WE HIT THE JACKPOT 

So it’s been silent on here for a bit,   but we’ve been working regardless,  and real hard too (that last part is overcompensating for all the fun we had this year,  he he). 

And so without much ado we present to you,  Jackpot as created and directed by the man Ag Etefia and written by none other than Nneka,  and materialized into glorious reality by us. (I’m not even sure what that means but it was supposed to sound sensational) we’re on to other things even as the year winds down because we work like that,  so stay tuned and holler at us,  we’d love to work with you next. 

NOT A REVIEW: WHAT BOVI’S “IT’S HER DAY” GETS RIGHT

What Did This movie get Right?

Infact, have you seen this movie sef? 😕

Can you form an opinion about a movie after just seeing it once? Well yes. Even if you were distracted or didn’t see it all the way through, you can have an opinion about the part of the film you were able to watch. Ideally if it were a film with screeners I’d probably watch it more than once, for multiple reasons, an edit or cut I like, a CGI effect I want to watch over and over until I can make out the individual elements and start thinking of replicating it or how it doesn’t hold up to inspection over multiple views. But then again I’m Pixelmorph, it’s my line of work, and as much as I try to be entertained by movies there will always be a part of me, learning, searching, questioning, seeking to understand.

Continue reading “NOT A REVIEW: WHAT BOVI’S “IT’S HER DAY” GETS RIGHT”

Welcome To the Second Half of the Year!

First off, we changed our logo, just this morning, here you go

image
Really cool right?

In other news, check out our new reel here.

In other news, we’re working real hard so you’ll end up reading about us outside this blog 😁. Until then, keep filming ✌

PIXELMORPH 2015: https://youtu.be/ZIFqjtByPeI

THE ACT Nollywood Fund, Could Nollywood have gone without it?

If you’re looking for the answer to that question let me stop you here. The answer is pretty simple in and of itself. The answer is not by any stretch of the imagination, an absolute one in favor or against. Continue reading “THE ACT Nollywood Fund, Could Nollywood have gone without it?”

HOW TO BE A CONTEMPORARY INDEPENDENT NIGERIAN FILMMAKER, ON A BUDGET

As with all things Nigerian, for no just cause there seems to be a massive influx in the multimedia content creation industry. Many are called but few are chosen. Hence to stand out you must follow these guidelines properly. Failure to adhere to them would result in consequences better experienced than explained. Now ladies and gentlemen, kindly read on, your filmmaking career in this our Nigeria, depends on it.

In no particular order here are the things you must do.

Admission that your swag is still on fire and have not cook finish is key here. As such, every one else you meet is ‘boss’ or ‘chairman.’ Also use said pseudonyms in instances where you’re too drunk to remember someone’s name or just genuinely can’t remember an individual’s name because, contrary to their claims, you really haven’t met them. Calling people by the above pseudonyms would also amount to people thinking you’re a humble people person.
Since we’re still on the subject of swag that is still on the fire, go to functions dressed like a rebellious artist, no accomplished people tuxedo dressing or ball gown rocking attire. Wear shorts and Ankara tops. You, for the moment, detest the laziness and laxity and lack of creativity that has consumed the industry. If you genuinely believe that then go ahead, it’ll be easier to sell if you actually believe that. Hence, you must also be thin and team beard gang. How else can you preach the revolution if you look well fed?
Hence, your dress code should be in sharp contrast to the prevailing norm. Also, you can’t be bald, wear your receding hairline with pride until your swag have cook finish.

Next, whenever you’re watching a Nigerian film at the cinemas always complain loudly and decry the big budgets the film makers say they spent on the feature. We know you don’t have money, but sha still complain, there will always be a legitimate reason to complain. They won’t throw you out of the hall, especially if you have a commanding voice like mine and can also ask incredulously to whoever is challenging your opinion this simple question ‘who are you?’ However, don’t always chip in that you, the obnoxious film critic, actually happens to be a filmmaker, it could get tiring really quickly.

Blame your unimpressive or non existent show reel on the fact that you are an auteur, whatever that means. Point is, you only undertake projects that aspire to much more than commercial interests, your concepts are thought provoking imagery that incite introspective thinking, and the Nigerian market is not intellectual enough to absorb that hence no one wants to fund your project thus you haven’t done squat.

