How to Film in Nigeria and still be human by Niyi Akinmolayan



tiff-city-to-city-press-conference-on-nollywoodHi everyone. I’ve missed you all. Just 5 days away and Buhari is already plagiarizing…someone can’t leave this country for too long o. we will resume the camera tutorials soon and start work on the short film but I thought I should report myself first and give a load down of stuff that went down at the just concluded Toronto International Film Festival. So here goes:


IT FELT GOOD TO BE A FILMMAKER. It felt even better to be a Nigerian filmmaker. You see, Canada is very diverse. It’s a country of immigrants. Also the nature of a festival is such that people come from all over the world to see other peoples work. So when you see over 500 people in a hall watching your film from beginning to end applauding non stop, You know you haven’t just made something for your friends and family or your nation, You feel you’ve made art for the world. You realize film is a language that doesn’t need an interpreter. You are literally on top of the world at that moment. Each of the directors experienced this. It was surreal and it was a big deal.


Sold out Second screening of “The Arbitration”

NIGERIANS WERE CELEBRATED FOR MERIT AND NOT OUT-OF-PITY: I was driven in a Cadillac from the airport to my hotel by the same driver who drove Leonardo dicaprio and Geneveve Nnaji. We all shared the same hotel, red carpets and even parties. At that moment, what you were in your country no longer mattered. It was the quality of the film you brought. Over 40 submissions were sent from Nigeria, the woman who watched them all and decided is Ukrainian/Dutch. She had never seen Nigerian films in that number before then. She told me she was looking out for stories that would resonate with a global audience. She had no Nigerian friends or connections whatsoever. At the Question and Answer sessions, we were made to defend our choices in the film. Some of the questions were really tough. We were criticized and praised accordingly. Even though we were representing Nigeria, we were all standing individually to defend our art for its sake. Listening to my colleagues at their QnA and Press conference answering questions made me feel really proud. That’s the way I want people from outside my country to see us and our work.

img_2403WE MADE NIGERIANS IN DIASPORA BLUSH AND BRAG: It may not be a big deal to you but to Nigerians in Diaspora, our visit was everything. Nigerians came out to support their own. The cinema halls were extra noisy when our films showed to the surprise of the oyinbos. We reminded them all of home. Some don’t even remember what a Nigerian party looked like again. A Nigerian couple was so ecstatic; they wanted to adopt me in Canada. Some came to ask if the events portrayed in my film regarding the Lagos tech scene was real. He started thinking about coming home again to invest. I know many Nigerian filmmakers heard such too. I met people who realized I must be from Ondo state and came to take selfies and speak the language with me. Our presence there may have triggered something in Nigerians outside the country.

International producers and distributors at the event

International producers and distributors at the event

WE RAISED THE MARKET VALUE OF NOLLYWOOD: All the nollywood films shown got the kind of attention they were hoping for. Some production companies were looking into doing some remakes of the films. Some were offering great distribution deals. FilmOne represented us very well there making awesome deals I can’t even disclose here right now. One thing is certain, the value of all the films brought to the event, the directors and actors have increased. Netflix was also there and showed interest in the films. Now do the math. By the time we were done, I had been invited to two festivals in London and Washington DC already. People were already asking what my next work was. This happened to everyone. Imagine what next year will be.


Q n A session for “The Arbitration”

WE SHOWED DIVERSITY: The international audience didn’t exactly know what to expect from our films outside all the excessive melodrama, and slapstick comedies we were known for. The beauty of the selection was the diversity in genre, tone and style of all the 8 films. Abba makama’s Green White green was a unique genre on its own that I’m yet to find a name for. Uduak’s just not married got a lot of attention for its ghetto storytelling, People were excited to see a Nigerian wedding as the premise of a film In Kemi Adetiba’s Wedding Party. They were all reminded how smart and resilient Nigerians were in kicking out Ebola in Steve Gukas’93 days. The level of detail and finesse in Izu Ojukwu’s 76 was mind blowing. The beauty of Omoni’s okafor’s law reminded them that women were actively behind the scenes. Daniel Oriahi’s Oko Ashewo is always eye candy anytime it’s shown in festivals and of course my film “The Arbitration” proved we could also do engaging high drama (coincidentally a similar case like the one in the Arbitration had just happened in Canada with a lot of media frenzy). They were happy to know sexual Harassment and assault are issues everyone is fighting all over the world.

Now lets go to the


OUR SOUND WORK STILL NEEDS HELP: Starting with my film and most of the other Nigerian films, our sound work needs help. It’s basically from the fact that we have noisy neighborhoods to shoot and we don’t have film sets. But going forward, we need to fix that. It’s not an excuse. I think the films with good final sound mix were 76 and 93 days. And they were all done in Europe. We have more work to do. Our major problem is field recording. I saw small European films that were definitely low or no budget. Sound was the least of their issues. It’s also important to get it right because our English sometimes take a while for international audiences to understand so it’s best we have clean sound all the time.

