Film production business has become a mega business in a multi billion dollar industry. Over the past few decades, Nollywood has become a source of profit for actors and Nigerian film producers. This phenomenon has had global impact, since many Nigerian films are released in just weeks or in some cases, days. Since the inception of the AMAA premiere (African Movie Academy Award), some movies has even opened worldwide on the same date.
Dan Fellman, a movie producer, says “The international market is a growing and very vibrant place, so when we make movies, we view it as a global opportunity.” Now more than ever, what happens in Nollywood affects the entertainment industry worldwide.
Many movies must take in more than 5 to 10 million naira and above just to cover production and marketing costs.
And whether they succeed is entirely up to an unpredictable public. “You can never know what the public at any given moment is going to find exciting or sensationally appealing,” says David Cook, a professor of film studies at Emory University. So how do movie makers increase their odds of success? To answer, we first need to understand a few basics about how films are made.
Preproduction – Laying The Groundwork
Preproduction is often the longest phase of the film making process and one of the most important. As with any large
project, preparation is the key. The hope is that every naira spent in preproduction will save many more times that amount during filming.
Every film production begins with a story idea, which may be either fictitious or based on real-life events. A writer puts the story into script form. The script, also called the screenplay, may be revised numerous times before the final version called a shooting scripts is produced. The shooting script contains the dialogue of the film as well as a brief description of the action that will take place. It also provides guidance for technical details, such as camera direction and transitions between scenes.
It is while still in its early stage, however, that a screenplay is offered for sale to a film producer. What kind of screenplay might a producer be interested in? A producer might be drawn to a story that reaches out to youths.
Better still it is a script that cuts across the age demographic. For example, a movie about Aki and Paw-paw surely draw younger children who are familiar with the character. And no doubt their parents will accompany them. But how do movie makers attract the teenagers and young adults? Acknowledge all and sundry will help a film producer to reach everyone’s heart thereby maximizing its profit-making potential. Leaving no group languishing out on the
Use Big Names To Attract Investors
If a producer feels that a screenplay has potential, he might purchase it and try to sign on a reputable director and a famous actor or actress. Having a known director and a top-name star will create box-office appeal when the film is released. Yet, even at this initial stage.
Another aspect of preproduction is storyboarding. A storyboard is a series of sketches depicting various sequences
of the film, particularly those that involve action. Serving as a blueprint for the cinematographer, the storyboard saves much time during filming. As director and screenwriter Frank Darabont says, “There’s nothing worse than standing around on the set wasting your shooting day trying to figure out where to put the camera.”
Many other issues must be settled during preproduction. For example, what locations will be used for filming? Will
travel be required? How will interior sets be built and designed? Will costumes be needed? Who will handle lighting, makeup, and hair? What about sound, special effects, and stunt work? These are just a sampling of the many aspects
of movie making that need to be considered before a single frame of film is shot. Watch the closing credits of a big-budget film production, and you may find that hundreds of people were involved behind the scenes! “It takes a city of people to make a feature film,” says one technician who has worked on numerous movie sets.
Production—Putting It on Film
Shooting a movie can be time-consuming, tedious, and expensive. Indeed, a single minute wasted can cost thousands of naira. Sometimes actors, crew members, and equipment have to be transported to a remote part of the world. No matter where shooting takes place, however, each day of filming takes a sizable bite out of the budget.
Lighting crew, hairdressers, and makeup artists are among the first to arrive on the movie set. Each day of filming,
stars may spend several hours being made ready for the camera. Then a long day of filming begins.
The director closely supervises the filming of each scene. Even a relatively simple scene can take all day to film. Most scenes in a movie are filmed with a single camera, and as a result, the scene will be done over and over again for each camera angle. Additionally, each shot may need to be done repeatedly to get the best performance or to correct a technical problem. Each of these attempts at filming is called a take. For bigger scenes, 50 or more takes may be required! Later—usually at the end of each shooting day—the director views all the takes and decides which ones should be saved. In all, the process of filming may take weeks or even months.
Post Production – The Pieces Come Together
During post production, film footage is edited to form a cohesive motion picture. First, the audio track is synchronized with the film. Then, the editor assembles the raw footage into a preliminary version of the film production, called a rough cut.
Sound effects and visual effects are also added at this stage. Special-effects cinematography—one of the most complex elements of film making—is sometimes accomplished with the help of computer graphics. The results can be spectacular and lifelike. The musical score is also added during post production, and this aspect has taken on greater
prominence in today’s films. “The movie industry is now demanding more original soundtrack music than ever.
Final Product of Film Production
Finally, the completed film is released to theaters. Only at this point does it become apparent whether it will be a
blockbuster or a bomb or something in between. But more is at stake than naira and kobo. A series of failures can ruin an actor’s prospects for work and destroy the reputation of a director. “I had seen several of my contemporaries
fall away after a couple of misses,” says director John Boorman, reflecting on his early years in film making. “The brutal reality of the movie business is that if you don’t make money for your masters, you are banished.”
Of course, when standing before a theater marquee, the public at large is not thinking of the employment issues of
movie makers. More likely, their primary concerns include: ‘Will I enjoy this movie? Is it worth the price of admission? Will I find the film shocking or offensive? Is it appropriate for my children?’ How can you answer such
questions when deciding which movies you will see?
While details may vary from one film production to another, what is presented here is one possible course of events.
In some cases a producer is offered a story outline rather than a screenplay. If he is interested in the story, he can buy the rights to it and have it developed into a screenplay.
“You can never know what the public at any given moment is going to find exciting or sensationally appealing.”—David Cook, professor of film studies.