You have to be a feminist, not just any kind, but you must use feminism as a cudgel to bash the likes of Clarence Peters and co. Decry the state of our music videos, not because they look like soft porn gone wrong or women objectifying wank-aids but because it pushes your agenda. Talk about how the Clarence who shot the “You go Wound O” video with a camcorder that had tha suspect, illbliss, and kel is no longer around and has been replaced by a capitalist (see what you did there?).

If you shoot with camcorder or a DSLR you must remember to extol the virtues of less is more, how the story is about the script not the tool used to capture the story. Again, we know you don’t have money, so talk about how almost all of nollywood is typecast, but sha famz just one, only one nollywood medium to big actor to do waka pass for your short film or web series, on that one star, famz away, tweet at them, let them know their collaborating with you in waka pass was and is the height of your career.

Form a clique. Men and brethren, women and children, observers and practitioners alike, there’s no union greater than the clique. The established people have one, why not you. Find fellow film practitioners of like mind and become their leader or mouthpiece. The benefits of these are immense. Because you people are click, sorry button, sorry clique, you can borrow equipment without down payment and never pay sef after usage. Plus, a lone voice crying from the rooftops means nothing, you’re not John the Baptist men, but a multitude of voices screaming blue murder, now that can ruffle a few feathers. Plus if you guys ever have a falling out, it’d make for good drama on Twitter or anywhere else your fame spread reach. See Jay Z and Kanye.

Owe people. You need drama in your life and business to ensure people know about you. If a whole presidential aspirant can owe his employees how much more you, a fast rising filmmaker. Engage in tweet fights, if the thing sweet small Linda Ikeji will use it for content people will view it and in a convoluted turn of events actors will send you their demo reels, marketers will want your number. Did you say you only do thought provoking introspective whatnot? Hungry never catch you yet.

Be heterosexual. In the spirit of going against the norm I’d have suggested being homosexual but there’s this rumor that our politicians and top nollywood people already swing that way, what would you, an outsider now gain by being gay except for hemorrhoid?

Be spotted around Lagos with a DSLR hanging from your neck and then be incredulous when people ask if you’re a photographer. You’re clearly not a tourist, you are not a photographer, you’re a filmmaker, play it right and it can be a chick magnet (hopefully not chick for chickens but chick as an euphemism for babes which is an euphemism for, if you don’t know by now even I can’t help you)

Talk about how cool using apple computers are for post production, forget that you don’t know squat about it, jump on the bandwagon and proclaim final cut x was revolutionary (like seriously?) How you wouldn’t touch windows with a ten foot pole.

The end result of these ladies and gentlemen, is that when you’re career have cook finish, you get to start wearing tuxedos and LBDs to functions, sipping fine wine and dinner with governors and all that, basically, the end result is to become that which you started out hating, or pretending to hate.

Follow these steps dear friends and see your career blossom.

P.S I originally wanted to write stuff along the lines of learning to manage relationships between cast and crew, giving up micromanaging and delegating responsibility to others not because you initially trusted them enough, but because you’d break down trying to do it all by yourself, leading your team by putting in work on your own end, sometimes letting the people you hire know you’re capable enough to assume the roles you’re paying them for doing their work when they start to act up for one reason or the other, or trying to handle covering multiple events for clients on the same day and all that,but you know how boring those can get,so I opted for this instead.
Anything I forgot? Let me know, thanks.

DEMYSTIFYING THE LOW BUDGET MYTH

So, I know I’m owing a post on the last stuff I wrote which was supposed to have a continuation – I honestly can’t even remember what that post was as I’m writing this piece – but in any case, let’s get back on track shall we?
When we talk about low budget filmmaking, either for the purposes of documentary filmmaking, feature or short films, or even events coverage (not really, a low budget events coverage is you using your phone for photo and video ops at your siblings graduation, so let’s nix the idea of a ‘lo-budg’ events coverage) the idea at first glance is to make audio visual content with the barest minimum. This concept does hold true, but the line keeps shifting once one gets to the ‘barest minimum’ part. What constitutes the barest minimum? Continue reading “DEMYSTIFYING THE LOW BUDGET MYTH”

THE FILMMAKER CAREER TRAJECTORY

So i think this post is probably a year premature, I initially wanted  to write this article and base my final opinions on where I’d be in another twelve months time which right now,is still twelve months away. Thing is, I read stuff on Ryan Walters blog recently and I realized that one’s career trajectory can not be absolutely determined by prevailing trends or circumstances or handicaps (this is my way of saying this is a disclaimer, take my words with a grain of salt and blah blah blah). That being said though there is a prevailing trend in Nollywood or our film industry, and it is predicated upon accessing a larger income over time. There really is nothing wrong with this, especially given the economic situation of our country (the rebased GDP Stuff is yet to impact me so I’ll just say it’s all ‘wash’). But when it begins to steadily shape an artist into an amoebic mass of mediocrity therein lies the problem.

