I met with two of the guys I have had the privilege of training a couple of days ago. They are about to make a short film, so I asked them to come to the office so I could give them my notes on the screenplay and chat with the one who will be directing the film.
While we were chatting, I remembered that the director, who is now working as a 1st or 2nd AD on major sets, had actually made a film. So I asked him what happened to his film. He smiled and said he hasn’t been able to sell it. I asked him why he didn’t chat with me before going ahead to make the film and he said: “I just wanted to do it and come and show you that I have done something o.”
I smiled. I could understand why. We all have that need to do something, to be seen to have done something, after all “at all at all na hin bad pass.”
I was at that point 7 years ago and that pushed me to make Big Dadd, my first short film. I wanted to do something. More than that, I wanted to say something about rape. So I made the film, thanks to friends who contributed N400, 000 to make it happen.
A full feature film isn’t what you embark on to just ‘do something’. No matter the itch, a feature film, all considered, is not to be attempted without a strategy in place to ensure return on investment. The reason is simple: It costs real money to make a feature film. If you have access to a bottomless pit from where you can did up money you do not have to return, by all means go ahead. But resources are limited by nature and we must make the best use of the scarce ones that find their way to us.
Whatever my guy spent to make that film is all but lost now. The cinemas have rejected the film, for reasons unknown to me. He perhaps wasn’t ready to make one. He perhaps made one with passion and forgot to focus on the business.
I have had to answer the ‘when are you making a feature film’ question too many times already. My answer has always been the same: “when I’m good and ready.”
I have recently been feeling that I am close to making one. I am working on a couple of screenplays now that feel more like the stories I like to tell on the big screen. Nollywood did well at the cinemas last year and this makes the current situation more interesting, even if we must acknowledge that the many issues that bedevil the industry remain unresolved and sales figures at the cinemas, real or manufactured, are but a fraction of the true earning potentials of Nollywood.
So, when am I going to make that feature film? You will know when the time comes.