THE NIGERIAN FILMMAKERS WERE SCATTERED IN DIFFERENT HOTELS: I know this must have been due to the sheer size of people entering the city but it would have made a lot of sense if all the Nigerian filmmakers were in the same hotel. I know that while we were in paris, we had a lot of beautiful discussions during breakfast because we were all together. We even spent time critiquing each other’s work. That’s a beautiful experience. I barely saw any of my colleagues except at screenings or parties.

THE PRESS CONFERENCE WAS TOO SHORT: The Artistic director, Cameron Bailey organized a press conference for us. While it was quite engaging, it was very short. Ten filmmakers on a panel is a lot of perspective and we were asked only three questions. I felt we had more to say. The world press was there. Genevieve and Omoni didn’t even get to talk about the acting craft itself. It almost felt like we had to quickly talk about how nollywood needed  help and leave. It could have been longer and better in my opinion. Here’s an Aljazeera article on the conference and watch the video below:


THAT SENIOR COLLEAGUES SAW AN OPPORTUNITY TO ENGAGE THE NEW GUYS AND FOSTER BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIPS. I must say. I felt an opportunity was lost there. The senior ones would have done a tremendous job in bringing everyone together and getting us all to share experiences. I felt the TIFF participation would bring that kind of exchange. Even the president of the DGN, Fred Amata was around and that still didn’t happen. It makes no sense to me. African elders must learn to draw younger ones in, even if the industry and society makes us look like competitors, we all share a common frustration in making films. We all bleed for our art. When the elder ones don’t do this, they will only see rebellion from the younger ones and that’s not how you build an industry. NOTE young and old in this context doesn’t mean age.

we were pretty much on our own

we were pretty much on our own

THAT MORE NIGERIAN PRESS AND ORGANIZERS OF AWARDS AND FESTIVALS CAME: There’s an easy answer to why. Dollar is ridiculously expensive. But I would have really loved it if our people can come see how these things are done and learn a thing or two. It’s a wish sha.

THAT THE GOVERNMENT WILL TAKE PEOPLE REPRESENTING IT SERIOUSLY: We say this all the time. It’s shameful really. There were representatives of the government around but I don’t remember meeting anyone or being introduced to them. They couldn’t even ensure they met the 8 filmmakers selected. I did not even realize there was a lagos state stand till my third day there and shamefully, it looked ugly. Haba Nigeria. Now we are back, it won’t kill for the government to organize a dinner and meet these filmmakers. Share some of the government plans with them or possibly collaborate. Am I asking for too much. Maybe I am.


The Lagos Stand was ugly and dry

Going forward, I learnt that there’s a lot of sense in thinking about making films for a global audience. If we can love Chinese and Indian films with a diverse range of genre and subject matter, we should make people from all over the world care about ours too.

And for those People that still can’t see the positives in what this TIFF city to city spotlight has done for nollywood, I have two words for you; EAT A DICK! Ok that’s three words.

Next Sunday, we continue Camera September. piece of advice

Categories:   Uncategorized


  • Posted: September 19, 2016 20:03

    Fabiyi Adetola

    Niyi honestly I don't know what to say to you ....u have totally overwhelmed me with this detailed report of exploits. I seriously feel so proud to be a Nigerian right now....I CELEBRATE YOU BRO! Keep pushing the frontiers of excellence in Film making. I hope to join you soonest!
  • Posted: September 19, 2016 20:07

    a b y

    Thanks sir, you made us felt like we were there
  • Posted: September 19, 2016 20:08


    I'm extremely proud to be an up and coming filmmaker and a Nigerian. This gives me hope that in due time I will also play a strong part in this revolution. Evidently all we need is platforms like Bros Niyi's that brings us together and also investors. If all these politicians invest in us, indigenous, I don't think oga Buhari will be chasing them up and down. When we are hearing millions of dollar as health benefits for one politician. it begs to wonder how priorities have been misplaced so much. God dey sha.
  • Posted: September 19, 2016 21:29


    Welcome back, baba. It's good you made it there and made Nigerian proud. I'm sure this is just about to begin. More power to ur elbow and more success to ur endeavor. We've missed you!
  • Posted: September 19, 2016 21:43


    Evening Chief. I certainly now know I was in tiff16 with you. Thanks a lot sir. Film making in Nigeria is on a new and higher level. Welcome back.
  • Posted: September 19, 2016 21:56


    Awwh, how detailed, yet fun can one person be?...oh well, this is just too good. Thank you for this report, it was a proud moment for Nigeria. I know that now, some respeck will be accrued to our films. Missed you a lot, and it felt like you were gone for a whole month. Welcome back baba
  • Posted: September 19, 2016 22:46

    Danny Nwauzorma

    Awesome boss, awesome.
  • Posted: September 19, 2016 22:54

    Barnabas Emordi

    Welcome Back Sir, It's a pleasure to have you back after a wonderful film festival in Toronto. You and the entire distunguished individuals represented Nollywood and you definitely didn't disappoint the entire nation , we are proud to call you our own. I am happy as you have also taught me a valuable lesson today and i'm grateful for it. Welcome back sir. Looking forward to the continuation of Camera September and The making of our movie. God bless you Sir Niyi. Amen!
  • Posted: September 20, 2016 06:20

    pete osemeke

    Ehen...welcome back really glad it was a success,nollywood is for us,it can only get better...God enlarge your coast.
  • Posted: September 20, 2016 06:47


