When people think of Nollywood – Nigeria’s film industry – they think of the stereotypically shitty, low-budget films with terrible acting and unoriginal storylines. Compared to the more developed film industries of the Western world, it’s treated as a joke, but there’s more to the industry than the stories of random white people and the exorcism films they star in:
It’s Bigger Than Hollywood
By sheer volume, Nollywood’s film output leaves Hollywood in the dust. According to a UNESCO report, the industry surpassed its American counterpart to be recognised as the 2nd largest film industry in the world (after Bollywood) with an average of 1,000 – 2,000 films a year!
It’s Worth $5 Billion
Despite each film costing a thousandth of a typical Blockbuster, the industry was estimated to be worth $5 billion in 2014. However, while thousands of unauthorised video tapes and DVDs are sold on market stalls around Africa for a couple of dollars each, only a small fraction of this makes it back to the film’s producers.
It’s Driving Innovation
It’s this fight against piracy that’s driving Nigeria’s tech industry to innovate. The physical media-based distribution methods of old are being replaced by online streaming services such as iROKOTV and Netflix Africa. While home internet still has a long way to go, these platforms have adapted for the country’s 92 million mobile users through the development of Android apps.
It’s Built By Rebels and Entrepreneurs
While older film industries are subject to a deeply-entrenched studio system, Nollywood is still dominated by independent filmmakers. What began in the 90s as a small industry in a country where most of the cinemas had closed down has become a market flooded with home movies and maverick directors.