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”

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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.

2014: LOOKING FORWARD

I intended to have this piece ready before the new year but maybe it’s better this way. The year 2014 is a year we have never seen before (no kidding, lol). most times, our wishes for the Nigerian multimedia sphere usually include better videos in terms of technical quality and know how, directing, acting but how about we focus on the more attainable stuff within the industry? Well, that is why we are here.  I am going to go through a list of stuff that will see significant changes in the new year within the industry and some stalwarts that won’t be going the way of the dodo anytime soon. So here goes.

1. CINEMATOGRAPHY: On the gadget side, 2014 should be an interesting year for cinematographers in the industry. DSLRs have been a great tool in producing really great work with  minimal budgets, but their shortcomings can no longer be overlooked. From moire, to banding, aliasing, rolling shutter aka jellocam to overheating after prolonged use while shooting documentaries or live events (P.S the author has experienced all of these mentioned above, though the moire is not that bad) and finally, the 4Gb recording limit on DSLRs. With all these problems prevalent with DSLRs, one wonders why people used them in the first place, manufacturers seemed to have thought along that same line and thus preferred solutions in the forms of the Panasonic AF101, Sony FS 100, FS 700, Canon C 100,C 300, C 500, and the  Blackmagic Cinema Camera.

Now a good number of them are quite affordable considering that the Canon 1DC is a $12 000 DSLR and the Panasonic goes for about $2000 and the  Canon C 100 is about $8000. At this price point, what do they offer against established DSLR cameras like the Canon 5D mark III or the Panasonic lumix GH3 or the nikon D610? Well, here’s a couple; The  Canon C series of cameras offer a C-log preset that gives almost flat images akin to RAW, which means it doesn’t shoot raw,nor does it offer pro res like the blackmagic line of cameras. However, the 8 bit image it offers coupled with Adobe’s Premiere pro’s native editing prowess a lot can be done without having to transcode to prores or uncompressed 422. The Panasonic AF101 and the Sony cameras records in AVCHD which isn’t that bad, most editors have edited footage shot in the AVCHD codec in the past. The Blackmagic cameras of course are the most anticipated game changers for me, price is insane, delivery is mad, although there are a few kinks that still need sorting out. So, why are these cameras better than the existing crop of DSLRs? Well, at only $4000 the blackmagic Cinema Camera shoots at an amazing ultraHD(4K) resolution, with the option of RAW or Prores 422, secondly, the line skipping algorithm used to make an 18 mega pixel DSLR shoot a 2MP(1080p) image has been reworked on these cameras, except maybe the blackmagic pocket camera, so no more moire or aliasing. They work with your regular DSLR mount lenses as well. Did I mention no more 4Gb recording limit for a single video clip, or no more overheating and switching off after more than two hours of prolonged use?

2. POST PRODUCTION/EDITING: I think on that front it will still remain a final cut versus Adobe premiere pro battle for a little while longer, before windows based editors all switch to Avid media composer seeing as Adobe might have shot themselves in the foot with the creative cloud thing. We premiere users are stuck on cs6,waiting for Adobe’s servers to crash and render people’s data irrecoverable so they renege on the creative cloud program and give us our good old creative suite back. On the other hand, final cut pro X got an update that brought it closer to cs6 but still behind premiere cc (what would have been our cs7). We who have tasted final cut 7 in its heydays- and still use it from time to time-still think final cut pro X  still doesn’t cut it, all puns intended. However the integration between final cut and motion is so fluid that it makes one wish apple motion was better than cs6 photoshop extended version in what it offered (yup, motion is nowhere near Adobe’s after effects so I’d just keep comparing it to photoshop) . Premiere pro’s integration with after effects on the other hand is a major resource hog, especially if you are working with GPU unfriendly/CPU intensive codecs such as H.264 or H.265 (I expect consumer based cameras to begin using this codec soon enough as the data compression rates are unbelievable). Soundtrack pro (part of the final cut suite of editing softwares) is leaps better than Adobe’s offering, named Audition (formerly sound booth). Audio treatment on soundtrack is better than on Audition, but you can always use alternative softwares like audacity for your audio editing issues.

