If you’re a follower of Nollywood movies, you will notice the several changes happening in the industry. There are numerous but today we will discuss the trends in the distribution platforms and how they affect the screenwriting business in Nollywood.
For a long time, the industry had only one platform- the straight to DVDs. Alaba international market, Lagos, Onitsha Upper Iweka and Asaba marketers were the dons. They controlled and dictated the pace of the Nollywood movies. Filmmakers had to dance to their tunes if they want their movies to sell. This invariably affected the screenwriters who could and can only write what the filmmakers want.
Nowadays, things have changed. These marketers are no longer the only players in the movie distribution game. More players have arrived and options are wide open for filmmakers to choose from. Ultimately, Nollywood screenwriters are no longer limited to one source but several sources where they can explore and write to their hearts’ content, according to the standards of these distribution platforms of course. This article focuses on the trends in these platforms and how they affect the screenwriters.
#1. The straight to DVD platform:
We are referring to Alaba, Onitsha Upper Iweka, Asaba marketers. This is a platform for filmmakers with limited resources and experience. They’re all weather. They produce all kinds of genre- romance, comedy, tragedy, drama, thriller, epic, traditional/cultural movies and even action. But they’re mostly amateur movies. They have the largest audience because their stories target mostly the lower and middle class who constitute the majority of the Nigerian population.
Ironically, these so called amateur movies opened up Nollywood to the world. They not only produced what an average Nigerian can relate with, but what the entire African continent can relate with. Hence, they can never fizzle out despite the emergence of more improved movies and sophisticated distribution platforms.
But screenwriters are often stunted in this category if they don’t try to get to more advanced platforms. Some write for very little payments. Some don’t get paid at all. Most of the filmmakers aren’t trained in the art of film making. So they don’t really know or perhaps, care about the value of screenwriters. It is a great place to start and grow. But it is also advisable to get out to better platforms as a screenwriter.
#2. Online TV platform:
With the continuous increase of internet users in Nigeria and beyond, Nollywood movies have begun to be screened online. IrokoTV, IbakaTV, Iflix, NdaniTV, LITV and other online TVs are taking advantage of the internet to screen their movies. These platforms are more selective than their straight to DVD counterpart. It’s a platform where professionals and non-professionals operate depending on their standards.
It’s also a great place to reach professionals and advance your prospects as a screenwriter. They pay relatively well because most of them are well trained and know the value of a screenwriter.
However, they’re selective of their genres depending on the demands of their audience. IrokoTV, for instance, trends on Epic and Traditional/Cultural movies these days. So, if you want to write for them or other online TVs, find out what they want, the filmmakers that patronize them and write according to their standards.
#3. Cable TV platform:
Here, Nollywood movies are screened on cable TVs like My TV, MNET, African Magic etc. Like the online TVs, both professionals and non-professionals operate here. And like the online platform, they’re great places to be recognized as a screenwriter. African Magic produces movies and they use a lot of well-known screenwriters and other professionals. They have a wider range of genres considering the series of channels they have. You must up your game if you want to get commissions from African Magic.
#4. The Cinema platform:
This is the most exclusive platform for distributing Nollywood movies. It is most definitely not a place for amateurs. Cinema owners are very selective of movies. They will not screen a movie that will not appeal to their audience who consist of the middle and upper class. And these class of audience are more exposed to sophisticated Hollywood movies. So a Nollywood movie that must screen in the cinema must meet the Hollywood standard.
Hence, only well trained professional screenwriters are given commissions to write a screenplay for the cinema. You’re considered a screenwriting guru when your screenplay is produced for the cinema. It is the highest achievement that any screenwriter in Nigeria can attain.
Cinema owners are also selective of their genres. Right now, romantic comedies are trending, though they allow other genres. As a screenwriter, you must follow the trend of the cinema if you want to be recognized.
One thing ties these platforms together. The budget. The bigger the client, the bigger the budget. The bigger the budget, the bigger the screenwriter. And the bigger the screenwriter, the higher the pay. The opportunities are there. All a screenwriter needs to do is to know the trends and act accordingly.