The email I got last week was asking if I could provide the sender with a degree in film that day because he was trying to get a job on a film set and thought a degree in film might help. Did I mention the email was from Nigeria?
Fully half of the emails I get from people inquiring about film schools are from Nigeria.
Is Nollywood the Wave of the Future?
Until recently if you had asked me what is the 2nd biggest film production country in the World I would of course have replied “India”. Everyone knows about Bollywood and their wonderfully entertaining films where everyone always breaks into song and dance when passions start to flare.
I don’t think that’s true anymore. With the low cost of movie making equipment and the even lower cost of distribution afforded by DVDs and online streaming there is a new capital for filmmaking.
Degree in Film Not Required
Nigeria is without doubt the fastest growing center for film production in the world and the output has already reached staggering proportions. Film production companies are set up in a moment and new ultra-low budget films get made in a matter of days.
All of Africa is not as primitive as the documentaries on PBS would lead you to believe. Many African countries have large populations of college educated, unemployed but highly ambitious entrepreneurs. Nigeria would be high on the list.
No Time For a Degree in Film in Nollywood
Nigerian colleges for film are in short supply so you will have a hard time finding anyone with a degree in film in Nollywood. But filmmaking knowledge is not a requirement to make films in this country.
Films are produced so quickly and at such low cost that extensive understanding of film theory are not important. There are two huge reasons for the speed and cost involved in Nollywood film production.
First of all there is a large and growing audience for African produced film within the continent of Africa. But perhaps even more importantly piracy operates on a scale and openness that most people in first-world nations can’t imagine.
New movies are pirated within days and are openly sold on the street along side the legitimate products. Few of the film ever make it to a theater as they are consumed almost entirely as DVDs and Internet streaming. The level of competition, distrust and open violence going on between rival factions is over-the-top but shows just how vital and potentially profitable this industry is.
Check out this terrifying post about Nollywood on LinkedIn by Sarah Lacy and you’ll understand why a degree in film is the last thing you need to get ahead in Nollywood.