I have often wondered if like Thelma Schoonmaker or Emma Thomas, a non linear editor could rise to popularity within our revered film industry in Nigeria, or if it were possible to accord a cinematographer in Nigeria the kind of respect accorded to the likes of Roger Deakins. Moreso if they stayed put in respective fields for decades without crossing over to directing or producing or any other such thing. The answer to that question, in my opinion as far as Nigeria is concerned remains an emphatic ‘NO.’ The answer to this question is based on these observations of mine.

Cinematography, editing, set design are still somewhat considered as semi-skilled endeavours as far as the making of a film and other related content is concerned and as such continue to command sub par wages. In other words, it is the kind of stuff Emeka can ask his nephew Jide to come around a set a couple of times or have him sit in a post production studio for two months and presto! He becomes a cinematographer or editor or whatever Emeka intended for him to be. Of course that’s why this new breed cinematographer doesn’t know what the histogram or zebras displaying on the camera means as long as the image looks good enough in HIS eyes. It’s the same reason the editor can’t fix crippling mono audio, establish continuity or cheat with shots to make up for errors during the shoot.
I once had the opportunity to talk to a camera man on the set of a production a couple of years ago and I caught a whiff of the passion he had for the job. However, the young man, who had only just ‘graduated’ from the position of a camera assistant (mind you camera assistant here does not refer to the focus puller. The camera assistant in this clime carries the camera bags and changes/charges the camera batteries) could not navigate the settings on a Sony EX3 camera! He knew how to pull the zoom, change the card slots, and press the very obvious record button. His very words were “give me a camera,any camera, and I will shoot for as long as is required.I may not know about settings but I can hold the camera steady.” At a point where all I wanted to be was the best editing hands on this side of the Atlantic and nothing more,I found his spirit commendable and hoped he would improve. It’s been three years now,and I sincerely hope he has, and if our industry trajectory is anything to go by, he would probably a production manager in another three to five years.
I firmly believe this apprenticeship mentality that goes into training would-be editors and cinematographers is responsible for the shortage of necessary skill set needed to excel in the industry and is the reason on the whole that such members of the creative community are treated like bricklayers on a construction site; overworked and underpaid. The instructor deliberately fails to comprehensively instruct his/her pupil so that they go out into the field incomplete. This enables them to remain relevant in the market and command somewhat respectable prices than their pupils who had they had all the knowledge would have undercut their instructors on price and knowing how producers love a bargain the instructors would have lost out to their pupils in the job market. At least I think that is what they are thinking. How else can I explain being financially and intellectually handicapped at the second studio I interned in as an editor until they noticed me display initiative outside their borders and then decided to make me their new workhorse. If that is truly the reason behind such actions though then I’d say it is rather asinine. Experience trumps knowledge anyday. You can transfer all your knowledge to a pupil but experience is, well that is why they call it experience.
So how about those who went to film school? Let me put it this way, You’ve gone and returned from film school, whether it was after six months or two years, point is, you’re back with all this knowledge and idea and all that beautiful ‘crap’, and then you jump into the fray that is our film and TV industry only to realize that the sub par standard is the SET standard and nobody wants to wait for you to run calibrations with a light meter or any other fancy stuff you’re on about. Basically it becomes imperative that you shape in or shape out!
Then all that film school money you paid for? You’re not going to make up for it in your first year working in the film industry. Film school or not, you will be considered as a greenhorn and will be priced along the lines of ‘apprentice’ filmmakers.