P.S If thanks to the Adobe Creative Cloud rubbish, you’ve decided to go mac, build a “hackintosh” rather than buy a mac pro or imac, those things are bloody expensive for no fathomable reason, Ryan Koo shows us how to do it here. Thank me later.

DIRECTING: I have nothing to say to you, google Vsevolod Pudovkin, go watch ‘jaws’ or any Stanley Kubrick film and thank me for saving you a trip to PEFTI. I mean, if the people who churn out Papa Ajasco in its current form are teaching you how to direct movies and such, whaddaya ‘xpect? Go to the National Film Institute Jos, or just buy swift and take a MOOC course from iversity and other online educational sites and remember, YouTube is your friend, but Vimeo might be better

OPERATING SYSTEM OF CHOICE FOR POST PRODUCTION: Unfortunately, more editors here in Nigeria will switch to mac, hoping for continuous updates for final cut pro X, no thanks to Adobe and their Creative Cloud, who has money to pay for always on Internet so one can open their editing projects, save it, or even work in premiere pro at all? Rubbish! I’ll just go and learn avid joor. After all, over sixty percent of the American guild of editors make use of it, and Dream works studios actually use HP workstations which means a windows and avid combo.

WHAT ELSE
I really can’t say, but till I see Ojuju the movie I say we are still going to be stuck with using bridal and fashion show make up artists for our movies and soaps, definitely no special effects makeup about to pop up anytime soon, but fingers crossed while I check out Ojuju.

Can we have more nice film titles  (titles oh, not content, that one is a long thing) like “DAMAGED”, “JOURNEY TO SELF”, “PHONE SWAP” et al. No more stolen titles like “HONEYMOON HOTEL” or crass titles like “TEAR MY BRA”, “ASUU STRIKE” obviously that will never change, we will keep having a mix of good and bad titles for as long as Tchidi Chikere keeps making films.

Music Scores are a nightmare here in this our nollywood, especially in a Tchidi Chikere production where he produces, directs and scores. yup he sings in his videos too. So my humble opinion is we won’t have Hans Zimmer score a film for us anytime soon, but the music scores are getting better, hint, PHONE SWAP.

So there’s it for 2014 I believe. Cheers

FAILING FORWARD, THE PIXELMORPH 2013 EXPERIENCE

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First off, this blog is not meant to be a personal diary, so I apologize for the nature of this post. However, since it’s a story of the media based productions I and the pixelmorph team undertook this year, I guess it was all right to do this, so here it goes.

I dreamt up the pixelmorph idea on one of those my really hungry days back in 2011 or so, slaving away in one of those multimedia studios in lagos, I didn’t actualize it till late 2012 and in anticipation of 2013 I planned that one of the things I would do the next year was to among other things, actually produce content for a client, as in create, conceptualize, manage, and still shoot and then edit the whole darn thing.

Between January and now, I’ve had the privilege to produce two [pilot] programmes for two very different clients who both had one thing in mind, to make a go of it on their first attempt(naive idea in retrospect, unless it’s a soap opera, nothing rarely ever flies without a pilot, considering that it’s not a syndicated oyinbo programme) . In other areas they were different; one was diplomatic the other insistent, one was knowledgeable about TV and multimedia and the other was not, in fact  they also had different complexions,age and stature. Obviously they both failed in that regard, hence the reason they are now being pushed as pilot episodes. However, I also think that describing both projects as having ‘failed’ might also be a misnomer. Or I might say that while certain individual parts of their projects were successfully executed, the goal had to be shifted and  expectations had to be reviewed downwards.
Projects such as these thought me a thing (and twenty) about the Nigerian media landscape and dealing with people generally that I thought I should put in here, just to remind myself not to EVER try to make certain mistakes again in 2014 . So here goes my list.

