By Paul Ndiho
September 2, 2011
The Prestigious New York Film Academy is holding film training sessions in Nigeria for filmmakers who want to make it big in in the nation’s “Nollywood” film industry. Nigeria is the leading producer of feature films in Africa.
Filmmakers in Nigeria are taking advantage of a unique opportunity to sharpen their production skills during month long training session organized for them by the prestigious New York Film Academy and Del York International, a full-service media and broadcasting company and the sole representative of the New York Film Academy throughout Africa.
Students from several parts of the country are taking classes that offer training in acting, directing, cinematography, editing, animation and screen writing.
The tuition for the month of training costs 35-hundred dollars. Nearly 3,000 students are enrolled on the program. Linus Idahosa, Chief Executive Officer of Del York International, explains his company’s relationship with the prestigious film school.
“Del York is partnering with the New York Film Academy which happens to be the best hands on film school in the world to train aspiring and professional film makers in the industry. We chose the New York Film Academy because it of its history for being a hands on film school. We were very particular about the kind of academy we would be partnering with because of the talents here present in the country,”
Thirty instructors from the New York Film Academy and some Hollywood practitioners are in the country to conduct the classes.
“The students here in Lagos, they’re very responsive. They take to it very quickly. It’s something they instinctively see like they just get it. They don’t mind questioning why I’m giving them the information which is always important because if you don’t understand, you should ask why and they’re very free to ask why and once they get it, they’re fine,”
It’s the second time the training program is being held in Nigeria, Abuja hosted the sessions in 2010.
The four-week program hopes to inspire rising and established filmmakers to get needed hands-on training in film production and help increase their understanding of African culture.
Nigeria’s movie industry has greatly evolved since the 1960’s – to become Africa’s largest film industry according to the U-N Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
But, despite the industry’s growth, government investment in the industry is still slow. Most movies are shot on digital cameras, with tight budgets — often compromising the sound and picture quality.
Nollywood films have grown in popularity across Africa, because they often touch on issues many on the continent can relate to. Many young and eager Nigerians are waiting for a chance to launch careers in the film industry.
“I thought I knew some things basically for over five years but this experience has shown me that there’s some nitty gritty information that I would have missed out of and makes it, it refines, it kind of refines your talent for those that are professionals, those that those that are green, they stand a lot to gain here,”
Nollywood also has a growing audience among Africans living abroad, keen for a taste of home. The movies may be watched in a south London beauty shop or rented from a video store in Texas.
Nollywood actress, Stephanie Okereke who helped organize the program encouraged more students to sign up and use the chance to improve their skills.
“We just felt it was something that was needful and having been in the industry for a long time and we just thought it was something that was needful that people need to get training in fully in our industry, we need to get better and also be able to compete in the international world,”
Nollywood employs tens of thousands of people, bringing in over 200 million dollars annually. An average Nollywood film sells about 50-thousand copies, but in Lagos alone, millions of bootleg copies sell for just one US dollar undercutting Nollywood’s price by one dollar.
But this has not stopped Seun Aisan and his crew from making more movies; he’s working on their latest production called ‘Ewe Aje’ or Leaf of Prosperity in the Yoruba language.
Aisan says with new technology and training, Nollywood films are getting better.
“Now it’s changed, there are changes in everything. Before, you don’t enjoy this job. I believe now, things is changing through the different equipments we have now, it makes things easier. Before, the camera man is the light man, the camera man is the sound man but now, there’s division of labour in the production. So I believe things have changed now,”
About one-thousand movies are produced in Nollywood each year – most are in local languages – Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo, while English accounts for more than 40 percent of the films produced.