This is obviously not directed at Michael Bay, but with the way international critics have criticized work after work by this director, there has to be something he’s doing wrong, repeatedly.
With the opening weekend for the latest transformers movie being a weak one, the critics, Bay’s biggest identifiable enemies and the audience, his biggest supporters may finally have found a resonant tune.
Same goes for our beloved Nollywood. For years certain individuals who decried the state of our film industry were labelled haters. A random social media manager for @screennationng called me a fool, a twitter filmmaker, a hater amongst others when i decried the sub par CGI found in Obi Emelonye’s Last Flight To Abuja movie. I stand by that argument, being an editor and having seen skilled 3D animators and compositors at work here in Nigeria, I know without a doubt that with his kind of budget, Mr. Emelonye could have demanded for and gotten better than what he belabored us with as CGI. however, I digress.
So, what is this Bayistic characteristic that has been repeatedly exhibited by most of Nollywood? In my opinion, it is a strong aversion to change and improvement. The areas that Nollywood refuses change and improvement differ drastically in comparison to Michael Bay but what I’m stressing here is their aversion to change.
Nollywood has for so long thrived on the ignorance of the market, the perceived notion that we really cant make our films as good or as convincing as a foreign film from Bollywood or Hollywood. The veil is now forcefully being pulled from the eyes of the audience and they are beginning to want more. This is not mere assumption, let me give you guys an instance. My team and I were invited to consult for a major company in Lagos that was looking to create proprietary digital content (videos and co) and so qe got talking and I gave them my whole STEPP speech and co and their head of corporate affairs interrupted to let me know that whatever we intended to create for their company they were not looking to be sold crappily executed ideas or wishy washy storylines that leaked even worse than a basket with it’s bottom ripped out. He further buttressed his point by referencing a local movie by a popular Nigerian comedy actress that he and his wife had to suffer watching. His disappointment with the said movie were very layman-ly, no talks of poor cinematography or color grading. For him it was the plausibility of the story’s plot, the fact that supposed village girls with no prior exposure in the city wore high street fashion. Like I said,the layman-ly things. And trust me,the layman is likely to figure these things out faster than us film buffs.
For years critics have argued that Bay assaulted viewers with excessive sensory simulation without corresponding intellectual stimulation, for years the recipe had worked. The dumbed down, testosterone charged blow-everything-up-ness had found its audience spot on and made Bay films some of the most successful. But then again Michael Bay gave us The Rock, a movie for which we must remain grateful for all eternity (not really, but an unarguably great movie). In the same vein for years the recipe of secondary school acting (in this regard I exempt the likes of Clarion Chukwura,Bob Manuel,Bimbo Akintola, Pete Edochie, Kanayo O Kanayo, and tons of other great thespians who stand head and shoulders above their colleagues), Drab storylines, no regards whatsoever to detail and the kind of lazy editing that could only have been done by someone who was dragged out of a hangover induced nap coupled with slapstick special effects has dominated nollywood and the nonchalant reply had always been how there wasn’t ever enough to achieve this that and those. You’d hear some directors whine about how they want aerial tracking shots with quad copters or even helicopters. For years they have complained about the big things, budget, budget, and more budget and ignored stuff like story and continuity and editing, sound design. Basically, expertise. Things that will not change noticeably the budget of a production but will improve the overall quality of the job. Anybody who watched The Meeting by the Audrey Silva Company would most likely be slightly irked by the persistent humming we kept hearing through the movie, PR the jump cuts that appeared at certain times during the length of the movie, instantly jarring us back to reality, Nigeria and the fact that we were streaming the movie during office hours.
My opinion is, like Michael Bay and the lackluster opening of Transformers 4 at the cinemas, Nigerian audiences are waking up to the oversights of nollywood and and are demanding a little bit more sophistication and should they continue with business as usual, they might be headed for a slippery slope.