1. As you try to ascend the ladder, certain relationships that were necessary and perhaps even beneficial become gangrenous, cut them off. Our movie industry(I somewhat hate the nollywood tag used to describe it) is ridden with people like these, producers or directors who wonder, “what does this editor think he is trying to do sef, when did he start doing nollywood work?” They probably have tangible reasons for thinking this way, and if not for  the fact that they have only managed watery stories and passable cinematography in the length of their film making career, I would be sorely tempted to think that they were being objective with their criticism. So most times its best you make a clean break and steer towards those whom you’ve only met in passing in times past, when you’re done and successful (success is relative here, but you know what I mean) you can always go back to those people who were skeptical of your attempt with your “LOOK AT ME NOW SWAG.” I know, I’m humble like that.

2. Don’t sell yourself short. If they can’t afford you don’t go about doing the ‘lemme do this one for them for that price because they know a lot of people and can give me connections if I deliver this job and they like it.’ what we upstarts fail to realize in our quest for clientele is that there is no such thing as doing it on the cheap to gain a prospective client who has other wealthy friends who may become prospective clients too. You think he will pull a gun to his friends’ heads and say, “You must give that young man the video coverage work for all your events henceforth”? Yimu unto thee. The pure and simple truth is that he got a bargain off you, nothing else! He priced you like raw tomatoes about to go bad and you fell yakata!(konga.com, anyone?) More often than not you will be sorely tempted to believe that it was because you were too expensive that they refused to engage your services but if you are a wedding videographer charging a hundred grand to cover a traditional and formal wedding ceremony and you happen to stumble into a conversation with the photographers who let you know they charge twice as much as you and your video crew team are about to earn, sorry, but you’ve just been had(sometimes na wash O! Unless said guy is brandishing an authentic galaxy note 2 at the time). Oh and don’t do family either, all those remotely related relatives who are suddenly introduced to you because they need you to cover an event, Chai!

3. Niche is everything! The problem is, the hustle is leal nwanne (the ‘l’ is deliberate) More often than not you probably want to push yourself as a programme concept designer,production and post production concern, and probably media marketer. The only problem with that is the fact that you as a startup, are lean on muscle, so while it is probably doable, you expend more energy trying to service multiple needs and end up up to your neck in the kind of projects where monetary remuneration is still a long way down the road and begin to shift deadlines on jobs that you would normally be able to get done quickly. It becomes frustrating both for you and your clients.
3b. Don’t offer more than what you can provide. I can’t overstate this, personal experience and all that. The thing is that some clients don’t know what they want and how to get it,so they turn to the nearest available person, you. Nowadays I have created a list of things that I cannot and will not do for clients nor will I refer them to  anybody who will be able to do such jobs for them-since some clients will just end up hounding you to complain that the person you referred them to has bungled stuff up. Sometimes I break that rule sha, I think that’s what rules are met for. So I don’t publicize, market, generate sponsorship, engage in social media interaction/marketing. Basically pixelmorph doesn’t do anything PR related. iCreate, iConceptualize, iDesign, iShoot, iEdit, I implement visual and special effects (see me doing advert sha, oh yes) and we do those things pretty darn well thank you.

4. Find a jolly good band of mad people and stick to them. Mad people take risks, like shooting in dark environments without a sungun or any form of lights and still under expose their shots because they believe you are the best editor on this side of the spaceship called earth and if you say you can fix it in post, then you can. Mad people also skip out on having meaningful relationships so they can spend money and time – and brain cells they could have lost to weed or alomo – on a rabid idea you conceived that only they can see the inherent genius in(I pity them, he he). Mad people like @slim_gidiboi, wale and tonysouls can pester you to get that fleeting thought in your head towards reality. Motivated And Dedicated (yeah they MAD like that) people don’t go about saying why did this mad man involve me in this kind mumu project wey I no see shingbai collect? Rather, they’d jump in for another roller coaster, turpsy turvy ride to get it right. They dream beyond the nine to five, they grow with each new experience, earning more ‘battle scars’ so to speak. Lastly they won’t blame you a hundred percent, that’s the part I like.