    Fantastic baws, very fantastic report
  • Posted: September 20, 2016 07:04

    Akin-Tijani Balogun

    Nice one bro.... Well done, kudos to you and the other 7 film makers.... This report should be featured in a newspaper for a wider coverage.... PS: Shey dey nor serve jollof at all ni?
    • Posted: September 20, 2016 08:08


      Too much burger is worrying them ni
  • Posted: September 20, 2016 07:22

    Izu Osuigwe

    Just by reading your descriptive perspective, I have no doubt of your film being detailed in pursuit of its subject matter. Hardley Chase couldn't have described the event better. Looking forward to working with you.
  • Posted: September 20, 2016 12:03


    Nice thoughts from a new director and fresh face at film festivals. But this is what you get from overzealous directors who see things from their perspectives alone. He needed to be told their was a stand by his country. He didn't see the need to read papers or d festival programme to know what was where, which is the first thing film goers do when they get to festivals. He found a stand from his state and concluded it was dry and ugly. He must have shot a shortbfilm at the Jamaican stand to the right or slept on the sofa at the South African stand further down. A stand o!. He wanted a dinner from government but forgot the party for him and all his colleagues by TIFF was paid for by his state. He wanted Fred Amata to playbthe a festival where each person is pursuing his own agenda. And he wanted more than a 100 Nigerians there to stsy in the same hotel, inckudingbthose not paid for by TIFF. He will soon understand how festivals work particularly when you have to pay your way. He says he wasn't introduced to an official of govt but conveniently ignored the parley where govt and AFA plus BOI met his other colleagues and sought to make progress. Where was he? u biko!
    • Posted: September 20, 2016 12:39


      oga...who exactly are you mad at. Please carry your negativity off my blog.
      • Posted: September 20, 2016 14:22


        Baba he is clearly an overzealous and "Nigeriany" stakeholder...
    • Posted: September 21, 2016 18:16


      Ah! Who is this motherfucker? How many of those filmmakers you talked about gave us this kind of report? After reading the posts and watched the videos, i felt like i was there. No filmmaker will reveal the secret of film business, but we read all that here everytime. By the way which Mike are you? The only Mike i know is Leonardo Mike Dicaprio. You are a fake mike. Lol.
    • Posted: September 23, 2016 15:02

      Danny Nwauzorma

      Hehehehehe... what is he ranting about? you for call names ni...
    • Posted: September 26, 2016 21:33

      Ruby Dee

      Niyi please activate your delete button or I will do it for you! No time for negativity please.. Who is this one? Mscheeew! You're lucky I'm a new leaf or I would have given you a piece of my formerly un-renewed mind~
  • Posted: September 20, 2016 12:14


    Nice one Niyi. Let's just keep working on our craft so that nex year and beyond we can be at TIFF and other festivals "In Competition" and that we can start talking about pre-sales and terriotory rights as part of distribution and finance. Our enviromental problems are not going to disappear anytime soon so we have to work around and inspite of them. SOUND, what are we going to do about sound? Recording and Design? We need to find a solution.
    • Posted: September 20, 2016 12:46


      Thanks Olu. We will get there
  • Posted: September 20, 2016 20:38

    Miriam Peters

    One of my best reads ? it felt like I was there too ?
  • Posted: September 27, 2016 05:51


    Simply awesome & circumspect. I like the fact that u pointed out a crtical deficiency in our film making process & is already thinking out loud possible solutions to it by airing ur observation. We need mo realistic&way forward thinkers/doers like u in our drive to harnessing our full potentials as individuals & collectives. Thanks so much for taking out time to take us thru ur tiff experience #Exemplary
  • Posted: September 30, 2016 11:18

    Bernie Wills

    Welcome back. Quite an enjoyable read. Very detailed, simple and clear. Forget Mr . Mike and carry on the goodness you do here. There will always be oppositions, but with focus, positive vibes and inner strength to succeed, we will. Thanks
  • Posted: October 5, 2016 14:39


    check out that chick @ 21:22. She went on to say 1: "the quality is world class" 2: " I don't think there's any difference between what Hollywood is putting out now,and what we are putting out now" 3: "now we have all the equipment" 4: "we have everything that they have,pretty much now" I thought they were looking for support and investments. Is that how you go about it? Before this chick started,notice the other chick she said she shared an actor with was all smiling,and Genevieve had a smirk of her face. After she was done her director friend turned her chair into a rocking chair.Pause it at 22:13 and Look at Genevieve and Kunle's Faces; Pricesless!,as if person miss penalty for champions leauge final I thought Donald Trump used to mis yarn. If this chick was born in the US,she could have easily been Trump's running mate and helped him with Black Votes.