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.

SOMETHING’S BEEN BREWING

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FIRST OF, SORRY IT TOOK THIS LONG TO POST, SECONDLY, MTN STINKS! Either that or the three storeyed church next to my house is blocking network, finally, don’t buy a cheap brand smartphone, thank me later.

In other importat news, things have been brewing in the brewery that is the pixelmorph mind, a massive cauldron of creative insanity that is unfortunately refusing to conform, which is why we need your help.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to start the doc360 project. Our montage looks like this by the way do let us know what you think. The idea is pretty simple, we want to go full circle on a documentary issue in 360 seconds, or 6 minutes. To this end we have shot a ton of content(from last year in fact) which we will be releasing on doc360. these range from music to literature, creative arts, education, social media, SMEs and just about everything that excites, bores, irritates, pleases and piques your interest, although the goal is to make EVERYTHING on doc 360 pique your interest. Also, all doc360 uploads on the youtube channel will feature relevant articles on the blog regarding how we made the documentary and other relevant info on the 6 minute piece being shown on youtube. by the way, please follow the handle on twitter, its @doc360_

So, here’s hoping you join the conversation, share issues you think we should ask the necessary questions about, cos basically its what documentaries are about; narrative or expository, or at least so i think. Tons of errors in this post, but the cafe’s keyboard is freaking stiff, I just can’t! erm bye, lemme stop rambling, I’d have a more coherent post when network is good at home Continue reading “SOMETHING’S BEEN BREWING”

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.
Drop us mail at 3dpixelmorph@gmail.com

THE DISRUPTIVE PARADIGM

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First off, I want to say it feels good to be on the cusp of something new, something which while not in itself is by any standards earth shattering, will serve to instigate (hopefully) earth shattering breakthroughs in independent film making in Nigeria.
This blog here is dedicated to providing Nigerian independent filmmakers and multimedia content creators the necessary tools and resources that they need to further their craft, bring them closer to avenues for exposure, and finance, connect them with other individuals in the same line of work and ultimately help bring us closer to a paradigm shift that will alienate the current dictates and mechanisms of the industry as we currently see it.
How we intend to do it is simple, via the dissemination of knowledge, relevant knowledge on a variety of topics ranging from scriptwriting to editing, pre production, production and post production techniques, tips on directing and cinematography, cost cutting measures and budget friendly gadgets and DIY tricks that help you shoot relatively inexpensively with stellar results, it’s all the things you know, some of the things you assumed and out rightly some things you didn’t know that we just thought to bring to your attention. Every week, our contributors will have new stuff waiting for you, from op-eds to DIY tips and tricks to instructional videos for editing and special effects to the latest happenings in the industry. We intend to cover EVERYTHING! From the high end gizmos with all the bells and whistles to the low end practical stuff, whatever your needs are we intend to give you the best information available so that you make informed decisions, we intend to let you in on the best forms of marketing and distribution for your material, getting funding for projects and managing scarce resources on a project.
How we intend to make this happen is simple, knowledge in a vacuum has no value, but knowledge constantly in transition from point A to B  accumulates and it is this cyclic flow of knowledge that this blog is committed to so feel free to tip us with any useful information that you think we should have on here, send us your own editorials and instructional videos if you have any, and feel free to brag, send us links,photos and videos of your latest work for the rest of the community to see at our email address 3dpixelmorph@gmail.com. Also tweet at @slim_gidiboi or @pixelmorph1

Alex (spelt backwards)
For filmmakerng blog