No, the N in Nollywood has nothing to do with nudity or nude films. Get that dirty thought out of your minds, all ye concupiscent rats.
After we twice came across references to the Nigerian film industry aka Nollywood in the last week or so, we felt compelled to bring it to your attention considering y’all have an insane attachment to this movie thing.
Nollywood is a reference to the Nigerian movie industry. A word play on Hollywood, not unlike Bollywood (Hindi films), Kollywood (Tamil films) or Tollywood (Telugu ‘movies’).
A few days back, we saw our first reference to Nollywood in one of the unlikeliest places. In a work on politics by Francis Fukuyama (of End of History fame)
Francis Fukuyama in chapter one of his recent magnum opus The Origins of Political Order describes the Nigerian movie business thus:
(A) film industry that produces as many titles as India’s famed Bollywood, but films have to earn a quick return because the government is incapable of guaranteeing intellectual property rights and preventing products from being copied illegally. (p.13)
Wow, that sure sounds like Bollywood, doesn’t it?
After all, Bollywood too is characterized by the production of huge numbers of films every year in the Hindi language. And if you add up movies made in India’s regional languages (Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Bhojpuri and Oriya) as well, the number of films made in India swells significantly.
All of them at the mercy of the ruthless pirates. Three days after a Bollywood film is released, it is available for rent and sale across grocery stores in America, 10,000-miles away from Bombay/Mumbai, the hub of the Indian movie industry.
Of course, Indian movie producers seldom take on pirates because most are themselves thieving swines of the first order, often shamelessly filching successful (Ghajini from Memento) and the not-so-successful Hollywood plots (Tees Maar Khan from After the Fox).
Nollywood like the Indian movie business is a glorious triumph of quantity over quality.
Some reports suggest that locals in Nigeria believe more films are made in their country than there are stars in the sky!
Sarah Lacy, our second introduction to the Nigerian film business, writes in the digital media publication TechCrunch, that Nollywood churns out hundreds of films a month with ‘most shot on a shoe-string budget of about $15,000 per picture.’
Apparently, there are few theatrical releases in Nigeria. Most Nollywood films are released not in theaters unlike the Indian movie business but straight to DVD and on TV. Not surprising when you consider that even Lagos, Nigeria’s capital and a city of 15-million has less than five theaters.
The DVDs sell for a dollar or two and are eagerly snapped up not merely by locals but all across Africa and the Nigerian diaspora. Again, we see a similarity in the inroads Bollywood has made in neighboring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, as well as with the large diaspora in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, UK, Canada and USA.
If you believe those anonymous scribblers on Wiki, Nollywood is the second largest film industry in the world (in quantity not earnings or quality) yielding only to the top-ranker India.
Poor USA is third in this mad quantity game.
And for those like yours truly who bitch and moan at the theft by Indian movie-makers, the Nigerians are ahead in the scam game. According to Lacy, the Nigerians sometimes release the same movie as many as four times with different titles. Lo, here we were under the delusion that our desis were the ne plus ultra of crooked behavior.
Piracy too is rampant in Nigeria and the window of opportunity for Nollywood filmmakers to make money off their films is a fortnight or less.
If you think Bollywood directors Ram Gopal Varma or Priyadarsan are film factories churning out film after film in quick succession, consider the Nigerian director Chico Ejiro, who is said to have directed over 80 films in an eight-year period. Ejiro, it seems, can complete production on a movie in as little as three days.
As in India, Hollywood films play second fiddle in Nigeria too. The local industry is entrenched and the “family-oriented” Nigerian movies are said to be more popular over American films, which, as we should know after years here, is all over the place in respect of themes.
Just as we were concluding this post, we came across references to Nollywood’s competitors, Ghallywood and Lolliwood (the Ghanian and Liberian film industries respectively).
So, if it’s any consolation to y’all, Indians are not the only ones making crappy films in large numbers. It warms the cockles to know there are other humans making movies so much worse than our junk!