Moreso, there is no differentiating factor hence competitiveness amongst Cinematographers or editors is usually based on price. This means whoever has the capacity to execute the job faster and for less gets the job handed to them. Of course we can argue that in certain instances (post production specifically) getting the job done properly means painstakingly going through the job with a fine tooth comb. And that will be time consuming.
This implies that the longer you remain a cinematographer or an editor you will be faced with the threat of reducing profit margins to stay competitive. You then have the option of ascending the ladder. Become a production manager, maybe a producer or a director. Even an EP, who knows? Just don’t get drowned out by hungrier, younger people who don’t have families to feed and can afford to earn less and doing that will be nearly impossible unless you offer clients a differentiating factor that makes you distinct – hint,it shouldn’t be price, obviously.

Lower entry barriers to filmmaking means that digital content can be shot for next to nothing as far as production cost is concerned, from $400 Gopro cameras that shoot as much as 2.5K in resolution to iphones and samsungs to Nokia lumia phones with 41 MegaPixel cameras. This is sort of a good thing right? Yes actually, but again I share Ryan’s opinions in this article. Where jobs which would have been shot with a medium sized budget requiring a P2 camera or the EX3 would now have the option of being shot with cheap DSLRs. Usually they(the producers) are tempted to carry on with this cost cutting measure and extend it to the talent, the crew and even post production. So the logic becomes; “I can’t pay you the same thing i would pay you for editing the last job because it was shot on a SONY professional camera and this was shot on a DSLR camera.” Maybe that’s probably why the editor decides to let the job go out with some heinous errors on the final edit, just speculating.

Finally, money. While some of us may want to pursue the meaning of life, arts,science, religion, seek escapism through the lens of a camera, We have to eat, have clothing and shelter (I’m liberally paraphrasing some guy’s words who happened to be the founder of socialism along with Karl Marx).
Ours is a struggling third world economy, with bills to pay and communal mouths to feed, art has to start paying off pretty quickly or it becomes a liability. In the same way, the editor,cinematographer, or set designer has to live off of something else to ensure that his/her basic needs remains catered to due to the erratic/inconsistent nature of the job.
Editing is basically drab if you are not working on a ‘passion’ project. If you have to do that for a TV station or stream live events it becomes a chore, even for geeks (raises hand solemnly) such are usually the kind of jobs that you can do without opening your eyes. They are also the kind of jobs with the potential for handsome remuneration. Now don’t get me wrong, there are people who totally love doing multimedia jobs for TV that have nothing to do whatsoever with film, drama or whatnot. I for a fact like love documentaries. But when people start to gravitate towards a certain aspect of multimedia because the pay is supposedly bigger, then we have a problem, the problem here is not even about fulfillment or other abstracts. The problem becomes saturation, individuals unnecessarily obfuscating other people with genuine passion for the job either by leveraging on their connections to gain an advantage (nothing wrong with that by the way) or lowering prices and still delivering below par. Then there’s that other stuff about not feeling fulfilled doing something that only pays the bills.

So, is there a solution? Well the thing is there is no purist way of making film, not in this clime or generation. The solution when oversimplified is basically this; adapt or die.
As a living entity, over time we evolve. Our bodies, down to their cellular contents adapts to external influences,reacting in ways that ensures our survival. In the same vein, filmmakers should see themselves as businessmen, your product is entertainment, propaganda, enlightenment, escapism, you want your product to draw emotion from the audience. Whatever side of the divide you exist in, treat your craft as a business. It’s now less about the film and more about the actual business that goes into the creation of film and related content. Negotiation, competitive pricing, differentiating factors, spurring customer curiosity, generating customer intimacy, engagement and retention are things you may need to consider as opposed to just doing whatever it is you’ve been doing. Whatever your niche in the film business you have to look at your sector, find out what you can offer that is sorely missing, meet that need and convince people of said need. Seems really easy in theory right? I thought so too until I started something along those lines.

Caveat though, if you haven’t perfected your skills in your specific endeavor as a filmmaker you might want to do that first, worse still, with new innovations cropping up ever so often you have to keep yourself in the know and constantly update your skill set, add that to trying to sell yourself from a unique perspective like I mentioned earlier plus actually working and you have a problem,but then there are people already doing that so no need whining about it eh. Go on and be successful then, but don’t hold your breath waiting for our economy to become more supportive of filmmakers. Besides, what art form exceeds the art of living life, and living it well?

WHAT MICHAEL BAY(NOLLYWOOD) CAN’T AFFORD TO IGNORE

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.