Nigeria’s film industry, which is currently worth $7.3 billion, has gained traction in Europe as local producers are seeking opportunities to expand their products beyond the shores of Nigeria.
Filmmakers who are currently at Paris for the annual film festival say the platform has the potential of enabling the industry become popular not just in Paris but most European countries, thereby enabling them sell more content and repatriate revenues to Nigeria.
Under the rebasing conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the film industry accounted for more than 1.4% of GDP or $7.2bn of Nigeria’s economy.
With an estimated 1m people directly or indirectly working in the industry, the making, distributing and screening of moving pictures has become the country’s second-biggest source of employment after agriculture.
“NollywoodWeek in Paris was set up in order to foster Nollywood distribution opportunities in the Francophone regions and in further markets. We screen some of the most popular Nigerian films from last year to raise international awareness, Kunle Afolayan a film producer told BusinessDay.
Afolayan explained that Nigerian movies’ acceptance is growing especially with platforms like the Nollywoodweek in Paris, African magic and the online platforms that are streaming the movies to various countries like France, Netherlands, UK, Spain Finland, amongst others.
“The interest is growing and will continue to grow for some Africans in Diaspora and some Europeans who are interested in watching Nigerian content, as we plan to have more platforms like this because the Nollywood stars are planning to have the festivals in other parts of Europe, other than Paris,” he said.
Afolayan revealed that what the organisers of the festival wanted to achieve was to bridge the gap between Europe and Nigeria in the movie industry, making it possible for media and filmmakers from Nigeria and other counties to learn together.
A move to recalculate the net worth of Nigeria’s economy in 2014 saw the number of industries or activities used for assessment purposes rise from 33 to 46, with a noticeable shift in emphasis towards technology-driven sectors.
An increase in demand for programming is also likely to generate new opportunities for content producers. According to a PwC report, Nigeria’s entertainment and media revenues will more than double to reach an estimated $8.5bn in 2018, from $4bn in 2013, with Internet being one of the key drivers. Mobile Internet subscribers are forecast to surge to 50.4m in 2018 from 7.7m in 2013, according to the report.
The need for home-grown content remains crucial to the development of the industry, according to Charles Igwe, filmmaker and CEO of production firm, Nollywood Global Media Group, “All content is going digital; there is an explosion of film content in all forms.”
“Big telecoms companies will have to improve delivery. Creating the capacity to make content is imperative if we are going to exist in this space,” Igwe added.
He stressed further that platform like Nigeria’s iROKOtv is providing new distribution channels for Nollywood films, which numbers more than 2000 produced annually.
Igwe said the technology company, which pays filmmakers about $10,000 to $25,000 for the digital rights to stream their content for a period of time, claims to be the world’s largest online distributor of African content with a catalogue of 5000 Nollywood films.
Mahmood Ali-Balogun, President Audio Visual Right Society of Nigeria, (AVRS), said the Nigerian movie industry has gained wider acceptability because the films are translated, adding that the organisers of the film festival have made a conscious effort to translate the language of the movies that will be shown to the French, so that the stories are easier for them to follow.
“In the last three editions, I found out that there is so much interest in Nollywood, people who are not Nigerians buy tickets just to watch Nigerian films, Ali-Balogun said.
He emphasised one of the reasons Nigerians have challenges with access to films in Africa is the issue of language because most of the francophone people who produce film, produce it in French.
Ali-Balogun said there is a need to have resources to work and translate them to various languages, so they can travel very fast and then, the need to have specialists who can handle Additional Dialogue Recoding, (ADI), giving the films better sound and images.
“Another challenge facing the industry is piracy, which is endemic. We need awareness on the part of the filmmakers. A lot of revenues are lost and the synergy that is supposed to exist in fighting piracy is almost absent,” he added.