Last week, we discussed the 6 things Nollywood screenwriters do right in their screenplays. Recent movies that grace our cinemas and other movie distribution platforms have shown the incredible improvements in our stories and consequent productions.
Yet, despite the improvements, there are grey areas that Nollywood screenwriters can’t seem to shake off. We agreed to discuss them in our last post. Here are six of them as promised.
Please bear in mind that when we say Nollywood movies, we actually refer to the screenplays because a screenplay is the foundation of any movie. So, let’s go straight to the points.
#1. Recycled Storylines:
This often happens when a movie makes a hit. Watch it. Other subsequent movies will follow the same pattern. Same story, same theme, same plot, same characters with different names and faces. It’s exhausting. If you have seen Breaking Rules (read review here), you will agree that telling a story over and over again to the point of exhaustion is boring, no matter how good the actors maybe. Often times, we see great actors try to make the best of these movies. Some succeed. Others end up being the source of public ridicule.
There’s nothing wrong with recycling movies. Every movie industry does it including the almighty Hollywood. But introducing a little creativity goes a long way. Nollywood screenwriters should add spice to their recycled stories. They shouldn’t bore us out of the industry with over produced movies.
#2. The Copycat Mentality:
Ever seen a Nollywood movie and you’re like, “Wait, I’ve seen something like this in a foreign movie”? Yeah, you’re not wrong. That movie is probably copied from that foreign movie you know. For instance, we know the popular American fairy tale animation which was recently turned into a movie in 2016, Beauty and The Beast. Nollywood has one too and it’s also titled Beauty and The Beast. Same plot, same characters, same theme, the movie is a complete copycat of the original except the actors and location. And the worst part? It’s a poor copycat! Other examples are A Million Tears (Hollywood version: A Walk to Remember), Break out (Save the Last Dance), Weekend Getaway and Room Service (Maid in Manhattan) and so on. Some of our recent cinema hits are rumored to be guilty of this. For instance, Wives on Strike (Chi Raq), though the producer argued they were mere coincidences instead of a copycat situation. Others are Stalker (Obsessed, The Perfect Guy), October 1 (Perfume) and CEO (German version: Exam).
Out of all these movies, very few pull it off perfectly well. Others are just annoying. It leaves you wondering if creativity has finished in Nollywood.
#3. Predictable Plots:
Sounds familiar, right? From the title, you will already know what a movie is about and how it will end. There’s little or no room for the imagination to roam free. What’s the essence of watching a movie where the audience fantasy is not stimulated and exercised? When you write a predictable plot in a screenplay, chances are you will see the same thing on screen. Screenwriters should not forget that surprise and twists always remain key elements to a great movie that will endear to the audience.
#4. Unnecessary Scenes:
This is very common in Nollywood wedding and burial scenes. You see a movie waste a lot of time showing us how the MC conducts an occasion, how the bride dances into the arena with her bridal train, how she dances to her groom with her cup of palmwine, how she dances with the groom in the midst of family, friends and well-wishers. Then there is the burial scene where the coffin bearers demonstrate their choreography in front of a blaring ambulance with a coffin on their heads and shoulders while the whole village watches.
A simple montage could have sufficed. But no, they want to force us through the whole ordeal for what seems like forever. Someone joked that the idea is to keep the tape rolling since they’ve run out of ideas. Some said it’s to make different Parts or Seasons in the movie especially in Asaba movies. Here’s the deal. If you know a scene is not needed and it doesn’t affect the rest of the plot, please remove it.
#5. Too Much Words, Little Action:
Dialogue in Nollywood movies are usually too long and boring. Sometimes, you see characters telling their stories instead of living them. Other times, a character lives a story and then tells us the story. What is that? Most of these dialogues are not memorable. Some people say it’s because Nigerians talk a lot. Even if it’s true, a movie is a visual medium which means, at least, 60% percent action and 40% words. Reduce the talking and add more actions, people!
#6. Disappointing Endings:
We don’t mean tragedies. Tragedies are good. They’re fantastic. We have recently seen a welcome evolution of our Nollywood screenplays which reflect in our movies. But it looks like the screenwriters have not quite got the hang of ending their stories well. You see a movie that is full of enchantment, suspense, exciting twists, expectation, action packed and then it ends abysmally. It breaks the audience heart. The whole essence of watching a movie is to disappear into a fictitious where everything doesn’t have to be our everyday lives. There should be special moments that should end with the audience giving the movie a standing ovation. Sadly, even some of the best of Nollywood have disappointed us with their endings. Only a few have succeeded. It appears as if the screenwriters have run out of ideas on how to proceed and they the screenplays like they’re running out of time. It spoils the awesomeness of the screenplay which isn’t good for the screenwriter.
These are the six anomalies that Nollywood screenwriters should take note of and correct. We’re in a digital age. Mistakes like these shouldn’t appear at all. Do you know more? Please share with us in the comment section. Cheers!