You Want a Degree In Film How Soon?

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?

Degree in Film Today

Indian film dances and song - Image via Wikipedia

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

Degree in Film not required in Nollywood

Degree in Film not required in Nollywood - Image via Wikipedia

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.


  1. Alisha says

    hi i am from canada i am making a book and in need tpo learn filmmaking like in 1 week can you plz help me?

  2. says

    I agree with most of the things in your article, but some are not so correct.

    Like you stated in your opening paragraph, more and more young Nigerians are making inquiries about film schools. Do you know why?

    First of all, you need to understand the uniqueness of Nollywood, to be able to understand this “sudden” quest for formal film making education by young Nigerians. Nollywood didn’t really set out to become what it is today; its best described as a child of “circumstance”.

    It all started in the early 90’s with the first Home Video titled “Living In Bondage”. it was well received by Nigerians because, for once they had something they could call “their own”; something they can relate to. more Home videos came along, and the acceptance was overwhelming. Because Nigeria had no “Cinema culture”, consumers and producers didn’t care much about quality; all they cared about was simply entertainment. Nollywood continued to grow, and due to its uniqueness, gained acceptance throughout Africa. A lot of people saw it as a “goldmine”, because they could invest “peanuts” and make millions in profit.

    This trend continued for almost a decade and half before people started getting tired of the poor production quality.

    To cut the long story short, the “rebirth” of the cinemas brought about a demand for better quality, as Cinemas will not show poorly produced movies. Quality Movies like “The Figurine”, “Ije”, “Damage”, “Mirror Boy”, etc. have been doing well at the box office.

    “The Figurine” for example was first shown in cinemas years ago, and people still go to see it at the cinemas because the producers won’t release it on DVD; there is no pirated copy of it anywhere because the Cinemas have been very ethical so far. And guess what? the producers have made so much money that they wouldn’t have made if they had released it on DVD. I was with the Director a couple of weeks back, and he said they have no plans of releasing it on DVD anytime soon.

    This demand in quality is the sole reason why more Nigerians want to learn filmaking; cos they need it – people are getting tired of the “drama”, they want quality Movies, and they are willing to pay for it.

    There is a new generation of filmakers coming up in Nollywood, they are simply known as the “New Nollywood”. The world should watch out.

    Chukwuemeka Joseph – CNARIO
    CNARIOstudios Nigeria

    • The Prof says

      Thank you so much for posting all this information on my site.
      I find it very exciting that new technologies are allowing more and more aspiring filmmakers from all over the world to tell their stories.
      Best of success to you,
      Jerry “the Prof”