5. Trade On Value. No free meals in Freetown, but the thing is upstarts are somewhat like birds of prey, primarily because they are able to sport other upstarts like themselves and do the solidarity thing. So while you’re on your ‘let’s take back the media from those old cronies up there with too much money and too little ambition, idea or innovation’ mood, upstart B will be like, ‘but the money is not there yet, that’s why I want us to pool resources and partner on this my project.’ Don’t grow cold feet and run off when they tell you about how they’re short on funds(you don’t want to meet them less than a year later and they are giving you their LOOK AT ME NOW SWAG) how about you then gently insinuate that while money may not be the currency under which this transaction will be negotiated, where there are values worth trading, you wouldn’t hesitate to do so, trading on value causes whoever wants to partner with you understand that while you’re reasonable and commiserate with the person’s predicament, you are not entirely naive and your assistance or collaboration will only go as far as they can add value to your brand. Oh,by the way, your assistance had better be in a way that their inability to deliver on your value barter agreement cripples their project, dazzall! See why I’m in post production? If however you’re feeling nice and really optimistic about an idea broached to you by another upstart looking for a partnership to get things off the ground and you want to hold off on getting paid or value barter, get a lawyer and an iron clad agreement, shikena.

6. Learn to say NO, and mean it! Some people are just not a good fit, some you should chase with holy water and koboko, some you should dally with, stay on the fringes, close enough to jump in when stuff starts to sizzle, a rare few you should wholly immerse your resources in. No over flogging this one.

7. Things will go awry that has nothing to do with your competence, or lack of. If you’ve been around this our Nigerian entertainment and media industry eh, you’ll realise this soon enough. Some guys and girls are all fluent, coherent, composed and chatty till they see that red light of the camera come on, and if you’re on a budget, you don’t want to rent camera for the rehearsal and then the actual shoot. Where it’s not the cast or talent, it’s the equipment. Had an interview recently and we were all set up, lights and all. The moment the interview subject came in the 2K light died and all I was left with a relatively dark space was my sungun, editor and cinematographer of life that I am I prevailed. The other shoot with a stuttering talent was however for all intents and purposes, shelved.

8. Visibility! That’s a hard one, but sha try. Any tips? Well just realize that multimedia should not be just about entertainment. There documentaries and causes you could lend your production and post production skills to. If you however want to do entertainment, how about you re imagine it. Nollywood movies get a lot of flack for being stereotyped, with storylines that break easier than haansbro krakers, and in the case of movies produced by Rukky Sanda, for being poor remakes of African American films. There are African stories that can make waves on the film festival circuit and you can champion that. A 5 minute webisode, a special effects demo reel, a compelling short film, start somewhere and leave those ones whose only ambition is to throw a film to Silverbird cinemas and alaba to continue, when your recipe becomes proven, they will flock like the bandwagon people they are to imitate your storyline. Just try something radical and hope you get away with it.

9.Make Bad films/projects. While we are on the subject of Rukky Sanda, I just has to add this. Regardless of your film school education or lack of it, your early years will be punctuated by a few bad offerings with your name on it, just ask Spike Lee, from great films like Inside Man, Malcolm X to some other watery stories I can’t even remember right now,  so don’t feel bad when your work gets berated by critics and audiences alike, however don’t like Rukky Sanda kill us with mediocrity every single time. You’re supposed to get better with knowledge acquired from a bad experience.

10. There’ll always be those projects you envisioned that never got off the ground and those ones that’d make you wish for a time machine so you could go back and get it right, or trash the set because they still owe you six figures almost a year after.

That’s our 2013 at pixelmorph, I have some expectations of our media industry come 2014, will be sharing that in a few.

