot interpret scripts. They even make shoddier jobs of adapting a novel or play, except in cases where such works were handled or supervised by masters like Prof. Femi Osofisan, a playwright and foremost dramatist.

Tunde Kelani, one of the very few good heads thriving in the Yoruba film genre, has for example made a great service to Osofisan's 'Maami', which is on the verge of release in theatres. But such good productions are too few in the industry for comfort.

A movie on Aba Women Protest of 1929 is a good example of how shoddy Nigerian producers can be. The setting was that of 1970s South-eastern Nigeria, the costume was the costume of the 90s and every other thing else in the movie did not reflect 1929.

The diachronic adaptations of thousands of scripts for Nigerian movies have failed flat on their faces. Epic movies, evade historical essence and substance for drama and voodoo.

The 1990s Amadioha, an Igbo epic movie, was a breakthrough on action, suspense and aesthetics, but a befitting and thorough-going narrative of the story of the Igbo legendary warrior and deity of thunder was virtually missing.

In modern theatre productions the adaptation of novels, stories or plays goes for accuracy as best as it can get. In cases where accuracy is not achieved in that sense, the producer must conscientiously and intelligently review the narrative, not to distort certain diachronic essentials, but to achieve a desirable purpose for the audience.

The Gladiator (2000), a multiple award-winning movie by Ridley Scott and The Fall of the Roman Empire are examples of purposefully embellished movie adaptations.

Both movies adopt the plot that Marcus Aurelius, who ruled Rome from 161AD to 180AD was murdered by his son on revealing that his succession will go to Maximus, a general in the Army.

Besides the purposeful adaptive twist in the fate of the historical Emperor Aurelius, the costumes, dialogue, action are accurate and in tune with the era in which the Emperor and his beguiling adoptive General-son, Maximus reigned.

After more than 50 years of Theatre in Nigeria, just a handful of mainstream movie productions have been able to meet the basic requirements for adaptations.

There are even fewer cases of these productions improvising in the expert mode of Late Professor Sonny Oti's The Pioneers (1976).

In too many Nigerian cases, that style of adaptation is not common. Not even the basic rules for adaptation are there.

A few adaptive works have managed to breast the tape. One of a few of such is the British-Nigerian movie co-directed by Jeta Amata.

The movie, which is based on the slave exploits of the British in Nigeria, managed to garner its modest success, because of the directorial prowess and thoroughness of Amata and a horde of other thoroughly professional production crew.

Nollywood superstar actresses
Even low-budget flicks have had run-away successes. Nollywood may be bigger than Hollywood and Bollywood put together, but may still be derided by the bigger part of the film world that is a stickler for details, quality and meaningful growth.

The vain flattery around town that Nollywood is the fastest-growing movie industry in the world, only next to Bollywood, is not helpful. The traders and businessmen in garbs of movie directors, producers, script writers and actors, must lean back and come up with better ideas.

Some estimates have it that Nollywood is worth $6billion every year. Other 'Woods' have no such ready annual estimates. But I guess that is not what matters to them.

Another problem with the Nigerian film industry is that of a lack of talent synergy.

The Yoruba genre of Nollywood as a matter of fact, has more talented directors and in most cases actors; it does not, however wash them clean of occasional dismal showing.

But the Nollywood mainstream largely controlled by the Igbo-Niger Delta axis is worse. Besides lacking in good actors and good producers, it has chosen, as if out of spite, some sort of contrived airs of competence.

There is the Kannywood variant, taken from Kano State of Nigeria that is worrisome-based and dismal.

Their jarring mimicry of Bollywood in Kannywood, goes as far as wholesale copying of the culture of the Asian film sector. The whole kannywood ouvre is buried in Indian ways from choreography to song.

The ignorant disconnect is that: The art of choreography, besides it being alien to the culture of the Habe(Hausawa), or to be specific the Kanawa(the peoples of Kano), cannot take that form in Nigerian theatre setting. Of all film industry variants in Nigeria, Kannywood is the worst.

Low-budgeting is not quite the problem. Many good directors have made good films with little budgets.

Another sour point in the Nigerian film business is dialogue. Here, actors besides being terrible in speech rendition do not believe that a speech should tally the occasion or the era in which the movie is based-diachronic adaptation in the film business, means adapting to time, culture and speech of the era in which a particular project is based..

If the speech pattern, diction or vocabulary of a cast in a movie that seeks to adopt a story set in 1960 reflects the vocabulary of the 21st century Nigeria, then the director would have failed.

The music industry in comparison to the movie industry has however, made a lot of progress.

Almost all music genres in Nigeria, have achieved international acclaim. The Nigerian music industry has been rated as having one of the most advanced recording technologies in the world.

