Believe it or not, Nollywood brought the African continent to limelight and it continues to do so. From Living In Bondage to The Wedding Party, the years have been good to the industry. One reason is certain – a massive revolution of our screenplays. Over the years, Nollywood screenwriters have gone out of their way to churn out great screenplays. Although there are still amateur screenplays and we have a long way to go compared to Hollywood, we can’t deny that Nollywood is no longer where it was more than twenty years ago. Now the world has been forced to view the industry in a positive light.
This article highlights six things that the screenplays do right which reflect in the movies we see today.
#1 Stories the audience relates with:
This is why our Asaba movies will always trend even if they are too ‘local’ for the growing elites. Say whatever you want about Nollywood, you can’t deny that the one thing our movies excel at are the stories which reflect the situations and events around us. Unlike Hollywood which can successfully portray entirely fictitious pictures, Nollywood depends solely on our environment. Screenwriters get their inspiration and materials from real life experiences. From the poor to the rich, the educated and the uneducated, the young and old, from a local market woman to a billionaire icon, there’s always something that appeals to everyone through the creative work of screenwriters. Nollywood screenwriters write what they know.
#2. They are culturally inclined:
Like stories audience relates with , Nollywood screenplays are deeply influenced by culture. Certain things that Hollywood gets away with can meet a roadblock in Nollywood. Screenwriters are always careful to dish out stories that don’t tamper with the Nigerian and African culture. For instance, sex scenes and nudity garner negative criticisms. A Nigerian audience that enjoys sexually explicit moves like Fifty Shades of Grey will most likely not tolerate sex and nudity in Nollywood movies. This is because sex and nudity are considered forbidden subjects in a typical African culture. Although things are changing gradually these days and sex and nudity are gradually acceptable in movies such as Omotala Jalade Ekeinde’s Alter Ego, screenwriters are careful not to cross the acceptable boundaries. They are very conscious of their target audience. Nigerians and indeed Africans as a whole are deeply rooted in culture, forget formal education and modern civilization.
#3. Uncomplicated dialogues:
Simple dialogues are common in Nollywood screenplays. They maybe poetic, angry, sad, happy, funny, heartbreaking, dramatic and passionate and they may not necessarily meet the classic dialogues of all time, but they are easily understood and enjoyed.
#4. Characters we can relate with:
Have you ever watched a Nollywood movie and you’re like, “this character looks like so so so and so person”? That’s Nollywood. Like previously stated, screenwriters get most of their materials from real people and real life experiences. A Nigerian environment is a valuable source of material to a screenwriter. People are constant inspirations to a Nollywood screenwriter and he or she uses them with relish. So if you see a character acting like your weird brother in a movie, just know that the screenwriter knows him or somebody like him.
#5. Exciting, complicated plots and twists:
Drama and comedy are the major genres of Nollywood screenwriting. Since the industry hasn’t evolved enough to introduce powerful, stunt filled action movies and thrillers, screenwriters have to come up with exciting, complicated plots and twists to attract the audience and sustain their interest till the end. Even if the movies are predictable most of the time, the screenwriters work hard to always put members of the audience on the edge of their seats as their stories unfold. Take for instance, Dinner, written and produced by Jay Franklin Jotuboh, the movie may look simple but it’s not. Not really. Great plot, great story and a twisted ending that gets the audience reeling. Dinner remains one of the best movies that came out of Nollywood.
#6. They are affordable:
Apart from the fact that most screenwriters are meagerly paid and most Nollywood movies are low budget, they are also easily accessible and affordable. In time past, the only channel of distribution was the straight to DVDs which were sold to marketers who distribute them nationwide and beyond. Nowadays, the channels have expanded to include cinemas, cable television like Multichoice’s African Magic Family, Epic, World, Urban, Showcase, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa etc, Strong TV’s My TV Africa, Series, More, Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba and others. Then there are the online Televisions like IrokoTV, Ibaka, Iflix, Ndani, LITV and so on. Screenwriters write screenplays that meet the specifications of these distribution platforms which means anybody can afford to see a Nollywood movie, no matter the class or background. Some may argue that it depends on the Nollywood movie but an Igbo adage says, “nwata n’ata akara n’ata ego ya” (a child that eats bean balls eats his or her money).
Here they are, the six things Nollywood screenwriters are doing great in their screenplays. Next week we shall discuss what Nollywood screenwriters DON’T do right in their screenplays. In the meantime, hope you find this enlightening. If you have more, share with us in the comment section. Cheers!