The last ten years has seen an incredible evolution for Nollywood, as Nigerian films returned to the big screen. Nollywood emerged in the 90s as a home video industry, with films available solely on VHS, and then DVD.
Then from around 2006, films like “The Amazing Grace,” “The Figurine” and “Ije : The Journey” were released in cinemas, and sparked something in filmmakers, who saw the financial possibilities theatrical distribution held (in addition the perks that come with it, like strutting the red carpet at premieres). This was also a turning point as new technology became available, allowing filmmakers to embrace digital and leave behind the betacam, U-matic and linear editing systems which had their many restrictions.
Today, with several self-taught filmmakers – via online tutorials, the school of DVD extras, learning the ropes via short films, and others who have film school training (from home and abroad) – Nigerian cinema has seen an evolved look. With the flexibility of DSLR, Red, Arri and black magic camera, there’s more that can be done that was not possible with the betacams of yesteryear.
Shots, composition and framing are more deliberate, as is lighting. Sometimes it’s style over substance, but there’s definitely an evolved look.
While there is still a lot of room to grow in terms of the use of cinematic language, and the forming of a unique & idiosyncratic Nollywood aesthetic, there is certainly a lot to be hopeful about as new voices enter the ecosystem (see my last post on short films). It’s exciting to ponder the untapped story and cinematic possibilities the next decade holds.
In the video playlist below, you’ll find 5 videos that I put together to highlight the evolution of the Nollywood aesthetic: