Last time, we talked about story ideas Nollywood filmmakers want (read here). We got a lot of feedback with some readers saying those story ideas are old and overused and should be discarded for new ones. While we all agree that Nollywood is in desperate need of fresh ideas, let us not forget that there are certain factors that can make them seem impossible.
Nollywood filmmakers aren’t deaf to public demand. They simply go for what can profit them most in the filmmaking business. Therefore, there are certain story ideas that they shy away from. Not because they aren’t good enough, but because these filmmakers can’t see how they can benefit from them in the present Nigerian system.
Let’s discuss the top twelve story ideas that Nollywood filmmakers don’t want, shall we?
1. Political activism and propaganda
In present Nigeria, making a political movie is like setting yourself up for trouble. And by political movies, we mean activism and propaganda. It’s not like Nollywood filmmakers don’t do political movies. It is because the backlash that comes from those it may concern is usually not worth the effort. So the best they can do is tread softly. They might touch on a serious political subject, but they don’t go deep into it. Making a political movie criticizing Presidential Elections rigging and calling on mass revolution, for instance, will not go down well with some persons in high places. If the Nigerian Censors Board doesn’t get you, the people in high places surely will. Nobody likes wahala, especially political. So, Nollywood filmmakers stay away from making movies solely based on politics.
2. Tribalism or ethnic conflict
Like politics, tribalism is a very sensitive subject to touch in Nigeria. In fact, some say Nigeria is a sham marriage that Lord Luggard forced on independent ethnic groups. Chimamanda Adichie’s adapted novel was initially banned by the censors board primarily because of this. Half Of A Yellow Sun is deeply rooted in the Nigeria-Biafra civil war which is still a very sore subject even after the war had ended almost fifty years ago. According to the Nigerian Censors Board, Adichie’s movie might incite violence in the country. Hence, Nollywood filmmakers don’t attempt the subject. If they must, it has to be light and funny and must show how our different ethnic backgrounds bind us together, which in reality, is the opposite.
3. Inter-religious conflict
There are three major religions in Nigeria – Christianity, Islam and Indigenous Traditional religion. While Nollywood filmmakers don’t have problems showing how indigenous traditional religion is being gradually wiped out by the other religions, talking about the conflict between Christianity and Islam is a different ball game. It is very dangerous. As a matter of fact, inter-religious conflict has taken countless lives. All it takes to start a religious war is someone saying a little derogatory word about another’s religion and it’s on. Nollywood filmmakers know this and they avoid it completely. Making an inter-religious conflict movie is a no-go area for them, except they want to answer unsavory questions on why their movies incited the public into religious violence.
4. Crime/action flicks
Don’t get this wrong. Nollywood filmmakers do make detective movies, but the other aspects of the action genre is beyond them. Even the detective movies aren’t as action packed as Hollywood movies. Making a detective movie that can rival Sherlock Holmes or gangster movie like the John Wick franchise is a little too much for our filmmakers to handle. They can do it. Only it takes a lot of time and resources which most of the filmmakers don’t have.
5. Superheroes saving the world
Err… that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Just imagine a Nollywood movie where a character puts on a suit like Iron Man or Captain America, or in this case Captain Nigeria and goes off saving the world. It’s not going to work. Not with few resources that filmmakers have. If as a screenwriter you’re inspired to write a superhero screenplay, biko use your own money or find a partner who shares your idea and do it. Don’t wait for Nollywood filmmakers to do it for you. They can’t. Not at this level.
6. Futuristic sci-fi
If you’re aware of Niyi Akinmolayan’s Kajola, you will understand why sci-fi movies in Nollywood can only be a topic of discussion. Futuristic sci-fi deals with life and technological advancement in the future. It is a very expensive project. Niyi Akinmolayan spent a hundred million naira, the biggest Nollywood budget movie project in 2016 in making Kajola. But the box office was disappointing. Nollywood filmmakers are generally careful about funds. And Kajola’s failure at the box office will not endear sci-fi movies to fragile their hearts.
7. Space sci-fi
If Nollywood Filmmakers can’t make movies about the future, is the sci-fi about space they can make? The answer is no. Hollywood’s space franchise like Star Wars and Star Trek are movie lovers’ favorite. But it will take a while before a Nollywood Filmmaker will ever consider turning the idea into a reality. Nollywood isn’t technologically advanced enough.
8. Fantasy world stories
We all love Game Of Thrones, Lord Of The Rings and Harry Porter series. A lot of us would say we want it replicated in Nollywood. Unfortunately, Nollywood filmmakers aren’t equipped to do that for now. Fantasy stories are crazily expensive and require CGI that Nollywood isn’t skilled enough to make. So we’re just going to content ourselves with writing stories on village witches and marine spirits.
9. Zombie/Vampire horror flicks
Have you seen a Nollywood vampire or zombie movie? You will either laugh your head off or want to punch someone in the face. Then again, an average Nigerian movie lover’s mentality is, “we cannot come and suffer in real life, and then suffer horror in movies we paid to make us happy”. Yeah, we can see why horror movies aren’t that popular in Nigeria. And we already know Nollywood filmmakers go where they make money most.
10. Deadly epidemic action flicks
This idea refers to stories that talk about the spread of deadly diseases that can wipe out some part of the population. As far as we know, 93 Days, a true story about the Ebola Epidemic in Nigeria, is an only epidemic movie Nollywood has produced. But even the movie isn’t filled with action. Instead, it maintains a soft steady pace. Nollywood filmmakers aren’t capable of making action movies not to talk of action packed epidemic movie like World War Z.
11. Legal Drama
Nollywood filmmakers do movies that are associated with law. But they are only part of a much larger story. Legal drama isn’t usually the main genre in a Nollywood movie. We don’t know why they haven’t veered into it yet. It’s not like they are too expensive to make compared to action and fantasy movies. Somehow, Nollywood filmmakers aren’t interested in stories that revolve around the legal system only.
Hollywood animations are so advanced that it will take years for Nollywood to catch up. Animations, or what the lay man calls cartoons are mostly regarded for children. Only Nigerian comedians seem to be interested in it for their comedy flicks. For Nollywood, that’s an unexplored territory. So far, the problem isn’t story ideas. It is the technology. Like we said before, Nollywood is not technologically advanced enough yet.
However, we should note that Nollywood has improved there stories in recent times. Hence, it is not far fetched to assume that these story ideas will grace our screens someday.
Do you know more story ideas that Nollywood filmmakers don’t want? Tell us in the comment section. See you there!