Dan Oluigbo, popularly known as chief priest, is one of the pioneers of Nollywood who disagrees with the ovation Nollywood is currently enjoying both from within and outside the country. In this exclusive chat with Vanguard Art, the movie maker xrays the industry’s problems and charts a way forward. Excerpts.
What’s your rating of Nollywood?
Movie making in Nigeria is now bullshit. The only thing producers are concerned with is just how to churn out films in order to make profit, nobody cares about the content of films and how to improve upon them.
You sound so dissatisfied. what’s your agitation about?
This industry died since 1994. Before then, after we hit it with Living In Bondage and I went on to produce Taboo, Guest Of Satan,and they were highly pirated, I told my colleagues that it is needful that we moved up and step up the quality of production to be in tune with technological advancement.
My suggestion was that if we cannot shoot on 35 millimeters, that we should at least shoot on digital film which is the high definition. Some of them agreed. But sadly, after a period of time, they all ganged up against me, went to marketers, collected money and started shooting the nonsense they are now feeding people with.
But actors say they take home up to a million naira and above?
All those things are media hype. Producers are busy pouring out films which are readily pirated and of very poor quality. You don’t expect huge sales and whereby the quantity of film sold is low, how would you expect an actor to go home with a million naira? An actor is paid 30,000 – 50,000 he comes to the papers and tells you he took one million, that is bull shit. It is not true. We know all that.
Even if there are people who are collecting 100,000. What is 100,000, what is 200,000?.This is why I said movie making in Nigeria is dead. You can imagine that there is over 3-4,000 people marketing films in Onitsha with almost the same ratio here in Lagos. Whenever a good film comes out, it is pirated.
The market for a long time has become so saturated that people are not buying movies again. Also, the Ghanhanians entered the field and then destroyed everything. They came into the picture and started producing films that are not in tune with our norms and values.
Their films are much more adult descriptive than the ones we make. A lot of nudity and all kinds of stuff were introduced, leading to serious condemnation by parents/guidance. That also reduced the quality of films we sold.
Any Plans to help correct the ugly trend?
Well, I can’t join in the rubbish others are doing. I will come back to produce films, but I must take my time. Now, you know there is shooting high definition of movie, or you shoot on high definition movie or better still, you shoot on 35 mm. For instance, if you plan to produce a film with fifty million naira, you are able to get a crew that is a high definition crew from either South Africa or from London who will come with every gadget.
As for the actors, you can get Hollywood actors and pay their local expenses, give them allowance and then pay them later from the sales of the films at box office. This means that you can even shoot a small drama and sell it with that effect. You know, because you are shooting on high definition, the migration to cut that film into a 35mm reel is easy, but if you do it on DV, you will spend so much money to upgrade in a color laboratory, and at the end of the day you have nothing
Most producers seem to be making their money through cinemas…(Cuts in)
I agree. But you see, what I am talking about is an international thing. When you make films at the range I am talking about, a lot of international distribution companies would be interested. But there is another issue here, and that is that all of us in the film industry came from television. I can not point out one film director or two that came from the Nigeria film college in Jos.
What it means is that the processes of shooting film and for television are totally different. For instance when you look at our films, when they are shooting interior, the windows are not open during the day. The reason they are shooting during the day with closed windows is because they do not have either the technology, or cannot pay for the expenses of lighting from outside, which involves using a light meter to ensure that the level of illumination inside tallies with the one outside, to ensure that the shadows are killed.
The problem is that the producers do not want to go through all these troubles, so everybody puts in some two or three million to get the film out the following week. Sadly, Hollywood is praising them, as the biggest film industry in Africa and the second largest film industry in the world. You can imagine doing more than ten thousand movies every month in Nigeria.
I am looking at doing more professional films. I will either shoot on 35mm, or I shoot on high definition. Sony has gone to ps4. the high definition camera has gone to grade4 which gives you ability to do all kinds of magic. Now, there is 3d films with which a lot of manipulation is possible because there is high definition. You can do skin texturing, remove every spot on an artist’s face and can even shave someone with camera tricks in the film.
The films I want to make, if I find fund to make them, by God’s grace, am not even looking at premiering here. If I make my movies I’ll premier in the U.S or U.K and also sell there.
It is not necessary who you use, what determines who you use is your story. It is your story that determines who plays it. For instance, if I have a kind of role I want Samuel L. Jackson to play, I go to Mr. Jackson and say, I want you to do this. If I want Bruce Willies to play something, I go to him. I make an offer, and if the man likes the offer, we work and the film is made.