Composers of different genres, from Apala, Afro Juju, Fuji, Swange and the various genres across Nigeria have hit gold with high international accolades and ratings.

The music industry has even produced a three-time Grammy nominee, Femi Kuti. His father, Fela Kuti was one of Africa's greatest music exports. The music production cadre also boasts of production companies like Chocolate City.

Chocolate City is the first Nigerian music company to attain a global music award and recognition by the British Council in 2007. Its founder and Chief Executive Officer, Audu Maikori won the international music Entrepreneur of the Year award the same year.

Reuters international later produced a documentary on the success of Chocolate City titled: "Music and Money", in recognition of the company's contribution to the development of the Nigerian music industry. One of the rappers on Chocolate label later represented Nigeria on a tour of the United Kingdom and Africa from 2007-2008.

Tuface Idibia remains one of the best ever in Africa with several hits and awards on his belt.

Another music production company that has gained recognition globally is Kennis Music, and Mo'Hits records that is now collaborating with G.O.O.D Music owned by Kanye West.

The development of the two has not been even. In the 1960s , while the Theatre industry with its different genres, or strictly speaking the drama industry was trying to pick up, the likes of Rex Lawson, a Highlife maestro in the Niger Delta and later the likes of Fela were firmly on the international stage.

Theatre exports from Nigeria that managed a global stage came from Prof. Wole Soyinka and very few others like the Late Prof. Ola Rotimi.

The music industry outperforms all genres of theatre in Nigeria put together in terms of international rating.

The music industry, unlike its sister film industry has aimed at inventing and multiplying genres of music, as opposed to aping foreign counterparts. Since 1930s, each region or ethnic group has continued to give birth to a multiple of music types that have made great impact in their individual rights.

In cases where foreign genres were adopted, the music industry players have managed to infuse such genres with local derivatives and given them new aural effects.

Besides being very high on rhythm to match the digital tradition of the 21st Century, recent Nigerian music has also played great roles in exporting different Nigerian slang or versions of the English language to the global stage.


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The New Nigerian Cinema: Does it look Nollywood or Hollywood?

by NMN (Staff) / 3,242 Views

Mike Ekunno who was a Senior Speechwriter to the immediate past Minister of Information and Communications, takes a panoramic view of the celluloid scene and tries to anticipate its future direction. Read the transcript below:

Nollywood is at the threshold of a paradigm shift which may have started in 2010. Just as 1992 is credited with the birth of Nollywood with ‘Living In Bondage', a modest cache of offerings on the big screen (The Figurine, Inale, Ije 'The Journey', and Anchor Baby) may have started the rebirth of Nollywood. But as to the nature of this change, it is still morning yet on creation day.

Time will tell whether the change is an ecdysis of the snake merely shedding its skin or a mutation that goes down to the genes. If it is the former, there may be nothing to cheer except the fact of the different platform - cinema - that the movies are coming out on. But if it is the latter, there will be lots to cheer, because it means we will be seeing changes in the very characteristics that define (and malign) Nollywood. What are these characteristics?

Low budgets
Budget and gestation period are top on the list of Nollywood's defining parameters. Nollywood movies are low budget movies. With two million naira, a producer can cobble together a flick. Also, the gestation period from pre-production to marketing can be of the order of few weeks. Somehow, the questions of budget and gestation period are inter-connected, like an engine head and its trailer.

Low budget means that the script cannot be properly researched or a good scriptwriter hired. Many a time, some hare-brained storyteller is engaged and gifted character actors are invited to listen to the story and ad-lib their parts. Casting, set making, props and the shooting proper, all suffer from this paucity of funding.

In contrast, ‘Inale', one of the new films whose release signposts the new era, reportedly cost $2.8 million (N300m) to produce. By Hollywood standards, this figure is chicken change but in Nollywood, it is a king's ransom. The difference is visible in the quality of the film, to confirm our Nigerian saying that "better soup, na money kill am."

As for duration, ‘Ije' took 18 months for shooting alone, with locations in Jos and the US. This contrasts with the fortnight average duration of a shoot for Nollywood movies.
Another parameter to be used in evaluating how much of Nollywood is to be found in the new cinema is in the craft. I use craft here as an omnibus word that encompasses directing, acting, the storyline, and its treatment. As far as acting goes, Nollywood's best can hold the candle to the best in the world. What is lacking is the directorial capacity to lift their game.

In many star roles of the quartet under review, it is the self-same Nollywood actors that put up stellar performances. Whether one is talking about ‘The Figurine' (Ramsey Noah, Kunle Afolayan, Omoni Oboli, etc) or ‘Ije' (Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde), the story is the same. One can, therefore, posit that the problem with Nollywood is not in the actors but the acting (excuse the pun). This is true, especially of the A-list actors.

