So I was having a discussion with this undergraduate interning at a tech company I often render services to and the question shifted towards Nollywood.
For some strange reason, the coke bottle thick spectacles that rests on my nose gives people the impression that there's quite a lot between my ears. Full disclosure, I don't think there is, or rather I don't know, can't say with honesty as I haven't had time to get it checked.
A lot of my time in the Nigerian film industry has been spent from the outside looking in. As an editor who did not have to do DIT or deliver dailies all I had to do was sit in the office and wait for the director to dump hard drives on us so having to explain what goes on in the process of filmmaking besides post production to people outside hoping to get an in was always a hassle, until I experienced Nollywood in its full glory.
Nothing prepares you for being on a Nollywood set than Nollywood itself,
not having recorded and broadcast live shows, nor editing the movies and laughing at the behind the scenes clips in the studio, nothing.
For people with an interest in how Nollywood works either out of curiosity or to get knowledge about an industry they want to work in I would say that my experience[s] is not the sum of experiences in Nollywood, but there are instances, many in fact like those below where we share the same experience.
Although it was not my first time on a video production set(I'd been on sets of Music videos and adverts) the Nollywood i was introduced to thrived on improvisation. Phone flashlights as accentuating lights, improvised mufflers for boom mics and the likes, the thing was, none of the equipment rented seemed to come complete, something had to have one problem or the other or there were technically daunting things that the director needed to achieve even while lacking the equipment and thus, more improv, even the script didn't go unscathed and lines and locations had to be altered, replaced and omitted.
The original Latin word implies that all things being equal, certain things will always happen a certain way. Problem with this is that first of all you're in Nigeria, all things are not trying to be equal, secondly, you're in a Nollywood, a microcosm of Nigeria with all it's inherent quirks. Hence nothing was going to go as expected on this one. Chief among which was location. One minute we were aboard the production bus on the way to the next shoot location and midway we're heading back to the hotel because the perpetually late Production Manager had lied about securing the location and was only just attempting to get it done as we were leaving. When it wasn't that, it was us being hustled out of a noisy, barely manageable location because we were said to have exhausted our time.
Nigerians have a lot of it, and Nollywood duly follows suit. From Actors with accents arriving late on set and then whining their way through the production to Cinematographers who deliberately ignore the Director while they try to get their Emmanuel Lubezky on, I watched as my director friend was constantly flustered by attitudes of his crew members on set until a day to the final day of shoot when, after realizing that time and money and did I forget to mention good food was wasting away, he entered into a fight with as much as three major players on his production. My first movie and i was seeing as much drama on-screen as well as offscreen.
American movies taught us that Duct tape was an essential tool in the kidnappers handbook. Nollywood sets taught me that many things can be held together by the saving adhesive power of duct tape and duct tape alone. If you were on a Nollywood set where the production assistant does not have duct tape worn on his wrist I would immediately begin to doubt the authenticity of your story.
The crew made me feel lazy and next to useless more often than not and I was confined to giving 'professional' opinions to a director who needed extra hands more than he needed technically sound production advice.
A couple of years gone by, a few more movie sets later, and while things have changed significantly, there's always that one production somewhere that brings all the horrors of your first experience on set in new, terrifying ways.
But I guess that is probably another day's story.
P.S The above image is not from my first time on a Nollywood set, it was from a subsequent experience