African business, politics and lifestyle
Pirates plunder Nigerian profits
The first “Nollywood” film, “Living in Bondage”, was a tale of witchcraft, money and betrayal produced by Okechukwu Ogunjiofor.
That was back in 1992. Today, Nigeria’s $450 million home video industry is the third biggest in the world, after Hollywood and Bollywood.
“I actually set out to be a film maker, so I got my training, came to Lagos. But since I could not do a thing on celluloid … I said to myself that there must be a way around it, there must be a new way to do the old things and that new way was trying to invent, you know, to experiment with VHS cameras. That experiment was what we did with ‘Living with Bondage’ and today that experiment has culminated into what we find and people call Nollywood,” Ogunjiofor told Reuters Africa Journal.
An average Nollywood film sells about 50,000 copies, yet in Lagos alone millions of bootleg copies go for just $1, undercutting Nollywood’s price of $2.
Fed up with the pirates, Ogunjiofor, who has pioneered an award scheme to reward production excellence in the film industry, has now turned to TV drama and soap operas and wants to see more government support, and legal backing, to help film-makers build a reputable industry.
“As long as you are doing a good movie, you are a candidate of piracy. From the moment you go on location, they start buying materials to wait for your job,” Ogunjiofor said.
“Piracy is so bad, so bad that almost every Friday here trailer loads of CDs made in Nigeria are crossing borders.”
(Photo: Filming for “Covenant of the Ancestors” takes place in the Niger Delta in August 2006. Reuters/George Esiri)