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Welcome to Nollywood
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Welcome to Nollywood

In just 20 years, the Nigerian movie industry has grown from virtually nothing to become the third largest in the world, fueled by low-budget films that are shot fast and released straight to video. But perhaps the most remarkable part of this explosion is that it has required almost no government help or outside aid; instead, it's all down to cheap technology and some remarkably driven filmmakers.

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Official website for Welcome to Nollywood

Profile of director Jamie Meltzer

Produced in association with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) and PBS.

Purchase the full-length DVD at Indiepix.

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Segment 1

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Excerpt from the film: Welcome to Nollywood. More info about the feature-length documentary film at: www.welcometonollywood.com
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Lagos, Nigeria
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Idumota Electronics Market
CHARLES NOVIA [Producer/Director]
Every Nigerian or every African is a storyteller. You can call a five-year-old girl or boy and say, "Tell me a story." And he will tell you a story and embellish it with such visuals and all that. So, you know, it's part of the way of life here. So it's very unique to us.
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Nonexistent in 1990, Nollywood is now the third-largest producer of movies worldwide.
CHICO EJIRO ["Mr. Prolific," Grand Touch Pictures]
Nigerians just believe when you hear "Chico Ejiro," they say: "Ha! That guy can shoot movies!"
DON PEDRO OBASEKI [Producer/Director]
Chico is the embodiment of the very Nigerian phenomenon. I don't know the count. Chico has said he's shot over 40 or 50 films. But I think it's up to a hundred. I think he's just being ... He's scared to say he's shot more than that. People will say, "Hey, hello! Is it a bakery?"
CHICO EJIRO
One of the first movies I did in Grand Touch, my company, is called "Obsession." Then I did "Silent Night" with Ramsey Nouah. That "Silent Night," because it was a successful movie I have "Silent Night 1," "Silent Night 2," "Silent Night 3." I have "Day Break 1" and "2," I have "Flashback." This is called "Blind Love." A girl fell in love with a blind boy. "Day Break." Father and son falling in love with one girl. This is called "Cry for Justice." I've forgotten the story.
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We have developed in spite of government.
CHARLES NOVIA
This industry is an example of a small-scale industry that has flourished on its own, without government support. We've been able to earn, officially, about USD$400 million in the past 10 years in the industry. That is officially, but I think it is even triple that.
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From Nigerian action master Izu Ojukwu: A tale of conspiracy at the upper echelons of power: "Who Will Tell The President."
IZU OJUKWU [Director, Black Fox Pictures]
I did something that's action oriented, and everybody felt I can do action movies. Yeah, I can do ... that's the most difficult kind of movies to make. It involves a lot, even your life. I had an occasion where I lay on the car bonnet, with my camera under the car, and the car was on high speed. The driver held my leg, I was lying with my head in front of the car. On top speed! So I was twisting my camera to the car, the camera was chasing to the cars behind. Whenever I stand beside a camera, whenever I hold a camera, I can pull stunts that I can never imagine doing when I'm not with a camera. I just know and understand pictures. How to cut them, how to piece them together. Pictures that you think they are meaningless, you know. I gather them, pick them, and they will be meaningful. I just love making good movies. People see me as an action movie director. That's not where I want to end up.
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Movies are released straight to video, onto videocassette tapes or video compact discs (VCDs).
TUNDE KELANI [Producer/Director Mainframe Productions]
What we are witnessing today is a democratization of means of production. There is no doubt about it, working in celluloid was exclusive. If you didn't have the money, you didn't have a voice. And suddenly, by a shift in technological advancement, Nigerians discovered their voices. What's so special about the Nigerian industry: it is supported primarily at home. Because the Nigerian average audience prefers Nigerian film to the blockbusters, the Hollywood blockbusters, you know? So they would buy their films first, before they watch American films.
PEACE ANYIAM-FIBERESIMA [Founder/CEO, African Movie Academy Awards]
This is one thing which we're doing without the help of any foreign counterpart. It is totally homegrown. It is totally unique to us. We tell our stories, we muck them up the way we want to. We're bringing them out the way we want.
CHICO EJIRO
Roll tape! I like to go straight to the point. I always start my movie on fast pace. I don't like to start on a slow pace. From the beginning of my movie, the pick-up is there. You got "Punch"? We go pay you 500 Naira now. And you go act. One man will come from here. He goes, "Ah! Let me see that paper." You will give him paper, he will buy, he walks off like this. We'll do it three times. OK, take. I've paid you.
DON PEDRO OBASEKI
Chico has turned filmmaking into an assembly line.
CHICO EJIRO
Hey, vendor, action! Emeka, action!
EMEKA [actor]
What! Joshua?
CHICO EJIRO
Cut!
DON PEDRO OBASEKI
He has turned guerrilla filmmaking into ... into an industry, into a norm. The case study I want is Chico. How does he think? How does he work? Other directors laugh at Chico. But Chico's films have endured. He's done the good, he's done the bad, and he's done the nastiest of films.
CHARLES NOVIA
What we are still doing now is a stage of experimenting, and saying, "Wow, we are doing this!" But it's going to a stage now where we say, "Okay, fine. What is the true Nollywood film?" Give or take, in the next 10 years, we will see the prototype Nollywood film.
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Izu's Family Home, City of Jos, Nigeria
IZU OJUKWU
I went to the cinema, a lot. Against my father's wishes though. I would sneak out, look for money. If it meant stealing I did that, to go to cinemas. I was opportune to see the projector. And I saw that the projector was not something too difficult to handle. So I constructed the projector, and it worked. I would go to the cinema, pick Indian films, and then have children pay some little amount of money to watch films. And they watched and they were amazed: they enjoyed it. I quickly started understanding the concept of film production. It's all made out of still pictures. If you go slower, it will become slow motion. The pictures will be moving like this. Then, I'll increase the speed of the motor, and it will run faster. And the films will be sliding down. And even if you're not watching from the lens, if you concentrate on just the small hole where the light will pierce through, you will see the movement. So I learned how to make movies the hard way. I understood what it was to have a tape roll. Before even coming close to handling a camera. I'm a survivor. I can survive anywhere. Thrown in to anywhere, with nothing, I will make things happen.
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Find out more information about the feature-length film at: www.welcometonollywood.com
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Welcome to Nollywood
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A film by Jamie Meltzer
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Produced by Cayce Lindner and Henry S. Rosenthal
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NBPC National Black Programming Consortium