As for the storylines, those of our normative quartet are no different from the regular Nollywood fare. Nollywood has countless stories of mysterious jinxes to rival ‘The Figurine'. It has done too many epics to make ‘Inale' special just on that score. What is missing from the Nollywood equivalents is treatment that is suspenseful and filmic. Kunle Afolayan's ‘The Figurine' allows you to conjecture what is happening with the serial prosperity followed by serial tragedies as happened in the film.

Up until the end, the attribution of the mystery to the figurine remains debatable. The scientific minded would say they are mere coincidences. If the film is watched in the downtown cinema of our growing up days which had more rowdy audiences, you could picture the hot arguments that will erupt between teenage friends on their way out as the lights come on. That is the purpose of art: engendering debate.

Also the false ending or twist in the tale of ‘Anchor Baby' is totally unpredictable from the beginning, unlike in Nollywood where any eight-year-old aficionado will tell you what is to happen by merely seeing Patience Ozokwor, Kanayo Kanayo, or Jim Iyke's character.
Being too loquacious, as if one were using an audio medium, has been the bane of Nollywood. In the quartet under review, one could see glimpses of how it should be done without the need to preach too much.

In directing, our quartet is many notches above Nollywood standard. This is notwithstanding the limited experience of Lonzo Nzekwe (‘Anchor Baby'). Only in ‘Inale' could one see a bit of the corruptive influence of Nollywood in the perfunctorily executed wrestling scenes.

Also, the dialogues and romantic scene featuring Odeh (Hakeem Kae Kazim) and Inale (Caroline Chikezie) before the wrestling seem to kill the suspense and make the outcome of the contest predictable - more like working towards the answer. The director, Jeta Amata, cannot be excused his playful treatment of the wrestling scenes on account of the film being a musical. His approach seems to be that of merely dramatising the story being told by Cameron Prozman's character to his granddaughter. This is faulty.
In ‘Titanic', which uses the same technique of flashback, the film takes a life of its own and sucks the audience so much into the "now" as to forget it is only a flashback. Notwithstanding this minor flaw, ‘Inale' still blazes a quality trail in its genre with the fragrance of Bongos Ikwue's songwriting prowess redolent throughout it.

Across borders
With the exception of ‘The Figurine', the other members of the quartet all benefited from cross border collaborations in set design, location, cast, crew and post-production. If they are that good, it stands to reason that collaboration is the way to go. There has to be a trans-Atlantic handshake for Nollywood to up its game. Nollywood collabos have been too fixated on merely showing that an Oyinbo face or London street was captured. The budgets obviously could not carry quality actors in the collaborating countries.
As for the Ghanaian actors in Nollywood, they cannot uplift any standards because they don't have any higher or better film culture to draw from. Those of them that have broken into Nollywood's A-list have no choice but to conform to Nollywood. Inale's casting of Hakeem Kae Kazim and Caroline Chikezie in lead roles was a well-executed move that surely rubbed off on the musical's overall rating. Though Nigerians by birth, both had made their marks in advanced film cultures and were known faces internationally. ‘Anchor Baby' also had Terri Oliver. Nollywood's casting directors must in future cast their nets wide enough to incorporate off-shore, top-rated actors to enhance the universal acceptance of their stories and movies.

In this, maybe they could borrow a leaf from national football where being foreign-based has its benefits; but film has no laws against the nationality of the players you can use.

Offshore, Onshore
However, off-shore collaboration in acting roles should not be confused with feeding our inferiority complex. It is not necessarily because our A-list actors are not good enough. Neither is it about having a white face or American accent. Film is a worldwide medium and these off-shore actors bring cross-cultural credibility to the story.

But apart from shopping off-shore, there is a slew of talents waiting to be challenged in the nascent Nigerian theatre and Nigerian non-Nollywood constituencies, including Kannywood, the Northern movie market. Nollywood and the Nigerian stage have had only limited symbiosis. Nothing prevents the new cinema from going a-fishing in the stage pond. Dede Mabiaku gave a good account of himself in ‘Inale'.

Before the ink on this piece could dry, two other big screen flicks with Nigerian, nay Nollywood, inputs hit the cinemas. ‘Between Kings And Queens' was made by ex-Nollywood practitioner, Joy Dickson, and stars Jim Iyke while ‘Champion of our Time' comes with a full cast of Nollywood stars including Joke Silva, Segun Arinze, Ejike Asiegbu, etc. Given our zest for following trends, one should expect a hurricane in Nigerian cinema films in 2011. It remains to be seen whether Nollywood is merely re-inventing itself or a totally different movement is being born.

Tighten your seat belts everybody!

Mike Ekunno is a staff of the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB).
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