Xela (spelt backwards)
@pixelmorph1

By the way, I think we have discount offers for events coverage services this month of December, and if it’s not just an event, a WEDDING perhaps, then it is a whopping 40 percent discount.
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THE DIRECTOR/EDITOR NOLLYWOOD DISCONNECT:WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM STAR TREK, INTO DARKNESS

In the Nigerian film and broadcast industry, editors are merely tools with no creative input whatsoever, they join sequences and scenes together the way oga director asks them to, grade to over saturated tones because the director likes the look he gets off his LED tv with the unnatural colors and super tone options the TV gives and mostly use the same old recycled nollywood sounds-yes O we don’t like to hire other people to treat our sound or compose scores. So usually, an editor is a an unfulfilled player in the media industry with his sights set on one day directing, producing or earning a more prestigious sounding title that elevates him to a more enviable status on the totem pole. I am yet to find a fifty year old editor satisfied with his lot as an editor in the Nigerian multi media sphere, if you know any, kindly direct me to them. I ran across this interview with the female editing team of the J.J. Abrams produced STAR TREK, INTO DARKNESS and was impressed by the level on which they interacted with producer/director J.J. Abrams about the direction the film would take and realized that nollywood has no such interests, granted most of the editors either come out of half baked institutions – a certain one in surulere comes to mind – or interned with post production studios where the reason why they did things a certain way were never explained to them, deliberately or unconsciously, and were carried on as standard practice (in fact, I am a product of various parts of this kind of education and indoctrination into multi media production however I sought out more knowledge and questioned a lot of things and found out that some things we do as standard practice were a result of deficiencies prevalent within a long past era, even more common are the misnomers applied to certain post production processes which can leave one momentarily confused ). I mean one could argue that we haven’t yet explored Pudovkin’s 5 Editing Techniques in our films or the five points breakdown in our scriptwriting and as such our film making process is not yet sophisticated enough for that kind of interaction between both parties but regardless of this, the editor is not merely a tool, spending hours in front of loads of footage will give just about anyone, especially an editor, a perspective that could help mould the film even better than the director imagined. Here however, the focus is on who gets it done the fastest with the least amount of technical errors like jump cuts and crossings. To grow, we’d have to come to the realization that the sophistication we lack has to be built from somewhere, somehow, we can’t keep doing the ‘I will buy script from Mrs. A and the boy that shot Mr. D’ s film will shoot for me and that guy that edits for Oga Y should have my first cut of the movie in less than two weeks, this our ‘product assembly line’ method of making movies should stop, plain and simple, so here’s the link to the interview here, maybe we can make our own sci fi flick that’s a third as good before 2015

THIS NOLLYWOOD SHA, MOVIE REVIEW/RANT

MY NOLLYWOOD RANT(BASED ON AN ACTUAL NOLLYWOOD MOVIE)
As written by a guy who HAS to make his living from the nollywood head honchos.

So before I start this, opens five liter jerrycan of vitriol, drains it, and laces mouth with saccharine. I work in the Nigerian film and television industry, so in the course of my work I sometimes get to work with the ambassadors of the old and new nollywood. The only thing that sets these two apart is age, any serious Nigerian filmmaker who goes about making decent films with our kind of budgets does not quibble over issues like whether it is called nollywood or the Nigerian film industry. So when you come in contact with a “nollywood” person you’d know, and when you meet a filmmaker who is about his business there’s no mistaking him/her. Permit my rambling, but in nollywood, that is what we do, we let the new actor know that we discovered actress X,Y and Z’s elder brother’s stepchild and then get back to getting very little done as is evidenced in our movies. What inspired this write up is a soon to be released movie which fell into my lap while I was at the office of the executive producer/director of the film, minding my own business and trying to get some other work done. Knowing that this film of his would also get  released on cinema like all his previous ones, I decided for the public good to do a review of his latest offering.
The movie is titled the__________, I have politely decided not to mention the film as it has not even gone to the censorship board and I haven’t been paid to do the trailer(yes,I’m waiting for the money O). Anyway, in the same fashion as the new nollywood there is no space for the Mike Ezuronye, Nonso Diobi, and co,maybe the marketers have something to do with it? This movie stars Clarion Chukwurah Abiola, Nse Ikpe Etim, Mercy Johnson among others.

