Legal Drama

40 Lessons from AFRIFF 2014: My Thoughts on Nollywood, African Cinema, Lawyers and AFRIFF.

Akinyemi Ayinoluwa AFRIFFLast year, the media was agog with the news of the success of Chioma Ude’s week-long AFRICAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (AFRIFF). I rued my inability to attend and promised I would attend the 2014 edition. Fast forward to 2014; the publicity was top-notch and anyone not living under a rock was overdosed on information concerning the film festival slated for the 2nd week of November.

I got a chance to attend the 2014 AFRIFF festival. Before I share my takeways, note that in industry terms, film festivals are launch pads for film industry professionals. Attendees attend for the following reasons:

  • To broker distribution deals after the film has been screened in front of acquisition executives, talent scouts and film buyers;
  • to win awards;
  • to sit on panels at workshops or seminars with the purpose of sharing ideas and experiences while getting honest feedbacks and criticisms;
  • to cultivate new business relationships; and
  • to enjoy seminars and screenings.

Now the takeaways:

NOTES AND LESSONS FROM AFRIFF

Chioma Ude AFRIFF1. Calabar, the capital of Cross River State is beautiful. The green topography is stunningly imposing, and the state’s infrastructure is remarkable.

2. I have never seen so many beautiful women in one city.

3. The African Time syndrome we are plagued with is here to stay, it appears; punctuality at events in Nigeria remains elusive.

4. MRS OBIOMA LIYEL IMOKE; the first lady of Cross River State, and the founder of AFRIFF; Chioma Ude, are beautiful and graceful women; they were a delight to watch and listen to as they delivered their addresses on the opening night.

5. “THE SQUARE”, a film screened on the opening night of the festival, is a must watch for all Africans. It captures the moments leading up to the revolt in Egypt. It also captures the interplay of religion, politics, civil disobedience and social consciousness.

6. Attendees were 95% Nigerians, as though it were a Nollywood Affair. Nonetheless, films from all over Africa were submitted for screening.

7. Film marketing is critical to box office successes. It is about shaping public  perception in favour of your film.

8. The five Ps in film marketing are: PRODUCT, PLACE, PRICE, PERSON AND PROMOTION.

9. The movie business is about numbers, the audience, and the people. You must sell your offering and get people to pay attention to your product. Providing a sellable experience is what guarantees a favourable return on investment.

10. Movies could be sold by planting seeds such as Stories, Commemorative events, Talents, or the Director’s stature.

11. PLACE: in marketing this is where the transactions occur, such as: Cinema, DVDs, Cable TV, Internet, Merchandising, Sponsorships and Product Placements.

12. A producer must have an estimate of how much money he can realize from his movie after considering a well orchestrated distribution plan and possible revenue projections.

13. A budget for publicity and advertising is indispensable to recouping monies expended on a production.

14. In marketing film, social media plays an important role. A promotional plan for a release must be well orchestrated. Nothing sells a movie more than positive word of mouth.

15. Mr. Uzoma Onwuchekwa, of EBONYLIFE TV, is an authority on Film Marketing in Nigeria.

16. There is a Nigerian Entertainment Industry Health Insurance Scheme (NEIHIS) that seeks to safeguard the health of Nollywood Practitioners.

17. Nollywood and African Cinema must tell stories that address social issues.

18. Film Critics are partners in progress for their objective thoughts on a production. They should be courted by directors and producers for first hand feedbacks.

19. Don Omope and Shuaibu Husseini are film critics of repute in and beyond Nollywood.

20. Talented filmmaker Todd Brown (producer Raid: Redemption and Raid 2), opined that to effectively go international with your movie, the producer must have a local story that will resonate with a global audience.

21. Kene Mkparu of FilmHouse has done a lot for distribution in Nigeria by proliferating cinemas. Sale of Physical DVDs and CDs is still a mystery. The menace of Piracy continues to deal a death blow on film investments in Nigeria.

22. Distributors need to be more transparent in their dealings with content owners.

23. There is still a dearth of data in the Nigerian film industry. How do you present verifiable numbers to investors?

24. A panellist called for more Lawyers in Nollywood after some notable filmmakers shared their woes on non-performance of contracts and infringements of their rights. I, at that moment grabbed the microphone and shared a few of my thoughts.

25. Distributors and content owners must acknowledge the chain of title and perform according to the dictates of signed documents.

26. Online platforms like YouTube also provide distribution and marketing. One must tread carefully in incorporating this platform.

27. Film Finance is a recurrent phenomenon in the film business. You must set up a proper business entity and understand financial statements. You must have finance professionals working with you to help you explore funding options. Akin Oyebode, Head, SME Banking at Stanbic IBTC Bank, was on hand to render comments too. I figured pitching for funds is an art a filmmaker must understand and master.

28. Kunle Afolayan, the maverick producer of Nigerian Box office hit OCTOBER 1st, shone like a million stars at the festival. His film,”October 1” carted home awards and got thunderous plaudits after its screening and at the awards ceremony.

29. Ojuju, a low budget movie, by filmmaker CJ OBASI won an award for best Nigerian Feature. A perfect underdog-becoming-a-champion story.

30. Tunde Babalola, writer of October 1, while receiving his award for best screenplay opined that a film starts with the script provided by the writer. Students at the workshop he taught roared in agreement.

31.Cabals run the industry. There is a constant cold competition between generations of Actors and Directors.

32. There is Nollywood and the New Nollywood. Think Alaba market, marketers in Asaba, Delta State. Think Tinsel, Gidi Up and other productions of the same quality.

33. Kunle Afolayan is bent on recouping his investment in his film in record time. He seizes every opportunity to assert that there must be financial rewards for work done.

34. IBK (the singer), THE MAGICIANS, and XOLILE TSHABALALA (AFRIFF ambassador) made the closing night beautiful for all with amazing performances and speech.

35. I cannot forget the scriptwriter and director of the movie “GONE TOO FAR”. They are amazing. I became teary-eyed when they received their awards. I salute these ladies; the director Destiny Ekaragha and writer Bola Agbaje.

36. I loved “FINDING FELA”, a documentary on Africa’s biggest music export, FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI.

37. Ten lucky students won scholarships to study various aspects of filmmaking in the United States of America.

38. Tunde Kelani, the veteran filmmaker is enigmatic. He has no airs about him; a journalist’s delight. Also, Mahmood Ali-Balogun, another veteran filmmaker, loves to share knowledge. He takes the pain to advise colleagues. I remain indebted to him for his admonition.

39. The industry has a short memory; we forget the pioneers easily. Fickle.

40. I returned to Lagos, Nigeria, with loads of business cards, developed first-name basis relationships with my new contacts and scheduled appointments to meet with them in the near future.

I hope this long read meant something to you.

Akinyemi Ayinoluwa is an entertainment attorney at HighTower Solicitors and Advocates, a law firm situate in Marina, Lagos State, Nigeria. Akinyemi speaks, writes, advocates and comments on pressing creative industry matters.

Follow @akinyemilaw on Twitter and instagram for more updates. 

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