THE PARADOX OF NOLLYWOOD: The Structural Intricacies and Cultural Significance of the World’s Fastest-Growing Film Industry

Author: Ohireime Felix Odion

Odion, Ohireime Felix, 2017 THE PARADOX OF NOLLYWOOD: The Structural Intricacies and Cultural Significance of the World’s Fastest-Growing Film Industry, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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This study explores the Nigerian Film industry, known as Nollywood, with particular emphasis on the often ignored marketing and distribution structure of this low cost and high volume digital film production industry. This model has been described by film scholars as the new model for film-making in Africa. Few industry observers were optimistic about its future when it commenced with the VHS camera format in 1992. My extrapolation is that Nollywood defied the pessimistic predictions and has become globally relevant due to a new model it developed towards filmography in a way that resonates with Africans using the medium of low-cost, and sometimes feudal, digital technology. It is this determination to use the most affordable means of story-telling that has led to a prolific industry that now accounts for over 50% of films made in Africa. Film scholars, including Ramon Lobato, now refer to it as the fastest growing film industry in the world.

There is an increasing body of creative work with high budgets in Nollywood, all with the aim of achieving global recognition. However, the ailing and now downward spiralling Nigerian economy, as is the case with most African countries, highlights the risk involved in high budget films. I argue in this thesis that the low-budget and high volume production model played a major part in the growth of the industry and a departure from this strategic archetype could be counter-productive. In arriving at my conclusion, I have incorporated interviews with over a dozen Nollywood practitioners. I highlight the symbiotic relationship between film genres and audience reception in Nigeria as well as their correlation to marketing and distribution. My research imperative is to outline the benefits of the distinctive features of the Nollywood model to global creative industries.

Keywords: Nollywood, Nigerian Cinema, History of Nigerian Cinema, Understanding Nollywood, Nollywood Film Genres, Industrial Structure of Nollywood, Economic Challenges of Direct-to-Video films in Nigeria

Subject: Creative Arts thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2017
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Professor Tara Brabazon