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The storyline is pretty simple, Clarion and her daughter Mercy J are hustlers. with madam Clarion the pimp, they fleece older clients of their money, as with all films with such a storyline, they get greedy, seek the ultimate jackpot and bad things happen. Sound familiar? The scriptwriter by name Bassey Nya did a horrific job on this, I could plot a better sequence in my sleep! I know this because I have learnt how to write scripts and it wasn’t at PEFTI-yes I said that,seriously check their syllabus. Let’s get into the story itself.
The story starts off with Mercy Johnson and a client in a car when she is then attacked by the client’s wife aided by a group of thugs. The thugs could try to learn how to fake beating up someone a whole lot better than they did, a jump cut at 2min 45 seconds changed my life forever!(I exaggerate, it made me question if the Higg’s boson theory would move from scientific postulation to scientific fact). Nse is one of my favorite actresses but that doesn’t mean her performance will save this flick though, besides, she is supposed to be an illiterate wannabe babe so no AMAA nominations for this one either because her character was one of the most disjointed and unnecessary ones made provision for in the script, please Mr. Bassey, the AFRIFF 2013 has a  programme on scriptwriting, and it’s as free as the air we breathe, do take a class there sir, thank you. Four minutes in and I’m begging to be let out of this misery, or maybe it’s my bias, I’m sure it’s my bias so I will keep watching. 14 minutes later and the chief Emenike character is the only good thing to happen to the film so far, considering that I turned off my computer after twenty minutes watching his last offering, this is an improvement. However, they screw up again. Chief and mercy J enter the car, the editor lets us see chief attempt to close the door three times, they drive off the shot, the editor shows us cut aways of express ways and more express ways, and cuts to the shot of the car driving in to the same location. Like they couldn’t even trail the car on ogunlana drive for a few seconds to show us that they actually left and came back to the hotel, I was left with the feeling that chief took mercy J in his car so he could drive round the hotel premises (which is what they did but never mind). As an after thought mercy Johnson looks like a beached whale but I hear it’s the baby fat so I’ll let it slide. The establishment shots were more like adverts, how much did club Lafayette pay for all the promo the film was doing them sef?  Ik Ogbonna only has a future in this guy’s nollywood,or I may be wrong-in case he win AMAA award next year let me put this one here O. Oh, more horrible editing from the 18th minute (the editor in me seems to think that’s important) . By the way, mercy Johnson’s backside has dimples? Who woulda thought!

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(thank you from fitting micro gown, I just threw up). Wait, there’s a plus side to this offering, the subtitles when they speak pidgin or vernacular is spot on, thank you Bro-no hOmo. On the other hand might I add that all I have managed to see in this movie is booty, more booty, and plenty booty, and having being cocooned in studios for so long the lycra/yoga pants/micro minis revolution in this film was sick, so if like thugnificent from the boondocks ‘booty butt cheeks’ are your thing, mute the audio and watch on, however, break your screen when mercy J’s own comes in view, the over sexualization of society bruh, nuff said. Wait O, Mercy Johnson’s boobs look looooooooooooong! See here

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Baby fat and weaning are responsible as they say and all so that slides too, really, it slides, I mean, it’s a slope already, a slippery slope.  The casting people ensure that fine yellow babes are, like errywhere, I think I know this one, yes? As such, I now postulate that more than half of African women are fair skinned, yes?

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As I had previously maintained, the subtitles are correct, except for here.

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It's long been correct

Okay in all honesty, I believe this is supposed to be comedy, in that case, if that’s what it is, then mercy j’s boobs are the punchlines(I know, I can’t be helped, *laughs) . This is the point where I inquire again how much club Lafayette payed for this promo, the editor makes sure he gives us a full panning shot of the establishment’s name, I am watching it on a quarter of my monitors display and I’m wondering how big it will be when watching it on a 42 inch television or a cinema-homeboy always gets his movies on cinema no matter what. Thirty five minutes later and Nse is still missing after her second scene appearance, for her sake I hope it stays this way as I cant bear to see her in this movie. More often than not I wonder if they adhered to any form of continuity on this film? Imagine this, Mama and pikin shake down chief Emenike for three hundred thousand naira in the morning with different hairstyles and then try to divide the loot in the evening with different hairstyles and clothes from the day before yesterday, I get that in shooting movies( I mean duh, I should know right?) , you don’t shoot sequentially, as in scene 1, then shoot scene 2, and 3 and on and on like that. However, don’t make it so blatant so we know this scene, that scene, and this one right here were shot in the same one hour time frame. Wait o! the yeye editor, by name Okey Benson had to put in that wide shot that showed Ik Ogbonna looking on at the ensuing fracas and then walking into the confrontation as if he had been slapped out of a trance and still had a good amount of sleep inducing Tylenol in his system(it would eventually be corrected I hope, but correcting an already color graded movie, unless it’s the editor who also graded and knows the project work flow) . So we get it! Homeboy is shagging both mama and pikin but that his nose that is bent already like, I know I’m beefing here but just look at it sha.

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You are hating my nose? Your own don enter film before?

Nse appears 42 minutes later and I just got weak, why Nse why! That aside, the ensuing scenes show me what yoga pants and stuff be hiding, muscular legs that would put Marion Jones to shame, see the ‘yam’ on this chicks legs mehn(not Nse O)! I tried uploading it but my phone froze(yeah I know, stale joke plus I’m deviating) back to the reviews though,at the end of the day the film can pass for comedy mostly because the all jiggly Mercy Johnson can be a clown of an actress when she applies herself to the role even though the script is highly incompetent and with her new found babyweight she can rival Martin Lawrence in his big mama disguise. I was going to ask whether the script writer, bassey nya, took scriptwriting lessons at pefti but then the producer/director did work on several super story projects with Wale Adenuga productions, I can now understand the films perspective, in  addition, they could have just done the film in Yoruba(or any other indigenous language) and subtitled it in English and we would have totally understood, seriously. Fifty minutes in and all I have to say is my patience is running thin,then I just go stupid, shut down the system and then I reconsider, sit back down and force myself to watch it only to discover – in much the same way Christopher Columbus discovered America-that the cameo actors,abi na extras, are total crap! The structural editing, possibly influenced by the directing gets progressively worse, and I just want to get to doing other productive stuff with my life . Another scene opens up with Ik Ogbonna trying to sell himself as a gigolo which leads to some interesting conversations. So the sugar mummy line is “I’ve got batteries that need recharging,what do you say?” Who knew?
Yaaah yu(Tunde Leye taught me that o) girl fight at 1hour 2minutes (like I have really tried mehn, how did I survive this long?) see lap ooooo, I would have been disappointed if this scene was not included in the script, typical. On a technical note, that scene was freaking overexposed like a bad photographers first offering, or maybe it was the post production color grading, no metadata was attached so I guess I won’t know for sure, from 1 hour 20 minutes I had the film playing at 200 percent, so everything was a jumble of manageably discernable audio and video, most nollywood films should be watched this way might I add. As the film progresses Nse gets to roll with the governor’s son who mama clarion and pikin mercy j have been trying to hook after a chance encounter. With her wearing trainers on dresses and bad hair, who knew courting the attention of the children of those in power was this simple? They were probably tired of all the Gucci wearing matchy matchy stuff I guess. The extras who have lines recite them like pupils of our children of iya elewedu nursery and primary school, government approved. I am looking at what is supposed to be a fierce bodyguard/bouncer taking his lines like a five year old reading from a teleprompter and the director obviously did not see reason for a retake. Chief emenike finally decides that he’d rather use mercy j instead of his potency to renew his money ritual, so after successfully luring her, and about to perform the ritual, he and his babalawo are arrested, the transitions between scenes play like a secondary school drama, Again, extras, are graduates of  our children of iya elewedu nursery and primary school, government approved. The only positives for this movie are cinematography, lights, location, custome and cast. This mumu blogs at filmmakerng.wordpress.com. If this review seems disjointed, then I have captured the film’s essence. Personally, as a drama series with multiple episodes, I think it would have fared better, who wouldn’t want to see Mercy Johnson, bloated or not, in a TV series that commands prime time? Lastly did I tell you what happened at the end of the film? Mercy Johnson ends up a vegetable after the botched ritual attempt and her mom has a heart attack when she discovers her cheating boy toy has left her oh well